Why Did Sierra Nevada Give Alcoa Thumbs-Down?

We told you a few months ago that Sierra Nevada locating its East Coast brewery in Alcoa was not a done deal. Some other states, like Virginia, continued to sweeten the offer to locate the brewery and its adjacent pub complete with public tours.

It was announced last week that they wouldn't be coming to Blount County because of a problem with the water supply.

The Tennessee Legislature made a drastic change in state liquor laws to allow on-site consumption and to increase beer alcohol levels because Alcoa was the preferred site as the only East Coast brewery for the California company. The company also makes a big deal about its exhaustive search for the perfect environmentally correct site. Nobody checked the water until the deal was done?

It has been suggested the company is studying a "cooler" location like Asheville, N.C. If that's true, why was Alcoa (Alcoa!) the purported final choice except for the water issue? Some in the beverage industry suspect Tennessee's nutty beer distribution laws, which force bottlers to sell high-alcohol beer in liquor stores, may have played a much larger role than the water.

Meanwhile, company officials have said at various times they are not sure when the brewery will be built and that a decision "oscillates." A bad economy could also be playing a part in the decision.