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Sierra Nevada beer bound for NC arrive in SC

A crane lifts a massive beer brewing tank from a ship at port in Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The tank, shipped from Germany, is being shipped to a new Sierra Nevada Brewing Company brewery being built near Asheville, N.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Something big was on tap at the Port of Charleston on Tuesday as workers unloaded 28 mammoth beer brewing tanks for a new Sierra Nevada brewery near Asheville, N.C.

The tanks, shipped from Germany and some of them big enough to hold 3,200 kegs of beer, were lifted by an overhead crane off a ship, swung over the pier and then loaded onto flatbed trailers.

They were taken to another part of the port for temporary storage and will be trucked to Asheville in a few days. Sierra Nevada announced last year it is building a new brewery in Mills River, about 12 miles south of Asheville.

Bill Manley, the director of product development for Sierra Nevada, said the tanks were ordered from Germany because tanks from there are also used to make beer at the company's original brewery.

"Our brewery in Chico, Calif., has the same equipment and we want to make sure with this new brewery that the dimensions of the tank and the make of the tank is the same that we have in California. We're trying to match the flavor profiles of the beers from both breweries," he said.

But Asheville's plant, where Manley said brewing is expected to start this fall, will be using North Carolina water, not that from California.

"The water on our site in Mills River is excellent, excellent brewing water," he said. "We can adjust the minerality in the water so we can match the Chico water exactly from a chemical standpoint. So that should be no problem at all and the other raw materials are going to come from the same sources."

He said the company decided to open the North Carolina brewery because it has been doing more business on the East Coast. Manley said it made sense from both a financial and environmental standpoint to save the shipping from Northern California.

The new brewery is expected to employ about 90 people, most from the Asheville area. It's being built on a 90-acre tract and will have a restaurant and gift shop. The brewery is expected to be open for tours beginning next year.