Cyclocross Magazine, along with a handful of other publications, had the opportunity to take a tour of Paul Component Engineering’s factory, ride Chico’s trails and tour the Sierra Nevada brewery in May last year. We’re back at the 2017 event (with the only returning journalist), but in case you missed it, we’re resurfacing the tale of our journey from last year. Come along for a photo-heavy factory and brewery tour, a look at the Paul Component Engineering’s history and a slideshow filled with eye candy. And stay tuned to our Instagram feed for the latest from 2017.
A View Into the Brew
Paul Price leads a group of journalists on his Soulcraft monster cross bike through the streets of downtown Chico at a relaxed pace. It’s our third ride in two days, all at a pretty leisurely pace, each with some 21-and-over refreshment options at the end or in the middle. It’s a unique press event. Since arriving in Chico, we haven’t raced each other anywhere, haven’t set any Strava KOMs, haven’t worn lycra or been inside a car, and yet we still have seen so much.
We’re in plain clothes, many are without helmets, and we’re heading to the Sierra Nevada brewery for a tour. Consistent with the rest of the Paul press camp, it’s not just the standard brewery tour, but a unique, behind-the-scenes VIP tour that highlights the pride the brewery has in not only its products, but in its process, ingredients and philosophy.
The intimate tour showcases the full cone hops used in every Sierra Nevada brew (some brewers use fragments or extracts), the impressive, storied equipment (some used continuously since the early years), the small experimental batches created on site, and the company’s initiatives to minimize environmental impact while giving back locally. The employees we meet are passionate about the product, and don’t shy from opportunities to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and test their employer’s products.
Price, in his humble way, beams with pride as we marvel at Sierra Nevada’s results and attention to detail. He’s quietly proud if it all, whether it’s the on-site generation of solar power, hops grown in the campus garden, numbers-oriented, precision approach to brewing, or the finished creations in the pub and restaurant. It’s almost as if he works here.
Price is a celebrity at the Sierra Nevada brewery. Workers smile, shake his hand and ask about his company and personal life. One waitress hands him his personal pint glass, a rare privilege for longtime customers, and seats us at a long table. On the table are three aluminum machined mustard caddies. Look carefully and you’ll see Paul Component Engineering’s fingerprints all over them. He made them. There must be a few hundred of them in the brewery’s restaurant, and he proudly uses them every time he dines at the restaurant.
The Chico-based bicycle component maker isn’t a founder or owner of Sierra Nevada brewery. Yet the progressive, Chico beer giant seems to embody everything Price believes in. Price won’t admit it, and probably doesn’t consciously think about it, but by taking journalists on a lengthy, behind-the-scenes brewery tour, he had a convenient, symbolic way to reveal what’s important to him and his business, without having to say it himself. Swap out full cone hops with American-sourced aluminum and we could have been learning about Paul Component Engineering instead.
Keep reading to learn about the return of purple Paul parts.