New Belgium Brewing Company
This so-called microbrewery has made a name for itself with its Fat Tire beer and as the first wind-powered brewery in the U.S. The company was started in 1991 through inspiration from Belgium-style recipes (and wide European bike tires).
How It Started
Biking through Belgium in 1988, a young couple was inspired to bring the flavors of centuries-old Belgium-style beer to the little town of Fort Collins, Colorado. Just a couple years later, Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch, co-founders of New Belgium Brewing, decided to install brewing equipment in the basement of their home in Fort Collins.
With the brewing started, Kim become the woman wearing many hats: first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer, financial planner, and the CEO. All of this hard work that Kim put into growing this brewery ended up turning it into a household name, and one of the most successful craft breweries in the country. Their most well-known beer, Fat Tire, had it’s beginning in 1991. This amber ale started it’s test batches, along with a beer called Abbey and was sold for the first time in June of 1991 at the Colorado Brewers Festival.
A few years later, that Abbey Ale won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in the Specialty Category. This was especially huge because at this time, Belgium beers were not very common and there wasn’t even a category at the festival for this type of brew. Then in 1995, their current space was no longer working and they moved a few blocks down the street to their current location at 500 Linden Street.
In 1999, they began their tradition of a New Belgium-branded anniversary bikes, which involves them awarding employees with a cruiser on their one-year anniversary, and this tradition continues today.
The next venture they started was their release of a sour beer. This began with their first batch of La Folie Sour Brown Ale, that they hand-bottled and sold in early 2000. This was a beer that was fitting to their Belgium inspiration, and it was aged in a collection of French-oak wine barrels. They continued to grow their sour beer production by receiving their first two-story French-oak foeders to continue brewing sour beers.
Over the next ten to fifteen years they continued to make impactful changes in their company, from creating an in-house sustainability department, to implementing what at the time was the largest private solar array, to becoming 100% employee owned in 2012.
New Belgium Brewing Company also launched the Tour de Fat, a bicycling festival that encourages participants to trade their car for a bike, a costume and a beer (but to drink and bike responsibly).
Visit them today!
Tours of the New Belgium Brewing Company facility (accompanied by a beer) are free. Beer is kept on-tap in the Liquid Center, where visitors can enjoy the brew, grab some grub and become part of the movement with New Belgium goods.
Add this Colorado brewery as your next stop to visit in Fort Collins or Asheville!