In the vast landscape of craft breweries, one name stands out for its innovative vision, exceptional brews, and commitment to sustainability – New Belgium Brewing Company.
Founded in 1991 by Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, this pioneering brewery has carved its place in the hearts of beer enthusiasts worldwide. Join us as we delve into the captivating story of New Belgium Brewing Company, its inspirations, its owners, its finest beers, and the delightful tap room experience.
All about those Belgian Beers!
New Belgium Brewing Company had humble beginnings with a unique vision. Inspired by a bike trip through Belgium, co-founder Jeff Lebesch fell in love with Belgian-style beers and decided to create something extraordinary back in Fort Collins, Colorado. The idea was simple yet ambitious – to craft world-class beers, celebrate diverse flavors, and maintain an unwavering commitment to sustainability. The brewery’s name, “New Belgium,” reflects the founders’ desire to bring a taste of Belgian brewing traditions to the United States, while also symbolizing their innovative spirit in exploring new horizons.
Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan were the dynamic duo behind New Belgium Brewing Company’s inception. Jeff, a homebrewer, was the visionary with a passion for Belgian beers, while Kim brought her business acumen and determination to turn the dream into reality. Together, they transformed a tiny basement brewery into an industry-leading craft beer powerhouse.
Kim Jordan’s leadership played a pivotal role in shaping the brewery’s culture of employee ownership and environmental responsibility, making it one of the most admired breweries in the world.
Kim explained her decision to make the company 100 percent employee-owned. She believed that in America, the wealth disparity between different groups was increasing, and she wanted everyone in the organization to benefit from the company’s success. Full employee ownership aligned with her values and seemed like the best capitalization strategy for New Belgium. As a result, the brewery became fully employee-owned to ensure that all members of the organization could share in its value.
Ranked the fourth most popular in the U.S. in 2021, the company was also named one of the “25 Most Audacious Companies” by Inc. magazine. TNew Belgian Brewing also received recognition as one of the Best Places to Work by Outside Magazine, one of the Best Small Businesses by the Wall Street Journal, and a top company for cyclists according to Bicycling Magazine.
Iconic Flat Tire Amber Ale
New Belgium Brewery Company’s iconic beer, Fat Tire, has been a recognizable and reliable staple of the craft brewery movement for over three decades. With the craft brewery scene evolving since its debut in 1991, Fat Tire also adapted itself to a changing market. On January 18th 2023, the brewery is unveiling a brand-new version of Fat Tire with updated branding and artwork for its bottles, and a completely new recipe. Described as “easy drinking” with a “medium body, crisp finish, and deep gold color,” the reimagined amber ale maintains the original flavor while offering a crisper and brighter experience, according to New Belgium Brewmaster Christian Holbrook. The change has garnered positive feedback from longtime Fat Tire drinkers.
In 2019, Toronto-based Steam Whistle Brewing struck a deal for to brew New Belgium’s popular brand, Fat Tire Amber Ale, exclusively for the Canadian market. The beer was brewed at Steam Whistle’s facility in Etobicoke and distributed nationwide, following Belgian brewing traditions.
Belgium Beer on a Carbon-free path
New Belgium Brewing is partnering with AtmosZero, a local startup, to implement a climate initiative by replacing a natural-gas-powered boil kettle with an electric boiler using heat pump technology. Industrial heat production accounts for about 10% of global carbon dioxide pollution, making this transition crucial for sustainability. Heat pumps offer an efficient alternative, drawing heat from the surrounding air and converting it into steam, using half as much energy as other electric heating sources. This move reflects New Belgium’s commitment to eco-friendly brewing practices and highlights the potential of innovative technologies in reducing industrial impact on the environment.
What’s in store at New Belgium Brewing Company?
Stepping into New Belgium Brewing Company’s tap room is like entering a beer enthusiast’s dreamland. The tap room exudes a warm and welcoming ambiance, where visitors can enjoy a diverse lineup of freshly poured beers. The space is often adorned with unique artwork and exhibits reflecting the brewery’s commitment to art and community. Patrons can explore guided tours to witness the brewing process up close or relax on the outdoor patio, savoring the panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains.
The New Belgium Brewing Company boasts an impressive portfolio of beers that caters to a wide range of palates. Among their finest brews are:
- Fat Tire Amber Ale: The flagship beer that started it all, Fat Tire Amber Ale, is a balanced and flavorful Belgian-style ale with toasty maltiness and subtle fruitiness. It has become an icon in the craft beer scene, representing New Belgium’s commitment to quality and innovation.
- Voodoo Ranger Series: Under the Voodoo Ranger umbrella, New Belgium showcases a range of hop-forward brews, including Voodoo Ranger IPA, Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA, and Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. These bold and aromatic beers have garnered a loyal following among hopheads.
- La Folie: An exceptional sour brown ale, La Folie, showcases New Belgium’s mastery of barrel-aged beers. Its complex tartness and rich flavors of dark fruit and oak make it a favorite among sour beer enthusiasts.
- Trippel: Paying homage to its Belgian inspirations, New Belgium’s Trippel is a strong Belgian-style ale with spicy yeast notes and a subtle sweetness, making it a delightful choice for those seeking a classic Belgian experience.
Top Five Beers from New Belgium Brewery
New Belgium Brewery has gained a reputation for producing a diverse range of exceptional beers. Based on the data from Untapped, here are the top five beers from New Belgium Brewery that have received high praise and ratings:
- Fat Tire Ale
- Style: Golden Ale – American
- ABV: 5.2%
- IBU: 15
- Untapped Rating: 3.576
Fat Tire Ale is the flagship beer that put New Belgium Brewery on the map. It is a well-balanced and approachable golden ale with a smooth malt profile and a touch of hop bitterness. Its drinkability and refreshing character make it a favorite among both seasoned beer enthusiasts and newcomers to craft beer.
- Voodoo Ranger IPA
- Style: IPA – American
- ABV: 7%
- IBU: 50
- Untapped Rating: 3.661
Voodoo Ranger IPA is a bold and hop-forward American IPA. It boasts a higher alcohol content and a robust hop profile that brings out citrus, pine, and tropical fruit flavors. This beer is a fantastic choice for hopheads seeking a hoppy and aromatic experience.
- Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA
- Style: IPA – New England / Hazy
- ABV: 7.5%
- IBU: 42
- Untapped Rating: 3.78
Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA is a New England-style hazy IPA, known for its cloudy appearance and juicy, tropical fruit flavors. It has a slightly higher alcohol content than the regular Voodoo Ranger IPA and offers a smooth mouthfeel with a burst of hoppy goodness.
- Accumulation IPA
- Style: IPA – New England / Hazy
- ABV: 6.5%
- IBU: 70
- Untapped Rating: 3.625
Accumulation IPA is another delightful New England-style hazy IPA from New Belgium Brewery. It features a higher bitterness level, which balances well with the juicy and fruity hop flavors. This beer is a must-try for those who enjoy the hazy and cloudy IPA style.
- Style: Dark Ale
- ABV: 6%
- IBU: 21
- Untapped Rating: 3.688
1554 is a unique dark ale with a rich and complex flavor profile. It combines roasted malts with subtle sweetness, creating a harmonious balance of flavors. Its smooth and easy-drinking nature makes it a popular choice among fans of darker beer styles.
These five beers showcase the versatility and craftsmanship of New Belgium Brewery. Whether you prefer a classic golden ale, hoppy IPAs, or a flavorful dark ale, you’re sure to find a brew that suits your taste from this renown.
Conclusion: New Belgium Brewing Company’s journey from a bicycle trip through Belgium to become a leading craft brewery is a tale of passion, innovation, and community. With its commitment to sustainability and an incredible lineup of beers, it continues to make its mark on the craft beer world. So, the next time you’re in Fort Collins or stumble upon New Belgium’s beers at your local pub, take a moment to appreciate the Hoppy History behind this iconic brewery. Cheers to New Belgium Brewing Company and its enduring legacy in the world of craft beer!
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