New Belgium Brewing

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Located in: North America United States Colorado Fort Collins

Magically Delicious Craft Beer

New Belgium Brewery
I still remember my first sip of Fat Tire. I was at work, (relax I worked at a liquor store wine market) and the beer buyer who was in charge of my beerducation had me try it. A burst of sunlight broke through the clouds, an angelic choir sang, yadda yadda, it was magical. Before that first ambrosial sip, I was a Miller High Life & Pabst kinda gal — Blue Moon if I was feeling “fancy”, but Fat Tire opened my eyes to a whole new world of beer. So, visiting New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins was something of a pilgrimage —a visit to the Holy Land of craft brewing, if you will.

We were lucky enough to score spots on an afternoon tour. (Book 2 months in advance for a spot on the tour.) After landing in Denver one wintry afternoon, we hopped into my brother’s jeep (thanks Ben!) and drove straight to Fort Collins. After a lamentably brief stop at nearby Odell Brewing Co., we finally arrived in the Promised Land.

The tap room is filled with happy people enjoying delicious craft beer. A riot of artwork dedicated to New Belgium’s iconic bikes and brews explodes from the rafters and corners creating a unique and tailor-made drinking experience. Although it’s tempting to belly up to the bar immediately, we suggest you first check in for your tour and wait. The tour, which is free by the way, generously plies you with everything the brewery has on tap, so hold off until your tour starts.

Tap room at New Belgium Brewery

Tours are led by gregarious guides who are knowledgeable and passionate about their beer and the company that makes it. You start off with a brief introduction to the history and culture of New Belgium, which is accompanied by your first sample. Then you head upstairs to the most stunning brewhouse on earth…
New Belgium Brewery Brewhouse
…complete with disco ball and bike rim chandeliers…
New Belgium Brewery Disco Balls
…Belgian beer glass trees…
Beer Glass Tree
…and pull-your-own-draft samples.
Pull your own pints at New Belgium Brewery
New Belgium is now the seventh largest brewer in the US, but their size has not compromised their dedication to their craft or their company culture. The company is 100% employee owned, and the benefits of working there are undeniable. One of the most visible perks are the bikes. On each employee’s first anniversary, they receive a limited edition bike, similar to the one that founder Jeff Lebesch rode on his inspirational bike trip through Belgium. Each year the bike is different, so you can tell how long someone has been working at the brewery by their wheels.
New Belgium Brewery Anniversary Bikes
Employees also enjoy playing ping-ping (pint pong?) on the canning line.
Ping Pong at New Belgium Brewery
This part of the brewery is also graced with candeliers. Wouldn’t you like one of these for your house? Time to start collecting cans! We also got to try their fabulous Shift beer at this point in the tour. Shift, an APA/Lager, is what each employee gets as a free drink after, you guessed it, their shift is done for the day.
Chandelier made from New Belgium Brewery Beer Cans
New Belgium is also home to the fantastical “foeder forest”. Here, their foeders (giant wooden wine barrels) are used to age their fabulous sour beers. And yes, we got to try more beer here!
Foeder Forest New Belgium Brewery
We have been on a lot of brewery tours, but New Belgium blew us away with their passion, dedication and commitment to excellence. Visiting the brewery was like entering  a fantastical world of pure fermentation.

Know Before You Go

Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm. Tours run frequently, but you must reserve a spot.

Bottom Line

This marriage of beer, passion and artistry is not to be missed. A beer drinkers nirvana.

4 responses to “New Belgium Brewing”

  1. avatar Sue says:

    We were just in Fort Collins last weekend – a lovely town which seems to consist solely of microbreweries, restaurants, a yarn store (with a university somewhere in there too). Did you guys ever visit the tiny store called “Science Toy Magic”? For some reason it made us think of Ryan – you’d both love it. The owner is a kick.

    • avatar Kindra says:

      Sadly we confined our time in Fort Collins to eating and visiting breweries – but we’ll go back soon and check out that store. It sounds amazing!

  2. You’ve got quite a list of breweries! Isn’t it fun traveling around beer? Next time you’re in the San Francisco area you’ll have to stop by 🙂

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Last updated: February 28, 2014