Aren't journeys to find yourself supposed to be a daunting test of faith? Biking across Belgium and stopping at any brewery or pub that strikes your fancy, however, sounds more like an ideal Saturday afternoon than an epic quest. But after returning to America from his vision quest, Jeff Lebesch knew what he had to do: Brew beer in his basement. Sure, the beginnings of the New Belgium Brewery weren't exactly glamorous, but New Belgium Fat Tire took off in no time, and the company has been using that same spirit to brew a range of beers we'd happily bike around for.
Visit the New Belgium Brewery:
If you're in Colorado or North Carolina, don't miss a chance to tour the New Belgium Brewery and sample some of its distinct Belgium-inspired beers. The Colorado location is in Fort Collins, which is just up I-25 from Denver. The Liquid Center tasting room will make you feel like you've hopped a plane and landed in Belgium, and you won't want to leave until you've given every product a try. There's plenty of art, some hilarious storytelling and other activities. Tours last 90 minutes and start every half-hour.
You'll get the same treatment in Asheville, North Carolina, though you might get to sample other types of beers, depending on the time of year. Both locations feature gorgeous interior and exterior design as well as Lebesch's signature stamp on every beer.
Try New Belgium Brewery Beers:
If you've never visited Belgium, you might not know that beers from this corner of the world often taste richer than those from other places. Even if you can't visit the brewery in person, you can still sample some of their most popular beers from the comfort of your own home. Before you know it, you'll feel like a legitimate Belgian.
You don't have to visit Belgium to learn why Belgium beers always taste the best.
Lately we just can’t get enough of the delicious craft brews coming from the incredible breweries across Colorado. We caught up with the hopheads at New Belgium Brewing for a little behind the scenes peek at their operations and got the deets on how you can score one of those amazing New Belgium bikes. (Spoiler alert: it ain’t easy!) New Belgium brews six beers year-round. Their flagship beer, Fat Tire Ale is still one of the most popular. With the opening of their new East Coast brewery in North Carolina, we can’t wait to get our hands on more of their selection!
New Belgium? What happened to Old Belgium? No, but really, what’s the story in a nutshell?
NBB: Our story actually does start in Belgium in the early 90s when our co-founder, Jeff Lebesch, traveled through European villages with his “fat tire” bike. While enjoying Belgian beer, the glimmer of starting a brewery in the U.S. began. Belgian-style beers were pretty uncommon at the time and when Jeff returned home from the trip he started working on his first two basement brews, Abbey and Fat Tire.
Coast-to-coast breweries? Tell us about your breweries and why you chose the locations you did.
NBB: Our founders lived in Ft. Collins, Colo., when the brewery first came to life. When their basement couldn’t hold any more beer, they decided to build a brewery. Right now we’re building a second facility in Asheville, N.C., a town that has a lot in common with Ft. Collins.
We know parents ‘can’t’ pick their favorite child, but we have to ask – what’s your favorite New Belgium brew?
NBB: Parents DO have a favorite – and they never, ever tell!
Why is sustainability so important to New Belgium as a company?
NBB: We’re here to do more than just make great beer. From the beginning, Kim and Jeff instilled company values that are still at the core of the brewery today. These values include environmental stewardship and cultivating authentic relationships. We love helping others and the planet and want to do our part to give back to both.
HOW do we get one of those bikes??
NBB: Either bribe a co-worker to sell you one or you can link up with one of our non-profit partners and attend a benefit raffle or auction. Feeling lucky? You might have a shot.
What’s the craziest thing you guys have ever brewed?
NBB: After the success of Cocoa Mole (our spiced chocolate porter), we looked into brewing another beer inspired by a cuisine’s unique flavors and ended up with a Lips of Faith beer called Coconut Curry Hefeweizen. We got the spices, coconut powder and just about everything we needed – and completely jacked our brewhouse. Where a brew would normally go in and out in about two hours, this one was more like 30 hours. It turned out pretty good though.
What’s the perfect food pairing for Fat Tire Amber Ale?
NBB: There are a lot of foods that complement Fat Tire and vice-versa, but hands down, NOTHING beats smoked gouda. Seriously, the creaminess of the cheese is perfectly cut with the sweetness of the beer and the malt and smoke combine exquisitely. It dings every happy flavor button you’ve got.
If you could share a New Belgium brew with any historical figure, who would it be?
NBB: We gave this question to one of our brewers, Matty Gilliland. He says it’s a tough one but Leif Erikson would be cool. Aside from being a badass explorer, he was a Viking and would appreciate a fine ale. The history buffs around New Belgium would probably pick his brain about explorations of Greenland, Iceland and Newfoundland, plus compare notes on proper beard care and styling.
During Jeff’s bike trip around Belgium, what was his favorite brewery?
NBB: There were many beloved breweries visited on that trip, but perhaps the most important stop was at the bar Brugs Beertje in Brugges, Belgium. In this tiny enclave off the town square, Jeff spent an entire day drinking beer and learning about Belgium culture with owner proprietor Daisy Claeys. At the end of that day, Jeff vowed to return to the US and focus his homebrewing efforts on Belgian style beers. In short order he created Abbey Dubbel style ale and a little amber ale he named Fat Tire in honor of his trip. The rest, of course, is craft beer history….