New Belgium Brewery
Today, I went on a pilgrimage. Now, most pilgrimages involve a spiritual or religious goal. Good, handcrafted beer is about as spiritual as they come. They are special and something to be cherished. In my short time in Colorado, I have become rather partial to the New Belgium brand of brews. Today, I visited their brewery. Their home. Their Mothership. And they do things right.
I’ve had good days days in my life. I’ve enjoyed hot sulfur springs. I’ve slept in a hammock after raiding the fridge with a good friend, scoring cake and quesadillas. Heck, I’ve been born, which was a pretty big day for me. But today, I toured the New Belgium Brewery, and my thoughts on good days may have changed a little bit. I visited a bit of heaven today.
Right as you walk through the door, you are greeted by a friendly worker who is handing you tokens to sample beer. If you don’t go on a tour, you get three. If you do, you get five or six. By all means, go on the tour if you find yourself in Fort Collins. The beer received is the freshest available. During the tour, we all got a new sample of the flagship beer, Fat Tire. It was bottled a mere fifty minutes before the tasting, literally pulled off the bottling line as we walked through the door. I never considered freshness to be a huge component to beer drinking, believing only the subtleness or slight changes in the main flavor. This particular Fat Tire was the best Fat Tire I had ever had before, since the flavors all formed quickly around your tongue, nose, and taste buds to deliver an extraordinary beer experience. But I didn’t just get one really fresh beer, I got six, each delicious, flavorful, and fresh.
Beer aside (gasp!), the building, philosophy, and employees of New Belgium have something fun going on. Each are encouraged to bike to work, and to help this along, each employee gets a bike after a year of working there. Steps are taken to attempt to make the company as energy efficient as possible, but only about 15- to 20% of the energy used is self-sustaining, but the thought is definitely at the forefront of their business, not shipping to states too far away or goofy laws preventing them. But on top of a new bike, employees are on the front lines of quality control, meaning they get to test and enjoy new batches of beer every day. Basically, I’d be totally fine working there. The company is built around good beer, having fun, and their employee-owned business, which seems like a good idea to me.
However, I’m New Belgium-ed out for a while. I found and fell in love with a brewery here in Colorado, but it is pretty big. While the scale of the brewery is impressive and doesn’t seem to affect the quality of the beer, I get nervous in a brewery that big.
Tomorrow, I’ll be looking at something a little smaller. Really small. In fact, you can’t get the beer outside the doors.