New Belgium Brewing Company
|Headquarters||Fort Collins, Colorado, USA|
|Production output||712,800 US barrels (2011)|
|Revenue||$179.6 Million in 2012|
New Belgium Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Fort Collins, Colorado. It opened in 1991 after Jeff Lebesch, the brewery's founder, took his homebrewing passion commercially. In 2011, it produced 712,800 barrels of its various labels. As of 2012, it was the third-largest craft brewery and eighth-largest overall brewery in the United States.
Fat Tire, an amber ale, is the company's flagship beer.
The Fat Tire recipe originates from a co-founder's bicycle trip through Belgium from brewery to brewery. The company promotes its Fat Tire ale locally by the public placement of colorful vintage bicycles outside its brewery, which is located adjacent to the public bike path along the Cache La Poudre River.
In 2006 NBB changed its logo because they realized that beer drinkers could identify the Fat Tire label, but "didn't recognize the brewery label, or make the connection that New Belgium brewed Fat Tire and other best-selling brands, such as Sunshine Wheat." The company's new logo "pays homage to the well-known Fat Tire brand bicycle" drawn by Anne Fitch.
The brewery makes nine year-round beers:
- Fat Tire, an amber ale, New Belgium's flagship beer
- Ranger IPA - an India pale ale (IPA)
- Rampant Imperial IPA - an American double/imperial IPA
- Shift Pale Lager - an American pale lager
- Sunshine Wheat - an American-style wheat ale
- 1554 Black Lager - a Belgian dark beer
- Blue Paddle Pilsner - a Czech-style pilsener
- Abbey Belgian Ale - an abbey dubbel beer
- Trippel Belgian Style Ale - a Belgian-style tripel
New Belgium also makes various seasonal and limited-edition beers.
Before 2002, New Belgium distributed in only 16 states; by 2010, it had become the third-largest craft brewer in the country and the seventh-overall largest brewer in the United States.
It expanded operations in 2002 to be able to distribute to California. In spring 2006, the brewery began to distribute some of their beers in other markets. Bottles of Fat Tire distributed in Chicago claim "Chicago Inaugural: The 1st Fat Tire Ale served (legally) in the second city." In June 2007 Fat Tire, Skinny Dip, 1554 and Mothership Wit became available in Illinois. By the summer of 2007, New Belgium expanded distribution again to include Iowa and select areas of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro area in Minnesota. Beginning in July 2008, Fat Tire, 1554, Mothership Wit, and seasonal brews are also served in Tennessee. In March 2009, these beers also became available in North Carolina. In April 2009, in response to huge demand, Fat Tire became available in Indiana. In May 2009 Fat Tire became available in Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In 2011, the company added Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., bringing the total distribution to 29 states. New Belgium Brewing began distribution in Michigan in August 2012. In April 2013, New Belgium began distribution into Louisiana and Florida starting with 22 oz. bottles, and later on introducing 12 oz. bottles and kegs in Louisiana. In March 2014, New Belgium began distribution in Alabama and Mississippi, bringing its total distribution to 37 states; the brewery plans to expand distribution to Kentucky and Hawaii by the end of 2014.
New Belgium began constructing a 100,000 square-foot distribution center in 2014 in Enka, North Carolina. It will distribute 500,000 barrels per year that are scheduled to be brewed at the Asheville, North Carolina brewery and employ 140 people between the two facilities.
Business and production
New Belgium's main brewery is in Fort Collins. In 2013, New Belgium had some 480 employees and more than $180 million in sales. It has had an employee stock ownership plan since 2000 and in January 2013 became 100 percent employee-owned  through an ESOP. A 2014 documentary called We The Owners examined New Belgium's focus on employee-ownership and how that shapes its overall culture of collaboration.
New Belgium is known for its quirky corporate culture; the company employs eight "carnies," who work the brewery's Tour de Fat fundraising events, in addition to chemists, microbiologists, electricians, forklift operators, and engineers. The company has low (3 percent) annual turnover, and a tenth of the brewery's employees may take extended leave in any given year. Employees who become part-owners of the business are recognized at a semiannual Ownership Induction Ceremony and are presented with a cruiser bicycle recalling the company's symbol. The company was named one of the "25 Most Audacious Companies" in Inc. magazine.
In May 2014, New Belgium plans to begin work on a second brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. The brewery will be on Craven Street in Asheville's River Arts District, just ten miles away from the expansion facility of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. New Belgium's brewery, which will be 133,000 square feet, is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2015 and will produce up to a half-million barrels of the brewery's Fat Tire amber ale and 1554 black lager. New Belgium plans to invest $175 million in the new facility over seven years. Excluding construction jobs, New Belgium plans to employ 154 workers.
Most of New Belgium's beer labels are designed by Anne Fitch, a watercolorist whose work appeared on all New Belgium beers for 19 years. In 2006, Fitch artwork appeared on each of the over 125 million bottles sold by New Belgium, In 2010, however, New Belgium unveiled its four-beer Explore Series, whose labels featured a different design. New Belgium's other beers continue to use Fitch illustrations.
Kim Jordan, the president of New Belgium Brewery, credits the success of New Belgium Brewery in part on Fitch's artwork: "Our beers were good, our labels were interesting to people, and we pretty quickly had a fairly robust following."
Business and energy practices
The brewery was founded by husband-and-wife (now divorced) team Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan in 1991 and emphasizes eco-friendly practices and employee ownership in its marketing materials. It is located in northeast Fort Collins near the Cache la Poudre River on the grounds of the former Great Western Sugar plant.
In 2008, New Belgium Brewing Company was named the best place to work in America by Outside magazine. This could be attributed to the brewery's efforts to ensure the "wellness" of their employees. Once a month the brewery's Wellness Committee meets to discuss activities, such as bike tours, for employees to participate in. In the Outside The Best Places to Work 2013, New Belgium Brewery was ranked 17th and listed as having 484 employees.
New Belgium Brewery has made it a goal to be entirely wind-powered. Rather than directly using wind-generated power, the brewery elects to pay an increased rate for their electrical energy, which is supplied by the City of Fort Collins Utilities to ensure it comes from the cleanest source possible. About 10% of the brewery's power comes from methane gas created as a byproduct of their on-site water treatment plant.
The brewery also uses an energy-efficient kettle for the brewing process. The Steinecker Merlin kettle heats twice as quickly by boiling thin sheets of wort in the entire kettle at once. This provides significant savings in natural gas consumption.
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