New Belgium Brewing Company

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Coordinates: 40°35′35.12″N 105°4′8.51″W / 40.5930889°N 105.0690306°W / 40.5930889; -105.0690306

New Belgium Brewing Company
100% employee owned
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1991
Founder Jeff Lebesch, Kim Jordan[1]
Headquarters Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Number of locations
2 breweries: Fort Collins, CO, and Asheville, NC
Area served
Distributed nationwide in the U.S.
Products Beer
Production output
957,968 US barrels (2016)
Revenue $245 Million (est.) in 2015[2]
Owner 100% Employee-owned
Number of employees
783 (2016)[2]

New Belgium Brewing Company is a 100% employee-owned craft brewery located in Fort Collins, Colorado and the maker of Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale. It was opened in 1991 by Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan. In 2016, it produced 957,968 barrels of its various labels.[3] As of 2016, it was the fourth-largest craft brewery and eighth-largest overall brewery in the United States.[4]

Fat Tire, a belgian-style ale, is the company's flagship beer. It's also one of the largest producers of wood-aged sour beer in the United States; its sour beer flagship is La Folie Sour Brown Ale.


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."[5] The company's new logo "pays homage to the well-known Fat Tire brand bicycle" drawn by Anne Fitch.[5]

Esquire selected Fat Tire Amber Ale as one of the "Best Canned Beers to Drink Now" in a February 2012 article.[6]

The brewery makes 14 year-round beers:[7][8]

  • Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale, an amber ale, New Belgium's flagship beer
  • Fat Tire Belgian White, a Wit bier
  • Citradelic, Tangerine IPA
  • Glütiny Pale Ale, a gluten-reduced ale
  • 1554 Black Ale, a Belgian dark beer
  • Abbey Belgian Ale, an abbey dubbel beer
  • Trippel Belgian Style Ale, a Belgian-style tripel
  • Sunshine Wheat, an American-style wheat ale (listed as 'retired' in the 2017 press release but also noted as 'label change only')
  • Voodoo Ranger IPA (new in 2017)
  • Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA (new in 2017)
  • Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale (new in 2017)
  • Dayblazer Easygoing Ale (new in 2017)
  • Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale (new in 2017)
  • Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour Ale (new in 2017)
  • New Belgium Bohemian Pilsener (new in 2017)

In 2017 the following beers were retired:

  • Blue Paddle Pilsner, a Czech-style pilsener, replaced with the Bohemian Pilsener
  • Ranger IPA, an India pale ale (IPA), replaced with the Voodoo Ranger IPA
  • Rampant Imperial IPA, an American double/imperial IPA, replaced with Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA
  • Shift Pale Lager, an American pale lager
  • Slow Ride, a session IPA
  • Sunshine Wheat, an American-style wheat ale, replaced by Fat Tire Belgian White

New Belgium also makes various seasonal and limited-edition beers.


Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2007
Brewery in Asheville, North Carolina in 2017
New Belgium breweries in Fort Collins (top) and Asheville (bottom)

Before 2002, New Belgium distributed in only 16 states; by 2015, it had become the fourth-largest craft brewer in the country and the eighth-overall largest brewer in the United States.[9]

As of March 2015, New Belgium is distributed in Sweden.

As of October 2016, New Belgium is now available in 45 states.

As of August 2017, New Belgium is now available in 50 states.

New Belgium began constructing a 100,000 square-foot distribution center and second brewery in 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina. The brewery's potential capacity is 500,000 barrels per year. The facility went online in May 2016. In 2017, the Asheville Liquid Center, Brewery and Distribution Center achieved LEED Platinum, Gold and Silver certifications, respectively.

Business and production[edit]

New Belgium's main brewery is in Fort Collins. In 2013, New Belgium had some 480 employees and more than $180 million in sales.[10] It has had an employee stock ownership plan since 2000 and in January 2013 became 100 percent employee-owned[10] through an ESOP.[11] 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.[10] The company has low (3 percent) annual turnover, and a tenth of the brewery's employees may take extended leave in any given year.[10] Employees who become part-owners of the business are recognized at an annual Ownership Induction Ceremony and are presented with a cruiser bicycle recalling the company's symbol.[10] The company was named one of the "25 Most Audacious Companies" by Inc. magazine.[10]

In May 2014, New Belgium began work on a second brewery in Asheville, North Carolina, which became fully operational in May 2016.[12] The brewery is positioned along the French Broad River on Craven Street in Asheville's River Arts District, just ten miles away from the expansion facility of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.[13] New Belgium's brewery, which is 133,000 square feet, has capacity to produce up to a half-million barrels of beer.[12] New Belgium plans to invest $175 million in the new facility over seven years.[12] Excluding construction jobs, New Belgium plans to employ 154 workers.[13]

Label design[edit]

Most of New Belgium's beer labels were initially designed by Anne Fitch, a watercolorist whose work appeared on all New Belgium beers for 19 years.[5] In 2006, Fitch artwork appeared on each of the over 125 million bottles sold by New Belgium,[14] In 2010, however, New Belgium unveiled its four-beer Explore Series, whose labels featured a different design. 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."[15]

Business and energy practices[edit]

Brewery interior

The brewery was founded by husband-and-wife (now divorced)[16] 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 1998 New Belgium Brewing made it a goal to offset 100% of its electricity through the city's wind-power program.[17] 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.[18][19] About 15% of the brewery's power comes from methane gas created as a byproduct of their on-site water treatment plant.[20] An additional 3% comes from a 300kW solar array on the brewery's packaging hall in Fort Collins.

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.[21]

In 2008, Outside magazine named New Belgium Brewing Company the best place to work in America in the 250+ employee category.[22] Company culture and perks were mentioned in the accolade and such examples include the brewery's Wellness Committee planning activities, such as bike tours, for employees to participate in.[23] In Outside’s The Best Places to Work 2013 list, New Belgium Brewery was ranked 17th and listed as having 484 employees.[24]


  1. ^ "Bios" (PDF). New Belgium Brewing. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "New Belgium Brewing". Inc. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "New Belgium FAQ". New Belgium Website. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  4. ^ "Brewers Association Releases Top 50 Breweries of 2016". Brewers Association. March 15, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Bryer, Amy (7 July 2006). "New Belgium Brewing rolls out icon tied to Fat Tire beer". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 21 March 2008. 
  6. ^ "Best Canned Beers to Drink Now". Esquire. Yahoo! News. 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  7. ^ "GRAFF(T): Seattle Cider, Two Beers and New Belgium Brewing release collab next week". (Press release). New Belgium Brewing Company, Two Beers Brewing Co., Seattle Cider Company. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "New Beers Coming for 2017". Retrieved 2017-06-09. 
  9. ^ New Belgium Brewing bringing its craft beer to Mississippi, Feb. 21, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Leigh Buchanan, The 25 Most Audacious Companies: It's All About Ownership, Inc., Apr. 18, 2013.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c New Belgium Brewing to start work on $175m Asheville facility, DBR, March 17, 2014.
  13. ^ a b Tony Weiss, Asheville brewers cheer planned New Belgium expansion in River Arts District, Asheville Citizen Times, April 6, 2012.
  14. ^ Living on Earth: Green Brewery Accessed March 21, 2008
  15. ^ Interview with Kim Jordan Accessed 3/21/08
  16. ^ [1] Jennifer Wang 11/2009
  17. ^ "New Belgium, Sustainability". Retrieved April 28, 2006. 
  18. ^ "City of Fort Collins, Wind Power Program". Retrieved April 28, 2006. 
  19. ^ "City of Fort Collins, Commercial Subscribers". Archived from the original on March 14, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2006. 
  20. ^ "New Belgium, Process Water Treatment Facility". Archived from the original on March 20, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2006. 
  21. ^ "New Belgium Saves Gas, Water with Closed-Loop Brew Kettle". Retrieved May 25, 2009. 
  22. ^ Arnold, Katie (2008-05-07). "The Best Places to Work in 2008". Outside Online. Retrieved 2017-04-07. 
  23. ^ "New Belgium Brewing Company; 2007 Sustainability Report" (PDF). 2007. Retrieved 7 April 2017. 
  24. ^ "The 100 Best Places to Work in 2013". Outside Online. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2017-04-07. 

External links[edit]