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Archive for June 6th, 2008

While I was out in Chicago for the 2008 National Restaurant Association Show, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend the first NRA Wine, Spirits & Beer Event.

One of the beer exhibitors was non other than New Belgium Brewing Company — one of the most unique and environmetally friendly craft brewing companies in the United States. Back in March, I wrote a special St. Patty’s day about “the real green beer,” which highlighted sustainable and environmentally conscientious brewing companies. The most impressive, in my eyes, was New Belgium.

New Belgium is infamous on the West Coast for its Fat Tire Amber Ale.

Fat Tire Amber Ale: “Named in honor of our founder Jeff’s bike trip through Belgium, Fat Tire Amber Ale marks a turning point in the young electrical engineer’s home brewing. Belgian beers use a far broader pallet of ingredients (fruits, spices, esoteric yeast strains) than German or English styles. Jeff found the Belgian approach freeing.”

Unfortunately, New Belgium is not currently available in Ohio. HOWEVER — The Beer Wench did receive notice in Chicago that New Belgium would be expanding into Ohio in the near future. Cavalier is the distributor that will be importing the beer across the border. CHEERS TO THAT!!!

True to its name, New Belgium has an awesome list of Belgium Ales that I am just dying to try. Here are a few that particularly interest me:

ABBEY Belgian Style Ale: Winner of four World Beer Cup medals and eight medals at the Great American Beer Fest, Abbey Belgian Ale is the Mark Spitz of New Belgium’s lineup – but it didn’t start out that way. When Jeff and Kim first sampled the beer at the Lyons Folks Fest, reviews were mixed at best. One of founder Jeff’s first two Belgian style homebrews (along with Fat Tire), Abbey is a Belgian dubbel (or double) brewed with six different malts and an authentic Belgian yeast strain. Abbey is bottle-conditioned, weighs in at 7.0% alcohol by volume, and pairs well with chocolate (or boldly served by itself) for dessert.

TRIPPEL Belgian Style Ale: Our Trippel Belgian Style Ale (pronounced triple) opens with a bold blast of hops that slowly gives way to the fruity esters implied by our Belgian yeast strain. The Three Graces hand-painted on the label are Zeus’s daughters Aglaia (splendor), Euphrosyne (mirth) and Thalia (good cheer). In the Belgian tradition of brewing singles, doubles and triples, Trippel is the strongest with the longest fermentation. Remarkably smooth and complex, our bottle-conditioned Trippel is spiced with a trace of coriander.

ABOUT NEW BELGIUM BREWING COMPANY

Our Story.

We’ll set the scene.

1989. Belgium. Boy on bike. (Ok, make that a young man of 32).

As our aspiring young homebrewer rides his mountain bike with “fat tires” through European villages famous for beer, New Belgium Brewing Company was but a glimmer in his eye. Or basement. For Jeff Lebesch would return to Fort Collins with a handful of ingredients and an imagination full of recipes.

And then there was beer.

Jeff’s first two basement-brewed creations? A brown dubbel with earthy undertones named Abbey and a remarkably well-balanced amber he named Fat Tire. To say the rest was history would be to overlook his wife’s involvement. Kim Jordan was New Belgium’s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer and financial planner.

And now, she’s our CEO.

Electrical engineer meets social worker; ideals flourish

The other side of the New Belgium story isn’t as romantic as bicycling through Europe, but it gives testament to our dedication and hard work. And it goes like this: Jeff, an electrical engineer by day and tinkerer by nature, builds a homebrewing kit in his basement out of repurposed dairy equipment. His Belgian inspired brews garnered enough praise from friends and neighbors that Jeff and Kim take their basement brewery commercial in 1991.

Kim, social worker by day and mother to two always, began the marketing process by knocking on their neighbor’s door. Anne Fitch was that neighbor and her watercolors are the artwork we continue to use on our labels today. With labeled bottles and local encouragement, the first Belgian-style beers brewed in the United States were officially for sale.
What else continues today? The ideals that Kim and Jeff built New Belgium Brewing Company on, from their basement operation to our first brewery in a railroad depot to our current sustainable home on 50 acres.

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