Finally! New Belgium Brewery To Expand To Virginia
We’re not even a week into 2011, but for craft beer fans in Virginia, good news is already rolling in. Although a definite time table is unlikely to have been set, the well known and respected craft brewery New Belgium (Colorado) apparently has made plans to expand distribution, finally, to the state this year. For those of us, like myself, who have ever enjoyed even their most arguably popular brew – their amber ale “Fat Tire”, the news is long overdue.
The easy to like but flavorful Fat Tire seems to have generated its own craft beer cult status over the years, but those more familiar with New Belgium Brewing will tell you there are a great many more reasons to become a fan for this particular brewery, reasons that have earned it a spot as the third largest craft brewery in America. Born out of a basement home brewing operation by a husband (part time home brewer) and wife (marketing and sales) team and inspired by a romantic story of a cycling trip through some of Europe’s “villages famous for beer”, New Belgium continues to impress on several different fronts. For fans of going green, one is definitely the brewery’s own self sustainability. From the beginning, a conscious effort to be as eco friendly as possible – the basement brewery was fashioned from old dairy equipment – has evolved into an impressive operation which is constantly looking for new ways to be environmentally conscious. The brew kettle was apparently a first of its kind, designed to be sixty five percent more energy efficient than a standard one. Escaping steam from the brewery is captured to heat the next batches of beer, the brewery’s waste water treatment plant produces methane that is re-used within the brewery for energy, and several years ago, the employees voted to have the remainder of the brewery’s power be produced by a wind farm. By the way, the brewery, like some other craft breweries, is employee owned.
But what about the beer, right? Internet reviews of their beers show a reputation for quality, good tasting beers down the line. Many of their beers score highly on sites like beeradvocate.com, among both readers and editors. Personally, I’ve always thought that at least a couple of New Belgium’s beers have always had an additional, interesting slant – not just the ability to change the minds about craft beer of those new to it, but to do it somewhat easily. It’s the ability to lead the craft beer curious closer to that ledge, and often to get them diving right off into that refreshing lagoon that so many, like myself, never come back from – we’ve found our island paradise. Led by the flagship Fat Tire, even their popular, hoppy “Ranger” IPA possess the two qualities that are necessary to do this, and are often hard to find as well done as they are in Fat Tire and Ranger – good, flavorful beer, even complex, but with enough likable character to cause even the apprehensive of craft beer curious drinkers to take that second, third, and fourth sips. Suddenly, the whole darn beer is gone, and then those eventual words of judgment come out, said with both a measure of pleasant satisfaction and surprise – “hmm. Ok, ok. That was pretty darn good”.
Whether or not you’re familiar with their beers or not, if you live in Virginia, we’re all about to get a bit luckier. Hopefully sooner rather than later we’ll be able to pick up that Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, their very popular seasonal Hoptober Golden Ale, or the 1554 Black Ale around the corner rather than on long road trips or in restaurants in other states. Expansion to Virginia is a big win for craft beer enthusiasts in the state. As craft beer interest grows in mid sized Virginia cities like my own here in Roanoke, I think I can say for all that we definitely welcome New Belgium and their good, well made beers to our shelves. I can definitely see a lazy warm afternoon sometime off in the future where a Fat Tire will fit in rather nicely.
Visit their website to learn more about their story, their sustainability efforts, and their informational and sometimes hilarious videos.