New Belgium, Welcome. Just So You Know, Virginia Is For Lovers (Of Craft Beer).

It’s not difficult to find stories with a certain romantic feel woven into the beer world.  You simply cannot be one of the world’s oldest beverages and not emanate tales that seem to be surrounded by the soft golden light of delicate reminiscence.  Cloistered monks brewing complex Trappist ales behind their walls, tales of beers which developed their unique tastes from cross oceanic voyages, and the mere mention of countries such as Germany, Britain, and Belgium usher forth accounts which border on legend, intriguing and interesting tales that seem to be perfect for retelling around the fireplace, or better yet, at a cozy pub over a couple of pints.

Good for us, fans of well crafted beer and the beer curious, that these kinds of wonderful stories are not resigned to times long ago and monks vowed to near silence.  Thankfully, they continue to occur today, in the form of craft breweries such as Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing.  As the story goes, the idea for the brewery began to form in 1989 for co founder Jeff Lebesch as he took a personal tour, on bicycle no less, of European villages known for their beer.  Upon returning home to Colorado, Lebesch converted dairy equipment into a home brewing operation in his basement, and began to brew based upon the inspiration gained during his travels.  According to the brewery’s website, friends and neighbors were some of the first taste testers, and their positive feedback gave Jeff and his wife Kim the idea to move forward with the brewery, taking it commercial in 1991.  But our romantic tale doesn’t end there.  The couple wanted to develop a mission statement that was true to all the things important to them, and decided that taking a hiking trip into the inspiring Rocky Mountains with “jug of home brew in one hand and pen and pad in the other” would be the perfect setting to develop one.  They returned having written down many of the core values they would base the brewery upon, which included not only making world class beers, but also creating a company dedicated to “authentic relationships” with their employees and one devoted to environmental stewardship.  Today, the employee owned brewery has become the third largest craft brewery in the United States while not only maintaining but furthering those philosophies.  The romantic story of touring European villages on bicycle, absorbing hundreds of years of beer lineage to return and found what has become one of the most appreciated American craft breweries definitely is a tale for fitting for our cozy pub.

But what of the bike?  The now famous mountain bike with the “fat tires” became the brewery’s logo and the inspiration for their flagship beer’s name, and after months of anticipation, has finally rolled into my own state of Virginia.  Announced just recently, August 22nd will the official release date for New Belgium beer in the state.  Last week, here in Roanoke, a launch party celebrating the introduction of New Belgium here was held at the Taubman Art Museum downtown, and featured plenty to taste of the brewery’s more well known beers – their Belgium Trippel, “Ranger” IPA, “Hoptober” Golden Ale, and of course, the cult favorite amber ale, Fat Tire.  Representatives from the brewery, including Mid Atlantic Regional Director Neil Reeve, were on hand to help introduce New Belgium, though many of us are well aware of the gravity of the moment.  Not only are we simply lucky to finally have their beer available here, but their distribution to the state may mark another important point on the timeline of the growing craft beer culture in Virginia.  Curiosity surrounding one good craft brewery tends to spill over into others, and for the craft beer curious here, having New Belgium here will likely be a winning situation for everyone involved.

So if you’re one of the many craft beer lovers in the state who enjoys a good story, soon we’ll be able to share a new one.  Yes, we’ll not only be recalling the tale of how one brewer toured Europe by bike for inspiration, but we’ll be sitting in our favorite cozy pub, doing so over a couple pints of his own New Belgium beer.


Visit New Belgium Brewery’s Website and take a look at more photos from the launch party below!

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~ by thebeerroad on August 11, 2011.

One Response to “New Belgium, Welcome. Just So You Know, Virginia Is For Lovers (Of Craft Beer).”

  1. I saw a Blue Ridge Distributor van driving down I-64 in Waynesboro last week with the New Belgium logo on it. I gave him a thumbs up!

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