Name me another beer that affixes labels designed and painted by a watercolor artist to each and every beer. That’s just the beginning of the extra mile that Fort Collins based New Belgium Brewing Company takes in bringing you fresh-tapped Colorado craft brew.
After drinking my first Fat Tire Amber Ale, New Belgium’s flagship beer, I knew there had to be an extraordinary story behind its hoppy smoothness.
Back in 1991, founder Jeff Lebesch and his wife took their bikes on a cross country brewery-to-brewery tour of Belgium. Inspired by what they tasted, they took matters into their own hands and joined the microbrew revolution. Now their beers are distributed to all but 17 U.S. states.
The brewery itself is a marvel in sustainable production along with winning accolades for best places to work in Money and Outdoor. Situated on the grounds of the former Great Western Sugar plant adjacent to a public bike path along the Cache La Poudre River, their goal is to become exclusively wind-powered. They also utilize methane gas created as a byproduct of their on-site water treatment plant.
As you may imagine based on their Fat Tire Amber Ale logo and green ethos, brewery staff actively promote biking instead of relying on cars. This activism is showcased each year with Tour de Fat, a bicycle parade and festival they sponsor which is held in 13 Western U.S cities like Portland, Austin, and San Diego. Here you get bicycle dance troupes, a giant bike parade where participants do outrageous things along the way. Last year in Boise, a group dressed up as a vaudeville nouveau troupe juggling chainsaws, bowling balls and eggs. The customary highlight at each event is the bike trade where a local participant transfers the keys and title of their car to New Belgium in exchange for a new bike. As a matter of fact, every New Belgium employee is given a cruiser bike like the one pictured on the Fat Tire Amber Ale label on their 1 year anniversary.
photo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing Company