Those who enjoy the craft beer industry certainly know about the extremely popular brewer located in Fort Collins, Colorado called New Belgium Brewery, but what you may not know is that starting in 2015, this will not be the only location New Belgium makes beer at.
Back in 1989 New Belgium opened its doors and began a journey down what has proved to be an extremely successful road, but that doesn’t mean the trip has been easy all along.
In an exclusive interview with usedview.com, New Belgium Brewery owner and CEO Kim Jordan took the time to discuss the early beginnings of her company, why Fat Tire was and is so popular and the major plans they have in store for the future.
Starting off as a humble, yet enthusiastic company prior to the beginning of the 1990’s, New Belgium Brewery honed its craft in the art of creating delicious Belgium beer during a time when being a beer drinker wasn’t exactly kosher in many social circles.
No matter, Jordan said it was very important to the company’s success that they stayed true to the type of business they wanted to be, especially during the early years.
“We were really intentional about who we wanted to be in the beginning. We knew we wanted to focus on making high quality beers.
“We had four core values and they were to produce world-class beers, to be environmental stewards, to promote Belgium beers and beer culture and to have fun.
“It surprises me 22 years later how relevant and how important our vision is still to this day. That has been foundational for us. We were the first brewer to focus on Belgium style beers. That allowed us to be innovative with what we made. We’ve been experimenting with things for a very long time in our brewing.
“Fat Tire was a new type of beer. It was a great name and a beer that was interesting. It still remains so because it is such a difficult beer to make,” Jordan said.
While becoming a successful company is one thing, maintaining and building upon that success is a completely different accomplishment. New Belgium has continued to release new brew after new brew, trying to develop their next great beer and satisfy their customers with delicious variety.
Jordan talked about the process of making seasonal beers and how they are always trying to improve their methods of brewing.
“The first place we start is what do we think we want to make. We maybe have a particular twist to put on something.
“Mostly, we try to think about what our customers want to drink. We are always trying to balance the fine line between being experimental and making beer that beer-drinkers will think is delicious.
“We usually try to have two seasons planned out in front of us because you can’t pick up some ingredients whenever you want. You need to plan ahead.
“Our group of brewers will then brew three or four different iterations of an idea we have, and after that we look at the beers and think about what we like or want to change. Then we go back and brew another batch.
“We are putting out 18 new beers this year in addition to the beers we already make,” Jordan said.
As many who are craft beer enthusiasts will know, the amount of breweries in Colorado have exploded over the past five years, and while competition is fierce, Jordan said there is also a very friendly feel among them all.
“I think the industry has exploded. It has been almost two full business cycles in the last five years, which is really fun and interesting. We have never been producing beer before, like we are now.
“One of the great things about the industry is it is very collegial. We’ll decide with other brewers that we’ll brew together. It’s a really close and caring industry.
“There is also the marketplace side of things and that has a lot of friendly regard. I think people are pretty friendly and respectful of one another. Ultimate it is up to customers to decide what they like,” Jordan said.
What may be surprising news to those who don’t follow New Belgium regularly is that in 2015, the company will be opening up its second location in Asheville, North Carolina.
This was not a simple decision for the brewery to make, but ultimately there were many benefits they thought would come out of having a second location on the other side of the country.
Kim talked about the logic behind opening another brewery and that it was something they had been anticipating for years.
“When we first started shipping beer to the East coast, which was a handful of years ago, we said we needed to be thinking about if we run out of capacity in Fort Collins, we need to be thinking about building a brewery on the east coast.
“We had considered building one on the west coast, and for a lot of reasons we decided it didn’t make sense.
“When we looked at the east coast, we enlisted the help of a company that would help us with location services. We could look at demographics, water quality, types of labor, tax rates and all other kinds of different information.
“We wanted a state that was continuous to the ocean. We decided Maine was logistically too far away. New York was too expensive. We narrowed it down and visited with city leaders, we needed people to understand the type of brewery we wanted to build.
“It’s a long and expensive process. Asheville was chosen because we found a great location, and the people of the town were very warm and enthusiastic about New Belgium’s business practices,” Jordan said.
Opening up a second location does invoke a lot of exciting thoughts for Kim and she said while the brewery will be a New Belgium Brewery; it will also have its own feel.
“We are excited to have two locations because it means not having to ship beer as far as we do now. We have a really strong culture here and are really tight as a community.
“That far away group will come together with our group and that will be really interesting to see how it works out.
“We have a specific process for everything and that gives us a great start. Asheville will have its own flare. There will be some things about the breweries that will be the same, no matter what.
“I anticipate there will be some different beers, but our main market of beers needs to taste the same. We will work very hard to make beers from both breweries taste the same. I’m sure there will be some beers that are different.
“Another benefit is we will have some brand presence on the east coast. We recognize that what happens with people is that they are all going to have their own flavor,” Jordan said.
New Belgium has a history of being open with its employees and being a transparent company with its customers. Their personal, local feel has been a major contributing factor to the brewery’s popularity, while still understanding it’s a very successful business that needs to be grown.
Jordan talked about one thing she wishes the industry, as a whole, would try and improve upon moving forward.
“I think it’s good that we are all very transparent with our beer drinking customers about where and who makes our beers. It’s good that beer drinkers know where beers come from,” Jordan said.