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New Belgium’s Ft. Collins brewery: beautiful, awe-inspiring

new-belgium-brewery-logoThe drive from Denver to Ft. Collins is about an hour long, but is a necessary journey for any true beer lover. Originally called Camp Collins, the outpost was established in 1862 to protect travelers and settlers along the Colorado branch of the Overland Trail. Just two year later, in 1864, a flood destroyed the camp and the U.S. Army decided to reposition the settlement and call it Ft. Collins. Today, the city is known for its beer culture and as the home of several of Colorado’s most noted breweries.

While at the Riverside Craft Beer Festival, I mentioned to the local New Belgium representative that I was considering a visit to my daughter in Denver. He offered to set up a tour of the brewery in Ft. Collins if I made it out there. So, when the plans were set, I took him up on his offer. And, am I glad I did.

New_Belgium_Sign_March_2017When you come up the street and the brewery comes in to view the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a very popular place. The huge front lawn of the brewery is always full of visitors playing corn hole, lounging on blankets and playing Frisbee all while sipping New Belgium brews.

The building itself is at once modern and traditional with a three-story high roof over the entrance, plenty of glass and lots of warm reddish brown wood paneling. It evokes a feeling of a mountain cabin while also displaying a modern design sensibility. The mix of old and new is thoroughly pleasing to the eye and immensely inviting.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a tour check-in desk in front of a buzzing hive of activity that is the brewery’s taproom. The design esthetic carries from the outside in to the taproom with more warm wood and a huge glass wall that shows off part of the brewery in the back. The bar stretches from one end of the main room to the other and a chalkboard behind it announces the beers currently available for tasting. On the left is another smaller tasting room with another bar and tables for sitting and enjoying pints.

At the check-in desk, we told the hostess our names, she checked our IDs and told us – my wife and daughter were along for the tour — she would let our tour guide know we had arrived. Within moments, Penelope Gilland, a long-time employee owner at New Belgium, appeared and ushered us to the bar for beers to drink while on the tour. I chose a raspberry treatment of their sour base beer Oscar – it was delicious, by the way – and we were on our way.

Our first stop was just around the corner from the bar, but it was a very important first step and set the tone for the tour. In a small hallway, mounted to the wall is a display case that holds the relic upon which the brewery was built, the actual beer journal used by Jeff Lebesch on his beer vision quest through Belgium in 1988. In that notebook, Lebesch jotted down the original recipe for Fat Tire the company’s flagship amber ale.

As Penelope explained the origins of the company and how, after just a few years of homebrewing, Lebesch decided to sell his beers to local Ft. Collins bars it became apparent the pride she, and every other New Belgium employee I have ever met, have in their work. The idea that a brewery that began in a basement with self-distribution by his wife in the family station wagon could flourish to become the company that is now the nation’s fourth largest craft brewery in the United States is astounding and wonderful at the same time.

NB_Cathedral_March_2017Next, we walked over to the brewing area in what has been called the cathedral. It is called that because of the vaulted ceilings that look every inch of 40 feet tall with exposed wooden beams, high windows allowing for abundant natural light and the length of the room. It looks like a church with huge, 100-barrel kettles rising majestically from the floor and running down the middle. Each kettle ringed by a story that is related through mosaic tiles on the floor around them. The room is breath-taking, immaculately spotless and a real show-place for New Belgium. Indeed, several weddings have been held in the room lending even more weight to the cathedral nickname.

But, impressive as the cathedral was, the fouder (pronounced food-er) room was my favorite. Fouders are large wooden fermentation tanks used to age sour beers. New Belgium’s fouder room, known as “The Woods,” holds 64 wooden vessels of many shapes and sizes. Each contains a different living beer in varying stages of completion.

NB_The_Woods_March_2017Walking through The Woods is sort of like taking a trip in time to an age before brightly polished stainless steel fermentation tanks and high-efficiency brewing. It harkens back to a time when a brewmaster needed to know how to control a beer’s fermentation process is closely as he watched the brewing process. It sort of felt like being in Belgium again, where breweries such as Cantillon still make lambic beers through spontaneous fermentation using the yeast and bacteria in the air and the wood of the fouders to bring their beer to life.

After our walk in The Woods we returned to the taproom for a few more cold beers and to talk about our experiences on the tour. We enlisted the help of another “Mothership” – the name New Belgium insiders have given to the main brewery – visitor for a group picture with our guide, Penelope and mulled our next move.

The consensus was overwhelming that New Belgium would be a staple for future visits to Colorado and that of all the brewery tours we had taken together, the Ft. Collins New Belgium tour was among the best.

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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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New Belgium La Folie marks its 20th anniversary

2017_la_folie_22oz_bottleSour beer lovers look forward to the annual release of New Belgium‘s La Folie with puckered lips. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the superbly blended beer. Get all the details about it from the official press release below.

Ft. Collins, Colo. – February 20, 2017 – This year marks New Belgium’s 20th year for making sour beers, which first launched its wood beer program in 1997 with La Folie. The award-winning sour ale’s 2017 version is now available and continues the sour ale tradition thanks to the craftsmanship of New Belgium’s blending team.

Every year, Eric Salazar, New Belgium’s Wood Cellar Manager, and Lauren Salazar, New Belgium’s Sour Beer Blender, coordinate a blending of various foeders (oak barrels) to make La Folie a winning interpretation of a Flanders-style sour brown ale.

“We’ve been blending and experimenting with sour wood beers for two decades and as the name La Folie implies it’s always with a touch of eccentric madness,” said New Belgium Spokesman, Bryan Simpson. “We combine multiple barrels based on continual tasting to create a combination that is just right. Once again, the crew nailed it this year.”

The 2017 La Folie is a sharp, tart sour ale full of green apple, deep cherry, dark chocolate, and tannin-like plum skin notes. It’s 7% ABV and available in both 22-oz. bombers and on draft.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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New Belgium celebrates 25th anniversary with new releases

new-belgium-brewery-logoNew Belgium Brewing Company is having a busy year. Between the opening of their new brewery in Asheville, NC, and their 25th anniversary celebration, things are certainly going their way. To celebrate their silver anniversary, New Belgium asked five of the countries best breweries to collaborate with them on creating new versions of their iconic Fat Tire Amber Ale.

In addition to the collaborations, New Belgium has two new Lips of Faith releases hitting store shelves this month.

Read more about the Fat Tire collaborations and Lips of Faith releases in the press release below.

Ft. Collins, Colo., June 1, 2016 –The best way to celebrate a birthday is by gathering up your friends. New Belgium’s Fat Tire & Friends Collabeeration mixed pack is starting to hit store shelves. The pack features five of the nation’s best craft breweries, with each taking a turn at reimagining Fat Tire, New Belgium’s flagship beer. This 25th anniversary package is a variety 12-pack, with five variations of the amber ale, including:

  • Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME) – Fat Funk Ale features a De Dolle house Belgian yeast strain, which adds pear, banana and spice to Fat Tire’s malty goodness. Expect notes of stone fruit, sweet tart and peppercorn.
  • Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colo.) – Fat Wild Ale focuses on a fruit-forward hop bill featuring Huell Melons and a dose of brett evoking notes of apricot and pineapple.
  • Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA) – Fat Hoppy Ale focuses on what Firestone Walker does best – big beautiful hop forward ales. Fat Hoppy has a light malty sweetness initially, with a subtle bitterness in the middle that lingers ever-so-slightly.
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR) – Fat Sour Apple Ale starts out with a snap of tartness, courtesy of Lactobacillus and apple juice, then gets balanced with Fat Tire-inspired malty sweetness and slight herbal bitterness.
  • Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH) – Fat Pale Ale focuses on two components: Rhinegeist Brewers’ malt interpretation of Fat Tire married with the fruity, wild, almost wine like character of Fiction. Together they offer up a slightly bready, biscuity and slightly toast malt backbone combined with fruity Southern Hemisphere hops and abundant fruity esters from the strain of Belgian yeast that Rhinegeist used.

De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale
De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale is another New Belgium Lips of Faith collaboration beer available now. This collaboration with Antwerp, Belgium’s historic De Koninck Brewery, offers a pop of key lime and lemons. The fragrance of hibiscus, rose petals and strawberry-tinged Mistral hops make it the ideal beer for soaking in summer days.

De Koninck Flowering Citrus Ale is 7.4 percent ABV, 30 IBUs, and is available in four-packs and on draft.

Tart Lychee
The 2016 Tart Lychee also debuted in June and is part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith lineup. The beer is brewed with exotic lychee fruit and cinnamon, then blended with sour Felix from the brewery’s wood cellar for a citrusy, tropical sip that attacks with an invigorating tart bite.

Tart Lychee is 7.5 percent ABV and 12 IBUs.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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New Belgium adds watermelon beer to summer lineup

new-belgium-brewery-logoWhat is summer without watermelon? I mean really, you remember those childhood days when you eagerly awaited the slicing of the melon and burying your face in the sweet, red flesh, right? Well, the brewers at New Belgium sure do and they have whipped up a refreshing summer brew that embraces the summertime tradition while adding their own unique twist. Heavy Melon, the brewery’s newest entry in the fruit beer category, is a sweet melon infused brew with a touch of tartness.

The brewery’s second summer offering, Juicy Mandarina, takes advantage of citrusy Mandarina Bavaria hops and a hibrid yeast that imparts fruity flavors and accentuates the hoppy flavors of the brew.

Read the official press release below to learn more abut these two summer releases from New Belgium Brewing Co.:

Ft. Collins, Colo., April 27, 2016 – The heat of summer will be here in no time and New Belgium is ready for refreshment with its latest seasonal Heavy Melon. This super crisp and refreshing American-Style Fruit beer is brewed with juicy watermelon and zesty lime peel. Ripened fruit aromas of melon, papaya and citrus offer an invigorating wash of fruity sweetness, grassy bitterness and the slightest touch of tartness.

“Since our first days back in 1991, New Belgium has been crafting fruit beer and Heavy Melon continues our tradition of pushing boundaries, while making creative and innovative beers,” said Andrew Emerton, New Belgium Brewing specialty brand manager. “Heavy Melon uses only real ingredients and even though it’s a watermelon beer, it’s actually born from the same place as other New Belgium favorites like Citradelic, Ranger, and Fat Tire. The pressed watermelon juice we sourced comes from Yakima Valley, the same region that grows almost all our hops.”

Heavy Melon has a juicy, mouthwatering start with a spritzy crisp finish and pours a bright golden color. This medium-light body beer comes in at 5 percent ABV, with 14 IBUs.

Heavy Melon
Style: American-Style Fruit Beer
Malts: Pale and Caramel 80
Hops: Nugget
ABV: 5%
IBU: 14
Food Pairing Ideas: Bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, basil, balsamic and watermelon; vanilla ice cream.
Availability: now in 12 oz. bottles and draft, starting May 30 in folly packs in 12 oz. cans

To learn more about Heavy Melon, check out New Belgium’s blog “Get Ready to Crush Some Heavy Melon Ale”.

Juicy Mandarina IPA
Also available this summer is Juicy Mandarina IPA. This Hop Kitchen release offers a wave of exotic hop flavors. Juicy Mandarina IPA sports a full array of island hop vibes courtesy of citrusy Mandarina Bavaria, vibrant Calypso, tropical Galaxy, and a bonus experimental hop #522 that rounds out the ensemble with bright, breezy floral notes. Fruity hybrid yeast accentuates the burst of hops, while soft wheat mats float each sip across the tongue with ease.

Juicy Mandarina IPA is 6.5 percent ABV and 65 IBUs. It’s available on draft only.

Juicy Mandarina IPA
Malts: Wheat
Hops: Mandarina Bavaria, Calypso, Galaxy and experimental hop #522
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 65
Availability: Draft only

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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New Belgium to create collaborative versions of Fat Tire for 25th anniversary

fat-tire-and-friendsTo long-time readers of this blog it will come as no surprise that this announcement has me very excited. In preparation to celebrate 25 years of brewing their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale, New Belgium Brewing Company is reaching out to other breweries to help them create five collaborative versions of Fat Tire.

The brewers that will create these one-of-a-kind mash-ups include; Allagash Brewing Company  of Portland, Maine, Avery Brewing of Boulder, Colo., Firestone Walker of Paso Robles, Calif., Hopworks Urban Brewery of Portland, Ore. and Rhinegeist Brewery of Cincinnati, Ohio. Each brewery will bring something different to the classic Fat Tire style that is characteristic of their own brewing styles.

The collaboration brews will be available in a mixed 12-pack in mid-June 2016.

Read more in New Belgium’s official press release below.

Ft. Collins, Colo., March 1, 2016 – New Belgium Brewing celebrates its 25th anniversary with the release of five collaboration beers reinterpreting the brewer’s flagship, Fat Tire Amber Ale. Fat Tire was first conceived on a bike ride through Belgium and came to life as a homebrew in the late 1980’s. Spurred on by accolades from friends and a grip of homebrewing awards, New Belgium co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch took the beer commercial in 1991. Since then, the 100% employee-owned company has become the nation’s 4th-largest craft brewery with distribution in 41 states and a second brewery just opening in Asheville, NC. New Belgium brewers teamed up with brewing friends at Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME), Avery Brewing (Boulder, Colo.), Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA), Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR) and Rhinegeist Brewery (Cincinnati, OH) for the project.

“In the early days we used to say that if we could just sell 60 cases of beer a week we’d be a success,” said co-founder, Kim Jordan. “It’s a different landscape these days yet the things that make our work meaningful – community, camaraderie, creativity – are still alive and well. Working with so many great friends and talented brewers while reimagining Fat Tire is the perfect way to celebrate all the things we love most about our craft.”

New Belgium reached out to collaboration partners who were long time friends and innovative brewers. For the mixed 12-pack, Allagash is producing a version of Fat Tire using a Belgian yeast sourced from the Poperinge region and a touch of the Allagash house Brettanomyces – expect notes of stone fruit, sweet tart and peppercorn; Avery will focus on a fruitier hop bill also with a dose of brett evoking notes of apricot and pineapple; Firestone Walker is creating a west coast interpretation of Fat Tire with an assertive hop profile and a light lager yeast; Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) is creating a tart Fat Tire bringing in apple and lactobacillus to help highlight that beautiful green apple snap inherent to the original Fat Tire; and Rhinegeist has transformed Fat Tire into a Belgian XPA, combining a fruity Belgian yeast strain with bready-sweet European and Colorado malts for a beer to please hopheads and wine drinkers alike.

Mixed 12-packs will feature two New Belgium original Fat Tire Amber Ales plus two of each interpretation beer. The beer will release mid-June, prior to New Belgium’s 25th anniversary, officially on June 28th. A party at New Belgium’s new brewery in Asheville on August 27th will celebrate that facility’s grand opening as well as 25 years of brewing innovation and good times.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Beer, Beer Releases

 

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Ben and Jerry’s collaborates with New Belgium to create tasty new brew

New-Belgium-Salted-Caramel-BrownieWhat happens when one of the best loved ice cream makers in the United States gets together with the nation’s third largest craft brewer? All sorts of dessert-flavored beer goodness, that’s what! And, to top it off, the proceeds from sales of the brew will go to charity! Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream of Vermont along with New Belgium Brewing Company of Colorado have announced plans to produce a co-branded beer that will benefit snowboarder Jeremy Jones’ Save Our Winters organization founded to help raise awareness of global climate change.

The beer, Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, will weigh in at 6.3-percent alcohol by volume (ABV), but that is about all that is known about the beer at this time. Judging from the name, one could deduce that the beer will feature chocolate, caramel and salt flavors, but whether the beer will skew towards a sweeter or drier character is yet to be announced.

“Although our TTB filing for the beer is now public, specifics around the campaign are still in development,” said New Belgium Director of Sustainability, Jenn Vervier in an official press release. “At this time I can confirm that Ben & Jerry’s and New Belgium are collaborating to raise awareness around issues we are passionate about, and that the results will be delicious.”

Industry insiders predict the beer will be available sometime in the fall of 2015.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Beer News

 

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Oats and hops coexist in New Belgium, Half Acre collaboration

oatmealipa_lNew Belgium Brewing’s Hop Kitchen series will see a new release soon. This time the trailblazing series will be produced with Chicago’s Half Acre Beer company to create a creamy, hops forward Oatmeal IPA. If you are thinking that oatmeal is not your normal addition to an IPA, you are right. Used more often in stouts, oatmeal imparts a smoother, creamier mouthfeel to this innovative brew.

Learn more about the beer and the Hop Kitchen series in New Belgium’s press release below.

Ft. Collins, Colo., March 16, 2015 New Belgium Brewing and Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company join forces to create Oatmeal IPA, a fruity, tropical hop-bomb with a creamier sip than the average IPA. The beer is available on draft, while supplies last, through New Belgium’s Hop Kitchen Series.

Oatmeal IPA first came to life about four years ago, when New Belgium’s brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, visited Half Acre where he met with owners Gabriel Magliaro and Matt Gallagher. That’s when they planted the seeds for a collaboration beer.

In late 2013, the first beer in this two-part collaboration was released as Avoine IPA, an oat-spiked IPA brewed at New Belgium and released throughout Chicago (Avoine means “oats” in French). In February of this year, the Half Acre team traveled to Fort Collins, Colo., to brew the second installment: Oatmeal IPA.

This 2015 release is honey-hued with a velvety mouthfeel that offers brilliant pine, grass and guava courtesy of Citra and Centennial dry-hopping. Oatmeal IPA is ultra-tropical and appears softer than the traditional IPA, but be warned – lurking beneath the smooth oats and toasted malts, are vibrant hops with a bitter bite.

“Having Avoine IPA only available in Chicago was just too much of a tease,” says Specialty Brand Manager and Blender Lauren Salazar. “I couldn’t resist bringing it back and sharing it with everyone. You just can’t get better than the Half Acre guys—we’ll always have a soft spot for them.”

Oatmeal IPA comes in at 6 percent ABV and 60 IBUs. Pricing varies by location. To find this beer and other New Belgium beers near you use the New Belgium Libation Location tool: http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/locator.aspx.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Beer Styles

 

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