Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Belgium Brewing–Fort Collins, CO

New Belgium Brewery Entrance
New Belgium Brewing Company is located in Fort Collins, Colorado. In 1989, its founder took a bicycle tour on a "fat tire" mountain bike through European villages known for their brewing prowess. As he did so, founder Jeff Lebesch gained knowledge and ingredients for brewing his own beer. When he returned to the United States, he began brewing small batches of beer at home for family and friends. Eventually, he turned it into a business. That business is now an employee-owned brewing company with over 400 employees in 29 states. New Belgium brews a number of year-round, seasonal, and limited edition beers. Their year-round line includes Rampant (an imperial IPA), Ranger (an IPA), Fat Tire (Amber Ale), Sunshine Wheat, Shift (pale lager), 1554 (black ale), Trippel, Abbey (a Belgian dubbel), and Blue Paddle (Pilsener Lager).Visiting the brewery is quite an experience.  It's clearly a very social, fun place.  You can see that from the minute you arrive. There are people using hula hoops outside and playing a game called Rolle Bolle.

New Belgium Tasting Room Tap Handles
Inside the barstools are made with old bicycle wheel rims.  There is a bicycle hanging on the wall which can be spun around its pedals, a store filled with New Belgium souvenirs, and best of all a bar where you can sample the various New Belgium brews.  Small samples (4-5 ounces) cost $2.  Full-size samples cost $4 each.  The proceeds from the samples are donated to charity.

During my visit, I had the opportunity to try several of the New Belgium beers:

Fat Tire is a very nice amber ale.  It's not bitter (at only 18.5 IBUs) and has a very nice flavor, carbonation, and finish.

Tasting Room Refrigerators
Abbey is a perfectly-made Belgian Dubbel. It's a hint more bitter than Fat Tire, but not a beer you'd actually describe as bitter.  It's one of my favorite beers of the style.

Trippel, as its name implies, is a Belgian Trippel style beer.  It's a bit hoppier than some Trippels, but not overwhelmingly so.  I enjoyed a couple of these at a party later.

The beers that really impressed me during my visit were their "Lips of Faith" line.  I found the Cascara Quad to be an excellent Belgian Quadruppel, which reminded me a bit of Ommegang Three Philosophers due to the use of Cascara Cherries in the beer.  If you have the chance to try this beer, I can't recommend it strongly enough.

Brewing Equipment
While I liked Feijoa and some of the others, Abbey, Trippel, and Cascara Quad were my favorites.  I had the good fortune to enjoy more of all three of those later during my visit to Fort Collins.

The unfortunate part of my visit was that I could not take an actual tour of the brewery itself.  Tours usually book up a couple of months in advance, I'm told.  If you want to take one, I'd recommend scheduling it before you schedule your visit to Colorado.

For more information about New Belgium Brewing and their beers, see their web site.

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