A couple of years ago I watched the documentary Beer Wars. In this documentary the perils of mass market brewing were highlighted as well as big beers’ attempt to jump on the craft beer band wagon by creating and packaging beers that looked vaguely like craft beer.
This viewing planted a little seed of doubt in the back of my mind about New Belgium Brewing Company. This seed was nurtured as I spotted their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale everywhere I looked in the North West; I thought, there is no way a small brewery could have this kind of penetration. This unassuming bicycle label must be masking a Labatt or Molson’s product just waiting to break hipster hearts?
I became convinced that I would not, should not, and could not drink New Belgium beer while retaining my card-carrying beer geek status. That first seed of doubt had germinated into a poisonous bias that guided my hand whenever I reached into a beer cooler.
Then along came Lips of Faith…
(Cue the ‘Here Comes the Sun’ musical montage)
Random convergences led me to a place and time where I let someone else surprise me with their beer recommendation. Into my glass Lips of Faith Tart Lychee was poured and I felt shame. Shame that I let my silly preconceptions hold me back from trying this brewery. Shame led to regret. Regret over all the limited releases that had probably come and gone during my blackout phase. Regret beget a new found sense of purpose. I wanted more.
So I went out and got another Lips of Faith, the Bretta Beer, and it was good. Then I got another, La Folie, and it was good. On the seventh beer I rested (just kidding).
The moral of this sorrowful tale? Don’t let your beer biases get in your way. Explore often. Drink outside the box or from the box or whatever. Don’t get hung-up on the size of a brewery. Drink what you like people.
A Bit about the Brewery
New Belgium Brewing Company is located in Fort Collins Colorado. The brewery opened its’ doors in 1991 and as of 2010, it was the third-largest craft brewery in the United States. According to the all-knowing, all-seeing Wikipedia, New Belgium is known for its eco-friendly cache and excellent treatment of employees.
According to their website, New Belgium holds the following truths to be self-evident:
1. Remembering that we are incredibly lucky to create something fine that enhances people’s lives while surpassing our consumers’ expectations.
2. Producing world-class beers.
3. Promoting beer culture and the responsible enjoyment of beer.
4. Kindling social, environmental and cultural change as a business role model.
5. Environmental stewardship: Honoring nature at every turn of the business.
6. Cultivating potential through learning, high involvement culture, and the pursuit of opportunities.
7. Balancing the myriad needs of the company, our coworkers and their families.
8. Trusting each other and committing to authentic relationships and communications.
9. Continuous, innovative quality and efficiency improvements.
10. Having Fun.
Funnily enough, while browsing through the FAQ’s I came across this:
Are you owned by a larger brewery or company?
This question comes up a lot actually…. we say all the time that New Belgium Brewing is Employee Owned, but there are definitely rumors out there that one of the larger brewers are actually pulling the strings here. We can say with confidence that New Belgium Brewing is not owned or even controlled in any way by a larger company. Our shares of New Belgium are 100% privately held by our current co-workers that work every day laboring to make the best beer in the world. We hope you enjoy our passion!
So I guess I was not the only wayward beer geek in the flock but I am sure glad they shepherded me back in : D
*Thanks to Wikipedia for information and www.newbelgium.com for the information and photos of the beers.