New Belgium Brewing Company cares about the environment almost as much as they care about brewing rich, authentic Belgian beer. The company is showing that a brewery can remain focused on producing highly acclaimed beer while also finding ways to incorporate innovative green practices into their business and help support others who want to become sustainable. The best part is they do all of this while maintaining a joyful attitude and sense of fun. This comes through in their beers, their philosophy and their desire to show that mixing passion and environmentalism can produce a perfect mug of beer.
The Colorado-based company got its start in 1989 in Belgium, of course. The company's founder, Jeff Lebesch, found inspiration while abroad in Belgium and returned to Fort Collins, CO with a dream. Rather than trying to talk him out of his vision of an American-brewed Belgian beer, his wife, Kim Jordan, became the company's biggest champion, taking on various duties and helping to grow the company. Today, she is the CEO of New Belgium Brewing Company, enthusiastically spreading the "beer cheer" across Colorado and the country, along with a handful of dedicated employee-owners. That's right, New Belgium employees are awarded part ownership of the company after one year of employment. As employee-owners, New Belgium's staff has worked to improve the company on every level. Some examples include: instituting an open book management style, switching to wind power to become the country's first wind powered brewery, and working to reduce environmental impact in all areas of operation.
Of course, the most important question to answer is, "How is the beer?" All of the beers offered by New Belgium are carefully crafted to balance flavor with mouthfeel and in doing so have gathered a loyal following of dedicated beer drinkers who post favorite pairings of New Belgium beer with delicious recipes right on the company's website. By far the most recognized product to come from New Belgium is their Fat Tire Amber Ale, a popular brew that brings to mind malt, caramel and a hint of earthiness. The Sunshine Wheat brew features a hint of spiced orange, apple and honey.
The company even makes an organic beer, the "Mothership Wit." The company refers to their Fort Collins base as the mothership, and the company's "Beer Rangers," or sales representatives, return to the mothership periodically throughout the year. The Mothership Wit takes its name from the affectionate company nickname, and is a citrus, wheat and barley malt brewed with organic ingredients. The company looked into brewing completely organic beers, but they found the cost to be prohibitive. Instead, they focused on other areas in order to be advocates for sustainability.
New Belgium Brewing Company doesn't just talk about sustainability. The company proves that good business practices and good beer-making can go hand-in-hand. The brewery itself features environmentally friendly measures including natural lighting, landscaping with low water needs and a filter that cleanses storm water runoff, use of recycled materials, and bike parking that helps encourage a healthier community. The company also began the Environmental Stewardship Grant Program in 1995, which started with the company's pledge to donate one dollar to a non-profit for every barrel of beer produced, and grew into a grant program offering support to non-profit organizations. Since 1995, New Belgium has donated over $5 million and offers several opportunities for non-profit organizations to partner with the brewery. The brewery also pledges 1% of sales to environmental causes through 1% for the Planet and has a strong focus on advocacy for the environment through support of legislation and raising awareness.
For New Belgium Brewing Company, it's all about passion, joy and how those relate to their primary aims of making great beer and taking care of the environment. It's a win-win situation for all involved: their loyal customers, their dedicated employee-owners and the planet.
You can visit New Belgium Brewery's website at: http://www.newbelgium.com/ (you'll need to prove you are 21 by entering your birth date…then enjoy!)