Nationally popular brews like Fat Tire and Ranger IPA have made New Belgium Brewing one of Colorado’s most well-known breweries. Last week, the Fort Collins-based company announced that longtime CFO and COO Christine Perich was promoted to president, taking over from co-founder Kim Jordan, who will remain the brewery’s CEO. With the Great American Beer Festival just around the corner, we caught up with Perich to ask her about expectations for this year’s event, what makes Colorado craft beer so special, and which new Belgium brew is her favorite.

5280: New Belgium has had a lot of success at the Great American Beer Festival in the past. Since 1993, there have only been two years where you haven’t taken home an award. Any of those win particularly noteworthy? Are you excited for this year?

Christine Perich: Yes! I absolutely love the ceremony. It’s something I always look forward to. It gives us all a good sense of what’s going on in the industry. The last couple of years we have won with our Pro-Am beer, which is where we collaborate with a home brewer. That’s really cool for me—we love to get these up and coming brewers out there.

Outside Magazine named New Belgium Brewing as one of the best places to work. What’s it like working there?

New Belgium has a pretty awesome working environment. It’s innovative and collaborative. What new workers usually notice most is how happy everyone is. There’s a real family feel here. We practice open book management, and as of 2012 are 100 percent employee-owned. We have great support from the town of For Collins, too. People come to visit the brewery and love it. It’s great.

We all know Colorado loves its craft beer, but how would you compare the beer industry/culture here to the rest of that nation? What makes our state so special?

Of course I think Colorado is special, but to be honest the more you travel around the country the more you see craft cultures popping up. Northwest is a huge market; California has a big craft beer culture as well. But Colorado was definitely on the forefront of the craft industry. I think our water quality has a lot to do with it—especially in the beginning. Asheville, too, loves their craft beer. We’re actually in the process of building a second brewery there.

What’s your favorite New Belgium beer?

My all-time favorite is Transatlantique Kriek—it’s delicious and beautiful. It’s also got a great story. We partnered with Brewerij Boon in Belgium and created a custom blend. We were actually the first brewery to do something like that across two continents.

What’s next for New Belgium Brewery?

The biggest thing we’re doing is building this second brewery in Asheville. We’re all super excited about that. We also have a lot of the country to fill out. We’re not sold everywhere yet and we’d like to fix that.