The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
Steve Jobs put it best when he said that “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” New Belgium Brewing Company, one of the original players in the craft beer game, is one such innovative leader. Even though the Colorado-born brand produces more than one million barrels annually—making it the fourth-largest craft brewer in the U.S.—it continues to move the industry forward.
Innovation comes in many forms at the nearly three-decade-old brewery. First up: A recent refresh of New Belgium’s Fat Tire label. The bold, graphic new look features a throwback font and take on the beer’s trademark blue and red colors. It’s an homage to 1991, when founder Jeff Lebesch and his wife, Kim Jordan (who would go on to gain icon status in the industry), opened New Belgium with its Abbey, a brown dubbel, and Fat Tire. The latter, an amber ale with a malty, balanced flavor profile, was likely many Coloradans’ first foray into the world of craft beer.
New Belgium’s line-up has undergone a massive expansion since those early days, and most recently, New Belgium has been focusing on experimental, out-of-the-box brews. Consider last year’s release of the Hemperor IPA, which is brewed with hemp hearts to recreate the flavors of hemp terpenes and complement the dank, floral characteristics of hops. That same year, the brewery released Oakspire Bourbon Barrel Ale, a partnership with Kentucky-based Knob Creek Distillery. The pioneering technique of steeping Knob Creek’s bourbon-soaked, charred oak spirals in New Belgium’s rye base ale disrupted the entire concept of barrel aging, and has since become a New Belgium signature.
New Belgium also recently announced the opening of a new bar and restaurant in Concourse B of the Denver International Airport. The 125-seat venue, dubbed New Belgium Brewing, will feature a 20-handle tap system and is set to serve beers (including limited releases) from the brewery along with beer-centric cocktails and a food menu created by chef Paul C. Reilly of Beast & Bottle, Coperta, and Pizzeria Coperta. And as you might expect, many of New Belgium’s brews will make it into the food: Many of New Belgium’s beers are incorporated in dishes such as the Diner’s can choose from the 1554 Black Lager barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich, Fat Tire chicken sandwich with house-made guacamole, and even a vegetarian option in the Voodoo Ranger grilled cheese.