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  • We like beer. But do you know what we love more?

    You.

    *blush* 

     

    Yes, brewing and bottling a perfect beer is one of our favorite things in the whole world. But it isn’t actually the ultimate reason for our existence (though it is darn fun and ain’t nobody here complainin’). New Belgium is on this big blue planet because we care about life (check your pulse - that includes you!) and we want to do our part to make living on Earth crazy awesome. If Michael Jackson just started singing “Heal the world, make it a better place” inside your head… just know you’re not the only one, okay?

    NBB’s Company Purpose: To manifest our love and talent by crafting our customers' favorite brands and proving business can be a force for good.

    All the fine folks at New Belgium work hard to make sure that everything that goes into your beer helps to create a world that you want to live in. We strive to bring benefit to the communities where our beer is sold, to the rivers and soil that deliver our ingredients, and to the loving hands that craft your beer. Because, goodness only knows, they certainly benefit us. But business owners please note: this isn’t just a charity case. This is good for business. New Belgium knows that we are profitable, not in spite of our social and environmental efforts, but because of them. By gifting ownership in the company and investing in the happiness of our coworkers, the best of the best join our team and they give their hearts. A 93% retention rate is good for the bottom line. By reducing our water use and donating money to the research and repair of the Colorado River, we are increasing the likelihood that we’ll have clean and abundant water for many generations. Preserving our #1 ingredient is also good for business.

    A reality that still gets me a little teary-eyed is this: we aren’t alone. What we’ve been doing since Day 1 at New Belgium is now a movement. And that movement is B Corp. Certified B Corps are over 1,000 strong and counting, including companies like Rally Software, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Plum Organics, and Patagonia. We are all businesses who have opted out of sacrificing health and well-being for the sake of profits and profits alone. We are all businesses who know that we do well by doing good. Each of us passes through a most rigorous certification that measures our beneficial practices, so when you see that “B” inside a circle, you know it’s legit. (Check out our score, and if you’d like to see if your business makes the cut, you can take the free assessment online.)

    By banding together with these like-minded businesses, we make it clear we are not accidental and isolated successes, but rather we are the new wave of business, stating loud and clear that a whole-system perspective is essential in the corporate world and love and kindness drive a healthy bottom line.

    Thanks for being a part of this crazy journey with us. You belong here. You are our tribe, along with the barley farmers, the microbes in the soil, the fish in the rivers, the bartenders, and the recyclers. We are all in this together, so let’s continue to “B the Change” and make the world a better place (…for you and for me and the entire human race!).

    Big hugs.

    Bring it in.

    Always and foreverrrr,

    -        The Walrus

    Can’t get enough? Check out these B Corp reads from The New Yorker and The New York Times.


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  • Live Long and Report Stuff

    Did you know that scientists have proven you can live longer if you set goals for yourself? For real, just set some goals, give yourself a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and you’ll live to be at least 106.*

    Speaking of goals, we set a number of them here at the brewery. Not only do these goals help keep us young and healthy, but they also keep the New Belgium Mothership steered in the right direction. What are these goals, you ask? Well, they run the gamut, covering every area of our operations and values. Some of our goals are about making world class beers, and some are about making the Tour de Fat the most wondrous bicycle carnival you’ll ever ride into. Some of our goals are about getting the new brewery built in Asheville, and some are about reducing our natural resource usage.

    While it’s good to set goals and to track your progress toward them, it’s also quite good to share that special journey with others. And this, my friends, is why we publish a Sustainability Report once a year. It’s our way of sharing our successes and lessons learned, and of ensuring transparency and authenticity in our quest to be a sustainable business. The report is short, sweet and to the point, because we respect your time and because we hate killing trees.** Take a look at it (right here) and let us know what you think! 

    Cheers -- Ginger

    *This statement has not been verified by anyone, ever. 

    **For those of you who really love nerding out, there's tons more information on our Sustainability page


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  • Driving trucks and breaking hearts

    So we just did a photo shoot at the brewery. And this isn’t for your typical tasty beer pic; this photo shoot featured some very handsome men and some very sexy, fuel-efficient vehicles. What’s more, it was done in the name of greenhouse gas reductions. Random yet intriguing, no?!


    Both the fellas and the wheels in this particular photo shoot happened to be from our Brewery Direct Service (BDS) team, which is the group of New Belgium coworkers who deliver our beer to bars, restaurants & liquor stores all over our hometown turf of Fort Collins. Not only do these hard-working folks sling countless kegs up narrow staircases and down dark alleys day in and day out, but they are also environmental ninjas who have reduced their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a whopping 53% per mile since 2006! All this while selling A LOT more beer! Now that calls for a celebration, boys. Might as well jump!

       

    “How is this possible???,” you ask with your eyes wide and hands shaking in the air. Well, for one, our BDS buds are all masterful eco-drivers (Did you know smart driving can improve fuel efficiency 33%? ßclick that link to learn some tricks for yourself!). High efficiency driving pairs incredibly well with high efficiency vehicles and the BDS fleet is made up of a few straight trucks (like small tractor trailers) used to deliver beer, and a handful of small passenger vehicles for running around to various accounts to do quality & service check-ins. So we’ve got two Kenworth hybrid electric delivery trucks driving your beer around town, plus five Prius hybrid cars and two Nissan Leaf plug-in electric cars! That’s some line-up. (sidenote: You’re welcome to plug in your own electric car outside our tasting room while you enjoy a taster… jus sayin.)

    Do you know what else we have?  BIKES. Are you surprised? No… probably not. New Belgium’s love affair with the bicycle is long-lived and well storied. But you know what might surprise you? That BDSer, Erik “Dobber” Nilstoft, is doing his sales routes (between 20-30 miles a day) on his bike! We’ll be posting our “DOBBER RADAR” to the website soon, so keep a sharp eye out.


    In the meantime, if you’re voyaging to beer mecca in Fort Collins, cheers your beers to your BDS friends for doing a super hero job of saving money, saving the world, and getting that cold beer from the brewery to the bar stool in which you sit! 

    Ride On -- Ginger

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  • Tour de Fat and People for Bikes

    Over Memorial Day weekend, as the country celebrated the unofficial kickoff of summer, we celebrated our very own kickoff of the 2014 Tour de Fat season. The Tour de Fat  is our favorite holiday. It combines the joy of Christmas morning, the costumed creativity of Halloween, the togetherness of Thanksgiving, and the gorgeous weather and freedom of the 4th of July. And what’s more? It does all of this on bikes. If that doesn’t sound festive, then we just don’t know what does.

    For those of you who are not already acquainted with Tour de Fat, it is our travelling philanthropic bicycle carnival. The event includes a costumed bicycle parade, New Belgium beer, unconventional entertainment and music, interactive artwork, and feats of bicycle strength. 

    The free event, which raises money for local cycling nonprofits and advocacy through beer sales and donations, has donated more than $3 million to cycling nonprofits since its inception. We work closely with the local bike nonprofits in the cities the Tour visits, and they have proven to be amazing partners. From BikeWalk NC, Triangle Spokes Group, and the Bike Co-op in Durham, to SWIMBA, Boise Bicycle Project, and Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance in Boise, to San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and SDMBA in San Diego, these people bring their "A" game. Be on the lookout for the nonprofits at Tour de Fat when it rolls through your town, and give a high five and a hug to their volunteers who you’ll see pouring beer and helping out.

    In addition to the local cycling nonprofits that we’re engaging with in each TdF city, we’re also partnering with People for Bikes at all Tour stops. PfB is a national organization that does a stellar job of keeping folks informed and connected to bicycle related issues and legislation in their area. By signing up for their email list, you can easily stay in the know about legislation and initiatives in your area, and connect with your local or national representative to weigh in on the issues if you’re so inclined. PfB will be at each stop of TdF this summer, engaging with folks to talk about cycling issues in your hometown. 

    As our beloved coworker and Senator of Tour de Fat nonprofit relations says, we’re not anti-car, we’re pro bikes. And we’re for all bikes. We think that much of the power of TdF and PfB is in their ability to break down barriers between road cyclists, mountain bikers, commuters, and those who ride once a year, and just bring everyone together to celebrate a common love of fun and of moving forward (on a bike seat). After all, we’re more effective when we work together, and we work together better when we’re having fun.

    Hope to see you out on the bike trails this summer. And don’t forget to check out our calendar to find the TdF stop in your neck of the woods. 

    Ride On! -- Ginger

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  • Bluegrass, Blue Skies & Beer

    With warmer weather – and the release of our summer seasonal beer – upon us, we’re getting jazzed about longer days spent outside under blue skies. We’re excited about floating down the river in our rafts, zipping down our favorite single track on our bikes, lazing in our hammocks, telling tall tales around a fire, cooking out, camping out, and chilling out. Arguably one of the best ways to celebrate the season is a good old-fashioned festival. Live music on a gorgeous outdoor stage just seems to shout that summer has indeed arrived. Some long-time friends of ours are the Zen masters of music festivals, and we would like to take a moment to tell you about these great folks and the beer we brewed in their honor. May we present: Planet Bluegrass and our Summer Helles Lager.


    We have had the good fortune to work with Planet Bluegrass as the official beer sponsor of their festivals (Telluride Bluegrass, RockyGrass, and Rocky Mountain Folks Festival), for about 12 years now. Throughout that time, we’re not afraid to admit that we’ve developed a serious crush on them. They have set the bar high for festival sustainability & responsibility, and we think that’s pretty dreamy. From local and organic food served backstage, to robust composting and waste reduction programs, to reusable beer cups and the elimination of plastic bottled water, to incentivizing alternative power sources for vendors and offsetting the festivals’ GHG emissions, they truly walk the walk and inspire their attendees to do the same. Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the iconic Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and we helped Planet Bluegrass mark the occasion by brewing a special beer for the event. We loved the beer so much that we decided to bring it back this year as our newest summer seasonal: Summer Helles.

    In addition to partnering with Planet Bluegrass on festivals, we have also had the good fortune to hold our annual summertime retreat at their property in Lyons, Colorado for a number of years. Planet Bluegrass Ranch is located along the shores of the St. Vrain River, with beautiful grounds and an amazingly crafted stage nestled up against red rock outcroppings. The space is nothing short of magical and has been a perfect place to get good juju flowing and make meaningful connections with coworkers. We spend the entire day outside, taking breaks to dip our feet in the river, and we never fail to come away inspired and energized. Unfortunately, Planet Bluegrass and the entire community of Lyons were devastated by a powerful flood on September 12, 2013, following 17 inches of rainfall over the course of a few short days. The grounds, like much of the town, experienced significant structural, civil and ecological damage. While we escaped the flood relatively unscathed at the brewery, our hearts ached for our dear friends down the road in Lyons. The path to rebuilding is a long one, and work is currently underway. In solidarity with our friends, we’ve elected to donate a portion of the proceeds of Summer Helles sales to rebuilding efforts at Planet Bluegrass, in order to help them bring life back to this magical space which has brought so much life to our brewery. No doubt some of our coworkers will also be embracing the summer weather through some upcoming volunteer days at Planet Bluegrass as they continue their clean-up and rebuild efforts.

    We know that we are incredibly lucky to do what we do, and we know that we would not be where we are without the support of our community and our partners. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s going on at Planet Bluegrass, please visit them here. If you are interested in learning about volunteering and fundraising opportunities for Lyons, please visit Lyons Fights Back. Three cheers for community, and three cheers for bluegrass! Thank you for your support!

    Hugs and kisses -- Ginger

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  • Packaging Reduction Goals

    We mentioned back in January that we would be posting packaging goals later this year, and we are happy to report that they are ready for your viewing pleasure. Please check them out!

    Our packaging goals fall into four general categories. We dive into each in the linked document, but in general we are focused upon Source Reduction, Sustainable Material Selection & Design, Optimizing Efficiency, and Recovery & Recycling Advocacy. 

    As we looked to the future in setting these objectives, it was pretty enjoyable to take stock of the past and celebrate what we have accomplished & learned on the sustainable packaging journey. A few highlights from recent years:

    • We have light-weighted our bottle twice over the years, now at minimum weight while maintaining integrity, in order to reduce both raw materials & fuel required to transport our product.
    • We have removed our paperboard dividers from bottled beer 12-packs, folly packs, and 22-oz 12-packs over the past several years. In 2013 alone, this design change saved us around $720,000 and 417 tons of material.
    • We use 100% recycled content paperboard for our 6-pack carriers and canned beer 12-packs. Our bottled beer 12-pack carriers are about 70% recycled content, with the virgin material coming from an FSC certified source.
    • Our aluminum cans are about 68% recycled content.
    • Our glass bottles come from just 20 miles down the road in Windsor, Colorado, and our aluminum cans come from about 50 miles away in Golden.
    • We use no disposable materials for spacing/quality in our shipping.

    That's it for now from Team Sustainability. 

    Happy Spring! -- Ginger


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  • A Snapshot of our Footprint

    As you may have heard, our #SnapshotWheat Tour is hitting the road this week, travelling the countryside like a modern-day Woody Guthrie. This brings to mind the fact that sometimes our beer also has to trek across the country in order to find its way to your home. Shipping of finished product is one piece of our carbon footprint pie, and that is one pie that we spend a lot of time thinking about. (Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout pecan pie is probably a close second).

    Over the years we have worked to measure and manage our carbon footprint. Back in the 90s we started with an environmental audit of the brewery itself, and then in 2006 we took the leap into the world of holistic greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting to get a better grasp on all upstream and downstream emissions (from the growing of our barley to the end of our bottles’ lives). In 2008 we commissioned a lifecycle assessment of a 6-pack of Fat Tire, which helped us to have a clearer and broader understanding of the emissions associated with making and delivering our beer. Our accounting methodology has been refined over the years, and we follow the most widely used and globally accepted guidelines for GHG accounting (WRI’s GHG Protocol and BIER’s Beverage Sector Guidance). We won’t dig too far into the details here, but let’s take a look at some of the biggest contributors just to give you a snapshot (heh) of our carbon footprint:

    • Glass is number 1! The mining of the raw materials, manufacturing of the bottles and the transport of the bottles to us here at the brewery accounts for a whopping 38 percent of our total carbon footprint. This number is so high because we sell so many more bottles than cans. However, cans are a big source of GHG emissions as well (check out this write up about cans and bottles to learn more). Fortunately, we are able to source our 12oz bottles from a plant right down the road (about 20 miles away), which helps to slightly reduce the bottles’ piece of the pie.
    • Malted Barley is #2. The growing of barley accounts for about 18 percent of our carbon footprint, and when combined with the malting of the barley and transit of the malt to the brewery, the beloved grain ends up contributing about 25% of our footprint. Since first discovering how big a contributor to our footprint the barley & malting are, we’ve been spending some time visiting with our maltsters and farmers to understand any opportunities that might be out there for reducing barley’s environmental impact. We also did a follow up study to our Fat Tire life cycle assessment to look more closely at agricultural practices. We’ve learned a lot about this wonderful crop, and we’ve also learned that maltsters are some of the coolest people out there!
    • Distribution and Retail follow up to round out the main contributors to our footprint. Distribution of the beer from our brewery to your local store’s shelves accounts for roughly 10 percent of our carbon emissions, and the refrigerated storage at retail points of sale attributes another roughly 9.5 percent. We are going to begin construction on our second brewery in Asheville, North Carolina in a couple months, and we are hopeful to see a positive impact on our carbon footprint once we no longer need to ship so much beer all the way to the east coast.

    So what does all of this tell us? Collaboration is key! We are a link in a big, big chain of suppliers, distributors, farmers and consumers. Working together to raise the collective bar of our industry’s impact on the environment has proved to be a fun and rewarding journey for us. We’re setting measurable, appropriate goals around reducing our environmental impact and continuously tracking our progress toward them. With 2006 serving as our baseline (since that is the first year for which we have complete data), we have set a carbon emission reduction goal which we benchmark our progress toward each year. Our GHG Emission goal is to get down to 14kg of CO2e per Hectoliter (HL) of beer by 2015. In 2012, we were at 16 kg/HL, so we’re not too far off, but still have our work cut out for us. We’re still crunching final numbers for 2013. As soon as they’re ready to share, we’ll post them on the Sustainability page.

    Thanks for taking the time to learn about our emissions accounting, and please holler at us with questions. We love nerding out about this stuff. 

    Cheers! -- Ginger

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  • A Few Good Coworkers: The Beer Scouts

    Beer brings people together, and New Belgium coworkers love coming together to drink good beer. We also love coming together to support good causes. We’ve been known to combine the two through philanthropic beer-enjoyment events like Tour de Fat and the Clips Beer and Film Tour, but it just so happens that we also enjoy supporting good causes without a pint in hand. This may or may not stem from the fact that Kim (our CEO and co-founder) comes from a social work background and instilled a spirit in us that the greatest gift we can give is our own time. To illustrate this warm, fuzzy concept, let’s shine a spotlight on the New Belgium Beer Scouts.

    The Beer Scouts are a group of coworkers who sponsor volunteer events for our coworkers and community members to engage in as a means to give back and to inspire positive change. The Scouts work tirelessly to find great causes to support each year that are aligned with New Belgium’s values. The group was formed a few years back as a means to help connect busy people with causes they might be passionate about, and have helped to log over 7,800 volunteer hours of coworker time in the past three years alone. Here’s a quick run-down of some 2013 Beer Scouts-sponsored events:  

    • On the second Tuesday of every month, we spread the love by preparing and serving lunch to community members at The Mission. The Mission provides a warm bed, hot meal and a community atmosphere to people regardless of age, faith, race or social status, and happens to be the brewery’s neighbor right across the street.
    • Because homelessness tops the list of the most pressing issues in Larimer County, this year we participated in Project Homeless Connect. This one-day event provides those experiencing homelessness with access to vital services such as rapid re-housing, basic medical exams and legal advice. It’s a one-stop shop for assistance that helps families stop struggling and paves the way for their success. This event began in 2009 and continues to serve a vital need in Fort Collins.
    • Since we have a number of field-based coworkers who do not live and work here in Fort Collins, we like to plan events each year for them to engage in when they are visiting us. In 2013, we went to the Food Bank to assemble meals for kids and sort food for families and nonprofits that feed those in need.
    • For the past few years, we have participated in Sears Trostel’s annual Bread N Boards fundraiser for the Food Bank for Larimer County. Every year, the specialty lumber store produces hundreds of bread boards that it sells in December to benefit the Food Bank for Larimer County. We participate by screen printing tea towels that are sold with the bread boards. In 2013 we helped raise over $27,000 for the Food Bank through this event!
    • Last but not least, the House That Beer Built is a true testament to the awesomeness of the craft brewing community in Fort Collins. In 2013, eight Fort Collins craft brewers — Black Bottle Brewery, C.B. & Potts Restaurant & Brewery, Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, Equinox Brewing, Fort Collins Brewery, Odell Brewing, Pateros Creek Brewing and New Belgium Brewing — came together with Habitat for Humanity to raise funds and build a house for the Andrasik family after losing their home in the High Park Fire of 2012. New Belgium coworkers participated in two fun workdays crafting a home and hope! The final push is on to reach our $100,000 fundraising goal.

    In addition to these NBB-planned events, the Scouts encourage us all to find causes that we’re passionate about to dedicate the precious gift of time to on our own, and they reward us with paid time off for our efforts (1 hour of PTO for every 2 hours of volunteer work, not a bad deal). All told, New Belgium coworkers volunteered over 2,500 hours in 2013. That’s like having 1.25 full-time employees dedicated to volunteering. If you’re feeling inspired to roll up your sleeves and find an opportunity to give back in your neck of the woods, there’s plenty of ways to get involved. A couple websites to get you started are volunteer.gov and volunteermatch.org. Now go forth and support good causes (and drink good beer)!

    Hugs and kisses -- Ginger

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  • A New Year’s Resolution to Slim Down: Packaging Sustainability

    Greetings, and a belated Happy New Year from the sustainability crew here at New Belgium. As 2013 came to a close, we found ourselves toying with an idea we never dreamed that we’d seriously entertain… making a new year’s resolution to lose some weight. What a cliché, right?! In all seriousness, minimizing our environmental impact is a resolution that we are always working toward, and slimming down our packaging is one piece of that puzzle. So starting right now, we’re going to forego dessert (except for a nice glass of Le Terroir) and commit to losing a few tons in 2014.

    First off, we’re looking at dropping some weight from our 24-packs of bottles by doing away with the packages’ paperboard dividers. We've been steadily engineering dividers out of our various bottled beer packages over the past few years, having already removed them from our 12-packs, folly packs, and 22-oz 12-packs. By removing dividers from those packages, we are seeing an annual savings of roughly 417 tons of material and an estimated $720,000 based on 2013 production! That's no small potatoes, my friends.

    If you laid all of those dividers that we did not have to use in 2013 end to end, you could make a line all the way from the brewery’s doors in Fort Collins to Russia (or Brazil or Iceland, depending on which direction you head). You read that right...Russia. The 24-pack revamp is the final paperboard divider project on the docket, and will remove an additional estimated 41 tons of material from our packaging in 2014.    

    A second new year’s resolution in the packaging world is to further refine our packaging reduction goals. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and we are working hard to assess all materials in our supply chain and set appropriate goals through which to benchmark our progress. A supply chain is a complex organism and many factors must be weighed into our decision-making as we strive to reduce our footprint – from product attributes (like recycled content, weight & durability) to vendor sustainability practices (social responsibility, material shipping & sourcing, etc) to full life-cycle analysis. 

    Speaking of product life-cycle, we are believers in the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility, which argues that the manufacturer of a product should be responsible for its end of life, including designing for recyclability and supporting policy which increases recycling rates. In fact, New Belgium’s very own Katie Wallace recently joined the board of directors at Recycling Reinvented, an organization which is championing efforts toward increased packaging recycling rates in the U.S. Exciting stuff!   

    Stay tuned for more progress on our efforts toward packaging sustainability, and be on the lookout for our updated packaging reduction goals which will be posted on our packaging webpage soon. We know that transparency and honesty are important characteristics in any authentic sustainability conversation, and we love having this opportunity to share our journey with you. Three cheers for kicking this joyous New Year off on the right foot!  

    Hugs and kisses -- Ginger

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  • New Belgium Brewing Becomes 100% Employee-Owned Company

    New Belgium Brewing is excited to announce that the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) has purchased the balance of company shares, making it 100% employee-owned. New Belgium, brewer of a wide variety of award-winning beers including Fat Tire Amber Ale, has been a partial ESOP since 2000 with a controlling interest held by co-founder Kim Jordan and her family. This transition will put the company on a path to control their destiny into the foreseeable future.

    “There are few times in life where you get to make choices that will have multi-generational impact - this is one of those times.  We have an opportunity to write the next chapter of this incredible story and we’re really excited about that,” said New Belgium CEO and co-founder, Kim Jordan. “We have always had a high involvement ownership culture and this allows us to take that to the next logical level. It will provide an elegant succession framework that keeps the executive team in tact ensuring our vision stays true going forward.”

    Jordan plans to remain CEO for the long-term and the executive team at New Belgium will continue in its current form. The Fort Collins brewer is currently building a second facility in Asheville, North Carolina that will begin beer production in 2015. More than 150 additional hires are expected by full build out in Asheville.

    New Belgium was advised by Eureka Capital Markets, a middle market investment-banking firm with expertise in both the food & beverage sector and ESOP transactions, which assisted in structuring and completing the second stage ESOP buyout transaction.  

    “It was an honor to work with a craft brewing leader like New Belgium and help them transition the ownership of the business to its tight culture of employee owners,” said Michael Harden, Managing Director.  “Given all of the consolidation occurring in the craft brew sector, we expect that many other craft brewers will investigate how using an ESOP might help them achieve their transition goals while enabling them to remain independent companies.” 

    The Fort Collins brewer is currently building a second facility in Asheville, North Carolina that will begin beer production in 2015. The transition to 100% ownership will enable New Belgium to include their future co-workers in Asheville, NC in the plan and will drive an even deeper commitment to progressive business practices for the company.  More than 150 additional hires are expected by full build out in Asheville.

    The deal was completed on the 28th of December with a companywide announcement made during the New Belgium’s annual winter retreat on the 14th of January.  All 456 employee-owners were present for the celebration.  Prior to this deal, New Belgium co-workers held 41% of the company’s shares. 

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