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  • A collaboration (and a beer dinner!)!

    On the (very regular) occasion that something awesome happens in the beer world, and I am not invited, I like to pester those that were in order to get reports. I then take their reports and put them on this blog. Very recently we opened Michigan as a new market. We threw a bunch of sweet parties, hugged a lot of really nice people, and traveled up to a wonder-filled place called Brewery Vivant. In our Brewery Vivant hangings-out there were two collaboration beers made, one beer there (for their markets) and one beer here (for our markets). The beer that was made up there is called Escoffier. It's pretty great, it's named after a very famous French chef. And in the spirit of French chef-er-y the fine folks up at Brewery Vivant put together a beer dinner for this beer, some of their other beers, and then some of our beers. It was totally awesome. I was not there. But my pal Matty was, here's his report:

    I Went to Grand Rapids for Dinner...

    By Matty Smooth

    There is only one correct answer when your coworker asks you if you want to go to a beer dinner to release the latest collaboration beer: “Yes.” The chances are good that it could end up being pretty cool. In this case, it turned out to be the culinary experience of a lifetime.

    Brewery Vivant looks unassuming from the outside. The first time our guys saw it, they were eating lunch at a local gastropub. When they asked where the beer they were drinking was from, the server just pointed, indicating the brick building across the street, an old funeral home. New Belgium’s Head Brewer Alex and Beer Ranger Aaron decided the beer was good enough to warrant poking their heads in, where they met Jason and Jacob.
    Fast forward a year, and I’m passing through the same door – it still has the old sign reading “Chapel” over the doorframe – and into what looks like an old European beer hall. The Belgian flag has a place over the door, and the prancing red rooster, symbol of the Wallonia region of Belgium, is tastefully woven into much of the décor. The backdrop for the bar is the stained glass lancet arch that had backed the sanctuary, a shape mirrored by the shape of the bar itself. The whole place has an old-school-cool feel to it. After meeting Jason, their cofounder, and Jacob, their exceptionally talented brewer, we shook hands and clinked glasses for what felt like less than a minute and shot back outside for the trip out to Lubbers farm. The dinner needs to start early, we were told, to allow time for all 12 courses(!).
    “Escoffier” is the name of the beer. It’s also the name of a classic French cookbook, and most of the recipes from the night’s dinner were pulled from its pages. Jason told our little group that this had been his Chef, Drew’s idea. Drew had wanted to put on a full-fledged French cuisine festival for quite some time and the release of Escoffier seemed like the occasion for it.
    Occasion it was: Chicken and summer truffle terrine paired with Vivant’s Farmhand. Grape leaf wrapped, forcemeat gratin stuffed partridge breast on a brown butter crouton paired with Escoffier. Spiced beef tongue with cream on a fried green tomato paired with Escoffier. Grilled nelson lamb chops with foie gras puree and asparagus paired with our Biere de Mars. Cheese plate! Sweet veal marrow pudding with Vivant Zaison. That’s just a few of the courses.
    I’m not as much of a foodie as a few people I know, but I still know ridiculously good food when I see it. More than just the food, though, the setting, in the hayloft of the barn at Lubbers farm, and the phenomenal Vivant beers made. Just getting to chat with Vivant’s other cofounder, Kris, and Rick, their sales/marketing guy would have made it a pleasant evening.

    Most of the other attendees were beer writers, or photo bloggers, and I met some really cool people. Someone asked me how I came to be invited, and I couldn’t lie: I’m just real good at eating.

    Thanks for the write up Matty, you're a pro.

    More on the Brewery Vivant collaboration beers coming next week!

    And PS, thanks to Rick Muschiana from Brewery Vivant for the photos!

    I'm out of here!


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  • Great News!

    Starting today me and my compatriot (Simpsonic) are on the road following the US pro Cycling Challenge. For the next 8 days you (the reader) are going to be soaked in the fun of this event. We are also changing up the format of this medium for that time as well. I'm going to be posting, Simpsonic is going to be posting, we'll both be posting at the same time... Things are going to get weird, and awesome. So for today, me and then him. Here it goes:


    Well we made it, all the way to Durango. It took us almost 9 hours in the New Belgium team car, but we did it. On the road is Simpsonic and myself (ol' Juicebox) and starting today we launch our total sports coverage from the US Pro Cycling Challenge... Are you ready for the ride (see what I did there? It's a pun...).

    Here is a pic of the team car in Pagosa Springs (with team bikes loaded):


    And before leaving Pagosa Springs we stumbled across this very welcoming banner (on the side of an apparently abandoned building):


    Upon arrival we headed up to Fort Lewis College to get all unloaded, decompress (have a beer) and do a little hop-knobbin' with out pals at Ska Brewing and Something Independent. We did a sweet toast with some beers, it was fun. I would show you a picture, but they took it on their camera, and I forgot to give them my camera to get another. Ah well, check out Something Independent for that shot (it's a great one), and check them out for lots of other stuff too, they're here at the Pro Challenge all week as well. 

    After the hob-knobbing Simpsonic and I headed up to our room. We're staying on campus at Fort Lewis, nice room (just like the college days). Fort Lewis was nice enough to send the welcoming committee (things are different down here in the four corners):

    I offered, but she declined the beer.

    Immediately following this posting we are headed downtown to hang out at the Pro Challenge kick off block party. And then the race starts tomorrow. So be ready for all the total sports coverage that was promised starting then... 

    Until the day after today,




    What a Friday! The last day before we leave town for the US Pro Challenge and the excitement crackled out my ears as we tried to load our reformatted commercials to NBC(aclientaccountmanagerdoeswhatnow…?). After much ado involving production houses on both coasts, NBC, a field team in Durango and yrz truly sweating bullets on deadline…  Success! We're locked to run our classic Tinkerer spots on NBC and Versus during the Pro Challenge!

    Originally shot by Jake Scott, son of Ridley ("let's shoot 'em on 16!") in and around Paonia and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we've freshened them up with new soundtracks from Tour de Fat crowd pleaser, Sean Hayes, and hometown heroes, Fierce Bad Rabbit.

    It was a lot of shake/rattle/roll to get these up and running again so many thanks to all who helped along the way. Hope you like 'em. Check out these bands and share what they do - so much talent all around! Juicebox and I are gonna go catch a beer.


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  • Senator Craft Goes to Washington (and other places too)...

    Michael Craft (pictured left) is the NPO and bicycle advocacy liaison for the Tour de Fat, and he is, generally, all about bikes (and a proud employee owner of New Belgium Brewing). And today he's the guest blogger here at NBB.com. Below is his re-cap of Bike Summit Season (that's a thing). Take it in, enjoy the good word of bicycle advocacy, and know that people like Craft are fighting the good fight for all of us lackeys who just like to ride bikes and not think about politics... 

    Take it away Craft––>

    It’s hard to believe that Bike Summit season is over and the Tour de Fat season is about to start, for me at least. This year’s Bike Summit season started off in Denver Colorado, where Bicycle Colorado hosted their 2nd (now annual!) fantastic event, February 6th and 7th. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Jeff Miller and USA Pro Cycling Challenge's CEO Shawn Hunter welcomed all of us to a sold-out event at the Curtis Hotel. We spent the afternoon talking about how to become effective bicycle advocates and how to ask our representatives for their support. As many of you know, every politician wants to hear about two things: money and jobs. Luckily, bicycling represents those two items very well, specifically to the tune of $1.2 Billion dollars annually in Colorado.

    The day ended with some tasty brews from New Belgium. Dig made its debut, and folks definitely “dug” it. Twenty years ago, we put a bicycle on our Fat Tire label because we love bikes. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what an iconic image of sustainability the bicycle has become. Promote what you love and be sure to love what you promote, luckily for us at New Belgium, that’s beers and bicycles. Tuesday was the day at the Capitol. Our specific ask this year was to support House Bill 1084 which would end the Hit & Run Loophole. This House Bill would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a serious bodily injury crash from a class 5

    felony to a class 4 making it equivalent to drunk driving. Current Colorado law gives drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, an incentive to not stop at the scene of a crash and call for help of injured people. Instead, current law rewards drunk drivers with a lesser penalty for fleeing the scene and trying to hide out until they are sober. The consequence of this loophole may be life or death for someone needing immediate medical attention at the scene of a crash.  Bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are four times more likely to be the result of a hit and run than other roadway crashes. HB 1084 goes to a vote in the House Appropriations Committee in a couple weeks.

    Two weeks after the Colorado Bicycle Summit, I was off to Madison for the 4th Annual Wisconsin Bike Summit.  Nearly 400 bike enthusiasts from every corner of the state made the trip to the Capitol to learn about bicycle infrastructure and programming, share success stories, and meet with their elected officials to support cycling and ensure every ride we take in Wisconsin is safe, enjoyable, and fun.

    The biggest news to the bicycle advocacy world came out this very same week. The Alliance for Biking & Walking, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists have agreed that uniting the three organizations would dramatically improve their effectiveness in increasing bicycle use in the US. This is very exciting news, the formation of the “Big Three” into the “Big One” will surely increase everyone’s voice for bicycling into a more effective, and better represented, unified front. No news just yet on what they will be calling themselves, but I hope it has a superhero ring to it.

    Four weeks after the Wisconsin Bike Summit, I was off to our Nation’s Capital for the National Bike Summit. The NBS brought over 800 cyclists from 49 states to show policymakers that bicycling is an important transportation option for a powerful, and growing constituency, in communities all across the Nation. “Bicycling represents a popular, equitable and growing mobility option that creates jobs, cuts healthcare costs and protects 

    American families from skyrocketing gas prices.  Still, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are poised to eliminate dedicated funding for cost-effective programs that make bicycling safe and accessible in urban and rural communities across the country.” The ask for our senators and Congressional Representatives was to support the Petri/Johnson amendment which would help preserve less than 1.5% of the entire transportation budget for bicycle and pedestrian efforts.

    I think one of the most wonderful things about bicycle advocacy is that it is a bipartisan issue, or “bike-partisan” as we like to call it. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, it is hard to argue that bicycling couldn’t help the obesity epidemic that is plaguing this country, that bicycling represents thousands of jobs and billions of dollars across our land, and that bicycling is a sustainable vote for the environment.

    It certainly doesn’t hurt that the NBS is held in Washington, D.C. What a great city!  If you think our country doesn’t have much history, an afternoon exploring D.C. will prove you wrong. The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom, adding icing to an already tasty cake. A few personal highlights were seeing many of our Tour de Fat Non-Profit friends, getting to talk about the Tour de Fat having an inaugural show in Yards Park (located behind the Department of Transportation building) on June 16th, and of course enjoying a few tasty brews with passionate bicycle advocates. Special thanks to Director Jarvis of the National Park Service for signing my National Park Passport.  

    I’m not anti-car, I’m just pro-bike. I think we can make a difference in the world by making bicycling safer and more accessible, for everyone. Small changes such as making smarter trips in our cars, save errands until multiple stops are necessary, try to be Car-Free a couple times a week, challenge yourself to commute by bike within a 2 or 3 mile radius of your house, soon you’ll instinctively rethink your travel options. I understand the freedom that our cars represent, I love being in charge of my music too, but at least consider carpooling. Riding your bike or walking as your primary form of transportation will be as second-nature to you as recycling. Sooner than later, your face will be sore from smiling and your legs will look increasingly sexy, all thanks to man’s greatest invention: the bicycle…

    Thanks for reading,

    Michael Craft

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  • An Awesome and Hilarious Clips of Faith Wrap Up, part 1.

    Every year at the end of eventing season I send out a few emails to my dear friends in the New Belgium eventing department requesting season wrap up kind of material, you know, the juiciest of details, in order to inform you, the reader, about the inner workings and outer statistics of the season's best events.  I put these updates on the blog periodically for you folks to take it in.  This year I had our very own Clips of Faith road warrior, our man from Souix City, "Very Dressy" Jesse (pictured during a very normal commute to work, at right) respond to this request in the bestest and funniest possible way, a 3000 word opus of NBB eventing shenanigans.  He nailed it, all the facts and figures are straight, as well as the small stuff he used to really personalize it.  It's as if this guy used to be a reporter for a well known regional paper (he did).  I present this to you now, in two parts (part two to follow tomorrow).  So, here it is, part one, entitled "The First Half of the Whole Clips of Faith, 2011":


    The world was rumored to be heading to its demise on May 21, 2011.

    I'm really glad it didn't.

    If this most recent warning of the apocalypse had gone as predicted, my last weekend on earth would have been spent exhausted, dripping wet with rain, covered with grass and mud, assisting in the relocation of a dozen or so soiled port-a-potties between the hours of midnight and 1 a.m.

    Yes, that weekend was my first working as an Eventer for New Belgium Brewing Company. Eventers go by many names at NBB – roadies, road dogs, and, my favorite, carnies. Regardless of the name, the gig is the same - travel from town to town spreading NBB love. In my case, I spread BeerTD's via the Clips of Faith Beer and Film Tour, an outdoor philanthropic celebration of handmade beers and films that made its way across 18 cities this summer. Think of it as a beer and film carnival held in a park where all the proceeds from the sale of ale go to a good cause. The job was basically this: Show up to a town, organize some volunteers, spill the contents of a 26-foot trailer out onto the grass of an outdoor space, show some movies, serve some beer, pack it all back up and go to bed.

    From a brush with a sideburn hating movie extra to a pornography-related introduction, my summer was a blur of time zones, weather patterns, airports, new friends, delicious beers and only one near death experience. It was also one I will never forget.

    And now, for your reading pleasure, a recap of my life as a Clips of Faith Eventer:


    St. Louis, Missouri



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Turns out the Midwest in May is kind of a weatherman’s dream, an eventer’s nightmare. The rain, rain wouldn’t go away on this day, making for a really long start to the tour. This stop could have been considered two events as the inclement weather forced us to tear down our site – a dozen or so 10x10 tents, tables, chairs, artwork, sound system, 400-pound inflatable movie screen – and drag it all up a slippery, increasingly muddied hill to a large shelter.  The results were a questioning of my decision to take this job and the loss of what would be the first of many pairs of shoes. These particular classic Asics had picked up such a unique funk from tromping around in the slop that, upon returning home and setting them out, my girlfriend scolded the dog for peeing on them. That’s the only thing that could have made them smell so foul, she figured.


    Kansas City, Missouri



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: With many friends in attendance at this one, the pressure was on for me to perform my new gig at a pro level. That’s why it was extremely embarrassing when I overlooked one cord – the one connecting a DVD player to the projector – resulting in a few minutes delay to the start of the night’s film showing. Only about 800 people noticed. Funny thing about throwing events – so many things can go wrong or get overlooked that the ones that do are often the most noticeable.


    Bloomington, Indiana

    ATTENDENCE: 1,100


    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: One interesting aspect of the job was sharing hotel rooms with co-workers. Being a new employee, I was meeting most of these people for the first time. This can lead to some memorable get-to-know-you moments. My roommate for this stop was a coworker hailing from Chicago who came to the home of the Hoosiers to help us put on the party. He wasn’t expected to reach the hotel until the wee hours. Not wanting him to arrive to a dark room and a sleeping stranger, I turned all the lights on and turned up “Avatar” to help me fight off sleep. Didn’t work. While I slept away, this coworker entered the room to find that “Avatar” had ended and had been followed by a rather risqué flick. He entered the room as the plot was reaching… um… a climax of sorts. At first he thought he had caught me watching porn, but upon learning I was out like a light, worried that I would wake and accuse him of watching porn while I slept.  After a quick discussion the next a.m., we became fast friends. We didn’t turn on the TV that night.


    Madison, Wisconsin



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Our tiny but mighty team of three took a tremendous blow this week when one of my coworkers went down with a vicious rec league softball injury. A pop fly was called. A pop fly call was ignored. Feelings were hurt. Ribs were damaged. That’s why when I called my still standing co-worker from O’Hare Airport, the one already in Madison, to tell her that my connecting flight from Chicago to Madison had been canceled, the news didn’t go over very well. One well-timed compliment regarding how great the ticketing agent’s recent manicure looked and I was on the next flight. Madison, like most of our stops, turned out to be a very impressive city. Aside from its scenic qualities, Madison’s population seemed extremely engaged and carried out civic duties with fervor. The streets circling the state capital were home to a tent city of union workers protesting a move by the governor to limit the collective bargaining power of teachers and other public workers.  The same streets were also home to one of the biggest farmer’s markets I’ve ever seen, where strangely, everyone browsed by walking around clockwise. We learned this when we started walking in the other direction. We didn’t get far.


    Des Moines, Iowa



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: 3 a.m. End of an18-hour workday. Six New Belgium coworkers sitting around drinking beers in a downtown Des Moines hotel lobby. One really drunk hotel guest who decides to run up a two-story escalator while security decides whether or not to chase him. Perfect end to a great day in the Hawkeye State.


    Boulder, Colorado

    ATTENDENCE: 1,000


    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: The 18 short films shown during the Clips of Faith tour represented a great collection of independent filmmakers sharing a variety of messages. At nearly every tour stop the film “Scrapertown” brought tears to a few eyes. This flick told the story of “Original Scraper Bike King” Baybe Champ, a young Oakland resident who started a club that aims to keep at-risk youth off the streets by engaging them in the act of building scraper bikes.  These bicycles are budget-friendly customs made by spray painting the frames and wrapping the spokes of the wheels with tape, tinfoil or anything else a person can think of. In Boulder, we were lucky enough to have Baybe Champ in the audience and he was pumped to get on the mic for a bit of freestyle rapping and to spread his message of violence prevention via bicycling. When people ask me why New Belgium would spend a grip of money on this tour that racks up the bills but doesn’t pay any, I reference this night in Boulder. Not only did the residents of this community come together to raise nearly $7k for a local bike-related nonprofit, they also gave a young man the attention, acknowledgement and applause that just might encourage him to keep trying to change the world, two wheels at a time.


    Flagstaff, Arizona



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Ever heard of a haboob? Go ahead, Google it. Nothing graphic will appear, I promise. A haboob is a sand storm of devastating proportions. We’re talking a 5,000-foot tall wall of sand rolling through towns at crazy fast speeds. We missed the Phoenix haboob by one day. We didn’t miss the monsoon that followed, which, a bit north in Flagstaff, is widely known to occur during the exact week we were there to put on an outdoor event. The rain was a bit of a damper (ba dum tsh), but luckily it had stopped by the time one of the lights we used to illuminate the event grounds started on fire due to a manufacturing defect.


    Santa Cruz, California



    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: Taking advantage of my seaside location with a paddle boarding session should have been the highlight here. But only one day prior the Clips of Faith team had a brush with fame in the form of a “Howard the Duck” extra. This man, who harbored a deep hatred of sideburns evident by his not only shaving them off, but ensuring no sideburns at all by shaving up into his temple area, walked up to us as we ate lunch. Confused and thinking Clips of Faith was an open casting call, he offered up his services, his only resume mention being the bit part in the film about a humanoid alien duck who is sucked to earth, to Cleveland, no less. Sadly, we had no work to offer him. I wonder if he knew our overnight hotel clerk, the lady who wore the golden cape and was pissed she missed the “Harry Potter” film premier.


    Davis, California

    ATTENDENCE: 1,250


    RANDOM ACTS OF EVENTING: An illuminated, musical custom bicycle; many large men wearing wee bits of spandex and capes; a rather strong Jamaican contingent; finding hotel rooms for “service” dogs; bicyclists refusing to bathe; an invite to a rowdy after-hours party with HEAVY dance floor petting.  I’ll leave it at that. You should visit.


    Please stay tuned friends, the exciting conclusion (entitled "The Last Half of the Whole Clips of Faith, 2011") will be out tomorrow with everything required to finish such a great story.  Until then...




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