If you want to be thoroughly impressed with a brewery’s space and production, head to New Belgium and Sierra Nevada while in Asheville. Both of these locations are a second “campus” (I felt like I was walking around a fancy school or resort) to what I assume to be even more impressive headquarters. What an awesome experience to be able to visit both in a long weekend trip! It’s not as easy to get to California or Colorado 🙂
In this blog, I’ll highlight my New Belgium experience. Stay tuned for my review on Sierra Nevada!
New Belgium Brewery Tour in Asheville
The good news: the tour is free! The bad news: you have to sign up for the tour in advance, so don’t forget in case it’s a popular weekend and crowded. As soon as you know you’re going, make sure to book a time!
Upon arrival you’ll need to check in and show your ID. Don’t forget it, there’s great beer sample stops on the tour (Juicy Watermelon, Abbey and Fat Tire)! We hung out in the tasting room and had a beer before heading off with our tour guide. They have a marvelous indoor/outdoor area overlooking the scenic French Broad River and of course plenty of beer on tap. 25 to be exact!
As you head on the tour, you’ll walk under the New Belgium arch and bridge that sits over a creek. Great photo op! Check out those Ohio beer shirts representing 😉
The first stop is a circus-themed room where you can peak into the tanks and see different parts of the beer process. After that, you’ll head over to the tube slide to slide down to the lower level. Yes, you heard right– an indoor slide. Dress appropriately! There are stairs if necessary, but you don’t want to miss out on the fun.
We got to see part of the operations downstairs with a bunch of people sitting behind computers doing fancy beer brewing things. It was pretty neat! We also walked past the sensory lab which is so official and high-tech that apparently little compartments raise up for you to retrieve a sample each time, and there’s snacks/water to wash away the taste each time. How can I get that job?!
My favorite part was overlooking the canning facility (which also overlooked an intense game of ping pong on the other side). We hung out in this space for a while sampling beers and asking questions. Once we finished up, we went back outside to stroll along the path to the taproom area. While there, we tried the French Oak Saison, Cherry Felix, Imperial Cascadian Black Ale and Flowering Citrus Ale.
Some fun facts-
- The brewery cares about the environment and sustainability. They opened their Asheville location to avoid cross-country transit needs for distribution. Trees they had to remove when building were used to construct the place and they collect rainwater for usage.
- New Belgium’s creator started brewing in his basement (all of our dreams!)
- Fat Tire was named after the bike he road around in Belgium, inspiring his beers
- They provide employees a New Belgium bike on their anniversary. Awesome!
- New Belgium has a “Director of Fun” position. I’d take that job too!
- The brewery is 100% employee owned
Make sure to check this place out!