New Belgium Brewing

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The great impression starts outside when one first sees the beautiful exterior design of this new building. Inside, the spacious tasting room offers quite a view of the brewhouse. From the well-lit, high-ceilinged room it's hard to move far beyond the light wood, U-shaped tasting bar which is all that stands between thirst and the racks of 22 ounces bottles of Belgian-style beers. On the wall are seven taps that bring forth the draft versions of the local beers. Less functional but much more aesthetically pleasing is the display of great artwork embodied on glassware, T-shirts, and posters.

The recent five year anniversary allowed the celebration of solid growth and continued emphasis on quality. The new Steinecker stainless steel brewing system, housed in this building for only 11 months, has a 100 bbl. brew length and is fully computer-controlled via a computer's full-color graphical interface. Separate vessels include the Mash Tun, Lauter Tun, Boil Kettle, Pre-Run Vessel, and Steam Boiler. A two-roller mill is fed from two separate grain silos that contain the two-row malt. Steam provides the heat source for the brewhouse and all vessels are fully Clean-In-Place (CIP). Some salts are used in water treatment while chlorine (CL) and fluoride (FL) levels are adjusted. Pelletized hops are the preferred format and coriander is milled in-house. 360 bbl fermenters and bright beer tanks are the standard. Presently five brews a day result in 12 to 16 brews a week production. The bottling line cranks out 330 22 ounce bottles per minute running four days a week. Filtering varies depending on the recipe with both centrifuge and plate & frame devices available. Some brews are tank-conditioned while the Abbey and Tripple are bottle-conditioned. For keg products, 120 kegs per hour can be filled. The bottled versions pass through a Krones bottling line fed by attendants listening to Led Zeplin blasting from overhead (OSHA requirement ?). A model of efficiency, the system removes new empties from their cases, fills and labels them and then returns them to the original cases. Consumers can appreciate the packaged dating that is available for those in the retail chain who care to notice it.

Since Belgian beers are the specialty, fruit must be present somewhere. Fresh cherries from Colorado along with frozen raspberries are added in the fermenters when the recipe dictates. Turbinado sugar is added when called for by the recipe.

The Sunshine Wheat was a clear straw color with a sweet, wheat flavor. The Fat Tire Amber was a clear amber color with a dry malty flavor, medium body and overall smooth, easy-drinking character. The Tripple was a hazy amber color with a rich, creamy mouthfeel, dry malty flavor accompanied by a Belgian yeast character, and finishing with a short, alcoholic aftertaste. The Abbey was a dark amber color with a distinctive Belgian yeasty aroma, and dry malty flavor. The Old Cherry Ale was an amber color accompanied by a mellow cherry flavor. The Gran Cru appeared a dark amber color with a very dry Belgian yeasty character, a dry malty flavor, and short aftertaste.

Look for the new facility to produce about 62,000 bbl in 1996. Current distribution is concentrated on Colorado and Wyoming but look for expansion soon. If you're in a hurry, there are draft accounts around town and you can get kegs to go at the brewery. If in the neighborhood, stop by for a tour: Mon - Th 10 AM - 6 PM, Fr 10 AM - 7 PM, SA 10 AM - 5 PM, and closed Sundays. As expected with a new facility, the ground floor is fully wheelchair accessible.

New Belgium Brewing
[HP symbol] 350 Linden Street
Ft. Collins, Colorado 80524
(970)221-0524


Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - September, 1996.


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