The New Belgium Brewery: Asheville’s Best Brewery Tour

Updated on October 19, 2018
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Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

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Asheville, North Carolina, has become quite the visitor destination in recent years, with multiple travel publications touting its beautiful scenery and artsy, laid-back vibe. It has also become a craft-beer mecca, with numerous small breweries putting down roots in the area. One of the first to discover the magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains was the New Belgium Brewing Company.

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A Brief History of the New Belgium Brewery

The story of the New Belgium Brewing Company started in the basement of Jeff Lebesch’s home in the late 1980s in Fort Collins, Colorado. By 1991, he had himself a real brewing company and began brewing and marketing the Fat Tire beer that would become the companies classic brew.

Jump ahead 20 years, and in 2012, the company began looking to expand and create a presence in the eastern United States. Asheville, North Carolina, looked to be the perfect location, and that is how the New Belgium Brewery wound up here perched on the banks of the French Broad River.

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Why Is Asheville's New Belgium Special?

Today, there are numerous small craft brewers in Asheville, and you can even take a craft-beer walking tour. With limited time, we decided to tour the New Belgium facility, and I must say we were very impressed. If you have time for just one tour, I would highly recommend this one.

It is consistently ranked as one of the best brewery tours not just in Asheville, but nationwide. If you get there early you can hang out in their Liquid Center with a quick game of ping pong or relax out front with a game of corn hole. The Liquid Center also has a beautiful outdoor patio that looks over the river, and it’s a great place to sit and enjoy a cold brew or a snack from one of the food trucks that frequent the facility.

The tour is free and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

There are currently over 4,000 craft breweries in the United States.

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New Belgium Is 100% Employee-Owned

Our guide for the day was Courtney, who clearly loves her job and makes the tour interesting and fun. As you head into the facility and start seeing people at work, it becomes obvious that these folks love their job.

The company is 100% employee-owned, and everyone who works for New Belgium is eligible to become an owner in the company after a period of service. When you actually have a vested interest in your place of employment, it’s easy to stay motivated and engaged on a daily basis, and this is clearly one of the secrets to New Belgium’s success.

What Will You See on the Tour?

During the tour, you will hear about the history of the company and how it grew from a small operation being run out of a basement into a two-plant operation. While still technically a craft brewery, the company does retain that small business feel and they take great pride in their product. You will have an opportunity to sample a number of their beers, including the classic Fat Tire beer as well as a few new brews. Along the way, you will see the impressive bottling facility, the testing lab, the large brewing vats, and much more.

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Having experienced significant growth over the last 20 years, the New Belgium Brewery now ships almost 1 million barrels of beer yearly. They are currently the fourth-largest craft brewer in the United States and ship beer to all fifty states as well as a few other countries around the world. You might be thinking that their volume and expansion to a second facility would no longer qualify them as a craft brewery, but rest assured that there are strict guidelines to being labeled a Craft Brewery and New Belgium definitely meets them all.

Craft Brewery Criteria

Small - Independent - Traditional

* Annual production of 6 million barrels or less.

* Must be at least 75% owned by a craft brewer.

* The craft brewer uses traditional brewing methods with an emphasis on quality and flavor.

Relax in the Liquid Center After the Tour

Following the tour, you can return to the Liquid Center where you can enjoy the outdoor patio with one of your new favorite brews. It’s a great place to relax with a bite to eat from one of the food trucks that visit daily.

The story of the New Belgium Brewery is certainly one that many of us have probably dreamt about. You start brewing your own beer in your home. You get pretty good at it after numerous not-so-good attempts. Eventually, your friends are requesting you to make beer for them and word spreads quickly. Before you know it, you’re in the beer business and worrying about production, quality control, marketing, shipping, etc.

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Don't Miss a Tour of This Brewery!

If your travels take you to the Asheville area of western North Carolina, be sure to put aside a few hours for a tour of the New Belgium Brewery. It is consistently rated one of the best craft-beer tours in the country and makes for a fun couple of hours. Even the non-beer drinkers in our group thoroughly enjoyed the tour and found the history of the company fascinating. A special thank you to our wonderful guide, Courtney, who went out of her way to make our day fun, interesting, and informative.

The New Belgium Brewery employees over 700 workers and is 100% employee-owned.

New Belgium Brewery Tour Information

  • Hours: Monday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • Tours can be arranged online or over the phone.
  • Tour size is limited to 20.
  • Tours last 90 minutes.
  • You must present a valid ID and be 21 years of age or older.
  • The tour is free.
  • A behind-the-scenes tour can be arranged for up to 10 guests for $200.
  • The Brewhouse is available for special events and with over 5100 square feet of space can accommodate 150 seated guests or 325 standing. It would make a great venue for a special event, large group dinner, or casual get-together. It is only available after 5 pm.

In addition to giving tours of their facility, New Belgium also hosts a number of activities throughout the year. Live music shows, yoga sessions, bike tours, movie nights, and countless other community-oriented events are what make the New Belgium Brewery a valued member of the Asheville community. Stop by and check them out.

New Belgium Brewing Company Locations

New Belgium Brewery—Asheville

21 Craven Street

Asheville, NC 28806

888-598-9552/ 828-333-6900

New Belgium Brewery—Fort Collins

500 Linden Street

Fort Collins, CO 80524

888-622-4044/970-221-0524

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Bill De Giulio

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      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        2 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Flourish. Thank you. Asheville is an interesting place for craft breweries. We really enjoyed the tour of New Belgium. Being 100% employee owned it looks like a fun place to work.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 weeks ago from USA

        This sounds like an excellent place to visit for those who appreciate the taste of a good adult beverage and want to see how it's made. My dad had a long career in food science and whenever we toured a distillery or brewery he'd ask a lot of technical questions because he'd see it from the science and production lenses as well as from the lens of the consumer who appreciated the product. He'd love this place!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Liz. Craft breweries are becoming big business here with many cities now hosting a number of them.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 weeks ago from UK

        You give a great impression of what to expect from a brewery visit. Craft beer is big in the UK also. Things have moved on a lot since I visited the Guinness brewery in Dublin and the Heineken experience in Amsterdam a few years ago. Another drink on the up is gin. The market has expanded a lot recently in the UK. I have a voucher to visit a gin distillery which I need to use.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Peggy. Thank you. Certainly the Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Parkway (scenery) were the highlights of the week. The brewery tour was fun and something different for a few hours. Have a great day.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        That brewery sounds like a fun place to visit and it is wonderful that it is 100% owned by the employees. Thanks for telling us about it. My main memory of the Ashville area is the scenic beauty and the amazing Biltmore estate.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Thanks Bill. Same to you.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Weird timing! Part of the old Olympia Brewery structure burned down last night....history comes and goes, I'm afraid. :) Thanks for the tour...have a fantastic week, Bill!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Mary. Thank you. Yes, the Blue Ridge Parkway was certainly the big attraction for us also. That's my next hub :) Have a great day.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts

        Thanks John. It made for an interesting couple of hours. I guess the Asheville area is well known for its craft breweries.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Bill, this was very interesting and what an impressive looking brewery it is. I am sure it was well worth the visit.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        I like driving through Asheville when we go to Florida. The Blue Ridge is the major attraction for me as I did not yet know at that time about the brewery there. Am not a fan of beer but some in the family are so a pass by may be in our future.

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