Yesterday was my birthday, so naturally I started off the evening having some Belgian beers at the Thirsty Monk. And who do I happen to run into? None other than the owners of New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest and most respected craft brewers in the country. Jeff Lebesch, an avid homebrewer, and his wife Kim Jordan started the brewery in 1991 selling 22 ounce bottles of their flagship beer Flat Tire Ale as well as their Abbey Ale, and the brewery has grown exponentially since then, with distribution primarly occuring in the western part of the country. In my travels out west, it was reassuring to know that any time you stepped foot in a bar they likely had Fat Tire on tap. Not only have they shown remarkable growth over that time, but they have done so with an eye on sustainablility. In 1998, New Belgium became the first brewery to buy 100 percent of its power from wind energy, and they also followed green building practices in the brewery as well as producing on-site energy from the methane that is a byproduct of their water treatment facility.
So why am I tellin you all this about a brewery that you have to travel hundreds of miles to even try? Because they are coming to North Carolina. Jeff (J.B.) and Kim were here in Asheville to check out the local beer scene, and to begin discussions on bringing their beers to our state. Jeff said that it will probably be spring of next year before you see bottles (and cans!) of Fat Tire on the shelves. In addition to their standard lineup, we will also likely see some special beers from their brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, who is the former brewer at Rodenbach. The most famous of these is the La Folie, a flanders style ale that is aged in French Oak for up to three years, and I will finally get a chance to try it when New Belgium comes to our state.