New Belgium Values Endure in Asheville
North Carolina craft beer enthusiasts have yet another reason to raise their glasses in Asheville. On May 2, New Belgium Brewing Company opens its newest location on the edge of West Asheville across from the city’s River Arts District. Just as the wildflowers begin to bloom in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, locals and tourists alike can kick back on the deck of New Belgium’s Liquid Center tasting room and take in a view that’s been years in the making.
Founded in 1991, New Belgium’s brewing operation began in its owner’s basement in Fort Collins, Colorado. The company expanded its distribution for almost two decades before starting the search for a second location in 2009. New Belgium began working on building its new home on a 17.5-acre riverfront location in Asheville in 2012.
“For some of us, it sort of feels like we’re graduating from high school after four years [of] working on this project,” says Tyler Foos, New Belgium’s Liquid Center Manager. “We didn’t want to just take a cookie cutter and bring our Fort Collins location to Asheville. We’ve learned a lot about this community and hope when people come here, they walk into an environment that’s a little bit Asheville and also a little bit New Belgium,” Foos says.
Given Asheville’s appreciation for environmental sustainability, culture, and community, the city rose to the top of New Belgium’s list. The neighborhood’s vibrant artist collective was an additional perk. During the property’s initial deconstruction phase, the New Belgium construction crew carefully took apart the site’s historical buildings. Makers in the area then used these recycled materials to create furniture and artwork for New Belgium.
Darren Green’s Old Wood Co. is located just across the river in the River Arts District. He and his team built many of the pieces visitors will enjoy in the Liquid Center today.
“The really unique thing about the New Belgium project was that we had no design ideas before we even looked to see what deconstructed materials they had available. The design was based solely on what they’d recovered from the site,” Green says. “Our whole team feels a sense of accomplishment when we go to New Belgium and sit down at the pieces that we all had a true hand in developing.”
To Green, this creativity equates to the work of brewmaster. Whether brewing beer or building a bar-top stool, both brewer and artist have to approach their materials with a vision that determines the final taste or design.
Though the brewery and Liquid Center feel brand new — New Belgium brewery tours will begin this summer — New Belgium’s well-worn values will endure at its Asheville location. New Belgium is an employee-owned company, and Foos hopes that whether guests are taking a tour through the brewery or enjoying a New Belgium favorite in the taproom, they feel like they’re being taken care of at a best friend’s house.
“New Belgium makes craft beer, but we’ve really always been focused on community too,” Foos says. “We’re still all about experimentation, enjoyment, quality, and making something that weaves through peoples’ lives.”