Founded in 1991 by former husband-and-wife Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing, best known for it’s Belgian-style ale Fat Tire, is one of the largest regional specialty brewers in the United States; located-in Fort Collins, Colorado and Ashevville, North Carolina. During the 1980s, Lebesch, an electrical engineer, had taken-up the hobby of home brewing; and often volunteered at breweries throughout California to sharpen his skills. After a bicycle tour of Belgium, and visiting a number of local breweries, he would become interested in starting his own, and acquired special strain of yeast to bring home with him.
Prior to releasing their product to the public, Lebesch and Jordan, a social worker, would develop a business plan while hiking in the Rocky Mountains with a jug of home brew and a notebook. It was important to each of them to establish a set of values and principles the company would be built-upon. At the core of their operation, there is a firm focus on sustainable practices. As it is, New Belgium Brewing Company uses wind-generated electricity, in addition to heat and energy derived from byproducts created during the brewing process. For example, the company recycles heat generated from the operation to heat parts of its plant. Moreover, their warehouses are solar powered, they’ve implemented a comprehensive recycling program, as well as a multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant on-site; from which, methane gas is extracted to generate additional electricity, and solid wastes are sold to farmers for use as fertilizers.
If all of this weren’t enough already, the New Belgium Brewing Company is 100% employee-owned. All employees are awarded ownership at one year of employment, and it’s accompanied by a bicycle gifted from the company to celebrate the anniversary. Due to the company’s culture and perks, including the bike, the company is repeatedly given high marks for being among the best places to work in America.