When Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing decided to expand operations to Asheville, North Carolina, they knew bikes were going to be involved before they even got started. The brewery’s flagship beer is called Fat Tire, after all, in reference to the European bike journeys that first inspired its founders, and bikes have featured prominently on its labels and marketing efforts for years. What non-Coloradans might not know is that Fort Collins, where the brewery has its headquarters, is one of the bike-friendliest cities in the nation, a fact that New Belgium has both embraced and encouraged since its founding 25 years ago
In addition to brewing beer in Asheville, New Belgium also constructed a 141,000 square foot distribution facility – essentially an enormous refrigerated warehouse – that employs dozens of local residents and earned LEED Platinum certification shortly after opening in 2015. The Huntco-built Fin bike racks out front were part of that, but they also send a message: that bikes and beer are part of a happy, healthy life, and that New Belgium wants to see more of both.
“Some of our employees have actually bought homes within biking distance of the distribution center,” says Michael Craft,
a long-time employee who moved out to Asheville after the expansion. He goes on to explain that Asheville’s improving bike infrastructure, combined with New Belgium company incentives (employees get a free bike after one year on staff), has attracted workers inclined toward active transportation, and inspired others to give it a try.
Having a great-looking place to lock up when you get to work certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Photography: Oppenheim Photo