New Belgium Brewing Company’s Asheville brewery, which has been producing beer since this past spring, begins offering scheduled public tours Friday, Sept. 2. It is the general public’s first opportunity to book a tour and see inside this highly anticipated brewery.
New Belgium’s free tours run daily on the half hour and reservations are necessary. Starting Friday, September 2, you can book a tour here.
Brilliant Stream tours the Asheville brewery
Last week, Brilliant Stream participated in media day tours at the facility and found it most impressive. Taking the New Belgium tour would be a worthy adventure for any beer fan or beer novice. Beer fans will especially appreciate the multiple beer stops along the tour route.
On the typical brewery tour, you have to see all the insides of the brewery first before you get to visit the taproom and sample some brews. At New Belgium Asheville, you sample at several tasting stations along the way—inside the brewery—and you still get dropped off in the main taproom at the end. It’s a great concept.
All tours begin at the Liquid Center. Inside the center you’ll find a large room with lots of beer-on-tap, tables, chairs, packaged beer to take home, growler filler, logo merchandise, and a nice outdoor patio with seating overlooking the French Broad River.
While you are waiting for your tour to start, you can purchase a glass of brew and relax for a bit. The huge selection lets you choose from every New Belgium beer that is currently available.
From the Liquid Center your tour leader will guide you over a winding path to the main brewery building. You can’t take glasses of beer out of the Liquid Center over to the brewery. But don’t worry, New Belgium will take care of you in just a few minutes.
The brewery itself is a thing of beauty. All aspects, from the landscaping and architecture to the brewing equipment and tasting stations, show great attention to detail.
As you approach the brewery building, you’ll notice three tall, shiny metal tanks sitting out on the left. These are a special heat capturing and transferring mechanism for energy conservation. They are indicative of New Belgium’s commitment to sustainability.
Entering the building, the first stop is a large room containing the brewhouse. It’s made up of four big stainless steel vessels: mash tun, later tun, brew kettle, and whirlpool.
Here’s a close-up photo of the colorful tile work at the base of the tanks. Absolutely beautiful. Click on it to see a larger image. It is all totally custom. A local artist made the tiles from scratch and installed them in a pattern inspired by a hop cone.
Alex Dwoinen, Brewing Manager, New Belgium Asheville, is the main man responsible for overseeing the brewing program operation.
The Asheville brewery has a production capacity of 500,000 barrels annually. Add that capacity to the Fort Collins, Colorado brewery, and New Belgium’s total capacity is roughly 1.5 million barrels a year.
Your first special treat is the brewhouse tasting station where you get to sample your initial tour beers.
Next, you traverse through stairways and corridors where you see all the key workings of the brewery, except for the outdoor fermentation tanks. The tour guides are well-versed in brewery details and can answer just about any question you throw at them.
The main control room is filled with computer equipment. From there, most all brewery activities can be monitored and controlled.
Brewery workers truly cover all the bases, including keeping the viewing windows sparkling clean.
Soon, you get to the mid-tour tasting station that appears as if you are right outside the ‘t Brugs Beertje cafe in Bruges, Belgium. They say that’s where the New Belgium founders first got their inspiration for the beer they would make. Daisy Claeys is surely proud and happy about the free advertisement.
Quality assurance is a key component of a large craft brewery operation. New Belgium’s laboratories are first-rate.
The packaging room is massive. Kegs, cans, and bottles are all filled, labeled, and packed up for storage here, awaiting shipping. The bottling line can process 480 bottles per minute.
Opposite the packaging room window is the next tasting station. You won’t want for beer samples on this tour. This bar is constructed with many reclaimed materials.
To get a good look at the large outdoor fermentation tanks, you have to walk around the outside of the brewery building.
An emphasis on artwork
Art is displayed all around the brewery facilities. Much of the furnishings and the bar in the Liquid Center were also locally produced. Ninety percent of the artists and crafts people who made the art live within 5 miles of the brewery.
Much of the artwork, fixtures, and furnishing include materials reclaimed from the old livestock market that originally sat on the space now taken over by the brewery.
Though not done by a local artist, this cow was pretty amazing.
While you can sample and purchase all of New Belgium’s current portfolio in the Liquid Center, most of the beers are not yet brewed here. As of last week, the Asheville brewery was only producing three of New Belgium’s many beers. Fat Tire has been brewed here since April 2. Ranger IPA was the second beer produced here, and Citradelic, the third. They will phase in production of additional beers over the coming months until all most if not all the core brands and seasonals will be brewed here (as well as in Colorado). Some of the last beers that might be made in Asheville are the sour beers and the Lips of Faith Series. No timetable has been announced for producing additional beers.
Another great reason for a road trip
All in all, this is definitely another don’t miss stop on an Asheville visit—whether or not you are a beer fan. They do a great jobs of telling the story of New Belgium beer. And an interesting story it is. This brewery tour is another compelling reason to get over to Asheville again.
New Belgium Asheville
21 Craven St.
Hours are Monday-Saturday from 11 A.M.–8 P.M. and Sunday from 12 P.M. – 8 P.M.
The free tours take approximately 90 minutes and can be booked, first come-first served, here: http://www.newbelgium.com/Brewery/asheville.
For your tour, you should wear closed-toed shoes for safety.
New Belgium Brewing Company is an employee-owned business headquartered in Fort Collins, CO. It’s 800 employee-owners just celebrated the brewery’s 25th anniversary.