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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Talking Head: Serious sustainability at New Belgian Brewing Company

click to enlarge The eco-friendly campus at New Belgium Brewing Company
  • The eco-friendly campus at New Belgium Brewing Company

Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO is due in stores the first of next week. It will be available in 22-oz. bombers to start, with 6-packs and draft to follow shortly. Fat Tire has myriad fans, and it has propelled the company into the number 3 spot in the nation among craft brewers (behind Boston Beer Company and Sierra Nevada). I find it to be a decent enough beer; it is balanced and has a nutty, toasted malt character that makes it a good choice with food. New Belgium also turns out some other good beers, which will no doubt make their way to Georgia soon (look for the 1554 Belgian Black, Abbey-style Dubbel, Trippel, and if we are lucky, La Folie Flanders Red).

For me, though, the best thing about this company is their commitment to the environment. I don't think there is another brewery in the world that takes sustainability as seriously as the folks at New Belgium. Their brewery is a model of efficiency. It runs almost entirely on wind power with the remainder from gas generated on- and off-site. The buildings utilize passive solar power and evaporative cooling, and were built using downed timber. The boilers are the most energy-efficient available, and their recycling efforts have reduced landfill diversion to only 15 percent, not including spent grain and yeast, which are also recycled. The company's employees, who are also its owners, are deeply involved in the effort to reduce waste and save energy, and each receive a bicycle on their 1-year anniversary at the company. The parking lot at the brewery has as many bikes as cars. They also sponsor a number of green-focused events and donate 1% of their revenue to environmental non-profits. That's commitment I will drink to. For more information on New Belgium's efforts at environmental stewardship, check out this summary and their 2007 Sustainability Report.

In other news...

After considerable delay (something like 3 years in all), the Westside location of 5 Seasons Brewing Company has finally opened, although the first night was BYOB and there was no food. A trip to the mayor's office on Tuesday afternoon was not enough to grease the wheels of Atlanta's permit bureaucracy, but the 5 Seasons crew would not be denied their opening night on Cinco de Mayo (05.05, see; they are a bit wacko about this whole "5" thing). So technically they were open, if only for a sneak preview of the space.

Brewer Crawford Moran assured me that they would get their license today and will be open for dinner and drinks tonight. Unfortunately, they haven't been able to start brewing, so there will be guest taps for the next few weeks while Moran feverishly cranks out batches of his house beers in his subterranean 15-bbl brewery lair. Even if they are not pouring tonight, you can always stop in at Hop City, the craft beer specialty store next to the brewpub and pick up a nice dubbel or saison to have with your meal from Chef David Larkworthy.

American Craft Beer Week starts next week, although so far Atlanta Brewing Company has the only events listed for Georgia on the official webpage. At the brewery's regular beer tour on Wed., Apr. 13, they will have beer and cheese pairings, along with floats made with their Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter. For the Thursday tour there will be homebrew from the ABC staff.

Twain's in Decatur has an exciting week lined up. Tonight you can catch acclaimed blues guitarist Chris Duarte sitting in with the Dave Ellington Organ Trio's regular Wednesday night gig. You can watch the musical fireworks while enjoying the latest batch of Brewer Jordan Fleetwood's potent and tasty XL Double IPA. The music continues Thursday with the Spagetti Western-Gypsy-Sufi-Americana sounds of A Fight to the Death.

Next Sat., May 16, Twain's pulls out all the stops with its Spring Fest to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank. There will be music on two stages (one inside and one outside) from 1-10 p.m featuring a wide variety of acts, including The Mystery Men?, Spanky and the Love Handles, Swingset, Grinder Nova, and more. The full schedule is posted on the event's Facebook page if you scroll down to the wall posts.

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