Beer Edition: New Belgium is a tribute to beer and bikes in Fort Collins


Collegian | Gregory James

The entryway arch of New Belgium Brewing April 9. The entrance prominently features a bicycle similar to the ones New Belgium co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch rode through Belgium in 1988 on a beer sampling trip.

Callum Burke, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

When discussing the many aspects of Fort Collins that embrace its storied personality, there are a lot to choose from. For starters, you could mention the architecture of Old Town and the inspiration it supplied for the design of Main Street, U.S.A. You could also describe the picturesque Horsetooth Rock and accompanying view of Colorado’s vast foothills and mountains.


Although both examples are suitable and worth mentioning, it would be a disgrace to neglect the importance of both beer and bicycles to the City, especially with the celebration of National Beer Day on April 7.

Fort Collins could very well be deemed a bicycle mecca in the United States with the number of people who opt to bike rather than drive. It seems like almost every road in town is populated by students or locals riding their bikes and enjoying the fresh Colorado air.

Not to mention, Fort Collins is ranked as a platinum-rated Bicycle Friendly Community with over 250 miles of bike routes and designated bike lanes. This is more than enough reason to get outside and ride, if you ask me.

In addition to the impressive number of bikes cruising around the city is the massive number of breweries. Fort Collins contains more than 20 craft breweries within its city limits and many more beer-centric bars, which are all unique and appreciated in their own way.

At the center of beer and bicycle culture in Fort Collins is a local favorite, New Belgium Brewing Company, the brewery that keeps cool bikes and craft beer popular in Colorado.

Fort Collins community members hang out and drink beer at the New Belgium Brewery April 8, 2022
Fort Collins community members hang out and drink beer at the Fort Collins New Belgium Brewing April 8. The brewery is one of two main locations for the company in the United States, the other being in Asheville, North Carolina. (Collegian | Gregory James)

Starting in the late 1980s, co-founders and Fort Collins locals Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch set out on a bicycle trip throughout Belgium on a journey to find beer recipes. After, they brought their accumulated knowledge back to Colorado to begin brewing beer in their own basement. That trip was where the name “New Belgium” was born, and the founders hit the ground running.

“If you find yourself in Fort Collins, beer and bikes are more common than steak and eggs.”

Nowadays, New Belgium has asserted itself as one of the most respected and popular breweries in Colorado and beyond while remembering its humble roots.

I find it astounding how much bike history is intermingled within New Belgium’s company. For starters, their logo sports a classy and vibrant orange fat-tire cruiser bike similar to the ones they gift employees after one year of working with the company.

Yes, you heard me right. Initiated in 1999, New Belgium began the tradition of gifting special-made New Belgium-branded anniversary bikes to employees who have clocked one full year of work with and dedication to the company. I yearn for the day I get to see an employee riding one around campus.

Additionally — and my favorite New Belgium story — there’s the origin of their famous amber ale beer, Fat Tire. While Lebesch was on his excursion through Belgium in the ’80s, tasting and studying beers along the way, the cartoonishly large tires of his mountain bike caught the attention of locals and inspired the name of the company’s signature craft beer.


Now, it is not common to find a correlation between beer and bikes. Honestly, drinking beer and riding a bicycle does not seem like a smart decision, but if you find yourself in Fort Collins, beer and bikes are more common than steak and eggs.

New Belgium Brewing has been a staple to the City of Fort Collins since its founding and has been paying homage to the city’s love of beers and bicycles ever since.

Reach Callum Burke at or on Twitter @burkec0621.