Henry: The job market sucks, but New Belgium Brewing doesn’t


Collegian | Gregory James

A neon New Belgium sign just outside the entrance to the New Belgium Brewing factory floor April 9. New Belgium has been brewing beer in Fort Collins for over 30 years, starting in the basement of co-founders Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch in March 1991.

Brendan Henry, 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.

Colorado State University students over 21 years old should take some time to check out Fort Collins’ New Belgium Brewing. If somehow you have not yet ventured to the locally beloved brewery, you will be pleasantly surprised by the upbeat culture of both the employees and the local beer drinkers.


The brewery’s story begins in 1988, when Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch went on a bike trip through Belgium, taking note of the different brewing processes the Belgians used. Jordan and Lebesch went on to install brewing equipment in their home in Fort Collins in 1991, and their beer grew in popularity, not only becoming a local favorite but also being put on the shelves of stores all around the country.

If you are ever thinking of picking up some of New Belgium’s beer, you’d be supporting a company that sprouted right here in Fort Collins and that prides itself on eco-friendly production and taking care of its employees. The beer is damn good too.

The process of making and selling New Belgium beer has been structured to be more environmentally friendly. This includes sustainable packaging and encouraging the use of reusable drinking cups, reducing emissions and pursuing clean energy and promoting biking instead of driving for both environmental and personal health.

“Imagine if more companies adopted a business model like New Belgium wherein employees are treated with respect and compassion instead of like worker bees forced to do the company’s bidding.”

A pint glass and can of New Belgium Brewing's Old Aggie
A pint glass and can of New Belgium Brewing’s Old Aggie Superior Lager April 13. This lager was created by New Belgium in collaboration with Colorado State University and helps fund the CSU Fermentation Science and Technology program. (Collegian | Lucy Morantz)

The New Belgium Brewing company is not only environmentally friendly, it takes care of its employees as well. Employees receive a bike and stock in the company after a year of employment. Additionally, they get free health care, which is a massive win in America’s ever-competitive and sometimes predatory — health care environment.

With so many positives in a company ultimately working to make a profit, there has to be some dirt on these guys, right? You may be wondering if there are any skeletons hiding in the New Belgium closet. The answer is no: They’re right there on the Voodoo Ranger IPA cans for everyone to see.

Imagine if more companies adopted a business model like New Belgium wherein employees are treated with respect and compassion instead of like worker bees forced to do the company’s bidding. Imagine a world in which, instead of businesses smashing us into the ground with no remorse, they lifted us up and did what they could to help us thrive.

Seeing New Belgium support its people makes me hopeful for a better future, especially in the food service industry. Although it is probably a stretch, perhaps more businesses will adopt a similar model of caring about their employees and incentivizing individuals to make their jobs into careers.

All I can say right now is New Belgium is undermining societal institutions that are failing many people, and it is awesome.

Next time you have a day to yourself, think about stopping by the New Belgium brewery and taking a tour. Maybe even snag a New Belgium beer at a local bar. Just remember you’ll be supporting an amazing company.


Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.