Colorado's New Belgium Brewing Co. has narrowed its list of potential East Coast brewery sites to two: the Philadelphia area and Asheville, NC. Fort Collins-based New Belgium, which produces Fat Tire Ale, said the facility would create 100 to 120 jobs. It would produce up to 500,000 barrels a year, in kegs and bottles, and serve as an East Coast distribution center, New Belgium spokesman Bryan Simpson said.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported last November that New Belgium was considering four potential East Coast locations.
"Philadelphia is a great beer town, it has a great beer culture. People there are savvy about beer. We also think we could also learn from Philly," Simpson told the Philadelphia Business Journal. He said Asheville, a foothills city in far western North Carolina, is also being considered.
Last month, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. of Chico, CA, said it picked Mills River, NC, (12 miles north of Asheville) for its East Coast brewery, where it will produce 300,000 barrels a year.
New Belgium, which is sold in 28 states but has limited availability on the East Coast, started by looking at "dozens" of areas before narrowing the list to 10 and then two, Simpson said. It is looking for a site to build from the ground up.
News reports from North Carolina and Colorado have indicated that a decision was imminent, but Simpson said the decision might not be made before June.
New Belgium is nearing capacity at its Fort Collins brewing operation, where it produces 700,000 barrels a year (with capacity for 900,000).
New Belgium was founded in 1991 by a basement brewer, Jeff Lebesch, who returned to Fort Collins after an epic mountain bike trip throughout Europe, where he sampled local brews. His wife Kim Jordan is now the company's CEO.