During the month of May we are celebrating the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) and successes in improving bicycle travel conditions nationwide. This week we’re focusing on how bicycling benefits businesses and economies and It’s pretty clear that cyclists love beer. Just take a look at the number of bicycles parked in front of the local brewery and it’s easy to see how that connection is made. We also explored how the craft brewery culture seems to fit with the growing enthusiasm for bicycling. I recently traveled to Fort Collins and had the opportunity to meet two people that make their living from the bike and beer association.
New Belgium Brewery: Beer + Bikes = A Great Business Culture
I guess you could say, beer and bikes go together like peas and carrots, and no craft brewery is more associated with the bicycle than New Belgium Brewing Company out of Fort Collins, CO. The cruiser bike on their signature beer, called “Fat Tire,” is well known in the West. Now, with a second brewery based in Asheville, NC, it’s becoming known as a leading craft brewery across North America.
I had dinner with Michael Craft, a marketing fixture for New Belgium. Michael has worked Tour de Fat, New Belgium’s travelling bicycle celebration, for many years now. I had the opportunity to hear more about the brewery’s marketing philosophy when Michael spoke at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference in San Diego last November. New Belgium has a unique company culture, one born from the love of the outdoors and the bicycle (read about their company history). I wanted to know a bit more about that and so Michael agreed to answer a few of my questions:
Do you think of yourselves as a bike friendly business?
New Belgium has been designated a “Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business” by the League of American Bicyclists. We like to say we were “conceived on a bike seat” because one of our co-founders was inspired to bring Belgian-style beers to the US while traveling through Europe on his fat-tired cruiser bike. At an employee-owner’s one-year anniversary, they receive a New Belgium cruiser bike in honor of this trip to thank them and to encourage them to bicycle commute. We also offer a bicycle repair station, showers, and covered bike parking. On any given day, most of the bicycle racks are full. Fort Collins, CO makes it easy to commute by bicycle, too, it’s pancake flat and we have 300+ days of sunshine.
How do you feel the culture of New Belgium plays into the role you play in advocacy?