I am going to drag out my Fat Tire cycling jersey and wear it around for days on end in celebration of some news. I have confirmed - and it's possible you heard it here first - that New Belgium Brewing Co. will begin distributing in Michigan sometime next year. So what, you say? To beer nerds like myself, this is the equivalent of that halcyon day when you found out that Starbucks was going to locate in town before they became ubiquitous strip mall fare. Holy Crap a Starbucks!
New Belgium, of Fort Collins, Colo. is a favorite son among beeristas. Most of its reputation is built around Fat Tire, their signature amber ale, with a picture of a old-style red bike leaning against a tree. The brewery has many other beers, of course, but I suspect they will start slow with Fat Tire and a few others when they enter the market. As it stands, the closest place with New Beligium beers is Chicago. A sad travesty. But for small breweries, deciding to tackle a new state is no easy task. They have to pick a distributor and guarantee a certain volume of deliveries. There's beauracractic nonsense and hoopjumping to go through. This year, the brewery is expanding in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
How, you ask, did I find out? Well, a friend posted it on his Facebook page and his brother works at the brewery. He didn't know the details, so I called the number listed on the Internet and spoke with the receptionist, who also happens to be a minority owner because all employees are part owners. With a laugh, she confirmed that sometime next year the brewery will be entering Michigan. Her husband is from Livonia and also works at the brewery. There is a very strong Michigan connection there, apparently.
Prior to making this call, I called and asked when the beer would show up. The surprised answerer - who may have been the owner because she mentioned buying the store with her husband (more on that in a minute) - said it would probably not be available in the near future. She was right. She then went on to say that her husband - presumably the other owner - had New Beligium posters in his "Man Cave" since before they bought the place. Confirmation of the beer nerd power of New Belgium. Welcome to Michigan!