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Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Belgium Now Employee-Owned

Fascinating news from Fort Collins:
It's true, we are. Up to this point (well, December 28, 2012) the employees of New Belgium owned 41% of the total company. The controlling share was owned by our co-founder and CEO, Kim, and her family. Well, we bought it. As of December 29, 2012 the employees own the whole she-bang. New Belgium is now 100% ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). 

The attached press release also mentions that the future workers in the new North Carolina plant will also be owners.  I've always run hot and cold with New Belgium's beers, but as a company, they make incredibly good citizens. 
Photo: Tracy at The Slow Life.
New Belgium has one of the greenest facilities in the world, and they have long been a leader in supporting charitable activities.  Now that they have hundreds of co-owners, we can add great labor relations to the checklist.

The idea of American "craft-brewing" has always had a quasi-ethical component to it--one I mostly abjure.  It's easy enough to get lost in the weeds of ethics when you're talking about fermented barley juice, particularly when you're trying to use those ethics to carve out special places for those with purportedly superior qualities.  [cough]Brewers Association[cough].

On the other hand, there's absolutely no reason not to celebrate those breweries that really do make an effort to make the world better for their customers, their workers, and their communities.  Full Sail went ESOP in 1999 and is also incredibly green.  England's Adnams actually turns their waste into biogas.  Breweries are really quick to sponsor charity events--Deschutes has been a leader on this score, but you could run down the list and find brewery after brewery participating--often with little fanfare--in charity events.  We can endorse these fine practices by drinking their beer, and I am all in favor of that.  This may be a good excuse to go find a Tart Lychee. 

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