New Belgium Brewing Co.’s 200-hectoliter brewhouse departed from GEA Brewery Systems (GEA) in Kitzingen, Germany, in mid-November of 2014. Now, that high-tech, German-engineered, ultimate-badass beer brewing system is being put through its paces. Reports leaked out of Asheville, N.C., last week that New Belgium was starting to do test batches at its newly, mostly constructed East Coast brewery and Liquid Center (a tasting room/ultimate beer destination). And what beer do you think New Belgium started with? We turn to the Citizen-Times, Asheville.
Steam began wafting from the massive riverfront brewery this week as a test batch of Fat Tire Amber Ale was started. New Belgium will follow with test runs of Ranger IPA and 1554 Black Lager to be sure all equipment is properly running, spokeswoman Suzanne Hackett said.
Much of the construction is finished at the brewery located on the French Broad River in West Asheville but the company has not yet received a certificate of occupancy, Hackett said. Crews are working now at the Liquid Center tasting room, which will open in late February with tours beginning in March.
Asheville has become an East Coast mecca for craft beer, with West Coast brands like New Belgium Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. setting up shop in the beautiful North Carolina burg. New Belgium officially broke ground and started construction on its second facility — a 133,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room — back in 2014. Next year, in 2016, New Belgium will be opening its brewery and Asheville Liquid Center, finalizing construction and starting to brew. At full build out, New Belgium will brew 500,000 barrels (bbls) annually and support upward of 140 jobs. Back to the Citizen-Times:
“With the holidays coming up, we’ll pause and then ramp up on January 4,” Hackett said. “We will continue testing (the brewing system) in January. We’re not going to rush that process. We are really excited about what we have seen so far.”
The new brewery and Liquid Center is on an 18-acre site along the French Broad River in West Asheville, once designated as a brownfield site and having a history of interesting uses (like circus events). Watch this video to learn a little history about the land.