FORT COLLINS - Fat Tire made it to the backwoods of Maine this spring.
The arrival officially brought New Belgium Brewing to all 50 states.
Nationwide distribution is the latest accomplishment in the company's 26-year journey — from a Fort Collins basement to its current status as the country's fourth largest craft brewery that sells nearly 1 million barrels a year.
New Belgium staff toasted the national conquest at its recently renovated Fort Collins headquarters, which overlooks a grassy beer garden often filled with patrons playing yard games.
"For many of us older employees, it was an incredible experience to take a relatively small brewery with a limited (beer lineup) nationwide," said outgoing brewmaster Peter Bouckaert, who joined New Belgium in 1996.
The national footprint is a result of nearly a decade of planning by the employee-owned company. New Belgium, which currently employs 784 people, has expanded far beyond Belgian-style beers, updated its packaging, and launched an Asheville, North Carolina, brewery to more efficiently serve eastern states.
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