Now that New Belgium is 100% Employee-Owned, It’s Time to Make a Few Changes


New Belgium, America’s third-largest craft brewer, has always had a strong employee ownership program at the center of their corporate culture.  It’s a great way to engender loyalty from the employees and to give them an actual stake in the success of the enterprise.

Up until December 28th of last year, the employees owned 41% of the company, but that number has recently risen to 100%, New Belgium announced at their company-wide winter retreat yesterday.

Now that the employees are running the show, it’s time to make a few long-overdue changes.  I strongly suggest that they institute the following additions to the New Belgium Policies & Procedures Manual: 

– Birthday Parties: All birthday parties and other employee celebrations will continue to be held in the downstairs break room, but new behavioral guidelines will be implemented.  Moving forward, the employee being celebrated is encouraged to “party ’til you puke” and/or pass out, preferably face down into a festive baked good.  As we are a socially responsible company, all employees can take advantage of our Safe Ride Home program, and are also free to use the stomach pump we’ve installed next to the microwave. Please note that these new rules apply to everyone except Karl in shipping, as consuming alcohol is considered a violation of his parole.

 – Mandatory Facial Hair: It is widely known that all beer geeks and brewers worth their salt have interesting facial hair.  It’s a sign that you’re part of the pack, one of the gang, a member of the beer-crazy tribe.  From this moment forward, all New Belgium employees must cover at least 34% of their lower face with well-sculpted beards, goatees, moostaches, etc.  This includes all female employees, who may use facial wigs and/or glue if necessary.  While it may seem awkward at first to be a “bearded lady,” imagine the pride you’ll feel when, with just a single glance, someone will know you’re a brewery owner.

– Homebrewing on Weekends: As we’re now 100% employee owned, there’s not a chance in hell that we’re working weekends.  As such, the brewing and bottling equipment is available for personal use by employees on a first come, first served basis.  The sign up sheet is outside of the Brew Master cubicle.  PLEASE NOTE that the forklifts and the giant cellophane palate wrapping machine are off limits, and no horesplay, fork-offs, or wrap-a-bitch will be tolerated. This means you, Karl!

– Home Taps: Business owners don’t leave their worries at the office – they take their work home with them.  As stakeholders in the company, New Belgium employees should always be thinking about the brewery’s products, probing them for nuances or defects.  As you can only drink so much delicious craft beer at work, we encourage all New Belgium employees to participate in the Home Tap Program, in which we will pipe interesting and tasty beers directly to your kitchen faucet (or shower if you’d like to participate in the Body by Beer Program as well). Please note that participation in either program will cause your insurance plan’s liver deductible to increase by 350%.

– Pants-Optional Fridays: As our brewery is a fairly casual working environment, many of our workers have complained that they’re missing out on the “casual Fridays” that employees of other businesses enjoy.  In the spirit of equality, New Belgium is instituting Pants-Optional Fridays, in which employees can go pants-free for the entirety of their work day.  We strongly urge employees to wear clean undergarments if they choose to participate, and remember that the no-banana-hammock policy is still in effect (remember you’re on “strike two” in this regard, Karl).   Please note that getting to and from the office without being arrested/flashed/groped or otherwise sexually harassed is solely the employee’s responsibility.

These are but a few suggestions of how the employees at New Belgium can flex their new muscles as owners of the company.

What additions would YOU make to the Company Policies & Procedures Manual?  As always, let us know below!



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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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39 Comments on “Now that New Belgium is 100% Employee-Owned, It’s Time to Make a Few Changes”

  1. January 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Ah, you went with comedy this morning. I was worried you were going to propose an end to the production of La Folie – which would be a grave error in judgement.

    • January 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Damn – I forgot the “banning of all beers that taste and/or smell like used gym socks.” Maybe in the next edition of the Manual.

      • January 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

        Honestly, the Lips of Faith series (and a few of their hoppier offerings) are the only beers I like of theirs. La Folie is an original.

        • January 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

          I haven’t had a lot of exposure to NB, as their stuff is impossible to find around here. I imagine being so large means catering to the mainstream, which you’re not a member of…

        • January 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

          Agreed. I’m also a fan of Ranger, Shift, and Belgo IPA.

  2. January 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Stop brewing Fat Tire.

    • January 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Also lose the nose, regardless of what your face thinks…

      • January 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

        If that nose is making you smell shitty beer…

        • January 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

          Hey, now that’s using your thinking cap!!

    • January 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Fat Tire is for suckers on the East Coast. The profits let them brew the good stuff, like the Lips of Faith line. I’ll take is as a necessary evil.

      • January 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

        Like how Porsche created the Cayenne so they could afford to continue to develop the 911.

        Not sure why the Panamera exists, but I guess once you get a taste of success, you start to chase it.

  3. January 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Forbid smarmy beer bloggers from entering the premises.

    • January 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Hey, wait a minute!

  4. Taylor
    January 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Jim! Porsche has (or had up until recently) a 51% stake in the private section of the Volkswagen Group. the Cayenne was just about adding to the coffer. the 911 sold itself and continues to sell itself well. R&D budgets were never at risk. especially given they were one of the first manufactures to throw a battery on top of a wildly successful engine, just to add power, and didnt care in the least about making it more economical by using electric motors. 911’s developed 15 years ago are going for twice as much as 4-5 year old 911’s. Porsche saw an opportunity to enter another segment and did very well in it. now, the V6 cayenne was a shame but people bought it.

    Great Article! My first time on your blog and really having fun!

    • January 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      Thanks Taylor – glad you’re enjoying B&WB.

      I guess that’s what I get when I rely on old episodes of Top Gear for the bulk of my automotive knowledge!

      • Connie Gentry
        January 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

        Hi Jim, Would love to talk with you about possibly writing a beer column for our magazine. Care to share your contact info with me? Connie

        • January 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

          Just reached out via email, Connie.

  5. January 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Haha pretty good suggestions there 😛 It’s pretty cool it’s 100% employee owned now.

    • January 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

      Yeah, it’s neat to see what the successful craft brewers are doing htat’s not the corporate norm – NB is now employee owned, Stone is opening a hotel, Sam Adams is resurrecting New Albanian, one of America’s original craft beers. Fun time to be a fan of good beer and the people who make it.

      • Michael
        January 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

        Sam Adams is resurrecting New Albanian? I live in Louisville near the New Albanian in So. IN, is that what you are talking about or something else?

        • January 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

          Ha ha – I’m a moron. I meant New Albion. New Albanian is doing fine!

          From the press release: “Jack McAuliffe, a pioneer in craft brewing and founder of The New Albion Brewing Company, and Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Samuel Adams have brewed McAuliffe’s original New Albion Ale for the first time in 30 years, available nationally for a limited time, beginning this month.”

          I’m interested to try it, and think it’s cool that they’re giving us a taste of an extinct species of beer – it’s like Jurassic Park!

  6. Mike
    January 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    I strongly suggest that New Belgium distributes to wholesalers who focus on craft brewerys instead of AB. We love selling great brews from Southern Tier, Founders, Rogue, Flying Dog, Lagunitas, Tommyknocker and Boulder. I’m sure distributors who had the belief in craft beer before it became so popular can make New Belgium bigger than it is now.

  7. January 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    I think they should boycott North Carolina. Tell them to take their bigoted laws and stick it. The tax incentives can’t be worth it!

    • January 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      It’s waaaay too late for that, Whaleman!

      • January 16, 2013 at 8:36 am #

        It’s never too late to do the right thing!

    • January 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      Ah yes, let’s all hate on NC because SOME people are close-minded. Not like there are those kinds of people in EVERY state right?

      • January 16, 2013 at 8:43 am #

        There are those kinds of people in every state, Jonathan, and their bigotry should never be tolerated. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of voters in NC are those kinds of people, given the anti-civil rights law they just passed. I think it’s a little bit hypocritical of NB to tout the good things they do for people while accepting the economic benefits of a place that just did a very negative thing for people.

  8. phelch66
    January 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    How about selling in Ohio and Kentucky and not just Indiana? That would be a GREAT start!!

  9. January 16, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    How about mandatory facial hair and/or tattoos. Give woman and us facial-hair-challenged dudes some options to maintain that rugged, individualistic, craft brewer appearance.

  10. January 16, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    I know several of the Northwest New Belgium guys. That’s a very beard-y bunch.

  11. January 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Thanks for the post, it was great reading. And as an employee owner of New Belgium (as well as a beard-y dude) I will start with pant-optional Fridays in my list of changes… Thanks again Jim, super funny.

    • January 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      I appreciate your ability to sort the wheat from the chaff, Michael. Pants Optional Fridays is clearly the number one priority on the list!

      • January 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

        Ooooh yuck! That just left a really repulsive image in my mind–Lips of Faith could end up involving body parts other than lips!.

        • January 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

          That Faith sure does get around!

        • Jeff
          January 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

          Anus of Faith?


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