Hop Notes: Brewers Association on OUTSIDE's list of 100 companies to work for

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Photo supplied/New Belgium Brewing Co.

Have you ever dreamed of a job that has access to on-site volleyball courts, offers a fat tire cruiser bike at one year, has a bar in the office with three beers on tap, encourages employees to help with river clean up projects and Habitat for Humanity house builds, features a rock climbing wall or offers twice-weekly massage therapy? And what if this dream job was also at a brewery? 

Each year, OUTSIDE recognizes the top 100 companies in the United States that help their employees strike the ideal balance between work and play. These are companies that encourage employees to lead an active lifestyle, are eco-conscious and prioritize giving back to the community. This year’s list includes the Brewers Association, as well as three breweries.

New Belgium Brewing based in Fort Collins, Colo., has long been a model company. When I was working in the sustainability field, I was in communication with the brewery’s head person in charge of sustainability and learned of their many initiatives. Many breweries now have sustainability plans that focus on energy conservation, packaging, transportation, materials sourcing, philanthropy and more, but New Belgium was definitely on the cutting edge before other breweries. The company is owned by its 640 employees who have access to on-site volleyball courts, a cyclocross track and an in-house gear shed. One year on the job earns an employee a new cruiser bike, five years earns a free trip to Belgium and 10 years wins a worker a four-week paid sabbatical.

New Belgium products are available throughout Michiana in both bottle shops and on draft. Look for its new release, Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale (6.3 percent ABV), on shelves now. This is a collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream that was brewed to help Protect Our Winters combat climate change.

The Brewers Association or BA based in Boulder, Colo., represents 3,800 small and independent craft brewers nationwide. Its office includes a bar with three beers on tap, one of which is brewed by association employees. Established in 2005 through a merger of the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America, the Brewer’s Association’s purpose is to “promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.” Two of the largest programs supported by the BA are the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) and the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Although Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, Ore., does not distribute its products locally, I have had the pleasure of enjoying several of its beers courtesy of friends who have returned from the Pacific Northwest bearing gifts. One of my favorites is Tricerahops (double IPA, 8 percent ABV, IBUs 100). In addition to brewing great beer, its 105 employees also participate in river cleanups, build houses with Habitat for Humanity and support a demonstration farm on the MacKenzie River that supplies them with subsidized organic produce. The brewery features a rock climbing wall, patio bar and twice-weekly massage therapy.

Several years ago, my wife and I spent a few days in the Sister’s Wilderness Area near Bend, Ore., backpacking with some friends. Our first stop off the trail was Deschutes Brewing Bend Public House. I can still remember my first Black Butte Porter (5.2 percent ABV, IBUs 30) and Obsidian Stout (6.4 percent ABV, IBUs 55). The brewery in Bend is located along the banks of the Deschutes River, a world-class fly-fishing stream. Its employees enjoy 300 miles of mountain bike trails and, in winter, nearby skiing or snowboarding. At the time of our visit (when I was much younger and before kids) I thought Bend would be the perfect place to live.

Now, many years later, Deschutes distributes its beer to Michigan where I can now purchase Black Butte Porter, Obsidian Stout and many more favorites just a few miles north. I’ve heard rumors that it won’t be long until they will begin distribution in Indiana.

Three other regional businesses were also recognized in the list: Young & Laramore (Indianapolis), Southwest Michigan First (Kalamazoo) and Renters Warehouse (Bloomington). To view the whole list, visit Outside’s website.

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