On May 2, 2016, New Belgium Brewing finally celebrated the opening of its tasting room in Asheville, N.C. It’s been a long journey for the company, some four years and counting, that finally culminated in something where they could tip back a pint (or two) of Fat Tire and celebrate.

It also marks a milestone for this blog, which kicked off a year ago with a Q&A with Kim Jordan, the company’s founder, just as New Belgium was ramping up its construction in my hometown.

With the new brewery finally online, New Belgium will continue its plans to expand distribution across the country – particularly on the east coast where the beer brewed in Asheville will be shipped.

The brand-new “Liquid Center,” the name New Belgium gives their tasting room, is a fine place to grab a brew – especially out on the deck, which juts out toward the French Broad River. From there you can enjoy views of the river as well as the new greenway the City of Asheville built on land New Belgium donated.

Another thing you’ll notice when you order a beer are the smiles on the faces of the people serving them, who, oh yeah, potentially own a piece of the place.

The opening of the new brewery is certainly a special moment for the 80 or so new coworkers the company brought on in Asheville, all of whom will have the chance to become owners in New Belgium after their first year on the job. It’s easy to get the sense that these people enjoy what they do and they’re proud of what their company has accomplished.