Admittedly I haven’t spent a lot of time in Fort Collins, one of the best towns for beer in the state, the excuses are easy, I am a Boulder girl. Part of this exploration isn’t just about the craft beers in Colorado but the places that brew them.
Let’s be honest you can’t talk Colorado Craft Beer without Odell and New Belgium.
First Stop Odell:
Two things struck me when we pulled up – first the sheer size of the brewery and second the outrageous number of people. Yes it was a holiday weekend, but the people were literally swarming like beer bees. Inside and out there was seating and everywhere there was a view. My only frustration here was that the number of people hindered Odell’s ability to be more personal. You ordered your beer in one place, picked it up another and then went on your way to enjoy it. None of the chit-chat I have grown accustomed to in other places.
The tour itself only lasted thirty minutes but they packed in the information. In the brew room it was amazing how much easier it was to follow along now that I have gone through the process. After seeing their equipment it was obvious why my process went astray. I think what impressed me most was their slow and steady approach to growth. Their entire brewery once fit in the brew room and now they are adding their 11th state.
They are also making the switch from bottles to cans, they reasoning is good and I love the nickname of “hand keg” but will it be the same?
Second Stop: Funkwerks
In between the two tours I made a point to stop by Funkwerks. I love Saisons, I love Sours and more than one person told me I had to go. So no matter how quick the stop might be I had to make it happen. I was not disappointed. The space was small but comfortable whether you drank your beers on the patio or the awesome cellar room.
Oh the beers, I thought their Apricot Provincial (award-winning) was spectacular but once I got there digging into the beer list was a delicious adventure. Their beer is hard to describe, I drink wine on occasion and in a lot of ways their beers are the wine of beer. The way they start, finish and go down is completely unlike any other place. My only regret? I should have planned for more time.
Final Stop: New Belgium
You simply do not make the trip to Fort Collins without making the pilgrimage to New Belgium. For most people, myself included, your introduction to craft beer is with Fat Tire. The ninety minute tour was everything you could want it to be and more – beer tasting, history lesson (see above for world’s best beer bar) and the excitement of the tour guide made time fly.
I am not a bike buff but the iconic cruisers were everywhere – I wanted to take this one home.
I was in awe of the size of Odell’s brew system until I walked upstairs and saw these beauties. So much beer in every stage of the process and the quality was not lost. We even got to sample beers right of the that day’s line, a nice perk of the tour.
My favorite room was the barrel room. To understand what New Belgium does with sours is almost impossible without walking into this room. It is the largest barrel room in the United States, it is almost overwhelming, but also makes you want to climb up and jump in.
Even though New Belgium is huge and only getting bigger with their second brewery opening up in Asheville, NC they have not lost their small brewery touch and party atmosphere. The patience and attention to detail, if anything has grown.
The Haul –
I will be going back… soon… I can think of at least three other breweries I need to visit but until then I have these beauties to hold me over.