One thing we loved about our first Colorado winter (besides being a little over an hour's drive from mountains for snowboarding), was that surprisingly there was much less snow than expected (which wasn't hard to compare to Chicago who had their worst winter on record in 50+ years).
If you're followed me for any time now, you know what beer nerds we are (thanks Ben!). A CO bucket list item was to do a tour at New Belgium Brewery, an hour from Fort Collins. Easy enough, right? Not so fast...although the tours are free, they release tickets online typically 60-90 days in advance and they "sell out" like that. So when Ben booked us tickets in November for a tour in January, it wasn't surprising; what was, was that it turned out to be a sunny, 75-degree day!
One of our long time friends moved to Ft Collins a few months after we moved to Denver. He's a biker and beer junky, so he guided us on a self-led brewery-bike tour around Fort Collins.
First up was Funkwerks. A chill little spot with some amazing potent beer. My fav is the Tropic King IPA.
From there, we scooted over to New Belgium for our tour time, passing Ft Collins Brewery and Odell on the way with our golden tickets.
All New Belgium Brewing (NBB) employees get a Fat Tire cruiser bike after their first anniversary (and after their 5th anniversary, they get a week-paid trip to Belgium; JEALOUS!)
The tour itself is comprehensive (giving some great background not only to the company but to brewing) as well as impressive. Their facility is monsterous!
I won't go all geeked out on you here, but our favorite beers are sours (yes, you read right); which typically age in barrels for a year minimum. Therefore, this room was by far our fav!
Another great stop on the tour was the packaging facility, where we were privy to a new canned beer, prior to it's release to the public; Snapshot, a wheat perfectly refreshing for summer.
But, the highlight of the NBB tour is the twirly-slide down into the taproom. We'd been given a heads up on this and were told but to scream, but yours truly couldn't help herself:)
From there we went back down the road to Odell; which has a beautiful facility and huge beer garden. I love their Mycenary IPA (when we can find it; the first time was Duluth!) and their Easy Street Wheat is a very drinkable summer beer.
Next on the bike de beer tour was Pateros Creek Brewery. I opted for a pumpkin beer (not on the menu) and was quite pleased; the boys were quiet pleased to find a game room; including fooseball.
We had a quick stop at Equinox Brewing before deciding we needed food; so where else to go than a craft beer bar, The Mayor of Old Town?
We night-capped with oyster-beer shots at Black Bottle Brewery. As you can imagine, this was not a sober decision! ;) However, we had a blast throughout the day and can't wait to repeat it!