Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fort Collins... flexibility rules the day

Borrow one and pedal around town.
Employees get one after one year!
I've said this before and my day in Fort Collins was no exception, sometimes its best to be flexible when you travel and let the wind take you. The places you end up will sometimes pleasantly surprise you. This was my second beer trip to Fort Collins.  A place teeming with breweries, good beer and along with those breweries, naturally a bunch of brewery workers.   This is the kind of place all beer lovers should put on your list of places to visit.  It's definitely the mecca of Colorado beer and should be up there with places like Portland OR, San Diego, Vermont and 
If your looking for something extra try the back taps
Ashville NC for US beer destinations. I hoped for more than one afternoon there but that was all the time this trip would allow. With so much to do and so little time I started by contacting some ex Harpoon coworkers that moved west.  Tamar was working late but Rich was off at 2pm that day.  I met him in New Belgium Brewing Co's tasting room along with a few of his fellow cellarmen, Ted, Ross and Kevin. We sampled a half dozen beers including their Prickly Pear Saison (light fruit, med body and refreshing), the new seasonal dry hopped Pale Ale called Dig (great nose, balanced hoppiness), one of their original beers Old Cherry (a little sweet and a little tart at the same time, pours red from the cherries) and Cocoa Mole (cinnamon/Cocoa). 

Corrugated metal sign...

Corrugated metal sign...
must be a Ft Collins thing!
 Not wanting to overdo it in one spot I suggested we check out Funkwerks. Last trip I met one of the founders, Brad. He had told me there were a couple new brews going on this week and to stop on in. We grabbed a table in the tasting room and shared a few tasting flights.
Funkwerks... glassware does make a difference!
My favorites were the Caspercot, a which is their original Casper Saison ale with Turkish Apricots added (light on the fruit but a great blend with the fruity/spicy Saison yeast) and the Chai White (the chai is suttle until it warms up and again pairs with the Saison yeast well), They also had a Valentine's Day release called Roselle (Pours red from Hibiscus flowers, a little sweet but unique) These guys focus on one sliver of the craft beer spectrum and they do it well.

Ted from New Belgium, Owen from Oskar Blues
and I toasting with some Pliny The Younger
from Russian River Brewing Co

Attn meat lovers! Loaded sandwiches at Choice City!
This is where the "plan" took its first turn.  Brad asked if we were going to Choice City later for their 8th anniversary party which included some special tappings.  I hadn't planned on it, in fact I'll admit I had never heard of this place. Too much time doing and not enough planning left me with little info on Fort Collins' pub scene. This butchershop/taproom has been bringing a large selection of hard to find beers to Fort Collins for many years. An effort spearheaded by owner Russ' love of rare beers. He proudly showed me his personal cooler for aging his specialty cellar collection. He even had some Harpoon 100 BBL Series in there.  Every Wednesday they have fresh kegs to tap and $1 sliders... that is sure to get you over hump day! This day I was lucky to get both Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing's rare triple IPA hop bomb) AND a Coconut Porter cask (smooth, dark, sweet coconut) from Odell Brewing Co. Another advantage of a local brewery is that Odell's cask specialist Linsey Cornish was there to usher the new cask in and explain its production and attributes.
Cask Coconut Porter from Odells!

Turn number 2... not wanting to call it quits quite yet I followed Ross and
Chillaxin' by the fire, long day!
Kevin down the block to a fairly new place, Equinox Brewing. Its a laid back atmosphere, especially in the front room by the fireplace.  They have a couple of beer engines if you like cask beers.
Cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned (allowed to settle and mature) and served by gravity or hand pump instead of pressurized gas. Cask tends to be less carbonated. Many breweries will add extra hops, spices or wood to the cask to add flavor to the beer. Cask ale is frequently referred to as real ale, especially in Britan.

Equinox Brewing just two blocks away

Not having much room left and hearing that their European styles were the best offerings I went with half pours of their ESB (nice balanced, easy drinking, amber) and Maibock (dry finish, great nose, smelled like it came from Germany).  I also got a sample of their Red Ale (malty, med body). If you get a little more time than I did in Fort Collins you can check out Odell's, and the Mayor of Old Town and The Forge for beer bars... and honestly you would still be scratching the surface. Just let the beer winds guide you, you won't be disappointed. Cheers!

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