A recent trip to Colorado gave me the chance to try some new beers in a state I have always wanted to visit. It is a great time to be a craft beer drinker in America. The number of craft beer breweries in 2012 surpassed the 2,000 mark and is well on it’s way beyond. This has resulted in a noticeable increase in both the quality and variety of craft beer available in most cities. Colorado has a solid beer reputation, and I could not wait to get out and try some of the regional beer not available in my state. Knowing little about the area, I was happy to have some knowledgeable beer guides from Zephyr Adventures point us in the right direction.
It all started in Fort Collins, Colorado at a brewery called Funkwerks. After a mellow bike ride we rolled up to the tasting room and sat in the sun out back with some beer flights. All the beers we tried had some kind of Belgian influence, and there wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch. Hats off especially to their flagship Saison – (GABF 2012 Gold Winner). It was nice to sit in the sun and try some of these beers with others in the group and hear what reactions were.
After cleaning up the samples we made our way down the road to Odell Brewing Company. Right away I was impressed by some awesome bike racks designed to look like hop vines. This brewery has been around for over 20 years and it showed in their beer. About 20 styles of beer arrived in mixed flights, including the flagship 90 Shilling Ale. This was a well balanced amber that I not only enjoyed at the brewery, but in other spots over the next few days as well (and I am a hop guy).
Last but not least was a full tour of New Belgium Brewing – one of the larger craft beer producers in the nation. Not only was our tour leader amazing, the brewery itself was also amazing. They still have the original brew house system that the brewery was founded on, although nowadays it sits dusty in the shadows of a much larger 100 BBL setup. As we we wound our way thorough the massive facility, we were lucky enough to try some sour beers. This style of beer is getting more popular but definitely not for the faint of heart. As we were told, you almost have to unlearn some of the things your palette is telling you about the beer after the first sip. The tour wrapped up with a peek at the massive bottling line, including a winter seasonal pulled right from the floor – delicious and as fresh as it gets!
Back at the hotel I was a little awestruck by both the quality of the beer, along with the culture that supports it. I have experienced a lot of good beer as a beer tourist, but the people in Fort Collins seemed to be particularly proud of their beer. Most everyone we met seemed to enjoy working in the beer industry and were especially concerned with creating a quality product they could be proud of. Craft beer has grown to where it is today in America because there is a culture that cares, and that was very evident in Fort Collins.
If this kind of vacation sounds like heaven to you, consider joining us on our July 19 – 24 Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Multisport Beer Adventure next summer!
Photo Credit: http://trekity.com/fort-collins-brewery-tour-colorado/ & http://8z.com/blog/tag/new-belgium-brewing-company/