09 October 2008

Fort Collins Gems - GABF Trip 08

We were going to reserve a spot for a tour at New Belgium, then go check out a couple shops, but as it turns out, there was beer to drink.

We arrived at the beautiful New Belgium facilities and took a seat at the near empty bar. We were greeted by the bartender and asked if we wanted tickets for the tour and if we wanted to sample some of their beer. Yes and yes.

Not only is the tour free, but so are the samples. You can pick 4 beers that you would like to try from their selection of about 10 and you have to answer a question that the bartender comes up with to get them. We had to pick new Olympic events, mine was roller derby (duh!) and Mike's was the 100 meter crutch run - an homage to my hobbly-ness.

Our samples included:
  • Fat Tire
  • Old Cherry - an ale brewed with cherry juice
  • Ben's Saison - the product of an employee contest called Loose Lips. A mix of three New Belgium brews are combined together and the employees have an opportunity to guess which beers and what percentage are in the combination. The winner gets to work with the Brewmaster to brew a beer of their choice.
  • Giddy Up - an Espresso Ale.
  • Mighty Arrow - A pale ale
We were enjoying the samples and the company of some locals when the bartender casually mentioned that there were some special brews we could try if we wanted. Um, yes please. Mike chose La Folie - a highly regarded sour ale and I selected Eric's Ale - another well-received beer aged on oak with peach juice. Both of these were truly amazing and worth the attention they received.

Right before the tour started, the bar was pretty full, and it seemed like a pretty good mix of local folks and visitors from all over. Here are some photos from the tour, which is pretty cool. You should go.

Obviously all those free samples at New Belgium just aren't enough beer. So after lunch at Good Times (not so much) Burgers and Frozen Custard, and a couple bike shop visits we headed to slightly smaller yet friendly confines: Fort Collins Brewery.

We reached the tasting room with just an hour left in their day, and each ordered their eight sample flight. The standouts from the samples were their Z Lager and Billy the Kidd Schwarzbier - both of which featured heavily smoked malt character that would have made any smoke beer fan happy.

After rushing through our flights (as the driver, I left plenty on the table) we bought a few bombers and a t-shirt and were given a free pint glass and some stickers (just a few things they had lying around as giveaways to the GABF crowd).

We then headed down the road in hopes of visiting Odell Brewing (New Belgium, Fort Collins, and Odell are less than roughly a mile apart), but they closed at six pm. So if you're ever in town, plan accordingly.

As for us? We're ready to move to Fort Collins. Bikes and beer everywhere? Sounds good to me.

Next up: A day off from drinking? We'll see what happens when we visit Boulder on the way to Denver.


  1. I haven't been to Ft. Collins for ages. Last time I went New Belgium was only talking about a new facility. I'd love to visit the new one. That is one awesome beer town.

  2. This coverage is amazing Mike and Gina -- so many places to hit!