25 September 2009

GABF 2009 Road Trip: Odell, New Belgium and Fort Collins Brewery

Fort Collins is a smaller town in northern Colorado with a trifecta of heavy hitting breweries, two of which distribute to Indiana. After a stop at Wilbur's Total Beverage and Whole Foods (for a quick snack) we were ready to start our day of drinking.

Odell Brewing Company opened in the Fort Collins area in 1989 and is currently undergoing a brewery expansion. We figured we would hit them up first and sample some of their award winning brews. The tap room we visited has been open since 1994 and everything seems to be very well thought out and well put together. After a sampler each we decided to try a pint of one of their GABF beers.

I went for the Friek, a blend of their two-year-old kriek and their new kriek, and because it wasn't quite ready, they added fresh raspberries to make it sweet enough to enjoy. It turned out to be an awesome lambic with lots of big mouth puckering sour notes and just a hint of raspberry sweetness on the finish.

I went with their Bourbon Stout, which we also picked up a bottle of. This bourbon stout had the aroma of fresh creme brulee and a combination of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee. The flavor obviously contained a generous dose of oaked bourbon. Brown sugar, cream, molasses, and dark chocolate all filled out the body of the beer and created a great balance that had very little alcohol burn. This is really one of the better bourbon aged beers I've had.

From there we headed to New Belgium. Many of you know of New Belgium from their recent entry into the Indiana market with their three offerings of Fat Tire, Mothership Wit, and 1554. I had signed up for a tour using their really cool online reservation system and we were set for the first tour at 2PM. When we arrived we were greeted with the knowledge that we would be getting five samples along the tour and a token for a bonus sample (which we could enjoy at any time throughout our visit to New Belgium). We were also encouraged to fill out postcards while we waited for the tour and they would mail them for us to anyplace in the world.

The tour was probably the best brewery tour that we've ever been on, and we even had a sample of the Lips of Faith "La Folie" (a sour brown ale) during our tour. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and personable. She wasn't hokey (no bad jokes) and encouraged us to ask as many questions as possible. The tour concludes with about twenty or thirty minutes in a private room where you have an opportunity to taste two different brews (we had Le Fleur Misseur and the recently tapped Fall Wild Ale). We filled out more postcards and also imbibed a big goblet of water.

After our tour we enjoyed a few more samples before heading on our way.

Hoptoberfest: This beer has a nice copper color with a fluffy, foamy head. The nose has lots of overpowering hops and gives you lots of grass and pine. When you take a sip, you're first met with a nice, tame Oktoberfest, and then all of a sudden it's like someone invited the hops to the party and they are there to wreak havoc on your taste buds. If you like hops and want your Oktoberfest beer to be a little more adventurous, then this is the perfect beer for you.

Dandelion Ale: If you haven't heard of this beer before, it is brewed with dandelions instead of hops. Surely your interest is piqued. The dandelions create a grassy nose that lacks the hop bitterness that usually accompanies this scent, along wildflowers and a slight sweetness. This beer is similar to many complex Belgian beers with a spicy background containing pepper and chamomile. Overall the beer is slightly sweet with hints of clover honey and simple syrup. A slight bitterness appears at the swallow and creates a satisfying finish to a really great herbal Belgian blonde.

Adam's Ale: Despite being brewed with Pilsner lager yeast, brewer Adam didn't like the sound of "Adam's Lager" or "Adam's Pilsner," so he went ahead and called it Adam's Ale anyway. The aroma is very clean with only slight hints of malt. Notes of honeydew melon and cantaloupe create an enjoyable sweetness, which is increased with the flavor of honey. A nice grassy character similar to hop leaves balances out the sweetness. Overall this makes a great summer beer.

After New Belgium, we hurried over to Fort Collins and squeezed our way in just before last call. Since we were in such a hurry, we didn't snap any photos. The Z lager had a nice, Spezial-like sweet smokiness. For a bit bolder smoke flavor, the Kidd Lager proved to be quite smokey despite its Schwarzbier label. One of the limited release beers we enjoyed was the Common Ground coffee ale. Unlike most coffee beers, this one isn't a stout. The base for Common Ground is an amber ale and it creates a very sweet caramel malt background that provides a nice contrast to the acidic coffee. We both agreed that Gina would approve.


  1. Thanks for thinking of me! I'm glad you guys got to try Fort Collins' Common Ground. I read about it a few weeks ago and it sounded great! Have fun and thanks for the posts.

  2. Wish I could be back there. Enjoy the slide and many tasty brews.

  3. The first two people on the slide came out head first so that made us decide to not attempt it. Also the first guy out remarked "doing that after drinking was a bad idea"

  4. Jealous of your trip to New Belgium Brewery. They're tops on my list of breweries I'd love to visit. The Fat Tire and 1554 are floating somewhere in my top 5 or 10 beers I'm loving right now.