“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
After burritos muchos and sweat-of-the-brow type stuff for longer than necessary, the words of John Muir pounded into my thick skull, followed by a little of, “and you been saying you were going to visit your uncle for years and years, now.”
So finally, we dragged our weary hides on a proper holiday. Said uncle resides in Estes Park, and along with my aunt, served as a worthy base camp host. On the non-beer-ness, we hiked Mount Flattop, backpacked into Spruce Lake, and rafted Le Poudre River.
But, about the beer. That’s why you’re here. My first beer in Colorado was a Dale’s Pale Ale, courtesy of my uncle’s fridge. I drank it straight out of the can, and considered taking one on our backpacking trip. But weight, you know. I opted for water on that facet of the trip.
New Belgium Brewing Company
We took a daytrip to Fort Collins to tour, you guessed it, New Belgium Brewing Company. I remember the first Fat Tire I ever had. During my early days of homebrewing and beer adventuring, it was after a long day of skiing at Telluride. I’d been spending a lot of time with Newcastle and Guinness and brewpub stouts, when my first draught Fatty took me by surprise. Wow! What was this yummy stuff? We drank quite a lot of it in those days.
And much later, cynicism grew. Like a lot of beer dorks, somewhere I decided it was a little lame. But years later I had a really nice bottle and appreciate it. It’s a tasty beer, even if it isn’t imperial or barreled or whatevered. It’s a solid transition beer. And while I think that Old Rasputin or The Duchess are good transition beers (for the right person), I’ve come to think that NB’s strength, aside from my beloved La Folie, is transition beers.
That sounds like a negative introduction to our visit, but it’s not meant in that way. It’s a great brewery with a good vibe and quality beers, but as I look down the list on offer, there aren’t a lot of challenging face-punchers. Between the two of us, Wonderful Beer Wife and I had 8 samples before the tour (including 2 from the Lips of Faith series). Our guide was wonderful and she poured us 2 more (La Folie and Biere de Mars) up in the (beautiful) brewhouse. After the tour, because I was on point, we scored a glass of Transatlantique Kriek and Le Fleur, Misseur?.
Great place. Good people.This facility is beautiful. A shrine to St. Arnold, bikes and just a wonderful attention to detail. The people, the atmosphere, the art and the stuff in the bottle are all very positive and inspiring and I feel like I have the word good floating around in my head too much on this one. Cool place, buzzing.
If only in my mind, I swear it’s not the exact same Abbey that I fell in love with in the mid-nineties, but it’s tasty, as is the Trippel. La Folie did not disappoint, and I enjoyed the Mars fiercely, but the secret nip of the kriek won the day for me. I hope you get to try it.
Odell Brewing Company
Almost ding-dang literally around the corner from New Belgium one will bump into the yummy nectars of Odell. Happy guy (and girl) here, as their porter is a good one. The kind of beer you should always have around. We sampled about twelve beers at this taproom and found some hoppy goodness in addition to our Cutthroat Porter. They had a number of easy drinking quaffers, as well as the porter and IPA served nitro-stylie. The nitro versions were pointless, the porter moreso. Great canvasses of the beers’ labels on the walls of the tasting rooms, with the taps manned by friendly people. A nice spot to have a beer or three.
The tour was much more industrial-loud and safety glass-needing than the sterile New Belgium environment. My old bottling line duties, at both breweries, were being handled nicely by machines, and my back doesn’t mind.
Wilbur’s Total Beverage
After the tours, I stopped in at Wilbur’s Total Beverage to hunt down a few to take back to the old homestead. They had a good selection of the crafty stuff which can sometimes cause this drooling problem. One thing I noticed is that I’ve had the good fortune in my time to have Colorado beer generally available to me, so concentrating on local beers was hard to do in the liquor store environment. They had all these California beers I can’t get. And that’s mostly what I picked up for home. If you’re in neighborhood, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Wilbur’s.
Good stuff. Good stuff all day long. There was another beer day later in the week, and I’ll labor to chronicle that one in the next day or two. What you have to look forward to is the brewpub we hadn’t planned on going, but were glad we didn’t miss. You also have Avery, Oskar Blues and a little mead in your future.
And even more coming up? Great Taste in Madison this weekend, so another wonderful beer trip on the not-so-distant horizon. Stay tuned…