Colorado Wrapup

We are recovering just fine from our trip to Colorado though Merideth is still disappointed that she didn’t reach 350 breweries.

We had a nice day at the game though Cal could have played better. The Colorado St. fans were very nice and we enjoyed talking with a number of them. We were amazed at the variations of washers (a drinking game) that we saw.

Tailgating, which we do not do at Berkeley, was great. In the few days prior to the game, we had accumulated about a case of various Colorado beer (on top of beer we are bringing back for the tasting) and had a nice party with our friends before and after the game.

Tailgating at Hughes Stadium was not without regulations… after having pleasant conversation with about 20 different police officers, the 21st informed us that you had to have wrist bands to be able to drink alcohol. Merideth got a wristband while I remained a rebel. The 30th police officer asked not where my wristband was; rather he wanted to let me know that glass was not allowed but he was just warning me for next time. Apparently there was some sort of riot before or after a CU game where bottles were thrown.

If glass was not allowed, why were the Colorado St. fans drinking crappy beer instead of cans of Oskar Blues?

My final thoughts on the trip… This was the first time in Colorado where we moved beyond Denver/Boulder and we were very impressed. Not only did we drink great beer, but the staff we met were very friendly, helpful and a joy to talk to. Plus, there was a real sense that the breweries were an integral part of their communities. We can’t wait to go back to Colorado to explore more of the beer scene beyond Denver.

Here are the eight breweries we visited:
Estes Park Brewery – Estes Park, CO
Pump House – Longmont, CO
Oskar Blues – Lyons, CO
C.B. & Potts/Big Horn – Fort Collins, CO
CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing – Fort Collins, CO
New Belgium – Fort Collins, CO
Odell Brewing Co. – Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins Brewery – Fort Collins, CO


So, we made it to Fort Collins this morning… and the day ended with me reaching #350.

We started out at New Belgium at 10:45 am (45 minutes behind schedule!) and I have to say the chipper employees were a shock to the system. It kind of reminded me of my elementary school in Northern VA (Laurel Ridge in Fairfax) in the late ’70s… “happiness is spoken here”… Besides their regular lineup, we had the opportunity to taste “Lips of Faith”, a small batch brew. The version we tried, “Eric’s Ale” was a sour peach beer (I think). New Belgium makes a great product but it just isn’t my cup of beer. So we quickly moved on…

The nice thing about Fort Collins is that there are two other breweries well worth visiting within a few minutes of New Belgium.

Our second stop was Odells. Much more my cup of beer plus you could donate your tasting fee to charity. We had an enjoyable time talking to the staff while tasting their beer. I would recommend the 5 Barrel Pale Ale or the IPA.

After Odells, we hit Fort Collins Brewery just up the road. They had a rauchbier, while very tasty, was too much ham and not enough bacon (For more information on rauchbier, watch our Bamberg episode). They were also nice and let us try beers normally reserved for their beer club members. The highlight of Fort Collins Brewery, besides the good brews, was Merideth’s “Elaine Benes dance” which was caught on videotape and will be an integral part of the Beyond Denver episode.

After a short break, next came Big Horn Brewery… and despite my natural aversion to chains, I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of the beers that we tried. Depth and character are not something you normally associate with the chain breweries… it is just too bad that the good beer has to come with the rest of the package.

Finally… #350… we met our friends Andy and Monica and their kids at Coopersmith in Old Town Fort Collins. What a pleasant evening sitting outside… I could have done without the chili beer but their Pale Ale and IPA on cask were excellent. A very worthy #350.

In the end, I have to commend the staff of the 5 breweries we visited today. They were all really helpful and friendly which is something that is not always true… unfortunately.

The big disappointment of the day was that Merideth finished with only 349 breweries. I offered to do the Budweiser tour with her but she said that she heard that they had a brewery in St. Louis and she would wait to tour that one.


Beer Beyond Denver

So we arrived in Colorado Wednesday night without problem. However, we were both a bit tired, so we opted out of driving into Denver for our first brewery of the trip. Starting a little late for us, we didn’t hit our first brewery until Thursday afternoon (16 hours into the trip) after getting rained/haled on at Rocky Mountain National Park (we only hiked a total of 3 miles before the thunder and lightning came). We were soaked! So we decided to dry off at Estes Park Brewing, located right outside the entrance to RMNP. So, it is perfect for a beer after a long hike (or a short hike and soaking).

But, the real fun started when we went to Pumphouse Brewing in Longmont. We had great craic talking to this guy named Ron, who apparently used to work there. And the bartender was great too! Good luck to him. . .he’s getting married on Sunday. Pumphouse had a passionfruit-mango wheat, which was actually good. I think the light taste of those fruits made it not so sweet. Unlike a raspberry wheat we had earlier, which was very sweet.

After Pumphouse, we headed to Lyons, Colorado and Oskar Blues. They were the first craft brewery to go can. We had a great time talking to the bartender Mark and listening to him tell his latest mountain biking horror story. Mountain bikers are a crazy lot, I must say! We also talked to a couple of other guys at the bar. I was hoping that Mark would say a few words about the can movement on camera, but he was shy and politely decined. Then the sales rep, Chris, came in and he was not shy at all! Gotta love those sales types, they’re great to hang out with! Look for him in our Colorado episode of beergeekTV. I also loved the way Mark slyly made his way in next to Chris when he was talking and so in the end, we did get Mark on camera!

A few funny observations from the day: 1) Carla Tortelli (Cheers reference) must be a big influence here in Colorado because two of the three places had pregnant waitresses! 2) On our way to Longmont, we saw a chainsaw wood sculpture place that had a huge line of flags flying above it. Observant me noticed that the gay pride flag was smack dab in between the Confederate flag and the Army flag! I figure that the owner must be a gay Army veteran from Alabama!

That’s it for now. . .we have 5 breweries planned for today, so one of use will be sure to tell you all how that turns out!


Only One Week Until Colorado

It’s time to start packing! [Just like with everything else in my life, nothing is left until the last moment… The packing for domestic trips starts one week prior to departure and one month for international trips.]

The main purpose for our visit is to see Cal beat Colorado St. in Fort Collins on Saturday but, as always, we have a number of breweries lined up to visit.

Here are the ones I know for sure that we are going to visit:
Estes Park Brewery – Estes Park, CO
Oskar Blues – Lyons, CO
C.B. & Potts – Fort Collins, CO
CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing – Fort Collins, CO
New Belgium – Fort Collins, CO
Odell Brewing Co. – Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins Brewery – Fort Collins, CO

And here are the breweries that we might make it to:
Bull and Bush Brewery – Denver, CO
Boulder Brewing – Boulder, CO

Getting these breweries will put us both within spitting distance of 350 breweries visited. If we pick up both ‘might make it to’ breweries, 350 will be reached by us both.

We are also going to do some hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you can meet us for a pint at any of the places mentioned, let know by contacting us from our contact page.