Fresh from my night alone in a wilderness yurt, I made the scenic two-hour drive east from State Forest State Park to Fort Collins, the craft beer capital of Colorado.
The second hour of the drive on Route 14 was fun as the highway swerved through the winding Poudre Canyon, along the Poudre River, where I would be going fly fishing the following day.
I checked into a private room at the charming and historical Fernweh Inn & Hostel; a former B&B turned hostel.
My room featured a queen size bed, bunk bed, bay window, and an antique tub in the en-suite bathroom. It felt wonderful to be in a warm, comfortable house after a night in the yurt.
Once I was settled, I met Kelsey, the vibrant hostel owner, Katy from Visit Fort Collins, and Bob, the owner of Beer and Bike Tours.
Together, we took off on an afternoon brew cruise to visit three of the city's 21 microbreweries.
Odell Brewing Co.
It was a leisurely ride from the hostel to our first brewery, Odell Brewing Co., which was the first craft brewery to open shop in Fort Collins back in 1989.
The original brewery was located in a nearby 100-year old grain elevator; however, when they outgrew it, they built their current facility which features a spacious indoor tasting room and a gorgeous outdoor beer garden.
I ordered the Classic beer flight, featuring the beers that helped build Odell Brewing Co. into the USA's 34th largest brewer.
From left to right in the photo above, I tasted their:
- Easy Street Wheat
- Levity Amber Ale
- 5 Barrel Pale Ale
- 90 Shilling Flagship Ale
- Cutthroat Porter
I prefer medium to dark beers, so the Flagship Ale and Porter were my favorites.
As we were sipping beers, enjoying the beautiful weather, Katy mentioned that everyone in town enjoys spending time at Odell's beer garden. I could see why!
Horse & Dragon Brewing Company
Feeling a slight buzz from my first tasting of the day, we cruised over to the nearby Horse & Dragon Brewing Company.
Opened by husband and wife duo Tim and Carol Cochran in May 2014, it's one of the newer breweries. However, they've found an immediate following for their beers.
In addition to immediately liking Carol, I loved the vibe of the tasting room, which felt warm and friendly.
I ordered a six-beer flight including:
- Atta Boy Jon (Marzen)
- Old Tom's Rye (dark rye ale)
- Whistle Blast (honey brown ale)
- Sad Panda (coffee stout)
- H&D N2 (stout)
- H&D carbonated (dark chocolate stout)
It was quite a lineup! My favorite was the H&D N2 stout as I preferred the nitrogenated stout vs. carbonated, which would explain why I became an immediate fan of Guinness when I first tried it.
Carol also took the time to give me a quick tour of the brewery. The room where the beer is made was adorned with flags, including those of Colorado, the USA, and Colombia.
Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewing
As the sun was setting on our boozy afternoon, we made our third and final stop of the beer and bicycle tour at Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewery.
Like Odell's, Cooper Smith's has been a staple of Fort Collins since 1989.
There I tasted a few more local beers before demolishing a much-needed Baja burger topped with goat cheese, poblano pico, guacamole, and chipotle sauce with sweet potato fries.
It was as delicious as it sounds, the perfect way to end my first afternoon in Fort Collins.
Fort Collins Beer and Bicycle Tour
Overall, my Fort Collins brew cruise was precisely the experience I was looking for, a fun and leisurely introduction to the city and its craft beer scene.
The tour costs $50 per person on weekdays, and $65 per person on the weekends, and includes a Raleigh cruiser bike, helmet, lock, local guide, and brewery tours when available.
Participants pay for their beers, helping to ensure they only drink as much as they want.
In addition to Fort Collins, Beer & Bike Tours offer cycling tours across Colorado of varying durations, and internationally in Japan and Germany. Plus, they do custom group tours too!
My tour was courtesy of Beer & Bike Tours and organized as part of my trip hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Visit Fort Collins.