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Fort Collins Brewery Tour: A Taste of Colorado’s Craft Beer Scene

Entrance to Odell Brewing Co., the first stop on my Fort Collins brewery tour.
Entrance to Odell Brewing Co.

Fresh from my night alone in a wilderness yurt, I made the scenic two-hour drive east from State Forest State Park for a Fort Collins brewery tour.

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 bicycle brewery tour to visit three of Fort Collin's 21 microbreweries.

Breweries

Beer garden at Odell Brewing's
Odell Brewing's beer garden

Odell Brewing Co.

It was a leisurely ride from the hostel to our first brewery, Odell Brewing Co., 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.

Odell Brewing beer flight
Odell Brewing beer flight

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 and enjoying the beautiful weather, Katy mentioned that everyone in town enjoys visiting Odell's beer garden. I could see why!

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company

Feeling a slight buzz from my first tasting of the day, we cycled 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. And they've found an immediate following for their beers.

Carol was at the brewery when we arrived, and we immediately connected over both having lived in Colombia (her in Bogotá, me in Medellín).

The Horse & Dragon Brewing Company was another stop on the Fort Collins brewery tour.
The bar

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 Colorado, the USA, and Colombia.

Outside Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewing

Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewing

As the sun was setting on our boozy afternoon, we made our third and final stop of the Fort Collins brewery 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.

Related: 10 Famous Breweries to Visit Around the World

Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewing
Bikes locked up outside Cooper Smith's Pub & Brewing

Final Thoughts

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!

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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.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Caroline Eubanks

Friday 12th of January 2018

I spent less than 24 hours in Fort Collins but definitely want to return! Going to New Belgium was a highlight.

Dave

Monday 15th of January 2018

I'd like to return too. I didn't get to New Belgium and I hear that's a huge one to visit! I also learned Noosa yogurt is based there, and I've become a huge fan since moving back to the US.

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