Denver. What a place to be. The air is clean, the sun is brighter and it’s a great city. As my best friend, Kaylee, says the sun is brighter because you are closer to the sun. Who can argue with that?
I recently had the chance to visit her and take in some areas of Colorado that I have yet to be (which is a lot). Upon arriving in middle February one can’t help but notice all the snow on the ground. Looking out the plane window all you can see is white. But it’s not ugly. It’s actually quite the opposite. Snow is blanketing everything from yards to mountainsides to the roofs of homes.
My friend picked me up from Denver International Airport. I’ve seen quite a few airports over the last few years and Denver is by far one of my favorites. It’s clean, it’s user friendly and as an “avgeek” there is a wide assortment of aircraft to look at to keep you busy.
That night we saw Kevin Nealon doing standup. He was hilarious. You should check him out if he comes to your city.
Saturday morning came quickly thanks to some jet lag. Lunch today was somewhere special. I had seen a place on “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” serving up Native American dishes to the masses. Since I’m not one to back away from new foods or challenges, I suggested we give it a try. All I can say is wow! Tocabe was amazing. The place reminds me a little bit of Chipotle. You order what you want then you can get whatever toppings you want. I went with the Grilled Chicken Indian Taco served open face on Fry-Bread. I could barely finish it because it was a lot of food but it was amazing and I highly reccomend it the next time you are in Denver.
Next up on the agenda was a drive out to Fort Collins. Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University but also one of the best craft breweries in the world and that’s where we were heading. About an hour after leaving Denver we pulled into the city which seemed to come out of nowhere. The small town feel has never left and downtown made sure you knew its roots. However, downtown was packed on this Saturday afternoon. People were milling about stopping in at the small shops occupying space in buildings that were built in the 1950s or 1960s. After driving around for a bit it was time to pull up to the New Belgium Brewery. You are probably familier with their main beer, Fat Tire. This is one of several beers made here.
New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado
As a fan of beer I was in heaven. Beer memorabilia, beer history and of course cheap beer were all to be had at your fingertips. While waiting for our tour, I purchased a shirt and a couple of beer samples. While there was no free beer BEFORE the tour, $1.50 for 4 ounces wasn’t that hard to spend.
Finally the tour. For any beer fan this is a MUST.
You will learn so much on this hour and a half tour through the brewery. I didn’t know how long the tour was supposed to be until the tour guide mentioned it. At first I thought this will start to drag on and by the end of it I couldn’t believe it was over that quickly. The first part of the tour you learn the history of New Belgium and the different beers it brews. Next it’s off to the kettle room where they make the mash which is ultimately turned into beer. The room is hot and smells. I can’t really describe it other than I couldn’t last much longer in the room before I either passed out or … well you can figure out the rest.
Then it was off to the bottling building. Along the way our guide told us how eco-friendly and green New Belgium is. They (the company and its employees– who have ownership) are extremely conscientiousness about their carbon footprint and do everything to mitigate it. The brewery built its own wastewater treatment plant, gives byccles to employees for free, has electric car charging stations on its campus and its new bottling building has solar panels on its roof.
Bottling Beer: 700 Beers per minute!
Once inside you finally get a grasp of how big the facility is. When running at full capacity 700 beers are filled per minute. Yes, 700! The bottling line snakes all around and from our vantage point you can see it in its entirety. Next stop was the souring room. This is where brewers make “sour” beer. I never had a sour beer until then and it took a while before I forgot what I was actually drinking. I could go into the process of how sour beer is brewed but that’ll take too long.
Finally came the last and final stop of the tour. See, companies are all about having fun and boy New Belgium is one of those.
A Slide for Beer Lovers!
Someone once decided to build a two story slide in the middle of its offices. As a special thank you everyone on the tour gets to take a whirl from the second floor down to the first floor which miraculously leads you straight to a bar (geniuses I’d say!).
Throughout the entire tour you are kept well lubricated with five beers. Every beer has a story and you learn about its past and how its made. It’s very interesting and well worth the trip. After letting the beer get out of systems we headed back to Denver.
Then came Sunday Funday. After grabbing some brunch we headed out to Boulder. This is where Colorado University is located. The town is known as Berkley of Colorado or a mini Austin. Basically it’s one of the most laid back places in the entire state. We drove around campus for a little bit taking in the old architecture before hitting up downtown. This was cool.
The entire downtown with the exception of about 5 places was all locally owned shops. We meandered through several of them before stumbling on a street show. This guy- a juggler- was great.His act was like a well oiled machine. He was quick witted and knew how to work the crowd. After freezing while watching the show we hit the road and headed back to Denver. We made a few more stops to sight see then it was back to the airport. We said our goodbyes and I was jetting back home. Just like that the trip had come to an end but not before amassing a huge amount of memories.