Fort Collins Part 1: New Belgium, Baby!

The plans for this weekend started small enough. We registered for the G’Knight Ride, a 10-mile ride around Longmont sponsored by Oskar Blues Brewing. Combining our love of biking with our love of beer seemed like a great time. As ride day approached, we decided it might be fun to make a weekend of our trip to northern Colorado. From there, things quickly snowballed to a full-fledged brewery exploration trip. For our first stop, we trekked far north to Fort Collins, and to the mack-daddy of all Colorado craft breweries: New Belgium Brewing Company.

Visiting New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing is to Colorado craft beer what Disney World is to Florida theme parks. If you’re going to visit just one brewery in Fort Collins, why not go big. Since 1991 New Belgium Brewing has been making great craft beers. Today they are one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S. and have a huge distribution footprint. Still, they don’t rest on their laurels. They continue to make new, innovative brews every year. Their popularity means that a proper New Belgium tour must be scheduled weeks in advance. Sadly, we didn’t plan that far ahead. This visit was our first to New Belgium, so we had plenty of fun exploring the New Belgium Liquid Center tasting room.

The brewery at New Belgium is big, beautiful, and beyond cool. Everything – from the artwork on the walls to the merchandise available for purchase – reflects the fun spirit of New Belgium Brewing. They even sell bike bells, for goodness sake! There were tons to explore inside and around the tasting center. There’s a quick self-guided tour, with loads of information about the brewery and brewing in general. You can even peek through some windows into the brewery itself.

Outside the tasting center are plenty of tables for enjoying a beautiful, sunny Colorado afternoon. You can even play Rolle Bolle. The game, which looks like a cross between bocce ball and shuffleboard, is played on a large, curved, cement court. It looked fun, but we had no idea what it was all about while we were there (we had to look it up later). Next time, New Belgium!

The Beers

The Liquid Center had tons of beer to sample. There was an amazing assortment of small batch beers that are part of the New Belgium Lips of Faith series. Wanting to try as many as possible, we stuck to small samplers for $2 each. My first taster was the Biere de Mars. OMG was this beer good. I can’t do it justice with a description. Just know that it’s amazing, I loved it, and you should try it. It was my favorite beer of the day. Other beers I enjoyed were the Billy’s Beer, which was just a bit sour, and the Blue Paddle pilsner, which was light and crisp and perfect for summer.

Jeff started out with a Pink Peppercorn Saison. Let’s be honest here, he ordered it because I badgered him to try it. And I did that because I really wanted to try it. It was another Lips of Faith Beer, and it tasted just a bit like a peppercorn steak. Nevermind the pink, this is a guy’s beer, for sure. It would go great with a steak on Father’s Day. Jeff liked it, but not as much as his next two beers – both IPAs. First was the Belgo IPA, and American-Belgian style IPA made with Belgian yeast. It was delicious! Next was a Ranger IPA, which Jeff already knew and loved well.

We Loved New Belgium Brewing Company

Seriously, we loved everything about New Belgium Brewing. We could have easily spent a full day here. The beer is awesome and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. And why wouldn’t they be? They work in one of the best places to work in the country. They don’t even take tips. All money left in their tip jar goes to charity – which was currently set up for High Park Fire victims. The employees were absolutely awesome, fun to chat with, and even bought us a round of beer. We can’t wait to return and take the tour.

If you’re even in Fort Collins, take the time to visit New Belgium Brewing. Get all the info on the brewery, including info on their hours and how get signed up for a tour at their website, newbelgium.com/brewery/fort-collins.

Cheers!