I’ve just told you why you should visit Santa Monica if you visit Los Angeles. You are probably expecting me to expand on the topic of Los Angeles. I will, in time, but not today. Today I will confuse you by going to another state in the US. I’m going to talk about a city in the state of Colorado.
Now, I think most people who travel to Colorado will end up focusing on the Rocky Mountains and skiing. After all, that’s what Colorado is famous for. If I talk about Estes Park or Dillon or Vail, chances are there might be some people who will feel connected and go: “Oh yes! I’ve been there before!“.
To make matters worse, I think my Malaysian and Asian readers will not even know what Colorado is. Mention United States, I guess you would probably know San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vegas and New York. Maybe Seattle because Bill Gates lives there.
That’s just too bad. Because I’m not here to make you feel connected. I’m here to tell you something that hopefully you have not heard before. I’m here to tell you about Fort Collins.
Fort Collins is a city north of the capital city of Colorado, Denver. In fact, it is the most northern city in Colorado. If you drive from from Colorado to Wyoming (cowboy and red Indian state) via the I-25, Fort Collins is the last city you will encounter in Colorado. Fort Collins is also home to the Colorado State University, which is like… the biggest university in Colorado.
Okay, enough background introduction of the city. There’s three reasons I think why you should pay Fort Collins a visit if you are ever in Colorado.
- More beer,
- Even more beer..
According to my American counterpart, while Napa Valley is the wine capital of the United States, Fort Collins is the beer capital. In fact, he was adamant that Fort Collins and not Munich is the beer capital of the world. He might be biased because he is a Coloradoan, but I’m going to give him the benefit of doubt.
There are 4 world renowned breweries in Fort Collins. Malaysians would probably know two of them: Budweiser and New Belgium. But there are more than 1000 breweries combined, including the microbreweries. A microbrewery is a small scale brewery that only produces enough to sell within the city/region, not for selling countrywide or worldwide. It is typically family run, where the family members are the main workforce of said brewery.
I would recommend that you go on a beer sampling tour. There are two ways you can do that:
- If you fly into Denver, as most people do, you can easily book a Fort Collins beer sampling tour from your hotel. A tour from Denver typically costs $60 – $100. The package would include the bus ride to and from Fort Collins, lunch, and visits to two (sometimes three) different breweries to see their beer producing facility and sample their beers.
- If you drive, you can just drive along the I-25 all the way to Fort Collins (~70 miles from Denver). Take exit 269B at East Mulberry Street, then drive for a few more miles until you arrive at Walmart, off Lemay Ave. Stop there and take out your GPS. Type “Brewery” and set destination to the closest one. From then on, you don’t need the GPS anymore, that area is a brewery concentrated area. Since drink and drive is bad, just drive and drink your way around. It is usually cheaper this way as most places offer sampler trays for $10 or less.
I’ll give you an example of how an Option #2 DIY breweries tour is like..
For a normal person, you can typically last 4 to 6 breweries at one go before you collapse, or even worse, make a fool of yourself if you know what I mean. You have to know that Colorado is a high altitude state. Fort Collins is 4000 feet above sea level. The higher altitude means it is faster for the alcohol to reach your brain. Your alcohol resistance powers here is not the same as when you are in Los Angeles or Kuala Lumpur.
In my case, I visited four breweries: New Belgium, Odell, Fort Collins Brewery and Funkwerks, the last one being a microbrewery.
Some of the breweries offer free or paid tours of their facility, but all of them will definitely have a lounge/bar where they sell beers on site.
Honestly, if you ask me, who cares about how we make beer? We only care about the drinking part. 😀
These are wonderful places to make friends. Many people come to the breweries to hangout on weekends, locals and visitors alike. Grab a beer, be sociable, and just chill out. If you are a visitor, most breweries offer something called sampler trays. They would serve a wide selection of their signature brews in smaller glasses so that you can enjoy all the different flavours. To most Asians, a beer is a beer. To the Coloradoans, there are millions of different types of beers. Each brewery has their own brews that are supposed to be unique to themselves. The distinction is a big deal here.
Do you know that there is even a saint for beer? In New Belgium’s bar, you will come across the altar of Saint Arnold, patron saint of beer. I am not kidding. This is a real thing.
When you are done sampling beers, it is also a good idea to buy some beer to bring back with you if you prefer stronger beer. You see, you can get beer in Walmart and Target. And by the way, beer in the US is freaking cheap! Like this lime margarita that is currently my favorite when in the US, they were only $6.99 per a 6 bottle pack!
But, there is a law in the States that do not allow the supermarkets to sell anything with 5% or more alcohol. So everything in Walmart or Target is 4.9% alcohol and below. If you buy the beers straight from the breweries however, they typically have alcohol content of 7% and higher.
The man helming the bar at New Belgium used to work for the company I am working in. When he knew we are ex-colleagues (sort of), he gave us this for free. Woohoo!
So, what do you think? Do you think Fort Collins is a place worth visiting? Or do you think only a bunch of idiots will go on a getting drunk tour?