Category Archives: Beer Bar

Sunday Brunch at The Mainline

When The Mainline opened in 2013, it wasn’t with too much excitement from the beer community,  despite the huge marketing attempt made by the Breck-Wynkoop group.  They gave us huge promises of a unique space with upscale food with a southern comfort flair. A list of those involved with menu creation from the Denver Westword lists a half dozen people, none of which I could point out enjoying a pint at another local bar. It was a faceless, corporate business, giving the typical reaction of “meh” from local residents about their experiences.

I went a few times in the first couple months. The massive space was indeed unique. Reused piping creates a “tree- house” effect throughout the building that really brings character to the space. The upstairs bar is filled with all kinds of random things encased in resin that help start some great conversations. A rooftop patio is a not to miss feature of The Mainline. Just try to count the number of unique light fixtures here, just try. But that was where the awe stopped for me.

From sub par food like a shrimp po’ boy containing only 3 pieces of shrimp on an 8″ bun, to poor service from a waitstaff who preferred to chat with each other than work, the first few months at The Mainline was rough for everyone. While I 20140615_102310never all out avoided the place after the first couple negative experiences, I never strive to go there either. I would accompany a friend now and then for drinks on the rooftop, occasionally indulging in the Angry Mac n Cheese as that was all I trusted from the menu.

But I wanted to like them, I really did! So when I received an email from a company handling their marketing, asking me to come try out their brunch menu, for free, at first I ignored it. I typically don’t do reviews on this blog anyways, and something about offering me free stuff reeks of desperation. But he was persistent. Even though this person worked for a marketing group, he was excited about the restaurant and the menu. He kept emailing me, which put a face to a business I had considered faceless for so long. Then, a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her drinks at The Mainline stating “I am giving them one more shot, but only because of the Fort Collins Passport“. This opened a whole conversation about The Mainline and why people choose to go there or not. I figured I should give them another chance, too.

We finally found a time that would work and headed out for an early brunch at The Mainline. We were the first one’s in that day. The boyfriend was worried about getting seated and out the door in time for his job that afternoon. He didn’t realize how large of a space The Mainline is and that finding a seat is not going to be a problem. We snagged 20140615_101724a seat overlooking College Ave on the rooftop. It really is gorgeous up there, plus you get a good view of some ghost signs you can’t see from street level.

I went in looking for one thing that day, person-ability. I wanted to feel a connection to the people who worked here. I wanted to continue attaching faces to The Mainline and distance it farther from the corporate world of Breck-Wynkoop. I had barely even sat down yet before I got what I asked for. One of the bartenders from the first floor saw me walk in, and made the journey all the way to the rooftop to greet me, “I saw you come in, and had a quick break so wanted to come say hi!”. He had served me previously before a couple times, and remembered me, and going out of his way to say hi is exactly the personable experience I was looking for.

Our server was amazing as well, chatting with us about the different menu items she liked. Our service was quick and the food was original. I ordered the Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles, that came with a giant pile of maple bacon to go with the spiced rum infused syrup. I loved the melted slices of brie on top of the perfectly cooked waffles, the cream helped to blend all of the flavors together. The dish also featured watercress and orange marmalade. If I wasn’t still working on my bloody mary (maybe the service was too quick), my plan was to order a coffee stout to go with this rich dish.


The boyfriend ordered the Pulled Pork Hash that came with their homemade tater tots. The dish looks like a colorless mass, but was actually damn tasty. Some of the color was lost, as it normally comes with eggs and he took them off. It was a mix of pulled pork, sweet potatoes and red peppers that had a kick to it. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the texture of the potatoes, as they were a bit mushy.


We finished out the meal with a Pateros Creek Mainline, made exclusively for the restaurant, and a Pimm’s Cup. We may have enjoyed the Pimm’s Cup a bit, as we fought over the last few sips of its very short existence. I had planned to pair the brown ale aged on bourbon barrel staves with the Chocolate Beignets, but unfortunately there was an issue with the fryer and they weren’t able to cook them properly.  I am going to assume the fryer wasn’t hot enough yet. At a year old, this is kind of a silly issue for a restaurant to have. I was disappointed I didn’t get to try either of my anticipated beer pairings choices, but still satisfied in my meal.20140615_105048

All in all, I think The Mainline has gotten a bad rap from their rough get go. Aside from this brunch visit, I also scheduled a meeting with Kim from Grouse Malting and Brewing here. We both enjoyed our experience that day, with delicious shrimp tacos on special and a couple beers over industry chatter. The food is more innovative than what is offered at most places around Old Town. Their mixed drinks are delicious, but expect to have most of your beer choices be Breckenridge and Wynkoop. Plus, their rooftop patio is my favorite in town.20140615_105639


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The Big BJ Dilemma

It’s no secret that Northern Colorado is bursting at the seems with new breweries, brew pubs and beer bars opening up. The area is a great place to be a beer lover, beer maker or beer proprietor. Often the question comes up, “how many breweries are there now in Fort Collins?”, “how many beer bars?”, “is it a brewery or a brewpub?”. With the ever increasing number of beer-centric establishments, there is always debate about who goes onto which list. A recent Tweet from local reporter Trevor Hughes of the Coloradoan spurred such a debate between many local Fort Collins residents as well as nationally known beervangelists. Where does recently opened BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse fall on this list when it comes to how many breweries reside in the city of Fort Collins?

The lines can be a bit blurry sometimes. How many taps do you need to have to be considered a beer bar? Does serving macro beers count against your qualification? But other times, the lines are clear and defined. So clear in fact, that not only has the Brewers Association, but also the State of Colorado (in the way a business is licensed and taxed) has defined them.

BJ’s Restaurant BJs-Restaurant-Logois a national pizza restaurant chain that began in California in 1978. They began brewing beer at several locations in 1996 when “the BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse concept was launched”. There are 5 locations in Colorado and the newest opened on Harmony Road in Fort Collins. When it opened, it was added to many lists as the newest brewery to begin operating. This, however, is a false assumption. BJ’s in Fort Collins is not a brewery, and for many reasons than just my own opinion on chain breweries.

First and most importantly, there is no brewery at the Fort Collins BJ’s. No brewhouse. No brewer. No brewery. The business operates on a Hotel and Restaurant license through the state of Colorado. This is very different than a brewpub license, or a manufactures license. One of which is needed to make, and sell, beer on-site. The BJ’s location in Boulder does have a brewpub license. All of the beer served in Fort Collins is made and shipped from Boulder.

Next, we don’t count CB&Potts as two Fort Collins breweries, so why count BJ’s. The Campus West location has a decently sized brewhouse at it’s location. The one at the Collindale golf course does not produce it’s own beer, but sells the beer made at it’s sister location. Just as the Fort Collins BJ’s serves its sister location’s product.

If these two reasons weren’t enough to convince you, let me tell you about my personal convictions for not naming BJ’s as a brewery. Northern Colorado has become a huge draw for beer tourists and beercations. Most of these people do internet searches for figure out which breweries they are planning to go to when they visit. It would be very unfortunate to have a tourist waste time visiting BJs believing it is one of our local stellar breweries when it is nothing of the sort. It is not local, it it not a brewery. By calling BJ’s a brewery we are taking potential customers away from the actual breweries.

So what do you think? Do you still list BJ’s as a brewery?


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Wheat Not, What Not: Gluten Free Beer In Fort Collins

This edition of our Tuesday Contributor series is written by Irene Nissen, a local craft enthusiast who attends Napa of Beer events with her husband Mark. 

About 6 months ago I made the decision to go gluten free. This was not an easy decision, considering many things, but one of the biggest was of course BEER! I did not know how I was going to give up drinking so many of my favorite brews! However, over the course of my journey to go gluten free I have discovered many places in town that serve gluten free options, including beers and ciders, and I have discovered many that I enjoy as much, if not more than my old favorites!

The first part to gluten free drinking is understanding what that actually means. Beer, as you know, is produced using water, a starch and sugar to ferment into a tasty alcoholic beverage. The starch is usually derived from malted barley and/or wheat, and most are flavored with hops to add bitterness and act as a natural preservative. Wheat and Barley are two of the three primary gluten-based grains, with the third being rye. Hops is a gluten free ingredient (YEA!!) so it can be used to add flavor in gluten free beers.

There are three primary choices for gluten free beer seekers. The first is a beer made without barley or wheat, these beers are often brewed using ingredients like millet, buckwheat, rice and/or sorghum. An example of this is Green’s Gluten Free Beer brewed in Lochristi, Belgium at DeProef Brewery. The second is a traditionally brewed beer that has had the gluten removed. An example of this is Omission Brewed by Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland, Oregon. It is brewed with traditional beer ingredients, including malted barley, and then specially crafted to remove the gluten. The third choice is a beer alternative such as cider, or mead. There are many examples of these, with one of the most well known being Woodchuck Hard Cider.

Over the past few weeks I checked out a few of the places in the Fort Collins area offering gluten free options.

Black Bottle Brewery, here in Fort Collins, offers a few different options for gluten free beer seekers. They have a selection of gluten free beers, both brewed without barley and wheat, and brewed Black Bottle-pngwith to remove the gluten, as well as some ciders and sparkling meads. I enjoyed a bottle of Green’s Triple Blond Ale, and Omission’s Pale Ale. Both were well done and paired nicely with a slice of their flourless chocolate cake!

Another great place to find gluten free beer is at Pateros Creek Brewing Company in downtown Fort Collins. Their Punk Rock IPA is always a great choice for a gluten free brew, as well as they usually have a rotating gluten free beer on tap. The Punk Rock is brewed using sorghum and four different types of hops to give it lots of flavor! I enjoyed one with some of the chips from The Goodness food truck.

One of my new FAVORITE spots in town for gluten free drinking is Scrumpy’s Hard Cider Bar in downtown Fort Collins. They offer a great variety of ciders as well as meads and you can sample any ciders on tap, 6 samples for $6.00 or 9 samples for $8.00, a great deal, and a great way to sample a lot of different ciders. They also feature many ciders brewed in Colorado and will soon be adding their own cider brewed in house. I enjoyed a 6-sample tray of the Grass-hop-ah, Pearsnickety, Pome Mel, Magner’s Irish Cider, Strongbow, and Crispin Original. All of which were delicious and paired perfectly with my tasty sandwich on gluten-free bread!

Lastly, I was surprised to discover that High Hops Brewery in Windsor has started brewing a gluten free beer as well. The weekend I visited they had just tapped their 1st gluten free beer, a strawberry sorghum. It was very tasty! I was also delighted to find that Veebo’s Wood-Fired Pizza was offering a gluten free crust for the 1st time that weekend as well! It was not a gluten free crust they had made from scratch, as the cost and labor that goes into making a good gluten free crust is very high and for the current demand, not very feasible. Instead they were using a pre-baked crust made by Kinnickinnick. I was able to enjoy a delicious Hawaiian Gluten Free Pizza along with my beer and very thankful for their consciousness for their gluten free customers!

Gluten Free is becoming more and more prevalent and many restaurants and breweries in the area are offering gluten free drinking and dining options for their customers, and it is greatly appreciated! I look forward to my continued exploration of gluten free drinking and dining here in Northern Colorado and to all my fellow gluten free drinkers out there, I hope this article has enlightened you to the many options that are out there. To those of you who are not gluten free, don’t be afraid to try some gluten free drinks, as they are surprisingly delicious! If any of you have other places you enjoy drinking gluten-free I would love to hear your comments!



More about Irene:

I have lived in Fort Collins for almost 8 years now. I moved here inIrene Photo 2005 with my husband to attend Colorado State and after graduating in 2009 we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave! I work as a high school librarian at Rocky Mountain High School and also WORRY on the side (Wine, Om, Read, Run and Yoga). I recently graduated from my 200-hour Yoga Teacher training and have been working to start up my own business WORRY Warrior, teaching yoga, selling essential oils and offering health coaching advise. If you are looking for some private yoga instruction, let me know! I would love to work with you on developing and growing in your practice! My husband and I are big winos, but living in Fort Collins you have to enjoy beer as well, which hasn’t been a problem! We love spending time with our Great Dane Mini, and training for ½ marathon races in our free time.

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MyHandleBar Knows How to Show a Lady a Good Time

If you have never seen the MyHandleBar 16-person bike cruising around Old Town, then you may be living under a rock. Or maybe you just don’t drink as much as I do. Regardless, the MyHandleBar is a great addition to a day of sipping beers with great people.

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Recently, MyHandleBar contacted me about doing a promo ride with them. All I had to do was fill the bike and have fun, how could I pass that up!

Invented by 2 Dutch brothers, this bike is the real deal from the Netherlands. According to MyHandleBar, the idea for the bike was, “started in a pub, was spurred on by a friendly wager and was literally sketched out on a bar napkin.” It is outfitted with a tap handle and a place to store a keg, but because of state liquor laws no drinking is allowed on the bike. It is just as fun to ride around and support other local businesses, so I don’t think we are missing out on anything with that one.

We had a great weather for our ride, despite having 22 inches of snow on the ground the day previous. The bike is said to seat 16, but I think our amount of 14 was perfect.  It was an awesome group of people who showed up to ride including some Beer Bettys, members of the Liquid Poets Society and Beer Lovers of Fort Collins, lots of new faces of Napa followers and even one of my favorite mom’s whom I nanny for. After we signed our waivers, and got our wrist bands

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

that are good for deals at participating bars, we were off!

Our tour guide, Rachael, was fantastic! She was very enthusiastic and energetic. It really takes a fun personality to make MyHandleBar even better than it already is and Rachael certainly had it! Surprisingly, this was her first ever tour. I never would have known if she didn’t tell me, it seemed like it was her second nature.

We had to do a loop around the block before heading to our first stop, Tap and Handle, because of the position of the parking lot and we got to be THOSE people. Slowing down traffic to 5 mph in a construction zone while we smiled and waved like we were in our own parade. Most people played along, honking and waving back. A few even ran out of shops to

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

quickly take a picture as we rode by, slowly. I was in much better shape last year when I participated in the Feasting Fort Collins promo ride, and it showed. We were a bunch of beer obsessed people  in fake paper beards trying to pedal a near 2000lbs bike, it wasn’t too pretty.

Most of us snagged a Sierra Nevada beer at Tap and Handle as they still had a few left from the 57 tap takeover the week before. It was even nice enough to sit on the patio, as some of us did. I had a great conversation with Cody and his girlfriend Devon about their favorite beers and how they are enjoying living in Fort Collins being recent transplants before we had to jump back on the bike for the next stop. It is always fun to have new faces along for experiences like this, and I am always so grateful that I am able to share them.


Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

pedaled on to The Blind Pig, the newest addition to the Fort Collins bar scene. The staff here is great, and the owners always treat me like family when I come in with hugs all around. I broke with tradition and ordered a mixed drink instead of a beer. Gasp. Bartender Janay whipped me up a Rock Coconut Mojito, a mojito with a spin of coconut rum and fresh watermelon. Its the watermelon that gets me, I love the freshness it brings to the drink. Plus, it was much easier to sip out of straw with my beard than from a pint glass.

The only downside to the ride is that is goes by too fast! Luckily, Rachael was awesome enough to give us an extra 30 minutes. We took advantage of it and headed to The Forge Publick House where Loveland Alework’s American Raspberry Sour was on tap

Yes we do! Or 3! Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

Yes we do! Or 3! Photos courtesy of JulieannaD Photography

alongside a couple of City Star Brewing beers. After we sipped our last suds, we ran back to the bike to make it in time to ride back to Pateros Creek Brewing Company, where the bike is stored in the parking lot while not in use. The MyHandleBar is a great option next time you have a celebration, guests in town, or just need something fun to do on a nice afternoon. Book your ride soon, they fill up quick!

Find more of Julieanna’s amazing photos from the ride, here.

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William Oliver’s Focus on Community and Education

Sometimes I feel like I am on some weird version of the Truman Show meets Leave it to Beaver with a beer twist. I’ll walk through Old Town on my way to various meetings, usually over beer or to discuss beer, smiling and saying hi to everyone I pass because that is what we do here. On the way I will run into lots of people on their way to lunch, a meeting, running errands.LOGOWilliamOliver Maybe Rosie, a distributor with Summit; Nate, the owner of The Welsh Rabbit; or Jeff, the proprietor of Tap and Handle. Nico from Odell Brewing will probably honk and wave as he drives by on his way to deliver cases and kegs of beer. It is all very Americana, very small town. Old Town is the business and entertainment hub of the Fort Collins community, but not everyone can live within walking distance like I am lucky enough to be able to do.

Ryan Wallace and his wife Tiffany are trying to bring that community feel to another part of Fort Collins with their new bar, William Oliver’s Publick House. The main feature of this small, quaint bar located at 2608 S. Timberline Road will be an array of nearly 200 whisk(e)ysThey are hoping it will become a neighborhood bar for those that live south of Prospect Ave, an area dubbed by locals as “SoPro”. It is easily accessible by bike located just off the Power Trail.

The space can hold up to 47 people and had to undergo extensive construction. No tenant had previously used the space in the new shopping center on Drake and Timberline, so it had to be

Owner Ryan Wallace pouring his favorite whiskey, Glidden Fitch 12. This was the first whiskey that made him think there was "something to it"

Owner Ryan Wallace pouring his favorite whiskey, Glenfiddich 12. This was the first whiskey that made him think there was “something to it” Photo Courtesy of Adam Warren

built from the ground up. However, this provided Wallace with a blank canvass. “Old Town is a cozy environment” says Wallace, “we tried to recreate an old, cozy space. We wanted the same ambiance.” They did this by installing a stone wall, and table tops made of barrel lids.

Their dedication as a neighborhood bar goes beyond just interior decorating. In their dizzying array of whisk(e)ys they plan to have as many Colorado brands as possible. Wallace, having previously worked for Pateros Creek Brewing Company, didn’t want to leave the beer lovers out either. 16 tap handles are dedicated to Colorado brews only. 14 are reserved exclusively for Fort Collins and Loveland beers, 1 for a cider made in Colorado and 1 for a beer from somewhere else in the state.  They also plan to source their food as locally as possible. Their menu is designed to pair with your drink, which includes locally made chips and salsa, a smoked salmon spread and chocolate chip cheese ball.

Once the bar is up and running, they plan to host educational events with distillers, brand representatives and also Wilbur’s Total Beverage. “A lot of people don’t understand what Colorado’s capabilities are and what we produce.” explains Wallace, “Everyone knows we make great beer, but we also make a killer rum, a great vodka and more. We are a distilling powerhouse and I want to share that”. He believes that education is what William Oliver’s will be best at providing for the community.

A Grand Opening celebration will be held on Friday March 29th, but they are already open for business every day from 11am-2am. So far the excitement for their opening has been high, and they have filled up the space. “This is just a passion project for me. The fact that other people are excited about it is just icing on the cake.”, says Wallace

Opening Tap Line Up

Grimm Bros Farmer’s Daughter

Photo Courtesy of Adam Warren

Photo Courtesy of Adam Warren

Odell Cutthroat Porter

Odell IPA

Verboten Orange Blossom Honey Wheat

New Belgium Shift

New Belgium Heavenly Feijoa Tripel

New Belgium Fat Tire

New Belgium Hoppy Bock Lager

Equinox Night Rider

Black Bottle Nook IPA

Photo Courtesy of Adam Warren

Photo Courtesy of Adam Warren

Pateros Creek Car 21

Funkwerk Tropic King

Fort Collins Maibock

Big Beaver Beaver Stubble Stout

Colorado Cider Co Glider Cider

Great Divide Wolfgang

giving back to community trough education

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