Tag Archives: Fort Collins

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.

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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.

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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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Let’s Help the Bike Library!

Google “Fort Collins, bike friendly”. Go ahead, do it.  You should get numerous lists of the most bicycle friendly communities in the US, with Fort Collins being near the top of all of them. It is one of the things that is an ingrained part of our community, just like beer. It is my opinion that you are not a true resident of Fort Collins unless you have ridden a bike to a brewery. Or even all of the breweries. In the same day. It really is one of the best ways to spend a warm afternoon with friends.

That is why when I have out of town guests, a brewery bike tour is usually on the agenda. In fact, I have had friends come to Fort Collins specifically to do a brewery tour. Before they arrive,  I always let them know about the Fort Collins Bike Library. You have probably walked passed the octagonal little green building in the middle of the square several times. But did you know that you can rent bikes from them. For free.

A program that began in 2008, it offers bikes for rent to locals and visitors. With styles from commuter to cruiser there is a bike for everyone to use. They even have striders and trailers for the littlest riders.  Some of the bikes have been rebuilt by the Bike Co-Op out of bikes from the Fort Collins Found and Abandoned Bike Program ran by the Fort Collins Police Department.

Since their inception, the have checked out a bike 15,524 times to 12,469 members. All you have to do to become a member is sign up. It is free, and then they will have all they need for you to check out a bike. Just like a library card. Those who join get to use a bike for up to 7 days and the only cost being a $10 donation if you choose to reserve a bike in advance. The Library also offers self guided tours of historic buildings, natural areas and breweries to members.

If you weren’t already aware of the Bike Library, I am sure now you are thinking, “wow what a great program to have in our city!”. And you are correct, it is amazing. However, the grant that was given to begin and fund the Bike Library for the last 4 years is expiring, and the $10 donations are just not enough. There are numerous costs that go along with running this program. Everything from storage space for the bicycles to marketing fees add up to more than they have.

The Bike Library is not something our community should lose.  Not only does it bring in tourists and make their stay more enjoyable,  but it helps members of our community. The Library provides modes of transportation for someone who might not have any. Families can go for bike rides together, even if they don’t own a trailer for their youngest member. These bikes bring tourists, and residents alike to local businesses to both spend and earn money, boosting our economy.

There is something we can do to help save the Bike Library, and as community members we should all pitch in. Our local crowd funding website, Community Funded, already has a campaign in full swing to raise $195,000, but it is just under 50% funded with less than a week to go. Other businesses in the community have offered up lots of goodies, with over 50 different options of giftbacks for those who choose to donate to the campaign. Everything from stickers, bike prom tickets, t-shirts and fudge are being offered as thanks for helping to save the Bike Library.

New Belgium Brewing is doing something about it too. With their flagship beer aptly named Fat Tire, they have always displayed and promoted a love for the cycling culture. On Saturday, December 15 they will be hosting a party to benefit the Bike Library. From 7-9pm there will be drinks and food for those who pay the $20 entrance fee. A silent and live auction will offer a 2013 New Belgium cruiser or a “Date with a Carnie”. All proceeds going to help out the Library. Being a huge catalyst in the bike culture movement in Fort Collins, it only seems fitting New Belgium joins the fight.

If you can’t make it to the party this Saturday, then please go to CommunityFunded.com to help out in anyway you can. And when the weather is nice, head down the library and check out a sweet cruiser.

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Feisty Spirits Brings New Innovation to Fort Collins Craft

At a recent luncheon hosted by the United Way of Larimer County at The Rio I sat sipping a margarita, on the rocks with salt. An acquaintance came over to say hi and the first thing out of his mouth was, “you’re the beer girl, why are you drinking a marg?”. While beer is my adult beverage of choice, it doesn’t mean that is all I have to drink. It is nice to switch it up every now and then. When I go to Fish I usually drink wine. I don’t even have to order an apple whiskey old fashioned at Ace Gillett’s, the bartender already knows that is what I want. Everyone cross drinks. Fort Collins is about to get another option for cross drinking as a new distillery, Feisty Spirits, is getting ready to bring this beer town some whiskey.

I was recently invited to a tasting at Feisty Spirits, so my Brunch ‘n’ Brew group decided to make a day of it. When we walked into the space in a tiny strip mall on Lincoln Ave you wouldn’t have known it was a distillery. A couch sat against one wall and two offices were along the other. fesityspiritslogoEventually, this space will become the tasting room as soon as the city grants them the proper permits for construction. I am sure it will look much better without the carpeting that looks as if it should be in an elementary school classroom.

Owners Jamie Gulden and David Monahan took us to the backroom, which was indicative of what the distillery will look like when complete. The first thing you noticed was a big, shiny 60 gallon still. Unable to use this still yet until the proper approval, a small copper still sat on a table with clear liquid dripping into a mason jar. Hundreds of mason jars covered almost every surface. They were all different sizes, filled with liquids of all kinds of colors and amounts. It was reminiscent of a mad scientist lab.

We began the day by learning about distillation. Being beer nerds, we only knew the basics of the process. We went around smelling mashes, and checking out the small still as David explained to us the process of creating whiskey. Feisty Spirits typically uses grain flours, but not all the time, to create their mash. Adding amylase to the hot wort mixture of grain and water, it starts the process of turning the flour into fermentable sugars for the yeast to eat. After the yeast has done it’s job in the mash for about a week, the wort is added to the still pot. Here, condensation and evaporation separate the alcohol from the water. Alcohol evaporates at 80 degrees, while water at 100. Regulating the temperature allows for what will become whiskey to be taken out of the water and concentrated.

The small still at Feisty Spirits

The small still at Feisty Spirits

The large still at Feisty Spirits contains 4 “thumpers”, or chambers in the column that are responsible for condensing the alcohol. This is a typical amount for a whiskey still, but vodka stills can have up to 20. Before their small still, they were making alcohol from a small heated water purifier. The first bit of whiskey they comes out of a still usually has a strong acid aldyehyde, or green apple taste. This is caused by the yeast and often thrown out or sent through the distillation process again. We got to taste some of the first runnings, or kamut, from the small still that was going, and tart apple was very apparent, even being an off flavor I am not sensitive too.

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Now that we understood how it was made, it was time to taste it! There was a table set up in the middle of the room, covered in a handful of mason jars and shot glasses. Knowing our love for beer, we started with whiskeys that had been distilled from beer. We tried a Cutthroat Porter from Odells that was 130 proof, a homebrewed porter and a beer from Pateros Creek Brewing Co. Distilling beer into alcohol is a great way to use batches that have gone wrong, and Feisty Spirits plans to utilize this resource from the many breweries in town.

From here, David lined up a great order for us to learn how the different grains, and other additives, changed the outcome of the whiskey. They are in the process of fine tuning their recipes, which is why there were so many different jars everywhere.  We ended up being a sort of tasting panel for Jamie and David to see what people would enjoy.

We started with a 100% oat, unaged oat whiskey. It was followed by a half oat, half rye and then a 100% rye. Next we tried millet, spelt, barley and wheat. All of the grains produced different flavors. The spelt produced a more earthy flavor while the oats provided a thicker mouth feel. The blend of these two grains was my favorite. We also tried 100% sorgum syrup, the common ingredient used to make gluten free beers. I wasn’t a fan of this one.

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Bourbons, or whiskey made with over 51% corn, was the next batch we tasted. These were bolder in flavor, and tickled my nose when I tried to do the beer-tasting retro nasal. To age bourbons and whiskeys, distillers must use new American oak barrels, and for test batches they used oak chips. Many of the infused and aged ones we tasted after the basics were bourbons and not whiskeys.

Next we moved onto distilled mead. A blackberry mead that was aged with rose hips was floral and sweet, perfect to mix into a summer cocktail. The mead that was aged with anise was a hit or miss, you either loved it, or hated it. Black licorice is one of the worst inventions ever, so I did not enjoy it. A distilled cider was very close to tasting just like a normal fermented cider, but you got a little alcoholic bite at the end.

As we went along into the infused and aged alcohols, David would pour us a taste, and have us guess what flavors where in it. This was a great way to test our pallets. Some were easy to pick out, such as lavender, cinnamon, peach and coconut. Ones that were a bit harder to detect were pumpkin, rhubarb, and blackberry. The favorite of the group was the vanilla bean and orange peel infused bourbon, it really was a phenomenal flavor.

Image courtesy of Feisty Spirits

Image courtesy of Feisty Spirits

Last, we tried some cocktail tricks to drastically change the flavors. An oat and barley whiskey was harsh alone, but a drop of Horsetooth Hotsauce balanced it out. Same with a a rye and oat, that alone was flavorless and burned, but with  a drop of bitters was tolerable.

When all was said and done we had tried 27 different whiskeys. The creativity and innovation of recipes in Feisty Spirits is something I never thought I would see outside of the brewing industry. The passion and knowledge they have for their craft is what has helped propel this city, and even though they are not making beer, they are going to fit right in. I cannot wait for their tasting room to open (hopefully) in early 2013.

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Great American Beer Festival in Fort Collins

In less than 45 minutes, all 49,000 tickets to the Great American Beer Festival were snatched up, leaving thousands more upset and empty handed. However, you don’t need a ticket to the main event to enjoy the epic amount of beer that will flow through Colorado next week. Enterprising breweries and restaurant owners saw the demand and set to fill it. The number of pairings and tastings in Denver the week of GABF is enormous, many of which are already sold out. And everyone is pulling out all of the stops. This morning I received an invite from Shock Top for a tasting party that features helicopter rides over a wheat field than an artist has “crop circled” into a special surprise.

Fort Collins is 63 miles from the Colorado Convention Center, the venue of the fest. Being home to 9 breweries and several beer bars, we were not going to miss out on creating some fun too. Rare beers will be tapped, swag will be given away and great food will be eaten while sipping some suds. Below is a list of events by date in what is sure going to be an incredibly packed week. List will be updated as more details are released, so check back often 🙂

October 1

The Mayor of Old Town is starting their Tap into Northern Colorado event. 2 weeks of all Northern Colorado beers on 100 taps. Visit their website for a list of all the beers available. You can do epic things like this…a flight of 27 New Belgium Beers 

October 6

The first of 8 beers in 8 days is being tapped at Pateros Creek Brewing Company. Their popular Owl Canyon Pumpkin Ale is being released at 2pm.

October 7

Day 2 of Pateros Creek Brewing’s 8 days will feature their Peach Festival People’s Choice Award winner, Peche Hime. This peaches and cream porter taps at 3pm.

October 8

I will be hosting a beer and cheese pairing event at The Welsh Rabbit Cheese Shop. Featuring all GABF medal winning beers from Northern Colorado. First course will be served at 7pm. Tickets are $30 and almost sold out.

Continuing with the trend of popular beers, Pateros Creek Brewing Company taps their winter seasonal, Snowy River, at 2pm.

Tap and Handle has their first night of GABF celebration with 3 special events in one night! At 5pm join in on a Great Divide Yeti Sighting and get a chance to try all the different version of their Yeti Imperial Stout. Stick around because at 6pm Avery Brewing Company will be tapping their legendary Uncle Jacobs Stout, and if you order one you get to keep the glass! But the fun doesn’t stop there, at 7pm Grand Teton will be tapping 4 special brews.

The crowd from BeerAdvocate will be around Fort Collins both today and tomorrow. Here is the schedule is you want to show up and have a beer with the Alstrom Bros.! 12:00pm – 2:00pm Lunch at Choice City Butcher Shop And Deli, 3:00pm – 5:00pm Funkwerks, 5:30pm – 8:00pm Grimm Brothers, 8:30pm – END Coopersmiths for Dinner

Starting today The Mayor of Old Town is a shuttle stop for the Hops and Shops brewery shuttle. Hit all your favorites by catching this convenient ride around town.

Bike bar Crank N Steins is releasing their fun line up today. Look for several GABF Pro-Am beers, a Yeti or two and also Crazy Mountain Peach IPA, among others.

Funkwerks will be adding more tours all week at noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.

October 9

Pateros Creek Brewing Company taps their newest IPA in the 14er series, Mt. Massive, an imperial, at 2pm.

Odell Brewing Company is upping their tour schedule this week. Tours will be offered at noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Plus, today the Cupcake Cruiser will be there featuring their Cutthroat Porter cupcake.

Enjoy an amazing pairing dinner at Choice City Butcher and Deli, voted one of the best beer restaurants in the country. This time around they are working with Hoppin’ Frog Brewing out of Ohio. Tickets are $55 and going fast.

Only two events tonight at Tap and Handle. At 5pm enjoy Upslope Brewing beers, including their Pumpkin Ale that won gold at last years GABF. Lots of schwag will be given away. Then at 7pm Victory Brewing will be taking over 8 tap handles, including beers that have never been tapped in Colorado!

Check out The Forge Publick House to see their tap line up for the week, it is sure to impress.

Loveland Aleworks is tapping some special kegs this week, many of which will be cask conditioned. Also, buy a shirt, get a free pint.

$1 off pints of Bom-bastic at Fort Collins Brewery

The Alstrom Brothers are still in town, here is where you can find them today. 10:00am – 12:00pm New Belgium, 12:15pm – 2:15pm Fort Collins Brewery / Gravity 1020, 2:15pm – 4:15pm Odell, 4:30pm – 6:15pm Equinox, 6:15pm – 8:00pm Pateros Creek Brewing, 8:30pm – END The Mayor

October 10

Pateros Creek Brewing Company will tap the Conundrum Porter. This bourbon barrel coffee porter is the creation of Cathy, brew wife and marketing guru and was her entry for the staff outlaw contest this year.

Tours continue at Odell, and afterwards enjoy live music from 4-6pm and Umami Mobile Asian Eatery.

Head on over to The Melting Pot on Mountain Avenue for a 4 course pairing dinner with Odell Brewing Co. Dinner starts at 6pm, with tickets priced at $5o. Seating is limited, so purchasing a ticket in advance is advised.

It is $1 sliders (my addiction) at Choice City Butchet and Deli, AND they are tapping several rare and aged beers. One I am looking forward to is an Epic Brainless on Cherries that was infected with Brett. yum!

Special secret tappings are rumored at Tap and Handle at 5pm and then again at 8pm. But at 7pm you can enjoy more than 15 kinds of New Belgium Lips of Faith.

If you head into Fort Collins Brewery, order a glass of Obsessed Barley Wine you get to keep the glass

October 11

Throwing in a second 14er release, Sunlight Peak taps at Pateros Creek Brewing Company at 2pm.

While your waiting for your tour at Odell Brewing Company enjoy some oysters and seafood from Jax Fish House.

A special after party tapping at Tap and Handle that is still unannounced. But rumors have it that it may include Odells and cherries……

Equinox Brewing always offers a firkin on today, tune into their Facebook to find out what it will be

Starting at The Forge Publick House today you can be a GABF judge. All the beers on tap will be local GABF entries, and you get to vote for your favorite. Next Saturday, Oct. 20th, all the winners will be on for $2 along with some BBQ and brewery revelry.

Today at Fort Collins Brewery 1900 merch is 10%. Get a new shirt to wear to GABF tomorrow

October 12

An Oatmeal Raisin Stout dubbed Stone Giant taps at 2pm at Pateros Creek Brewing Company

The Rio Grande won’t be pouring margaritas, but their breakfast burritos and tacos go nicely with Odell Brewing Company’s brews while they will be serving in the taproom.

Join the head brewer of Fort Collins Brewery at Tap and Handle as he releases his newest barley wine. Sure to be amazing!

Live music will happen after 6pm in the Equinox Brewing Beer Garden

Chocolate lovers should go to Fort Collins Brewery where they can get a 1/2 pint of Double Chocolate Stout and a slice of Double Chocolate Stout cheesecake for $6

October 13

The last of the 8 beers in 8 days, Hopped Up Owl, will be tapped at Pateros Creek Brewing Company at 2pm. This hopped up version of their pumpkin ale should be a hit.

Today’s food selection in the Odell Brewing Company’s taproom will be Marco’s coal-fired pizza.

More live music today at Equinox, don’t miss out if you are in town!

$2 off pints of ESB at Fort Collins Brewery

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