Ben and I couldn’t have been more excited to get Day 3 of our Denver vacation started (me because it started with another Starbys) but also because we were headed to beautiful, unique Fort Collins, Colorado!
Fort Collins, located 57 miles north of Denver, was founded as a military outpost in 1864 on the Cache La Poudre River. It was established to protect the Overland mail route in the region during the Indian wars in the mid 1860s. Today, it is the fifth largest city in Colorado and is home to Colorado State University.
Money Magazine named Ft. Collins Best Place to Live in 2006 and they nabbed the #2 spot in 2008!
While Ben drove, I concentrated on hydrating. Colorado air and elevation sucks the water right out of your body – we literally could not drink enough water while we were out there!
About an hour after we departed Denver, we arrived in Ft. Collins!
One of the main reasons we wanted to head up was to tour the New Belgium Brewery located in town. Ben is a fan of their 1554 beer and we thought, heck, when in beer country – tour! The tours didn’t begin until 1:00pm though, so we headed up to Horsetooth Reservoir for a couple hours of exploring.
The Horsetooth Reservoir is located in the foothills of Ft. Collins and is 1,900 acres of water surrounded by 2,000 acres of public land.
The reservoir is open year round and is absolutely breathtaking!
On the drive up the foothills, there were several places to park, get out and take pictures. So, of course, I did.
The sky was as blue as could be against the sandstone rock on our right.
But paled in comparison to the deep blue of the fresh water to our left.
Ben and I hiked a bit around the boulders and trees. You can see how gorgeous the weather was – Ben is only wearing a t-shirt!
IGE – picture taking warrior.
The couple that hikes together, stays together!
There was a lot of silence on this hill too. Ben and I both appreciate naturally occurring beauty like this. It really puts things into perspective and makes you realize how little your “big” problems in life really are.
I didn’t want to leave!
Soon enough, though, it was time to head out. Belgium Brewery Tour Time!
The New Belgium Brewery was started in 1991 after its founder returned from a bike tour across Europe with a mission to create delicious beer with character from unconventional ingredients – new Belgium beer!
After several brewery moves, the company finally built their current location from the ground up, and I’ve got to tell you, it couldn’t be cooler!! You’ll see…
We started our tour in the malt and yeast cellar.
These huge kettles contained the mash that feeds the yeast in the beer – and also made the room about 90 degrees.
Luckily, they planned for it and had a beverage waiting for us to cool down with – Le Fluer Misseur. Named for a time when the founder of the company had a rough day biking through France on his original journey, and was cheered up when a small boy offered him a flower. The beer was very florally, light and unique – I liked it a lot!
The room was more art gallery than malt & yeast cellar, with beautiful mosaics on the floor surrounding the massive kettles.
We left the cellar and paused to appreciate all the bikes that decorate the brewery. One of the beers they’re most known for is Fat Tire Beer – named for the founders bike trip through Europe.
A lot of the employees ride their bikes to work, too!
Next we saw where the hops get added into the mix.
LOTS of pipes in this place!
And saw a map of where all the brewery visitors have come from.
Whoop, whoop – Iowa!
Next we passed by the canning room. New Belgium has only recently begun to can a small selection of their beers – they can do about 600 cans an hour in here, if I remember correctly!
After a short trip outside and into another building…
We found ourselves in the bottling area. Here, they can process over 700 bottle a minute!
Don’t worry – there’s still time to play during all that bottling. It IS beer, after all!
This is about the time when Ben and I started to wonder if we were in the right industry…
The bottle cap opener on the door into the main building confirmed it for us. This place is DOPE!
Ping pong tables: check. Bottle cap openers: check. Slides going from one floor to another: CHECK! Ne Belgium brewery is a FUNHOUSE!
Also scattered throughout the brewery were hula hoops, skateboards and foosball tables. You know – things you’d find at any office…
After the incredible tour, we were treated to two tastes of any of the beers on tap.
Oh, here’s our tour guide – she was so great!
Ben and I chose a seat in the bright, open lounge.
And sipped our tastes slowly. These were as fresh as can be and SO tasty!
Life was good.
It was about this time when we received the news that we had better come home in the morning, or risk not being able to come home at all. So, we re-strategized and came up with part 2 of our third and last day in Colorado on the fly. Re-cap coming soon!