Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A fresh look at Fort Collins Brewery

Fort Collins BreweryBigger, Brighter, Better. One might say that change is good when it comes to breweries in Fort Collins, and for the Fort Collins Brewery, change made a really big difference.

I had the pleasure of visiting several breweries all in one day last week during a day off from work during the Great American Beer Festival. It had been a while since I had been back to sip some brews in Fort Collins and I decided to hit up some of my old favorites. A lot had changed in the last year in Fort Collins and I just had to visit the ones that had changed the most. One brewery had changed entirely, namely - the Fort Collins Brewery.

Gone are the days where they operated out of a small warehouse area east of town on Lincoln Avenue (now occupied by Funkwerks and Crooked Stave). Today, they have a brand new facility at 1020 E. Lincoln Avenue, practically a stones throw from Odell Brewing. Their new brewing facility has over five times the capacity of their old one and even now they've only used up less than half of their existing space. Everything inside looks shiny and spanking new.

New Restaurant: Top that off, built into the new facility is a restaurant called Gravity Ten Twenty, a clever name based upon a final gravity reading and their address (1020 E. Lincoln Ave). Gravity Ten Twenty features hand crafted field to fork cuisine, craft brews (FCB's and guest taps) and Colorado cocktails all with a huge viewing window into the brewhouse and a wonderful outdoor patio. They forego standard pub fare in favor of fresh cuisine made with local ingredients and a rotating seasonal menu. The restaurant now hosts beer dinners on a regular basis.

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I couldn't help but stare at FCB's shiny clean facility. It looks modern and inviting. While I didn't get to go into the restaurant to sample their food, I did venture into the tasting room for a couple sample brews and some good conversation with their taproom staff.

Tasting Room: At first glance, it appeared that the tasting room was the same size, if not smaller than their old tasting room. What I didn't realize was that just through some doors off to the side was a huge banquet room that is available to rent for meetings, celebrations and other party events. FCB would open those doors for extra capacity when the front tasting room gets crowded. Food from Gravity Ten Twenty was also available in a limited menu in the tasting room.

Brew Samples: I had the opportunity to sample two beers during my short visit. The first was called "For The Love of Peach" a light colored ale made with Palisade peaches. The brew had a hoppy citrus nose. It reminded me of an IPA yet sweeter, with peaches and still bitter. This was a tap room only brew.

The other brew was one of my favorites, Common Ground, which I reviewed recently. This is a light colored ale infused with 3 different blends of Java beans for a rich roasty coffee flavor. It tasted wonderful on tap.

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The tasting room also had huge glass windows that gave you a close up view of their brewing operations. On that particular day, their brew crew was busy making this year's batch of FCB Double Chocolate Stout, also one of my favorites. This brew will be available later on in October. When available in the tap room, they usually serve it on a nitro tap and it is just heavenly.

Sadly, I couldn't stay long at their new facility as I had to get ready to head down to Denver that night for the opening night of the Great American Beer Festival. It was just the beginning of a great day of sampling beer.

If you happen to be in town, you've got to put the Fort Collins Brewery on your must visit list. You can bet I'll be back and this time I won't wait so long.

Related articles:
- The "old" Fort Collins Brewery Tasting Room. (2008)
- Fort Collins Brewery Barrel Licked Bock review.
- FCB reveals new building plans. (2009)

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