New Belgium Brewing Company and its signature beer, Fat Tire, started when the founder went on a bicycle tour of Belgium. He came back to Fort Collins and started brewing in his basement in 1991. Now, New Belgium is a leader in the craft beer industry and a community force in Fort Collins. The free tours of their facility not only tell you about that history, but also give you ample opportunity to taste and sample their beers, teaching you what it takes to discern what goes into a good beer. Along the way you’ll be able to take in the unique culture of this company and learn about their commitment to sustainability. New Belgium also has a bar on site where you can sample more drinks and buy some to take home with you. Make sure to reserve your tour spot through their website, especially during the warmer months and holidays.
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey has quickly gained a following among whiskey drinkers here in Colorado and across the country. Stranahan’s started from the ashes of a fire in the Colorado high country. Now the company is distilling and aging whiskey right in the heart of Denver. The free tour of their facility teaches you about how whiskey is made, stored and eventually bottled. Stranahan’s has a unique way of distinguishing every batch of whiskey sold and the community can get in on the action. (You even get paid with whiskey). When you go for the tour, don’t be confused by the bar and grill in the lobby space, the whole whiskey operation is housed in back. (The food at the unaffiliated restaurant is pretty good if you’re there for lunch or dinner). At the end of the tour, you’ll get to sample whiskey and learn about the taste, plus have an opportunity to buy your own bottle. Be sure to reserve your tour spot through their website in advance, especially on Fridays and weekends.
Doug, Wynne and Corkie Odell started their brewing odyssey in 1989 in a converted 1915 grain elevator located on the outskirts of downtown Fort Collins. Odell’s was just the second microbrewery to open in Colorado. The brewery has moved and grown since then and continues to expand. If you visit either New Belgium or Odell’s while in Fort Collins, you might as well visit the other (they’re only a couple minutes apart). Odell’s is dedicated to sharing its passion for delicious beer with an ever-growing family of fans. Experimentation with beer recipes, barrel aging and yeast cultivation coupled with Odell’s dedication to customers keeps the creative juices flowing and its reputation for excellent, innovative beers growing. Odell’s tap room is open Mon-Sat starting at 11 a.m. and tours are Mon-Sat in the afternoons. Check their website for exact times. They don’t take reservations. Tours are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. They recommend you show up 30 minutes before the tour you want to take.
Viezbicke 303 Vodka is made by Boulder Distillery. While it doesn’t look like much, it has a very lively and unique story that seems right at home in Boulder. When you visit the distillery and tasting room, you can see the trunk in which owner Steve Viezbicke found his grandfather’s recipe for potato based vodka. Check the Contact Us page of their website for hours so you can see the operation for yourself, talk to Steve about how this has become his passion, and of course, sample some of the vodka in the tasting room. Head there on Wed-Sat evenings for lively discussions with Steve and his staff. You may get lucky and visit on a night when he even has some live entertainment on the piano to help brighten the mood.
– By Michael Choy for CBSDenver.com