Beer Tour 2010

So how many breweries did we visit on Bryan’s Birthday Beer Tour 2010?

Three major ones: Miller/Coors in Golden and New Belgium and O’Dell’s in Fort Collins. Of course, we also found a few brewpubs along the way.

For those of you who remember me writing about our trip to Colorado last summer, you might recall that the New Belgium facility figured prominently in that vacation. In fact, our wonderful experience there was what prompted this year’s October excursion — along with visiting the relatives, of course.

But going in chronological order, we visited the Coors facility first and were pleasantly surprised by the experience. Sister Margaret and Bro-in-Law Don accompanied us on this outing to one of the largest manufacturing sites of beer in the U.S. We were a bit disappointed by the tour itself, which was self-guided. You put an electronic device around your neck and punch in numbers that correspond to different areas in the brewery as you traverse its corridors. I much prefer a human tour guide.

But the tasting room was a lot of fun and was populated by students from the nearby School of Mines in Golden. Vending machines dispensed beer nuts, popcorn and pretzels and the beer selections were varied, including my favorite Blue Moon, Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, Killian Red and a couple of new products from the folks at Coors. After three generous samples apiece, we were ready to head back home to Englewood.

Our Denver stay also included a visit to the Bull & Bush, a brewpub that is a favorite hangout of Don’s daughters, Jenny and Sue. (We headed there after realizing the wait was going to be too long at Perfect Landing, a restaurant located at the Centennial Airport, where you can dine on $10 weeknight specials and watch the planes come and go with the sunset in the background. We did have appetizers and a beer there.)

The Bull & Bush featured some delightful microbrews on tap and equally delightful traditional pub fare. We were pleased to be joined by step niece Sue for part of the evening.

Another pleasant Denver find was the Cheeky Monk — “a Belgian Beer Café” — where we had brunch/lunch following the Race for the Cure. The selection of Belgian beers — Bryan’s favorites — was amazing.

On to Fort Collins …

The last few days of our trip were spent in Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University, an abundance of bicycle-riding residents and several fantastic microbreweries. Most notable, of course, is the aforementioned New Belgium Brewery, maker of Fat Tire and many other tasty beers. We arrived there for a second tour with a copy of the story I’d written last year in hand. Bryan wanted to give it to our tour guide from last year, Tyler. I wasn’t so sure we’d find Tyler, but there he was, conducting a sampling for another group of visitors. He’d already seen the story — someone had sent it in to the brewery — but didn’t have a personal copy.

Unfortunately, Tyler wasn’t scheduled to lead our group on this particular day. Instead, we had Katelyn, who also did a capable job of relating the New Belgium story and fielding questions about the brewing process.

The next day — after solving the problem of a dead car battery — we headed for our final brewing destination — O’Dell Brewing Co. Yet another interesting facility, although we were disappointed that samples of the beer were not provided as part of the tour. But Bryan loved spending time in the “barrel room” a cold-storage facility where some of the brews are aged in oak barrels. Cool — literally and figuratively.

And thus concludes Bryan’s Birthday Beer Tour 2010.