Fort Collins acted as a fresh start for me. I had transferred home from an up and down freshman year at Oklahoma State but was still lukewarm to the experience I was going to have at Colorado State. As a young, brash high schooler I was too good for in-state schools and didn’t want to go to (Enter your local high school here) University. Fort Collins and CSU provided more than I could have ever asked for and without that experience I would have never had the appreciation and understanding of craft beer that I do now. Friday Afternoon Club was grabbing a beer after class in the Ramskeller then finding someone to drive a group of us to Odell’s and New Belgium.
Bud Light was the former drink of choice but that eventually evolved into Sunshine and Easy Street Wheat…I look back at many of my first beer tastings with extreme regret (as most probably do)…Odell IPA, Cutthroat Porter and any other beer along these same lines were thrown back in a process reminiscent of taking a shot of bad tequila at your own 21st birthday party…shoot ‘em and move on. Sad… I would punch 21-year-old Ben if I saw him now…
We really cut our teeth back in the day…the dedication and effort to growing our palate was strong and much easier (and cheaper). New Belgium offered 4 FREE tasters, Odell offered a tasting tray for $3 plus a $3 token to use for a 6-pack after and the Ramskeller offered $2.50, 23-oz. mugs of a different local beer every day. Where are these deals now that I am actually making money? Take note 21-year-old kids: find a buddy that loves beer and wants to open a brewery and toss him a little coin and voilà…free beer again.
Moving to California has provided us the opportunity to visit many new breweries and try some amazing varieties. California is absolutely killing it in the IPA and Imperial IPA category right now. Having lived in both states gives us the opportunity to share some of our favorite breweries, beer and ultimately give our own snotty opinions of where you should go and what you should drink. So off we go!
Our beer journey started in one place and one place only: the aforementioned Fort Collins. Normally, recommendations start with ‘save the best for last’…well, don’t. From Denver, take I-25 north and exit at Mulberry…head up mulberry and take a right on Lemay (maybe pick up some KFC if you haven’t eaten anything yet, you’ll need the carbs and grease later)…you’ll take a left at Lincoln and, no, don’t stop at Fort Collins Brewery first…even if your wife wants a Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat…calmly explain to her that FCB is on the way home and we’ll stop on our way out of town (no you won’t actually). And start with the amazing (and nicely upgraded) Odell Brewing Company.
To read our blog on our recent visit to Odell Brewing Company check out, GirlsGottaDrink.com. Val (@valeriekq), a friend of Nikki’s and an expat in Italy, is a fellow lover of Fort Collins and Nikki’s wine mentor. We can’t wait to hear more about Italy’s craft beer (and hopefully someday partake ourselves).