Fort Collins is home to an impressive amount of craft breweries. Through extensive “research,” or a quick Google search, we count 20. Add Anheuser-Busch, and that makes 21 breweries in a 54 square-mile city (Note: You can’t do all 21 in one day, per our “research”).
The history of craft breweries in Fort Collins starts in 1989, with the opening of Coopersmith’s, a brewpub located in the center of Old Town Square, that is still operating today. (Try the Ring of Fire burger and Sigda’s Green Chili beer)
Odell Brewing Company: Just weeks later a big player stepped in. Doug Odell (Guess which brewery, you get two guesses) opened (yep) Odell Brewing Company.
“My wife and I chose Fort Collins because even though we were living in Seattle in 1988 we thought the craft beer industry was getting a bit saturated in Portland and Seattle,” said Doug Odell, founder and self-proclaimed all-encompassing bigwig. “There was really about seven or eight. We thought that was a lot. Can you imagine that now?”
Doug says his brewery specializes in hop-forward beer. He says for two reasons: the brewery likes them, and the brewery thinks they’re quite good at making them.
New Belgium: If you claim to like craft beer and you’ve never heard of New Belgium, get out. But really, love them, hate them, bored of them, New Belgium opened their doors in 1991 and quickly expanded to one of Colorado’s most popular craft breweries. Now, distributing cross-country, New Belgium is a staple of craft breweries everywhere.
Plus, there’s a slide inside. That’s pretty dang cool too.
Fort Collins Brewery: Skip ahead to 2003, and you have Fort Collins Brewery jumping into the brewing game in a tiny little building down the road from Odell (currently home to Funkwerks).
“In about 2008, we decided we need to expand with the booming business.” Said Elisha Stewart, the PR and Events Manager at FCB. “So construction in 2010 was completed. We had group of engineers from Germany come and construct this brew house.”
Now, FCB lives less than a mile from Odell on Brewery Row east of Old Town Fort Collins.
Besides hosting events for their community, FCB, like New Belgium and Odell, have a huge focus on sustainability.
“In 2016 we transitioned all of our beers from bottled beers into cans. We feel that cans are more environmentally friendly,” Stewart said. “They also let in less oxygen and let in less light which preserves the quality of the beer.”
Their brew house is also not air conditioned, and their Fort Collins sales reps drive around Smart Cars to lower their environmental impact.
Horse & Dragon: Take a hike to the northeast of Fort Collins Brewery, and you’ll find Horse & Dragon Brewing, which will be turning three in May 2017.
Inspired by Coopersmith’s, Odell and New Belgium, Horse & Dragon chose Fort Collins over Oregon (easy choice).
Tim Cochran, the brewery’s “beer guy” (among other things) says H&D is part of Fort Collin’s second or third wave for brewery expansion in town. Horse & Dragon has a pretty clear goal in mind for the here and now…
“So our beer, currently we only keg, we don’t bottle yet, but that should happen in 2017, we’re looking at expanding that way. But currently you can get our beer in restaurants and bars, focused in the north, but we are expanding every day into Denver.” Said Cochran, “We started the brewery because we believe in craft beer as a community, so we’re happy to be a part of it, we hope people enjoy the beers when they try them, and hopefully you’ll find them more and more as we get further south.”
Maxline: Just nine months ago, another brewery broke into the Fort Collins scene. This time in midtown, away from Old Town and Brewery Row.
Maxline opened with the goal of building a community, a place for their patrons to call home base. They also take a different approach to the day-to-day office operations.
“We don’t have an office. None of us have an office. So [the head brewer] has his brew house, but he’s always out here interacting with everybody.” Said Alisha Lubben, Brand Manager for Maxline, “I don’t have an office. So for marketing and brand management standpoint, we’re able to see what people actually want.”
Lubben says Maxline is a family, and everyone has a say in the beer, meaning the person pouring that raspberry basil saison for you (yum) may be pretty invested in it.
So for one of the newest breweries in Fort Collins, what’s next? “You’ll have to find out.” And we will, even if it kills us. (Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but we’re excited too)
Gilded Goat: Remember the first days of February? You were still writing the year wrong, but the guys at Gilded Goat were kicking open their doors (not literally) to say ‘hello!’ to Fort Collins.
Open for less than two months, the Goat is already kicking out everything you could imagine.
“It takes all kinds. Everybody likes a different style. There’s a different beer for everybody and we didn’t want to pigeon hole ourselves to a particular genre or styles of beers.” Said Head Brewer & Co-owner Charlie Hoxmeier. “We’re making anything and everything from a light German kolsch to a most sour Flanders red that we can push our bacteria and yeast to produce for us.”
Owned by a family of Fort Collins locals, the choice of location has always been their home.
“We’ve traveled all over the world visiting breweries and bars and pubs, and have always enjoyed coming home to Fort Collins. This is our home and we couldn’t think of a better place to open a new brewery in this community, in this town.”
Being so new, it’s still possible people don’t know about Gilded Goat, so we’re telling you now! Go! Drink! Be merry! (But again, 21 breweries, one day, not all that possible).