Hello hello! Welcome to the FINAL installment of our Grand Vacation recap. I am really impressed if you are still reading these. :) I’m excited, too, that these posts are coming to a close. It takes a great deal of time to edit the photos and write the lengthy posts, but I know I’ll appreciate all the detailed memories I put into this later.
Before we headed out of the state and into the Utah/Arizona area, David wanted to visit two well-known breweries while we were in Colorado: New Belgium and Odell. We also slipped in a little brewery that is so small and new that it doesn’t give tours yet: Manitou Brewing Company.
This is the first brewery we checked out. We had just had a full day at Pikes Peak and we were looking for a place to just relax and eat and drink. See…we did have some chill moments on our vacay. ;) Manitou Brewing Co. fit the bill perfectly. This was our favorite spot to eat, probably of the entire trip even!
Manitou Brewing is located in — you guessed it — Manitou Springs, Colorado. The restaurant/brewery just opened its doors in March. It was small with only a handful of tables outside and inside, a food menu that only had 14 items on it, and a beer menu that only had five of their own beers on it (there were many “guest” brews, though). We opted to continue our time outdoors and sat down at a table outside.
For our first round of drinks, David had a sampler that included all of the beers they make on site and I had a Cherry Glider Cider, a dry apple cider enhanced with cherries.
My cider was a bit too tart for my liking, but David enjoyed the Belgian pale ale best out of his sampler.
I have no great food pictures to show you because we basically inhaled everything, but I will tell you we loved our meals. I had the veggie quinoa burger and fries with truffle oil and David had the pork belly tacos. He’s still raving about them now — they were that good!
New Belgium Brewery
I should of started by saying this, but I’ll
say write it now: I’m not a huge fan of beer. I’m more of a wine or mixed drink kind of gal. But after this trip (and this particular brewery), I have a whole new respect for the craft beer industry and I’d say I’m more open to trying beer now. So what all happened? Well, New Belgium just ended up being so much fun, it was infectious.
A New Belgium employee walked us around the grounds of the main brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. (New Belgium is set to open another location in Asheville, North Carolina sometime in the future.) We didn’t get five steps into the door until we were tasting our first beer sample: Pumpkick. I actually enjoyed this one and finished the whole sample! It’s made with actual pumpkin, whereas other beer makers just use pumpkin flavoring.
Next, we saw where they make and store the beer and we got to see some examples of the different types of hops they use. And at that spot, we tasted Fat Tire, the amber ale they are known for.
The next place we stopped was probably my favorite room on the tour simply because it had so much character to it. It housed gigantic barrels of their sour beer…and they have a rock wall set up there.
Our tour lady explained how they make the sour beer (called La Folie) and the way she did it made me laugh, but the information (mostly) stuck with me! She also filled us in on why the rock wall was there. One of the first brewmasters was thinking about leaving the company to go and start his own brewery. The New Belgium CEO didn’t want him to leave so he asked, “What can we do to make you stay?” The employee said, “Well, I don’t get to do much of my favorite hobby anymore — rock climbing — since I’ve moved here.” So, as you now know, New Belgium installed a rock wall to keep their employee happy. Problem is, the rule is you have to be sober when you climb…so not many employees use it!
I was impressed with the other perks New Belgium employees get to enjoy. Each employee holds a share of the company (once he or she hits the one year mark). Because they’ll get their investment back in a different way, they ask that you not tip them at the bar, but instead buy another beer or simply buy New Belgium beer when you get back home. My favorite perk, though, would have to be the bike they get once they hit their one-year mark.
And they aren’t all the same either. Each year they come out with a new model, so someone who receives a bike in 2013 will have a different model than someone who receives a bike in 2014. All of them have one thing in common, though: fat tires, of course.
After tasting La Folie, we wandered over to The Thunderdome (employees get to name the buildings, too; add that to the list of perks) to check out how the beer is put in bottles and cans. We sampled Ranger, an IPA, from a batch of bottles that had just gotten off the line (you could even peel the label off!) and then we sampled 1554, a black lager, from a can. I wasn’t a big fan of either, so David happily took what I didn’t want.
My favorite part of the tour was seeing all the decor they use throughout the brewery. They don’t take themselves too seriously; it was refreshing.
At the end of the tour, we had the option of going down a slide! You better believe I went down it (but sadly, did not get any good pictures of it). Before we left the brewery, we stopped to fit another couple samples (only $1.25 each!) in at the bar. My favorite sample of the day? Sunshine, which is a wheat beer that is spiced with orange peel.
Odell Brewing Company
Our visit to this brewery was a short one. We didn’t have time to take the tour, but we spent some time in their taproom. David tried several sampler trays of beer, while I just sat and took pictures of him (someone had to drive you know…).
As you can see by the lack of detail, I enjoyed New Belgium more. The vibe was just better. Nevertheless, I was still happy we checked Odell’s out. It was right around the corner from New Belgium, so how could I say no when David asked to squeeze in one more brewery?
The brewery day in Fort Collins ended just as fast as it began and before I knew it we were grabbing dinner downtown and hitting the road again to make it as close to Utah as we possibly could.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for reading all these vacation posts. All the photos have been edited and all the memories are now written down. It’s sad to close it out, but you know us, we’ll have more adventures and stories to share about our everyday lives soon enough. ;)