by Doug Usher
In the old days, if you wanted to bike the breweries, it was pretty straightforward. We only had a handful so it wasn’t out of the question to visit them all in the same day. Most only served taster sized beers, and on your bike you could make the rounds over the course of a few hours.
Honestly, I can’t even count how many breweries we have in town now; I think we’re at 20 just in Fort Collins. Trying to hit up all of the taprooms in a single day is not something I’d recommend. The route you pick should largely depend on where you want to start from (and end) and what type of beer you prefer. But there’s no doubt, regardless of your starting address or preferences, touring the breweries by bike is the most “Fort Collins” way to do it.
Biking the breweries is more fun, more social, and frankly more beautiful than being trapped inside the metal and glass box of a vehicle. The fresh air and interactions with other riders will keep your energized as you travel between taprooms. )Added perk: You get to burn off a few of the calories you’re consuming at each stop!)
I’d like to emphatically state that I do not condone overconsumption and riding. I think it’s generally accepted that you can imbibe a bit more on your bike than if you’re getting behind the wheel of your car, however, when you’re on your bike you’re still subject to the rules of the road not to mention the law. If you drink too much, don’t get on your bike and start riding; that’s not safe for you or anyone else.
With that out of the way, let me suggest a few essentials for your day:
Bike: This is the key, of course. If you don’t own a bike, check out the Fort Collins Bike Share program to grab yourself a loaner for the day.
Helmet: I’ve yet to hear a single good reason why you shouldn’t wear a helmet (don’t say it messes up your hair; trust me you look cooler with helmet head).
Sunscreen: Most of the routes between breweries offer little in the way of shade. Protect your skin.
Water: Sure you can grab some at most of the breweries, but it’s a good idea to bring some along for the ride.
Friends: It’s way more fun doing this with a group of your buddies than solo.
Plan: Strictly speaking you don’t need one, but it’s a good idea to have a list of the breweries you want to visit, and plot them out on a map or your phone’s GPS before you leave so you at least attempt to visit them in an order that makes sense. Note that many of the taprooms offer live music, games, and other attractions, so check websites and take in some additional fun while you try new beers.
Suiting my words to action, I rounded up some friends to do my first official beer/bike tour of the summer, so I’ll share that itinerary as one of my personal favorites. Start your day at Funkwerks.They are the outlier of the Old Town breweries, so if you start there you end up working your way back to town. They have a great patio and plenty of bike parking out front. From there, it’s a quick ride around the corner to Horse & Dragon. Their unique bike racks let you hang your bike upright. They have a sheet on the bar where you can fill in how many miles you rode to get there. They keep track and then report back on the CO2 mitigation people have provided by biking to visit them. A short ride away, New Belgium has recently opened their new “Liquid Center” and patio, which I was eager to check out. They have a vast amount of bike parking, and now three different spots pouring beer, plus ample outdoor space to keep enjoying the sunshine. There is a food truck daily at New Belgium and don’t miss their “Beerstream,” an Airstream trailer converted into a bar, which is positioned near the new and expansive lawn area.
We ended our day at the new Prost taproom, which is right in Old Town off Firehouse alley. If you haven’t been able to visit them yet, I highly recommend it. Where else can you enjoy a Maß sized German beer in Fort Collins?
There’s plenty of other great breweries, both along this path and beyond it. If you want to visit some of the Southside breweries, don’t be afraid to hop on the Max with your bike. Fort Collins has worked hard to make nearly every brewery bike accessible, and we should all take advantage.