With the dozens of festivals in Fort Collins, the Fall Harvest Brewfest manages to stand out. Not only does it benefit The Animal House Rescue and Grooming, Brewfest caters to fermented fiends of all kinds. Whether you’re a craft beer nerd *subtly clears throat,* you prefer beers’ gluten-free cousin, cider, or the classic spirit; your heart, and taste buds are sure to be satisfied.
The Tenth Annual Fall Harvest Brewfest hosted about 40 breweries, cideries and distilleries, 20 animal related organizations/business and a few more local businesses showing their support. With two DJ booths and a live band, four food trucks and a photo booth, festival goers could wander the three floors of the Lincoln Center with more to do than just “drink a beer, save a dog.”
Todd, one of the Todd’s who introduced themselves as Todd Squared, has attended nine out of all ten Brewfests and passionately supports The Animal House. As he told me the story of his most recent adoption from the shelter, he was balancing a full VIP glass of beer in one hand and showing me a photo of his dog in the other; a sight I saw multiple times throughout the evening. But don’t get me wrong, he was there for the libations, “I’m here to drink a shit ton of beer AND support the cause.”
A couple of standout beers included Windsor’s Soul Squared Zin Barrel-aged Scottish Wee Heavy ringing in at a solid 9.5%. The zin barrels complimented the Scottish ale without an overpowering sweetness and lacked the usual hotness of a beer at that ABV. Fort Collin’s own, Gilded Goat brought their flagship beer, Citrus Hour, an American sour. At 5.8%, it had just the right amount of brett, with a fantastic lemon flavor. It wasn’t so sour that it sent a tingle through my jaw, so it didn’t ruin my palette, which was good because I had a bit more drinking to do.
Another unforgettable sample was the Bier Schnapps from Fort Collin’s Feisty Spirits. I gravitated towards this bottle because it was a spirit with “Bier” printed on the label and I am easy sell. Jamie, a co-owner of Feisty, distilled Master Thief, a German Porter from Loveland’s Grimm Brothers Brewhouse creating a dark, chocolaty liquor that lingers with a malty backbone. This hybrid was a no-brainer to Jamie who clearly knows his audience, a craft beer obsessed community.
With a warm belly, I made my way toward the ballroom thinking I’d listen to live music and confidently bet on a silent auction item-think Dwight from The Office-but instead was greeted by a kind voice over the PA system auctioning off a New Belgium bike. Mind you, no one needed a normal, hyper speed auctioneer (we were all a couple beers in), but the enthusiastic amateur definitely caught my attention. An excited audience member triumphantly won the dark blue, commuter bike for $1000 and the glee from the auctioneer was palpable. As she left the stage, an event host thanked Ali, the founder of The Animal House for leading the auction. Intrigued, I walked over to The Animal House booth to speak with volunteers Steve Inman and Lee Grunau, who told me Ali’s passion for helping animals started during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, where she was involved in rescuing over 100 animals. Since I am originally from the Gulf Coast, and experienced that hurricane firsthand, just hearing the name Katrina pulls at my heartstrings. She has dedicated her career to giving dogs the second chance they might not have received at a “kill shelter.” Adding the grooming salon into the organization certainly helped with the success of this rescue as well. With over 850 people in attendance and approximately $12,000 raised, this community clearly wants Ali and The Animal House to continue their positive impact.
According to the quizzes I took at the Friendship Animal Hospital booth, if I were a dog I’d be a corgi and if I was a beer I’d be an Oktoberfest…meaning I have the best canine booty and am currently in season.