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New Belgium’s Ft. Collins brewery: beautiful, awe-inspiring

new-belgium-brewery-logoThe drive from Denver to Ft. Collins is about an hour long, but is a necessary journey for any true beer lover. Originally called Camp Collins, the outpost was established in 1862 to protect travelers and settlers along the Colorado branch of the Overland Trail. Just two year later, in 1864, a flood destroyed the camp and the U.S. Army decided to reposition the settlement and call it Ft. Collins. Today, the city is known for its beer culture and as the home of several of Colorado’s most noted breweries.

While at the Riverside Craft Beer Festival, I mentioned to the local New Belgium representative that I was considering a visit to my daughter in Denver. He offered to set up a tour of the brewery in Ft. Collins if I made it out there. So, when the plans were set, I took him up on his offer. And, am I glad I did.

New_Belgium_Sign_March_2017When you come up the street and the brewery comes in to view the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a very popular place. The huge front lawn of the brewery is always full of visitors playing corn hole, lounging on blankets and playing Frisbee all while sipping New Belgium brews.

The building itself is at once modern and traditional with a three-story high roof over the entrance, plenty of glass and lots of warm reddish brown wood paneling. It evokes a feeling of a mountain cabin while also displaying a modern design sensibility. The mix of old and new is thoroughly pleasing to the eye and immensely inviting.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a tour check-in desk in front of a buzzing hive of activity that is the brewery’s taproom. The design esthetic carries from the outside in to the taproom with more warm wood and a huge glass wall that shows off part of the brewery in the back. The bar stretches from one end of the main room to the other and a chalkboard behind it announces the beers currently available for tasting. On the left is another smaller tasting room with another bar and tables for sitting and enjoying pints.

At the check-in desk, we told the hostess our names, she checked our IDs and told us – my wife and daughter were along for the tour — she would let our tour guide know we had arrived. Within moments, Penelope Gilland, a long-time employee owner at New Belgium, appeared and ushered us to the bar for beers to drink while on the tour. I chose a raspberry treatment of their sour base beer Oscar – it was delicious, by the way – and we were on our way.

Our first stop was just around the corner from the bar, but it was a very important first step and set the tone for the tour. In a small hallway, mounted to the wall is a display case that holds the relic upon which the brewery was built, the actual beer journal used by Jeff Lebesch on his beer vision quest through Belgium in 1988. In that notebook, Lebesch jotted down the original recipe for Fat Tire the company’s flagship amber ale.

As Penelope explained the origins of the company and how, after just a few years of homebrewing, Lebesch decided to sell his beers to local Ft. Collins bars it became apparent the pride she, and every other New Belgium employee I have ever met, have in their work. The idea that a brewery that began in a basement with self-distribution by his wife in the family station wagon could flourish to become the company that is now the nation’s fourth largest craft brewery in the United States is astounding and wonderful at the same time.

NB_Cathedral_March_2017Next, we walked over to the brewing area in what has been called the cathedral. It is called that because of the vaulted ceilings that look every inch of 40 feet tall with exposed wooden beams, high windows allowing for abundant natural light and the length of the room. It looks like a church with huge, 100-barrel kettles rising majestically from the floor and running down the middle. Each kettle ringed by a story that is related through mosaic tiles on the floor around them. The room is breath-taking, immaculately spotless and a real show-place for New Belgium. Indeed, several weddings have been held in the room lending even more weight to the cathedral nickname.

But, impressive as the cathedral was, the fouder (pronounced food-er) room was my favorite. Fouders are large wooden fermentation tanks used to age sour beers. New Belgium’s fouder room, known as “The Woods,” holds 64 wooden vessels of many shapes and sizes. Each contains a different living beer in varying stages of completion.

NB_The_Woods_March_2017Walking through The Woods is sort of like taking a trip in time to an age before brightly polished stainless steel fermentation tanks and high-efficiency brewing. It harkens back to a time when a brewmaster needed to know how to control a beer’s fermentation process is closely as he watched the brewing process. It sort of felt like being in Belgium again, where breweries such as Cantillon still make lambic beers through spontaneous fermentation using the yeast and bacteria in the air and the wood of the fouders to bring their beer to life.

After our walk in The Woods we returned to the taproom for a few more cold beers and to talk about our experiences on the tour. We enlisted the help of another “Mothership” – the name New Belgium insiders have given to the main brewery – visitor for a group picture with our guide, Penelope and mulled our next move.

The consensus was overwhelming that New Belgium would be a staple for future visits to Colorado and that of all the brewery tours we had taken together, the Ft. Collins New Belgium tour was among the best.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Beer, brewery

 

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Engine 15 applies for Myrtle Street rezoning

E15bBeaches brewery Engine 15 opened their Myrtle Street production brewery about a year and a half ago. The idea all along has been to have a taproom and beer garden at the new brewery, but zoning laws have restricted the brewery from realizing that dream. That may changing soon as E15 applied for rezoning that will allow them to build and open a taproom to compliment the already finished outdoor beer garden.

In a recent conversation at the Myrtle Street property, owners Luch Scremin and Sean Bielman agreed that the process has been a long and sometimes frustrating one. The current zoning or the property — light industrial — prohibits the sale of product directly from the manufacturing facility. The rezoning request will alleviate that problem and make way for the planned taproom to open.

E15aIn addition to the taproom, the brewery owns an early 1900’s factory building that was once used to manufacture glass. The building is an industrial beauty with a wall of opaque blue windows along the back and airy rafters with glass windows above. When the rezoning is complete, the brewery plans to use the space for special events and rental.

Other recent news from E15 comes in the form of an announcement that the brewery is planning on expanding into making both hard ciders and meads.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Funky Buddha Brewery beers coming to Jacksonville

Funky_Buddha_2Funky Buddha has been making, well, funky, brews in South Florida since 2010. In the years that have passed the brewery has grown from humble beginnings in Boca Raton, Fla. as a small brewpub into a 40,000 square-foot facility powered by a 30-barrel and a three-piece brewhouse that feeds nearly 28,000 barrels of capacity. That kind of growth indicates a rabid base of devotees and a high degree of quality of the beer produced. After winning over much of Florida’s southern areas, the brewery is now migrating north to launch – in a flurry of tasting events – in North Florida and Jacksonville in particular.

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Oakland Park, Fla. facility and taste several of the brewer’s beers. As I sipped brews and chatted with the staff it became apparent that the rave reviews and fanatic followers were not exaggerations. The brews were well-made, balanced and tasted exactly as described by the staff. For example, one of Funky Buddha’s most storied brews is its No Crust Brown Ale. It is described as being inspired by a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and, after tasting it, I could taste each individual component of the flavor bringing to mind the crustless sandwiches I used to find in my lunch box as a kid.

According to the brewery’s website:

Funky Buddha Brewery… is committed to producing bold craft beers that marry culinary-inspired ingredients with time-honored technique. Our mantra is big, bold flavors, made exactingly with natural ingredients. So, for example, if we say a beer will taste like peanut butter and jelly, you can be sure you’ll smell and taste the fresh roasted peanuts and fruity berry jam. Our flagship beers such as Hop Gun IPA and Floridian Hefeweizen, also strive towards big, bold flavor. It’s who we are.

You can taste the brews and discover for yourself the appeal of this remarkable brewery at a number of events being hosted around Jacksonville over the next few days. See the list below for when and where.

Tuesday, August 18

  • Alewife, 1035 Park Street – 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Blind Rabbit, 901 King Street: a la carte food pairing – 7:30 p.m. to 9:30p.m.
  • Kickbacks, 910 King Street – 9:30 p.m. to whenever

Wednesday, August 19

  •  ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, 295 Royal Palms Drive – 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  •  Royal Palm Village Wine and Tapas, 296 Royal Palms Drive: a la carte food pairings – 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  •  Zeta Brewing Company, 131 1st Avenue North: tap enlightenment – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 20

  • Beer:30, 1543 San Marco Boulevard — 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Kitchen on San Marco, 1402 San Marco Boulevard: a la carte food pairing — 6:30 p.m.to 9:00 p.m.
  • Grape & Grain Exchange/The Parlour, 2000 San Marco Boulevard – 9:00 p.m. to whenever
 
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Posted by on August 18, 2015 in Craft Beer Brewery

 

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Barley Mow Brewing Company coming to Jacksonville

barley_mowThe West Coast of Florida seems to be a magnate for breweries. With names like Cigar City, St. Somewhere, 7venth Sun and Dunedin calling the area home, Barley Mow Brewing Company’s (BMBC) owner and head brewer Jay Dingman felt right at home. So, it was in that same area that he set up shop and opened his own brewery, tavern and tap room in Largo, Fla.

Over the course of several years, he and his wife became enamored with brewing and installed a two-barrel brewing system in their watering hole. The beers proved so popular that recently the pair opened a new 25,000 square-foot production brewery with a 30-barrel brewhouse and 3,000-barrel fermentation capacity.

With the brewery expansion complete, Dingman is now turning his attention to expanding the availability of his brews. Already available throughout the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas, BMBC will be heading to Jacksonville in February. Several events are planned to introduce the new brewery and products to the market.

“We wanted to create unique events that fit with our image and philosophy while still being approachable,” said Thomas Barris, Chief Marketing officer at BMBC. “We believe that our beer is for everyone. Our entire staff believes in our mission statement Simple.Honest.Craft and we want that to reflect in all aspects of our brands and brewery. “

The brewery produces four core brands that will be making their way to the First Coast next week. Those brews, as described by the brewery, are:

Quackalope – American IPA, 6.8% ABV. A traditional American IPA – citrusy, piney, and refreshing.

The Unkindness – American Black Ale, 7.4% ABV. This is the beer that got it all started. We used a ton of hops for both bittering and aroma. It’s dark, but don’t be fooled, it’s not nearly as roasty as it appears.

Selkie – Belgian Rye Pale Ale, 5.1% ABV. This unique beer has a combination of fruity Belgian yeast and rye spice followed by a smooth biscuity finish. It’s citrusy, herbal, and delicious.

Maven – Nitro Milk Stout, 6.5% ABV. This Milk stout has roasted malt character balanced by a silky smooth sweetness that makes for an easy drinking full flavor stout.

Look for the Barley Mow crew at these events next week:

Wednesday, February 25, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
BMBC Launch Party at Engine 15, Jacksonville Beach
Come hang out with the BMBC crew as they make their way into the Jacksonville area. Featuring their 4 core beers plus one limited release.

Thursday, February 26, 6:00 p.m.
Barley, Boilermakers & Blues at The Grape and Grain Exchange –The Parlour
BMBC beers will be flowing at GGX and later they will be pairing their brews to different spirits, while enjoying the local blues scene at The Parlour.

Friday, February 27, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
BMBC Cask Kickoff at Kickbacks
Enjoy 5 different BMBC brews plus a specialty cask as they bring in the Riverside Craft Beerfest weekend.

Saturday, February 28, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Riverside Craft Beer Festival
The BMBC crew will be pouring their 4 core brews plus their 10.1% ABV Cranberry Strong Ale in VIP to wrap up their week-long event series.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Beer

 

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Bruges, Belgium brewery to build unique beer pipeline

dehalvemaanIn Belgium, beer is practically a religion. By some accounts there are over 90,000 breweries – counting tiny brew pubs and monolithic mega-beer producers — in a country that is smaller than Maine. But, preserving the picturesque beauty of their centuries-old cities is also a priority to the hard-working people or the country. It is for this reason that the De Halve Maan Brewery in the medieval town of Bruges has commissioned the construction of a second-of-its-kind beer pipeline to deliver beer from the brewery to the bottling facility.

According to an article by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the five-hundred-year-old brewery wanted to reduce the amount of truck traffic running through the ancient town.

“The idea is born of environmental and quality of life concerns, and not economic ones,” said company director Xavier Vanneste in the AFP article.

The plan is to build a two-mile long pipeline that will transport beer from the brewery underground to an industrial park and bottling facility where the beer will be packaged for shipment to beer lovers worldwide.

“We always wanted to keep the beer brewed at the historic site,” even after the bottling was moved out of town in 2010, said local official Franky Demon in the AFP article.

The challenge was how to allow the brewery to continue operating while reducing the amount of truck traffic in the “Venice of the North’s” cobblestone streets. Building the pipeline will reduce truck traffic by nearly 85 percent on the city’s streets and alleys.

Contractors will use state-of-the-art techniques to assure that Bruges’ gothic facades and medieval belfry are not harmed during the process. While the brewery will absorb the cost of the project, Vanneste could not estimate the economic cost at this stage.

Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2015.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Imports

 

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