Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fort Collins

Wednesday, September 17, we set out to check out Loveland and Fort Collins as potential places to live after we wrap up our travels. We first headed to Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland to set up our tent. We drove into the park to see the campground and decide whether we wanted to stay, but a ranger stopped us, angrily informing us that we had to pay an entrance fee just to get into the park to see the campground. What a ridiculous policy! The ranger was awfully mean, too, so that made up our minds – we wouldn’t be staying there.

We drove up to Fort Collins, where the prime attraction is New Belgium Brewery. Colorado State University is there, too, but for as avid a Fat Tire lover as Brian, nothing compares to New Belgium.

We’d been through Fort Collins last October, but we were in a hurry at the time so we didn’t stop. Ever since, Brian has been anxiously awaiting the day he’d get to see where his favorite beer is born. We entered the hallowed doors.

Inside was a tasting room decorated with Fat Tire and bicycling memorabilia. We sat down at the bar, where we would each be allowed to sample four New Belgium beers out of the dozen or so on tap.

Between us, then, we were able to sample most of the New Belgium line-up. Since Sarah doesn’t really like beer, that meant that Brian got to sample most of the New Belgium line-up. He passed on the Fat Tire in favor of other beers, finding that Abbey Ale was his favorite of those he sampled but ultimately deciding that Fat Tire was still his favorite. Sarah actually liked an ale called Giddy Up, made with espresso. A couple of the beers had a taste and smell of banana, which was definitely novel but didn’t seem to make for a great beer.

Then we went on a tour, where we heard the story of Jeff, a beer aficionado who went on a bicycle tour of Belgium to try to learn the secrets of Belgian brewers. He came back to the U.S. and started his brewery, naming its signature beer Fat Tire in honor of his bike trip. New Belgium is heavily involved in sponsoring bicycle events in Colorado and beyond, and employees even get a free New Belgium bike!

Enough talk, though. Here’s where it all gets done:

Mmm, wurt:

We got yet another sample on the tour, this one a 9%-alcohol brew. Sarah didn’t like it, so Brian had to take one for the team and drink hers as well as his own. By this point, he was feeling a bit loopy.

Speaking of loopy, the tour ended with this curly-cue slide. Its tight curves made for a slow ride, but we both enjoyed it.

We stepped inside the New Belgium Airstream before heading out.

We also did some driving around, admiring areas of Fort Collins. We were impressed with the preponderance of bike lanes and decided that Fort Collins would be a pretty nice place to live.

The next day, we headed south toward the Indian Peaks Wilderness, where we would meet Sarah’s sister Lisa for camping and hiking. On the way, we stopped in Boulder. We decided to visit the Dushanbe tea house, which is an authentic Tajikistani teahouse that was shipped to Boulder in pieces. It turns out that Boulder has a sister city in Tajikistan, and in exchange for the teahouse, Boulder built an authentic American internet cafĂ© and shipped it over there. The tea was excellent, particularly Brian’s spiced chai, which tasjavascript:void(0)ted like pumpkin pie.

Brian was fully recovered from his New Belgium sampling experience, so after the tea, Brian enjoyed a beer at another favorite brewery, the Midnight Sun, which makes standout stouts. Then we headed to the Indian Peaks.

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