If you live in Colorado, you might not think of Fort Collins as a destination getaway.
Well, if you don’t have a car, any place that takes longer than an hour by bike or bus is a vacation spot.
The weekend after Valentine’s Day, my friend Robin and I had loose plans on going up to Fort Collins to visit CranknStein, a groovy coffee/beer/bicycle cafe located in Old Town district at 215 North College Ave. We were joined by our good friend, Mike, in this journey to places far north of Denver.
The plan: rides bikes and drink beer.
After loading my commuter(sans a seat) in Robin’s car, we make the arduous one hour drive to the city known as the home of New Belgium Brewery. Our first stop was CranknStein, so we could get the first beer under our belt while my new seat was being attached.* Adam, a skilled and knowledgable bike mechanic, took the time to talk to me about my seat debacle and how I wanted to fix it (yes, I had options). Seat fixed and beer in hand, Mike and I sat at the bar and plotted our brewery course: Pateros Creek, Equinox, New Belgium, and Odell.
When you visit CranknStein, you might just get this cozy feeling. There’s beat up couches, comfortable tables with high back chairs, bar stools with backs and cushions, and even though there’s a good amount of light, the old-barn-wood walls make it an ideal place to get lost in a beer and a book. Don’t let that cozy feeling deceive you because they know how to rock out in the evenings. With events such as Skirts n Lipstick Night, New Year’s Eve and Halloween parties, homebrew competitions, and bands playing on a regular basis, your evening there is nothing short of fun and filled with interesting people. If the beer and coffee aren’t enough, they just recently changed their menu of delectables.
With our destinations plotted, our motley crew of 3 went in search of the bike library. Yep! A bicycle library. Just like a book library, you can check out a bike and take it for a ride for anywhere from 1 hour to 7 days. The downside: they’re not open again until April 5th. Doh! Which meant no bikes for Robin and Mike.
With that little snafu, we adjusted our beer campaign to places we could walk to easily. I know….they’re all easy to walk to but after a flight here and a flight there, walking becomes a sport. So what do we do? We hit Pateros Creek first since it’s right across the street from CranknStein.
There’s a few reasons why I like Pateros Creek. They make a really good vanilla porter named Snowy River with 5% ABV and 24 IBU. You actually get a taste of vanilla with all the porter goodness, unlike many vanilla porters I’ve had. Mike’s favorite was the Stone Giant Oatmeal Raison Stout, at 6%ABV and 28 IBU. Personally I like my stouts a bit more on the full bodied side, but the Stone Giant is a nice easy drinking stout. Of course we couldn’t pass up the Cache la Porter, which is a staple for any beer drinking done here.
The other reasons to like Pateros Creek: a well abused ping pong table, dart boards, an outdoor adult play pen (aka patio), and the split between game room and tap room. The gaming room has a bunch of tables you can kick back at and watch what ever sports are on the tv’s. The tap room…well, it’s a tap room. It’s where all the action happens.
After we wet our whistles, we met some friends at Moe’s Original BBQ so we could be appropriately fueled for the evening. We gained a 4th comrade for our tour de beer and we all shuffled off to our next destination: Equinox Brewing.
I will admit that I am slightly biased about Equinox Brewing. It’s their logo. I love it. I own one of their t-shirts and a pint glass. They are 2 of my most prized possessions. Normally, I take a picture of the list of what I’m drinking but for some strange reason this totally escaped me. I think it had something to do with the place being super packed, a band playing loudly, and choosing beers from their speciality brews instead of their standard beers. And there were alot of handsome men too…just slightly distracting. Oh yeah! Since we had stopped on the way to Equinox at a coffee shop/used bookstore, I found an old book titled “Equinox” which Mike so kindly purchased and gave to the staff at the brewery. Distracted…and the sign about dangerous roaming lobsters…
Anyhoots, if you’re in Fort Collins, this is definitely one brewery you want to stop at.
From there, it went down hill. We stopped at Elliot’s and had a couple of drinks there. Of course, the smarty pants I am, I ask if they have Cap Rock gin because they didn’t have a gin list on the menu and I didn’t see it on the shelf. It’s become a habit. If I’m not drinking beer, I’m drinking gin. And I have become addicted to Cap Rock gin. What does the bartender do? He digs all the way to the back of the shelf, past all the crappy gins, to pull out a bottle of my second love. Tsk tsk! This Colorado gin is made with apples which makes it absolutely scumptious. The first time I drank it was this summer mixed as such: CapRock Gin, Aperol, Lemon and soda. Dear goodness…it knocked my socks off so hard I’m still looking for them. (I suspect they are under someone’s bed or in Boulder Creek….)
After Elliot’s we headed back to CranknStein to grab the car and my bike and head home. Robin was the DD for the night so that meant I got to take a nap in the back seat. Score! It was a fun day filled with peeps we haven’t seen in a while, lots of good beer, piggy back rides, the most hilarious ping pong match ever, and finished it with popcorn and Super Troopers.
Mike, I’m still holding your whirly pop hostage. The ransom is a bottle of Jack and CapRock gin.
*My seat had come off one morning at the end of a 14 mile commute. The bolt snapped in half as I was riding without hands on the handle bars and sitting back on the seat thus dumping me onto the back rack and promptly to the ground. After realizing what had just happened to me, I promptly started laughing. A young man ran up to me, trying to not laugh but said, “Oh my God! I can’t believe I just saw that! Are you okay?” I took it as a sign that the universe didn’t want me riding 28+ miles round trip for 4 days.