Peanut butter and jelly. Peas and carrots. Chips and salsa. Yarn and beer. Some things were just made to go together.
If you’re in town for Interweave Yarn Fest, I know it’s tempting to stay at the hotel with your crafty friends and revel in all the fabulous yarn and fiber. But northern Colorado is awesome, and I highly encourage you to get out and explore!
This area is known for its mountains, plentiful outdoor activities, and beer. There are almost 30 breweries in the Fort Collins/Loveland area, and it seems like another one opens every week. So grab your Yarn Fest buddies and head to some (or all!) of these local spots for some crafting and high-quality brews!
Here are my top 10 breweries in the northern Colorado area*:
1. New Belgium Brewing Company
One of Fort Collins’ first craft breweries, New Belgium has a rich history in the community (Tour de Fat!) and a fantastic selection of beer. They recently expanded their taproom, and there’s a great outdoor space for sitting and sipping if the weather is nice. Check out their website to see what’s on tap during Yarn Fest.
2. Odell Brewing Co.
This is one of my favorite breweries in Fort Collins. Odell has tons of great beer, a really fun atmosphere, and a truly fantastic outdoor patio. Outdoors, it’s kid- and pet-friendly, and there’s usually a food truck (and sometimes music). Take their super fun quiz to see which of their beers you should sample—I always recommend Easy Street Wheat!
3. Zwei Brewing
Zwei specializes in German-style beer, so if you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to beer, this is the spot for you. They always have several tasty traditional beers (pilsner, helles, dunkel) on tap, but they also offer small-batch creations like IPAs and reds, so you’re sure to find something for everyone in your group.
4. Verboten Brewing
Located in Loveland, Verboten takes its name from beer ingredients that were verboten (forbidden) by the Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law implemented over 500 years ago. Under the law, beer could only be made with 4 ingredients: barley, water, hops, and yeast. Verboten Brewing embraces the traditional and the forbidden, incorporating fruits, spices, and other untraditional ingredients to create unique brews. Check out their website for a list of current beers on tap.
5. High Hops Brewery
High Hops’ motto is “All types of beer for all types of people”—a fitting credo for such a fun and welcoming place! This Windsor brewery shares a space with The Windsor Gardener, a greenhouse and garden-supply shop that grows the hops used in the brewery’s beer. They have a variety of brews on tap, from a traditional Scottish ale to a red ale made with habañero peppers, plus a tasty food truck and a truly one-of-a-kind space.
6. Equinox Brewing
Located in downtown Fort Collins, this fun spot has free live music every Friday and Saturday night and a constantly rotating cast of beers. If you’re exploring Old Town (which I highly recommend), stop in to this local gem for a pint and a song. It’s a favorite with many Interweavers!
7. Black Bottle Brewery
Black Bottle Brewery opened a few years ago and quickly became a local favorite. They have a terrific variety of beers on tap—most are their own, but they have quite a few from other small craft breweries (and some of the big national brands, if that’s your jam). Black Bottle keeps a few of its classics on tap and does a great job of rotating in fun seasonals and experimentals (they’ve done some fantastic cereal-inspired beers). They also offer good food if you’re feeling peckish.
8. CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing
This downtown hotspot has been around for years and has excellent beer and great food. CooperSmith’s has 2 sides, pub side and pool side, that serve (mostly) the same beer but have different food menus. If you’re looking for a more traditional restaurant experience, sit on the pub side, which offers a cozy atmosphere and great pub cuisine. If you want to mix it up a bit, try sitting on the pool side—it has pool tables and a more relaxed bar-like atmosphere. You can’t go wrong at CooperSmith’s, though, no matter which side you choose.
9. City Star Brewing
If you feel like exploring northern Colorado a bit, head to City Star Brewing in Berthoud. This award-winning brewery has a laid-back vibe and a great selection of brews. They keep 6 of their “mainstay” beers on tap all the time and reserve their other 4 taps for specialty beers. City Star has live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and regularly hosts food trucks, so you can sample local beer, food, and music all at the same time!
10. Jessup Farm Barrel House
Barrel aging is the name of the game at this brewery. Located in a 133-year-old barn, Jessup Farm barrel ages each of its beers to create unique flavors. The 16 taps change regularly, so check their website to see what’s brewing before you go. I recommend leaving yourself some extra time to explore Jessup Farm Artisan Village, a former working farm converted into a small collection of local businesses and restaurants.
Local’s Secret Bonus: The Mayor of Old Town
Can’t decide which amazing local beers to try? Drink like a local! Head to the Mayor of Old Town and sample them all! The Mayor doesn’t brew its own beer but does have 100 beers on tap. That’s right—100 beers, many of them local and regional. The selection changes often (new menus are printed almost daily) and includes something for every taste, so whether you love stouts or reds or IPAs, you can find your perfect beer at the Mayor. They also have wine and cocktails for the non-beer drinkers in your group. Just seeing all those taps is an experience you shouldn’t miss while you’re in the area!
And if you’re not a beer drinker, northern Colorado has you covered with a couple of great distilleries. Check out Spring44 Distilling in Loveland and CopperMuse Distillery and Feisty Spirits in Fort Collins for fantastic local spirits and cocktails.
Have a favorite brewery you’re looking forward to trying (or going back to, if you’ve been to Yarn Fest before)? Let me know in the comments!
Happy craft beer drinking!
*Note that these are my personal favorites. If you asked 5 other locals for their favorites, I’m sure you’d get 5 completely different lists! There’s a fantastic variety of beer in this area, so if nothing on my list speaks to you, try one of the others!