Fort Collins Beer Week: Un-festival for local businesses


Savvy beer fans know that May 12-18 is American Craft Beer Week, in which breweries nationwide offer deals, brew special batches and participate in festivals. And though the event was conceived by the Boulder-based Brewers Association, signs of American Craft Brew Week in Boulder are somewhat understated. An hour and a half north in Fort Collins, however, it’s a different story.

“We wanted to create an un-festival feeling,” says Kristina Cash, creative director of Fortified Collaborations, the team that fostered Fort Collins Beer Week, a collaboration among 13 Fort Collins breweries and dozens of local businesses.

The Festival, timed to coincide with American Craft Beer Week, features discounts and specials at venues across the town, 10 collaboration beers and several highlighted events. It collects Fort Collins traditions like Brewery Bingo, started by Aaron Heaton of Loveland’s Grimm Brothers Brewing, and the Brewers Olympics, where teams from each brewery compete in a series of events for beer supremacy.

“The Brewers Olympics are going to be a hoot,” Cash says. “I think that’s what most people are looking forward to.”

The games, hosted at Go West T-Shirt Company on Wednesday, May 14, featured a yeast-filled balloon toss, a blind taste test, and an obstacle course.

“It just shows how the brewing culture is Fort Collins culture,” said Cash.

While most participating businesses are offering daily or week-long specials — all noted in the Beer Week guide — there are also a handful of special events. Magic Bus Tours is offering a Brewery District Walkabout on Friday afternoon to explore the local breweries around Old Town, culminating at the premiere of the Fort Collins Brewery District video at the Museum of Discovery. The Horse & Dragon, whose tap room opened its doors for the first time May 1, will host Thursday’s State of the Industry Forum. Black Bottle Brewing will feature the Brewer’s Brunch on Sunday to help close out the week.

While Fort Collins Beer Week is focusing on the community, the choice to have it coincide with American Craft Beer Week likely won’t be repeated.

“It’s too busy because it’s CSU graduation and Mother’s Day,” explains Cash. The week also coincided with the opening of the new Max bus line, American Bike to Work Week and the Pateros Riverfest.

There’s still time for thirsty Boulderites to catch the tail end of Fort Collins Beer Week, which runs through Sunday May 18. Perhaps one of them will come away with the inspiration to launch a Boulder Beer Week.

But for those looking to stay closer to home this week, you’re still gold. Opera on Tap (opera singers performing their favorite arias in bars) is going to be setting up shop at Front Range Brewing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, Dan Rabin (author of the just-published Colorado Breweries guidebook) will be answering questions and signing books at Left Hand Brewing in Longmont from 4-7 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 and The Colorado Homebrewers Association will be hosting a rally at Colorado Cider in Denver on Saturday, May 17 from 1-4 p.m., where members can tour the cidermaking facilities and learn more about the cider-making process.