Has there ever been a time in your life where you did the one thing that you thought you would never do? No matter how small or trivial that thing was. It did not require a lot of extra effort, just being in said place at said time... Well, I personally never thought I would get to New Belgium. The brewery of my dreams was just that. Nothing but a dream. I guess I could have had more romantic or say, exotic dreams. Like actually going out to Belgium, but that is just a bit different. New Belgium has been my Beer Love since the dawn of my Craft Beer life. 1554 quickly became my favorite beer and from then on I made it my mission to taste everything they released. From the Lips of Faith series, to their year round releases. So you know how I felt when I actually got the email...
It is destined: Touring New Belgium is in your near future. On Wednesday, June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM, we’ve reserved 2 tour tickets under the name Allen.I could have cried at this moment... Though, I guess I needed to start planning the road trip. I know that this was quite a while back, but it took some time for me to get settled into my new place, so blah! Trying not to be biased, I would have to say this was the best tour that I have been on. Truth!
I mean, what other tour let me pour my own beer? And that was not ever the start of it...
In order to make it to Fort Collins on time I left Seattle at about 9am the previous morning and had one hell of a drive for almost 24 hours stopping only to sleep at rest stops for a few hours at a time. Nothing was going to make me late to this day. When we finally arrived there it was about 10am and we found a motel just a few blocks away and crashed until about an hour before our tour. We got up, got ready, and left because I wanted to have a few beers before it got started. Right as we are getting near the brewery we are held up by a train! Who does that? Runs a train right through the middle of the city? It didn't really affect anything other than my drinking time but I had no idea how long this thing was.
Luckily, my first flight was everything I hoped for and more. Finally I fell into the world of my favorite brewery. I had Ken's Hefe, Valentine's Day Ale, Lost Abbey Brett Beer Collab, and La Folie 2012! La Folie is actually a beer in my 1001 Beers series, but since I have a bottle of 2011, and 2012 in the cellar, I will hold on for that for later. La Folie is actually a beer that inspired me to brew a Flanders Red. But more on that later. All of these beers were amazing. I took crappy notes on them but I was more just into enjoying myself at the brewery than anything else. The lady liked Valentine's Day Ale, so that is a plus and I got a bottle of Brett Beer for home too!
The coolest thing I thought before the tour is that the ticket was a 1554 Label... I should have kept it but they collected it pretty much at the start. 1554 is one of my favorite beers of all time. Everything about it is just amazing. I am really surprised I did not have one before we got going. The first beer of the tour was Abbey. I had seriously forgot how good this beer is. It was always one of my favorites but I only picked it up in a Folly Pack. During the first section of this tour they did the usual. Told us about the company and brewing and yada yada yada. You know, the stuff that every beer geek already knows, and those who make beer know even more about. But it was still a good time. They even gave out prizes for answering trivia questions.
The next part of the tour was extremely awesome. This is where we got more in depth information about all of the beers that the company releases. Some were held back for other parts of the tour but we also got to pour our own beer. Fan-Fricken-Tastic. That is where the video from above is. I decided to get myself a Cocoa Mole. I had this beer once and was not really sure what to think. On my second go around... I am kind of stuff in the same boat. It was not bad but it was just so different. I also got a pour of Sunshine Wheat. Another really good beer from this company. I believe they said they brewed this one originally under the name of Wedding Wheat... or something like that but changed the name because only females were drinking it.
Our next stop was the Barrel Room. Again, we got to pour our own beer here, and the beer on tap? Tart Lychee. I had just had this not too long ago and instantly fell in love. This is yet another bottle I have home with me as well. I guess I should show them all off at some point being I keep bringing this up... I really wanted to run around and try to find stuff in here but I am pretty sure that was not allowed. I am really hoping for a rerelease of Le Terrior. Now that would be great.
The next part of the tour brought us to Fat Tire, and 1001 Beers Number 18. This was seriously the best Fat Tire I have ever had. I am usually not a fan of this beer, and maybe being at the source had some magical voodoo over me but just every layer of this beer came through and made me remember why I first started drinking the beer from this company. The biscuit, the crystal, just everything that makes this beer what it is was very well showcased here. I should have taken some of this home with me too. I guess I can easily find it at the store though. Not sure if it can ever taste this amazing again.
The last stop of this tour was around their bottling line area and the last beer of the tour was Somersault. This was my most drank beer last summer. It is great for a nice warm day... or hot because that is pretty much how it always was in the San Fernando Valley. The citrus flavors plays really well on the light body that this beer presents. They gave out a couple of cans of Shift. There was a lot of cool things we saw on the way, the windmills were not one of them :( I guess we were too far away to actually see them but it is alright. They sustain themselves pretty well. Before we finished the tour, we had one last piece of fun... I will never forget this moment.
After the tour I picked up a few more beers. I mean, how could I not? We still had some time before the Liquid Center closed and I wanted to spend every minute possible there. This time around I got a big Valentine's Day Ale for the Lady and a Bier De Mars, Prickly Passion Saison, and 1554 for myself. I also had to get a Cascadian Dubbel and Billy's Beer just to say that I have had every Lips of Faith released and that was possible to get in my area since I got into beer. I love the series and I wish it was easier to get my hands on, but maybe that is part of the allure.
Once I got outside I noticed this cool trailer that was numbered after my favorite beer and pretty much told the whole story of New Belgium from the beginning. It even included a miniature scale of the facility. I wonder what the new one in Asheville will be looking like. We have had some announcements but nothing too big at the moment. I just hope that I can be there opening day. I think the whole moving to North Carolina thing was not such a bad idea in this respect but we will see how the road goes in general.
Here are a few of the bottles I kept talking about and I still have from some time. I hope a few are not past their prime and I wish I could have found others. Like another bottle of Fresh Hop Ale. I plan on turning them all into cups because that seems to be a fad now. If only I did not get rid of my old collection of bottles...
I wish they would rerelease Sahti, and let Belgo out in that bottle once more instead of the year round one they have now. But anyway, no trip to a brewery, especially my favorite brewery, would be complete without me grabbing some glassware. I was kind of disappointed with the style they had but I guess it works. Each of my favorite breweries had a different style. Deschutes the Euro top, Sierra Nevada the Bulb. I filled this one with Trippel. Another great beer. Again, one I usually only get around the holidays but I did not have it while at the brewery so I had to make sure I got it. I was kind of disappointed that I did not taste Ranger while I was there or Blue Paddle but I guess I just have to make the trip back :D.
983 Bottles Of Beer To Go!