As my time in Fort Collins was winding down, there were still a couple things that I was looking forward to doing. An event at the Tap and Handle, another amazing craft beer bar in Fort Collins and visits to Equinox Brewing Company and Funkwerks Inc. were still on the docket. The event at Tap and Handle was a massive tap takeover involving Dogfish Head and Stone, each brewery would be bringing 26 taps of rare and exciting craft beers. My visits to Equinox and Funkwerks were repeat visits because I absolutely love their beer and I was lucky enough to get in on a tour at Funkwerks.
Equinox Brewing Company is a smaller craft brewery with a vast array of beers on tap. The taproom is very relaxed and the patio is fairly large to accommodate a nice crowd. As far as places where I would probably frequent if I lived in Fort Collins, Equinox would be near the top of my list. It has a great atmosphere. I got there close to 4:30 in the afternoon and the place was already packed. There were no spots at the bar, but I was able to grab a small table. I set up camp and walked up to the bar to place my flight order. I stuck to the craft beers on tap that I had not tried before, which was a good thing, because they have around 20 on tap.
I decided to err on the side of caution because I wanted to be able to get to a few other places today and went with seven selections. I chose the Darth Vernal Dunkelweizen, Nothing But Trouble Dubbel, Midsummer Pale, Nothing But Flowers IPA, Mr. Delicious Oatmeal Stout, Moonlight White IPA, and the Fluffhead Milk Stout. I thought that it was a nice mix between heavy and dark so as not to get too overwhelmed by one particular flavor. Of the seven I tried, I thought that four really stood out amongst the rest. The Moonlight White IPA had a nice balance of citrus notes in the aroma and flavor while finishing with an aggressive bitter hop bite. This beer was extremely balanced and refreshing to me. The Nothing But Trouble Dubbel had sensational dark fruit flavors of raisins and plums with a slight booziness to add to its smoothness. This beer would have been trouble if I had more time because I would have gladly enjoyed a few pints of this. For some odd reason, I was craving malty flavors at this point and the Darth Vernal Dunkelweizen was really striking a chord with me. The malt aroma and flavor in this beer were causing me to think longingly about a crisp fall day. There was hint of chocolate from the malt and banana aroma from the yeast. Perhaps my favorite of the craft beers I had at Equinox was the Fluffhead Milk Stout. This beer is low in alcohol (4.3%ABV) and high in flavor. This stout is balanced between roasty malt and sweet chocolate flavors. There is also a slight hint of coffee that probably also comes from the dark malts. This beer is sessionable and flavorful. It is the perfect beer to drink when you want dark flavors, but not the heaviness of a big stout.
As I was enjoying my beers, I was people-watching and noticed that the age range in the brewery was pretty wide. There were a couple youngsters in their early twenties, but then from there, it went up all the way to a really cute older couple who were both sipping away on a couple of stouts. This was a place to hang and relax. When I left, I walked out onto the patio and it was wall to wall people. The perfect weather had brought out the masses in droves. I could hardly blame them after the odd spell of mid-60s and rainy days had given way to 80 and sunny, it was perfect patio weather.
Saturday brought on my 2:00 tour at Funkwerks Inc., a smaller brewery that has carved out quite a name for themselves when it comes to barrel-aged sour beers. Their taproom is small and should definitely be a must-stop if you go to Fort Collins. I arrived early to try a few beers before the tour. One thing that I absolutely love about Funkwerks is that their beers are so clean. There is no muddling of flavors in their beer and you taste exactly what you are supposed to in each one. The first craft beer I had was the School’s Out Farmhouse Ale, something I had not tried before and it was very refreshing with just a hint of twang. One thing that I should make clear is that if you don’t like sour beers, you absolutely need to come to Funkwerks. If there is any way that you could possibly enjoy a sour beer, it is here. It was time for the tour and our tour guide was Kip, the taproom manager. He is very knowledgeable and there was a fairly large group on the tour. We walked into an area that was surrounded by aging barrels and had some wooden picnic tables. Kip began with a history of Funkwerks. I did not know that they had started down the road at what is now Fort Collins Brewing Company. The taproom officially opened in December of 2010. It would be two years later in 2012 when they would win the GABF Gold for their Saison and Deceit, along with Small Brewing Company of the Year.
Kip talked about the struggle for Funkwerks is not with room to grow their production, but dealing with their small taproom. He told us that during the colder months, the space we were in is used as extra taproom space. He then led
us through the brewery and I thought it was a real treat that the brewers were actually brewing. The day before had been a busy day because they had been bottling and since they have a smaller staff, it was all hands on deck for that. The aromas of the brewing at Funkwerks were different from some of the other breweries I had visited. Instead of the sweet malt smell, there was a little bit of funk in the air. Judging by the expressions on some of the other people on the tour, they were not enjoying it nearly as much as I was. Funkwerks definitely has a ton of room for beer as it seemed like the tour kept going on into more rooms. The place doesn’t look that big on the outside, but they have a lot of room to grow. The fermenters are plentiful and I guess when you are winning GABF Gold, you need to be able to keep up with the increasing demand. They are gradually expanding although they are not in MN, they are breaking into Nebraska. I hope that someday we will be able to enjoy their beer in MN because it is world-class.
When the tour concluded, I made myself comfy at the bar. I went down the line and made sure I tried a little bit of everything that they had on tap. Their Saison is as amazing as advertised. If there was ever a beer that succeeded in putting summer in a glass, it is the Funkwerks Saison. Such delicate and refreshing flavors dance on your palate with each intoxicating sip. They also have an incredible Bourbon-Aged Quad. This beer in not for the feint of heart because it clocks in at over 11% ABV. It is packed with robust flavors of dark fruit and booziness. It is definitely a sipper and if you let it warm up and take your time, the bourbon barrel comes through loud and clear. The Tropic King was a nice mixture of spice and funk. This is also a heavy hitter at 8% ABV, but drinks smooth. The Raspberry Provincial is an easy drinking berliner weisse with a great tartness. The fruit flavor from the raspberry makes it smooth and balances out the tartness. All in all, the beers here are tremendous and this is where you should take someone who says that they don’t like sour beers. They have a handle on making craft beer they have clean and on the money. It was sad to leave, but I had to get over to the Tap and Handle for the Dogfish Head Tap Takeover!
When I was at the Tap and Handle earlier in the week, I saw that they were having an East Meets West Tap Takeover featuring Dogfish Head Brewing Co. and Stone Brewing Co. I knew that it would be epic and have a lot of beers that I had never tried. After a great tour at Funkwerks, I made a beeline for Tap and Handle in the hopes that they still had some of the rarer beers left. I was in luck and saw that they still had everything that I wanted to try. I ordered up a delicious patty melt and started thinking about what to have. I have heard craft beer geeks far and wide extol the virtues of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, a beer that is complex and boozy. I had never had the pleasure of enjoying such a brew until now. I made that my first pick off the menu that read more like the Canterbury Tales than a beer list. A lot of times, a whale (a craft beer that is hard to find and hunted like Moby Dick) of a beer like this gets built up so much by other people. Sadly, a couple of whales I have had recently failed to live up to expectations. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA did not disappoint. I savored each sip as if I were heading off to a remote island for a long time and would only have access to Bud Light Lime. This beer had depth, smoothness and booziness. What a treat! The first variety I had was the 2014 vintage and then I moved onto the 2015. The only difference that I could tell was that the 2014 seemed a little smoother and had less heat from the ABV (18%). I then moved onto the Saison Du Buff and Festina Lente, both are farmhouse ales brewed with wild yeasts. After the boozy and heavy nature of the beer and food, I wanted something tart and different. These two beers did not disappoint. The Tap and Handle craft beer event capped off a perfect end to a great day last full day in Fort Collins.