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Colorado breweries are home to cult of specialty beer lovers

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

Colorado has been known to attract a variety of specific cult followings: the obvious winter sports fanatics, pothead transplants, outdoorsy mountain lovers and, of course, the elite craft beer drinkers.

“I’ve been to breweries all over America and outside the U.S.,” said Sarah Kelley, who celebrated her birthday at Equinox Brewing. “But since living in Colorado, I’ve hit every major brewery here, Loveland, Denver, Boulder and most up in the mountains.

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The difference between beer and craft beer is that the latter comes from a small, independent brewer. Colorado didn’t invent the concept of craft beer, but it is home to the fourth most breweries per capita in the U.S. with more than 400 established breweries.

This all began when gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains, with brewers set up in Colorado mining communities making small batches of beer for the miners. These humble beginnings developed into the brewery scene we know today after companies like Coors Brewing Company got their start in Colorado.

Craft beer and breweries instill a sense of local pride because they’re not just a place to get fresh beer but also a place for community. Breweries allow people passionate about beer to meet with each other and socialize.

“I like to come hang out after work or on days when I work from home,” said Emily Wenack, a regular at Funkwerks. “It’s a chill environment, but it still gets (my dog) out of the house. He loves meeting people and gets all the attention.”

Intersect Brewing is a taproom that focuses on building the social sphere and experience of a brewery with food, games like cornhole and pinball and hundreds of vinyl records available for music lovers to buy or sell to the brewery.

“I’m not 21 yet, but I’ll be coming back here when I am because I’m not even into beer like that, but I think the vibes of this place are, like, chill and good even when you’re not drinking,” Jose Guerrero said.

Unlike bars, breweries are typically family friendly and allow in people under 21 as long as they’re accompanied by someone of legal drinking age. This contributes to the more relaxed environment breweries tend to have and encourages people to continue to frequent breweries.

“I chose Equinox (to celebrate my birthday at) because I do like to support Fort Collins’ local community,” Kelley said. “It’s close, so it’s easy for all of my friends to stop in after work on their way home. They can bring their kids to keep my son occupied while we catch up, and they’re always kind, and there’s just no place quite like it.”

These breweries with games, food, social spaces and events attract members of the community beyond the craft beer cult following. Breweries like Odell Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing have become popular Fort Collins staples, pushing true craft beer lovers to smaller businesses. 

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“I try to have our annual card writing event at Horse & Dragon (Brewing Company) every year,” said Laura Moritz, who uses local breweries for work meetings. “There’s lots of space, but it’s still informal enough that everyone can grab a beer if they want and have a good time while we work.”

For those who want to support the smaller local brewery scene in Fort Collins or are looking for new places to try, Mythmaker Brewing, Prost Biergarten, Maxline Brewing, Stodgy Brewing Co. and Rally King Brewing are places to begin in addition to all of the breweries mentioned above. 

Reach Sophia Masia at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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