I had a chance to head up the Front Range to visit one of my favorite breweries that I’ve been visiting since college when I was just getting into craft beer, so I took it. Things sure have changed. Fort Collins Brewery has since moved from the building they started from (which is now occupied by Funkwerks) and have included a restaurant and a new huge 50BBL automated brewing system.
Lots of changes have been made in the last few years. Apart from the move, a new building and a restaurant, they recently have undergone a company-wide rebranding. All of the beers and new merchandise are uniform in packaging. (SPOILER ALERT: We’ll show you all the new packaging in an article to come.)
The illustration and interpretation were accomplished by local artists Kelsey Knobel and Aubrey Inzer. Changes came from community and staff suggestions, and clues drinkers in with visual cues that are replicated across the entire brand.
The use of local partners doesn’t just stop at the artwork. Fort Collins Brewery’s entire restaurant uses locally (and consciously) sourced ingredients. Spent grain from brewing is shipped to McDonald Farms in Longmont to be fed to livestock. In turn, McDonald Farm provides the restaurant with humanely treated products for the consumer.
The brewhouse is an updated fully-automated 50BBL system. We were lucky enough to have Shaun Salyards, one of two FCB brewers, on hand to give us a tour. Shaun explained that FCB’s process is fully automated to help ensure a consistent product every time a beer is made. In an effort to reduce their waste from batch to batch, FCB employs the use of a GEA Westfalia centrifuge that helps increase quality and standardization across their wide range of brews. In fact, these equipment changes have helped FCB gain a near 25% increase in output since last year.
The 50-beer lineup is rotated on the 24-tap system in the taphouse. While some readers might remember FCB as a predominately “Smoked” beer brewery, the 2016 lineup has been changed significantly to reflect on current craft beer trends. Their headliner: Red Banshee has gone a complete rewrite as well at their Far Away IPA. In addition, kettle souring wild yeasts, and other innovative beers will be released in 2016. They’re even making craft soda and working on different aging methods as you read this. The Savor Series will feature a quarterly specialty beer. The most recent was a kettle-soured red ale.
FCB is also reaching out to the community in many different ways. They’re currently brewing collaboration beers at a rate of about one beer a quarter. Black Bottle Brewery (also located in Fort Collins) helped with the rollout of the rebrand, and put FCB on tap at their taproom. FCB also hosts a Women’s-only meeting, called the Hoppy Ladies. The brewery also hosts a beer education (Beerducate) session that features the brewers, managers and other operations employees to teach the community about the beer making process.
If you haven’t been to FCB recently, do yourself a favor and check it out, it’s pretty amazing.