Love FoCo, even in foul weather!
Today is a gorgeous day in Fort Collins. The birds I remember from ages ago are calling all over the neighborhood (they've been silent for the past few months). But last week there was a blizzard that knocked the power out at the brewery in the morning...
...and sent us searching around Old Town for wifi and some active electrical plugs. Here's what we found:
Many thanks to those of you who managed to find your way out far enough to join us for a #freshtastycraftbeer in the taproom that afternoon. [And many thanks to the Downtown ARTery for letting us steal some power that morning!]
Love FoCo, even in foul weather!
After seeing the news of the past 12 hours I am, as Mr. Rogers' mother apparently urged, looking for the helpers. It's fortuitous, then, that Tim and I got to visit 2 of them in action this week when we finally ate at the FoCo Cafe. If you've not yet been there, rectify that! They are open for lunch every day but Sunday (see hours & location below). You may go the first time to support its mission, but you'll most likely return for the food and the ambience -- all three are really wonderful.
Here's the FoCo Cafe's mission statement:
Building community by providing nutritious and delicious meals to the people of Fort Collins regardless of their ability to pay while using local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients.
And here's how it works:
We knew of the goals of this place long before it opened, as our paths, like those of so many others in Fort Collins and beyond, had crossed those of Kathleen & Jeff Baumgardner, who are the driving forces behind the cafe and two of the world's best-hearted people. If you're looking for the helpers to give your heart hope again, these two are some stellar examples. Taproom regulars might also remember that Abby's and Claire's charity of choice during our anniversary last May was the FoCo Cafe -- they raised (and many of you contributed!) money for and built a few of the planter boxes at the cafe with some help from Uncle Andy. So the cafe has been on our radars for a while. Despite its having been open since last Thanksgiving, though, Tim and I still hadn't made it there during official hours.
Among the FoCo Cafe's values is this: "participating in a community nourishes the soul." AMEN.
Whether you find your community here at this sunlit lunch spot, taking a hike with friends, volunteering at your kid's school, at a city council meeting, tailgating, or around your family table, we hope your soul is nourished today and every day. Thanks for letting us be a part of your community and for being a part of ours.
The FoCo Cafe is located at 225 Maple Street, just west of Mason,
and is open Mon.-Sat., 11am - 2pm.
It is spotless and welcoming, full of windows, good food, and good people.
Please. How can you not love a place that has these windchimes?
I’m behind in the life of H&D. (Actually, we can shorten that to just: I am behind in life.) But rather than catch up by starting with this weekend, let’s go back to last week. We got to take a (free!) bike tour with Beer & Bike Tours of Fort Collins which included a jaunt out country roads to a farm a few miles east of Horse & Dragon. There we recreated this picture with barley farmer Greg Walker, maltster Chris Schooley (of Troubador Maltings), and brewer Linsey Cornish (of Horse & Dragon Brewing Company – woot, woot!). The first was taken shortly after the field had been planted last spring, and the second was last Wednesday.
We loved the field-side lecture.
We rode from there to Troubador and Chris gave us the mile-high overview on the malting process (when you get to take this tour, ask him about the heating unit).
No better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. Whatever you call it – acres to ales, grain to glass, field to foam – we’re happy it happens and glad to be a part of the chain. Three cheers for growing, malting, brewing, and drinking! And, o’ course, for biking betwixt and between them all.
It’s possible visitors appreciate the amazingly tasty water of Fort Collins more than those of us who live here do, but every now and then, when you’ve worked up a powerful thirst in one way or another, don’t you just dig on a glass of water straight from the tap? We are grateful for it every single day. (It’s not too shabby brewed into beer, either, as 16 breweries and counting -- and a bunch of us who enjoy their product -- can attest.)
If you’re a resident of FoCo, you can sign up for a free, full-day guided tour of the Poudre River watershed. The City of Fort Collins Utilities group runs 2 of these tours each summer. (The second one for this summer is currently full, but if you follow Utilities on Facebook, you’ll see the announcement for signups next spring and we vote you go!)
TimCo and I went yesterday, and it was startlingly beautiful and educational. Presenters were excellent – in addition to having it brought home that we're glad typhoid outbreaks are less common now than in days of yore, we learned a lot about the history of settlement and water usage in the Poudre Canyon, how the health of rivers is measured and monitored, and why we are so lucky to have this close-to-pristine water source (this was a point reiterated by every presenter).
Here’s the day in photos.
Journeyed up the canyon along this beautiful, wild thing while hearing from Clyde about the history of water use/rights/work on the Cache la Poudre River.
...and were greeted by this guy:
(We might have taken a few photos of him:)
(...and of ourselves:)
There were cool and informative mini-lectures (by water, bug, and tree specialists Clyde, Alicia, and Hallie -- I'm pretty sure they were things like irrigation management and infrastructure and cold-water macroinvertebrate and sub-alpine forestry experts, but hopefully "water, bug & tree specialists" works when reviewing over a #freshtastycraftbeer).
We explored these topics:
I was slightly hung-up on the bounty of flowers in the natural garden up there, including the amazing Colorado state flower, the Rocky Mountain Columbine.
We broke for lunch (provided by the City group). Here was our view of runoff in action. Yeah, yeah, Ma Nature, whatcha' got for me today?
...and had lunch to this soundtrack. Not bad.
I ate sitting next to this thing, which I'm pretty sure is producing a grain that can be malted. Just saying.
On the way past Mishawaka, we saw these guys from Mountain Whitewater Descents. [Shameless commercial plug: we sure hope they are stopping for a #PicnicRockPaleAle at Paddler's Pub when they're done on the river!]
Amen to a fantastic clean water source, and to public lands which we can all explore (with care, please! We're all drinking that stuff!)!
(Big thanks to the City of Fort Collins Utilities team -- and particularly to our emcee, Lucas, for a great day!)
I was going to sign on and write about this week in the life of H&D. And it involved a bunch of cool things, like a 5-course beer dinner -- in which each course incorporated pork -- with Vincent Heavenly Pies & Pasta (which was, by all accounts, heavenly), and a Ballots and Beers event at the taproom, and a beer-cheese pairing with Welsh Rabbit Cheese Bistro at the Forge Publick House and an amazing 8-course dinner at Jordan's Floral Gardens to benefit The Growing Project (and in which #WhistleBlastHoneyBrown was used both in and as a pairing for The Kitchen's dessert). All of these things were lovely and tastybeer-accented and therefore, of course, stellar. But what I really want to write about here is the tiny window we got on the CSU 100th Homecoming Parade during its set-up on Friday. We happened to have a blood tie to someone who was co-chairing it (and you may have chatted with her over the bar in the taproom), so we signed on for a volunteer time slot of 1-4pm. We didn't get to stay to see the parade, because we had been neglecting the taproom (though Abby and Trina had it all under control when we got back here). Even without watching the marching/performances, seeing all these groups and volunteers and students rally around downtown to celebrate CSU and seeing how much the city of FoCo does to accommodate this parade is moving. Our daughter transferred to CSU. I'm pretty close to 100% sure they don't have a homecoming parade at the school she initially attended , but I'm DEFINITELY sure it doesn't have a club that puts in entries like this:
There were plenty of other typical parade entries -- the university marching band (which I'm ever so sorry to have missed), the cheerleaders and dancers of all ages, and the floats.
A couple of typical FoCo scenes -- a track team (?) getting in its run before the parade, and a golden riding by in style observing the hoopla.
There were t-shirts making political statements and those welcoming alumni back to town and to campus:
It was a gorgeous Colorado fall day. Almost everyone handled the various road closures with good grace (there were a few notable exceptions to this of people who really could have used an attitude-adjusting fresh tasty craft beer, but by and large, people dealt). We walked away with a feeling of immense gratitude to all the people who made the parade possible -- from the university founders to the current day administration, from the student groups to the community ones, from the businesses and people whose parade-route entrances and parking lots were inaccessible for several hours to the folks who turned out to volunteer, and to the parade organizers and watchers. Where else has a downtown parade for its local university's homecoming that involves a horse with a ram's head painted on it, pint-sized baton twirlers, a respite care foundation float, a ROTC unit, and a Grand Marshal like Amy Van Dyken Rouen? Nowhere else, that's where. For a bourgeoning city of 150,000 and growing, there sure is a fabulous small-town close-knitted-ness and appreciation for life in this place. Go Rams!
I’m thinking the Venn Diagram here narrows it down to one place. All you craft beer enthusiasts around the world, HERE is one more reason you should visit Fort Collins.
While you’re here, you’ll notice (and fall in love with) a few other things about Fort Collins. Streetmosphere goes all summer and you’ll happen upon any number of live music acts.
The other fine arts are alive and well and galleries and displays call for some meandering. You’ll find sooooooo many fun restaurants all along Main Street USA (aka College Ave, which really was one of 2 streets that that other Main Street USA was modeled after) that you’ll never return to Disney World. [Disney World, BTW, does not sport NEARLY the number of craft beer options you have here in FoCo.] Your kids may need a dry tshirt because they’ll find a fountain in which to cavort. (You may, too.) You might have to stop at one of the Pianos About Town to play a few notes and entertain the rest of us.
You’re likely to get a Horsetooth urge and hike (to the rock) or bike (around the reservoir).
Or if you’re perhaps a tad less in shape – though yes, round is a shape – you might join TimCo and me (both slightly round) on one of the miles and miles of paved, flat, beautiful bike trails around the city which will take you along rivers and preservation areas, through parks, and to your next destination.
Don’t even get me started on the gardens…. That’s a whole ‘nother blog entry.
Throughout all your FoCo adventures, a fresh, locally-brewed beer is not far from hand.
Make yourself an account, make yourself a reservation, and come sample some fresh beer with us. We promise you you’ll make some new friends. [If you manage to wait until next summer, you’ll be able to stop by Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, too!]
“Fort Collins?! Aren’t there already plenty of craft breweries there?” This was the response we got (and are still getting) from many people about our decision to move back here to establish the Horse & Dragon. Believe me, we know about the abundance of craft breweries here — we have watched them spring up and grow (and we’ve contributed a fair amount to their bottom line) for the past 20 years — and we know there are many more on the way. We think this is a huge plus — it is a part of why Colorado remains a great market for craft beer growth. There’s still a huge number of beer drinkers who haven’t yet discovered the incredible world of craft beer. And there are plenty of drinkers-of-other-beverages who we think need to be coaxed on over into this incredible world of taste, fun, and community. At the same time, there’s a base knowledge here in Fort Collins and around the state about craft brews that enables all of us to present our products with a great chance of at least some level of acceptance and willingness to give them a try. Best of all, there’s a willingness on the part of those already in the business to aid and abet those of us opening new breweries. In the past 24 hours, TimCo has met with 2 established brewers who could NOT be more helpful, positive, and welcoming. In the past few months, several other brewers, bar owners, and other business folk have been ever-so positive and willing to help. The experience is reminiscent of stories we heard about living in the pioneer west — people and communities coming together to help each other make their way and further knit together for mutual benefit and enjoyment. We’re so glad this sense of community and willingness to help still exists, and to be entering a part of the beer industry where it’s on display every day. Look around at what your local craft brewery is doing for your community. I’ll bet it’s something substantial — economically or psychologically.
And then, of course, there’s this reason to move back to Colorado:
...is the dragon's wanderings through the world of craft beer. It may be hard to follow. This is best read with a great microbrew at hand!