Check out the charities you supported last weekend in the blog post below this one.
and great beers!
Huge gracias to you folks who came to help us celebrate finishing off our 2nd year and commencing our 3rd! We had a blast thanks to so many of you all and your attitude toward #freshtastycraftbeer, each other, and FoCo.
Check out the charities you supported last weekend in the blog post below this one.
Before May 1, we had a pre-party at The Mayor of Old Town on the 2nd anniversary of our first tapped beer anywhere on earth! 4/17/14 The Mayor tapped H&D Stout & Almost Summer Ale -- they put the throw-back brand labels on the tap handles for 4/14/16!
We spent a fun couple of evenings reliving other pre-opening bashes at Tap & Handle and Pinball Jones as well.
We had a great team dinner at Canino's Italian (if you've not been, go!)
Starting Friday, this brew-ha-ha began at the taproom. (Hover on pix for captions.) It was great to see so many old friends, meet some new ones, and celebrate craft beer together. People brought flowers, and Sharpie bouquets, and coloring supplies, and Sad Panda ice cream and cookies upon cookies, and smiles.
Cheers to 2 years of great people, great times,
and great beers!
Two years ago today we flung open the doors of the taproom to the public for the first time. To celebrate the Terrific Twos, we're having a weekend-long party here and each of our team has chosen a charity to encourage y'all to support with tips or other contributions. The selections, and the reasons for them, make us grateful all over again for the people who work with us here at Horse & Dragon, and for the folks who are devoting their lives to making a positive difference by establishing and working for these charities. Read on to find out a bit more!
The MS Society helps people affected by MS by funding research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating education, and providing programs and services that help those affected and their families. My Poppabear has MS and the people at the MS Society have been very helpful offering transportation services, group therapy, and even helped me navigate transitioning my dad from private insurance to Medicare. They have chapters in all 50 states so their network is expansive. Beyond raising awareness and funding research for rehabilitation technology their goal is a world without MS; something I really hope happens one day.
Luke sez: I worked with this group for a while during my time with Job Corps and found they truly had a positive direction and vibe
TCFFO offers a wide range of programs and classes to help adolescents and their families make better choices. The Center is a non-profit agency that offers education, intervention and support. They focus on creating programs and support systems to help youth and families sustain long term, positive changes within the family unit.
The CPRW brings together local volunteer and other groups to take action to protect and preserve the watershed that we live in and rely upon for life in Fort Collins. There are so many reasons that the Poudre River Watershed is important - supporting the population, local businesses, recreation, agriculture. The CPRW is the most effective confluence of the many preservation groups that directs resources toward that goal of protection and preservation of this vital water source in Northern Colorado!
-- Benjamin, Hayden & TimCo
The Animal House provides second chances for thousands of our furry friends and is working to reduce euthanasia rates of adoptable animals. They do this by collaborating with overcrowded and kill shelters, providing time and space for homeless animals to find their forever homes, and educating the community. They are a local organization that has been advocating for these silent sufferers for 8 years. Being funded entirely by private contributions they rely on community support to offer these services. The Animal House will also moving their facility in 2016 and can use as much support as possible to make it happen successfully. Please help them continue their mission to improve and save lives!
-- Abby, Ashleigh, Linsey & Sage
Literacy is the key to being able to provide for yourself; childhood is the easiest time to become literate. Book Trust is a fantastically simple and effective program that enables full classrooms of children in high need areas to choose and own their own books, which they order from the Scholastic Book Order form each month. The choice & ownership infects whole classrooms of kids to be enthusiastic about reading, and inspires a culture of literacy both in classrooms and in families at home. $10 supports a child for a month’s order.
Book Trust was started in FoCo!
It now serves over 38,000 kids in 132 schools – including 11 in NoCo –
in 15 states and is growing every year.
-- Liz, Tatum & Carol
Y'all, last Thursday we had a firkin tapping and seafood boil at Jax Fish House. It felt like a vacation on a beach right here in FoCo.
We love Jax for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that this case greets you when you walk through the door (along with a bunch of really awesome people).
When we arrived, Linsey gave their Head Chef Ricky Myers a quick lesson on how to tap a firkin.
He seemed to get the hang of it.
We've never seen such a clean tapping for getting the beer flowing -- usually there's a nice, dramatic fountain of beer before the spigot is fully in the firkin. I keep re-watching this video trying to see if any spilled at all.
Meanwhile, back at the seafood boil....
Sam spent his "night off" dousing bags of mussels, clams, shrimp, potatoes, onions & corn in this amazing broth. As one 6-ish-aged youngster walking by noted to her mom, "Mmmmm. I smell good spices!"
And here was the result:
It was a night for relaxing with friends (and a chef or two -- thanks for sneaking out of the kitchen for a minute, Amy!).
Here're some of the awesome Jax peeps who rolled out a new menu the same night we invaded to do the seafood boil. They were totally unflustered.
We give the whole experience the big thumbs up. This team knows how to throw a party. Many thanks for inviting us to be a part of it, Jax FoCo!
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!
Shooting star effects courtesy of Ma Nature.
All 3 of y’all who read this blog (hi, Mom!) know that we attended last year’s Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines festival in Vail as consumers. We had a blast (excellent time, file under“market research”) and were pretty psyched to come back this year and pour a few beers. There’s a lot of the weekend I didn’t capture, some awesome seminars that our team attended, a cigar-and-beer-pairing that I missed (alas), and a ton of fun craft beer folk.
I think this festival was started, back in the day, because some now-revered craft brewers wanted to get together in the CO mountains and hang out (and a wise choice that was, because HELLO, scenerygoodbeergoodpeople). I’m pretty sure several of them weren’t in attendance this year, but for those who were – and for all the brewers who’ve come on the scene since then who were here, many thanks for the stellar idea and gathering!
When this is what you see on the drive and out your porch door the first morning,
how can there be anything wrong with the weekend?
Plus, where else but on the way up that canyon are you going to find a school with a mascot like this?
Saw this sign in Vail Village. All listed in the correct order.
Friday we did some teambuilding.
That's what the kids are calling it these days.
Titus & Luke tried their best to teach some of us some dart technique. Please weigh in on our teachability:
Friday night we had BEERTOSHARE, in which we so firmly believe that I think it's a program we need to get on. Is there a better way to gather than over a large-format bottle of great craft beer?
I managed to miss the Saturday morning seminars (which I hear included some samples of 2006 Utopias, the last year they did an unblended version of this beer) and hearing from our friend Neil Fisher of Weldwerks empaneled alongside giants from Sam Adams & Lagunitas (woot woot!), and a by-all-accounts impressive presentation on human's beer-sensing anatomy in The Science Behind Flavor by Nicole Garneau. I missed these because I was running back to FoCo for a meeting -- during which trip I had cause to be grateful I don't make the Saturday-morning drive west on I-70, ever. (Saw some cool decorated-by-the-elements trees and a great sunrise, tho'.)
[Speaking of FoCo, huge gracias to these folks for holding down The Fort while so many of us were away!]
A couple of notes about the actual tasting event at Big Beers -- to be in the festival, a beer must either be over 7% ABV (big), a Belgian style (Belgian, natch), a barleywine (by definition big?), or an experimental beer. It makes the commercial tasting quite an experience – a ton of beers I hadn’t tried before and the ability to talk with people integral to the companies that made each beer (often the brewers themselves) makes this festival a standout. And then there are just the fun folks you bump into (almost all of whom know a ton about beer – it’s an education to wander around this place). *If you're after extensive reviews & beer-tasting notes, stop reading here and go on over to one of the real beer reporters' blogs or articles. I got some good tasting advice from a few of them, including Jonathan Shikes of Westword, who's likely to have a column on it in a minute here. Though I missed him I'd be shocked if Tristan Chan of porchdrinking.com was not there. Focus on the Beer also had a camera or two there. *
Such a high to be around folks who are brewing and showcasing great beers and who love what they do.
Now, back to the (great) grind. But with happy memories of a weekend well spent!
For those of you who visited our taproom during November, you likely saw the slips of paper out on the counter on which folks could write anything for which they were thankful. I had grand designs of keeping them organized and reporting them all chronologically here. For those of you familiar with the state of my desk, you’ll know at once that that was way too lofty an ambition. So here, in no particular order, are this year’s Thanksgiving Thankful Notes. I hope I haven’t lost any (and only 2 were censored) – if I find more floating about the desk top in the next few days, I’ll add them in.
Thanks to all of you who have stopped in to try a beer or two and to say hello – and for those of you who left these notes this month.
Cheers, and happy Thanksgiving!
I'm thankful for...
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?
You wouldn't know it from media reports, but the week is barely about medals. (Which is a good thing, seeing as how we won none!)
Loads of you likely have experienced the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and have your own impressions and memories of the hoopla. Here are some of ours. (Page down if you want to skip to the pictures.)
People seem to begin flying in for beercations the weekend before the festival and some spend some quality time visiting breweries up here in FoCo. This was a blast (photoless, however) -- meeting brewers and craft beer lovers from all over the country -- and some from further afield (ahem, Carolina & Leo) -- is a joy. Goofy to say, but if you haven't felt that craft beer joy yet, I recommend sinking your life's work & savings into opening a craft brewery and experiencing how rejuvenated and elated and connected a week like this one makes you feel. Folks traveling and gathering to share a love of craft is awesome.
We started our Denver days with a pairing of small plates with LoHi SteakBar on Tuesday night.
We might have eaten twice our body weights. But can you blame us? Look at it.
Here was the conference that went on at the end of the bar when we got there -- between the staff who put on this amazing dinner every night, the owner, and his son.
How can you not love a restaurant that prints this?
Eat local, people!
We hopped around The Highlands a bit and after a beer at Old Major we made Linsey carry the keg home (the awesome bar manager there was strapped for space as he'd stocked up beer for the week -- we like that kind of full fridge and kicked-keg-filled hallway).
Thursday & Friday we had awesome brunch pairings at The Lobby (and got to crash a fellow's bachelor party,which he was having with some H&D).
Throughout the week we got to visit great craft beer spots with fantastic food, and all were filled with folks celebrating this Week of Craft Beer in Denver. Too cool! It was crazy awesome to see our beer pouring at some of the places we've admired for their craft lineup for forever. Huge thanks to those Denver bars who were willing to pour some H&D during GABF week!
We were a little gawker-ish in the Big City:
.Cool to run into a couple of Weldwerks Brewing fellows on the walk downtown
The session opens each day with a bagpipe procession from the "opening gates" -- very cool!
Here they were coming by the booth a few minutes later:
The GABF sessions were a scene. I'm a bit low on the people-watching photos, but here you go for a few:
The Colorado State Legislature brews 2 beers (one by the House, one by the Senate) and if you visit the Colorado Brewers' Guild booth, y'all can sample each, meet a rep or two, and vote on which one you prefer. I voted with the House this year, but I believe the Senate beer won. Both were great! Kudos to Cannonball Creek Brewing Company & Big Choice Brewing for brewing with these cats.
Fair warning that y'all want to empty your bladders before you enter GABF.
(And about time that this is the ratio at the restroom lines in a public place, am I right, ladies?)
We got to pour in the "Meet the Brewer" section (by lottery) and were psyched to staff our booth for all 4 sessions. Here are Linsey & Titus holding down the fort, and Chad, Tim & Luke putting in some hard time.
We might have been a bit tired between the 2 Saturday sessions.
"Who's the creepy family passed out behind the palm fronds?"
This place was an oasis. You could step out of the fluorescent lighting and massive white-noise-din of the exhibition hall into this sanctuary of natural sunlight & relative silence. One woman who walked out with us said, "Oh my gosh, I feel like I just walked out of prison!"
Yes, there was the bottling and submission of beers for judging weeks and weeks before (and yes, I should know the actual date! Alas.). In our case, that involved submitting the freshest batches of beer we had and sending them off with several other FoCo breweries' submissions in Snowball (Snowbank's delivery van -- many thanks to them for delivering!). Luke then delivered kegs for pouring samples a couple of weeks ago. We sat through the awards ceremony crossing fingers during our own categories (to no avail!) but also being so psyched that so many friends and acquaintances throughout the industry took home some hardware for their hard work, and celebrating the fact that so many states were represented in the medals. The craft revolution is well and truly upon us and folks all over the U.S. are making great beer!
Here's how sad we were to head back to the last 2 sessions medal-less:
With not-much-sleep and loads of standing-on-concrete, we were pretty happy to return to our "normal" lives up here in FoCo. But we wouldn't trade the week for anything.
It's loud, long, and a lot o' concrete-standing. But it's full of awesome people & beer!
Cheers to all those who love and support craft beer,
whether by making it, serving it, or drinking it.
How great it is to have a festival together
celebrating all of that!
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!)
...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!