There are some excellent places to grab a beer in Fort Collins, but The Mayor of Old Town is the standard. I had a chance to snag a flight when I was in town for CSU’s graduation, and coincidentally came up with the Golden Flight: four different beer styles with four different shades of gold. I’ll go through them in the order I drank them, left to right.
Beer 1: Grimm Bros Snow Drop Honey Wheat Ale
Notes: This 7.1% ABV wheat is actually a “kottbüsser,” which I had to look up. Apparently Grimm Bros out of Loveland wanted to bring back a style that was banned in Germany; it didn’t meet German purity laws (beers with only water, barley, hops and yeast) because it used oats, honey and molasses.
The beer: The haziest of the gold batch, it had a very light, lemony, honey smell. There was a little crisp, hoppy bite with a smooth, wheaty center. It’s light despite its high ABV, with the best mouth feel of the bunch.
Grade: B+. I obviously don’t know the style, but as far as wheat beers go this one’s as refreshing as the best of them.
Beer 2: Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
Notes: Pivo (beer in Czech) is a 2013 Great American Beer Festival winner, so I was kind of giddy when I saw it on tap. Plus, California’s Firestone Walker is one of the best big-name breweries out there.
The Beer: A fine white head stayed for at least half an hour, but it was hard to smell from the sampler glass. I was surprised how malty this Czech pilsner was, with an herbal, clean bitter hop finish. I also got a little bit of bitter lemon skin, which actually made it more refreshing.
Grade: A. It had a lot in common with the Snow Drop, actually, but all the flavors were punched up a couple notches. Good balance, clean taste. I’m a fan.
Beer 3: Victory DirtWolf Double IPA
Notes: I got this beer because of the name. Who names a beer dirt wolf? Apparently it’s a nod to hops, which have vines that rise out of the ground like a “wolf among sheep.” This is a Beer Advocate reviewers favorite, too.
The beer: Biggest head of the bunch, and the darkest shade of gold. The Citra and Chinook hops make it smell like eating tangerines, walking through a grapefruit grove. Piney hops come through more in the flavor though, with a little bit more grapefruit and a generous malty backbone. A vicious bitter takes over the more you drink.
Grade: A-. Clearly Dirtwolf has a lot of things going for it, with a crazy mix of flavors and a good balance. It’s well crafted and stands out from other double IPAs. It might have had too much going on, though.
Beer 4: Fort Collins Any Colour You Like
Notes: I couldn’t find any info on this beer on the Fort Collins Brewery website, but much of what you need to know comes from the beer’s style. It’s a Berliner Weisse, which is known as the “Champagne of the North.” It’s a low-alcohol, light, tart, sour beer made with half barley and half wheat.
The beer: It starts fruity, with raspberries and maybe some pineapple on the nose. The fruit continues in the flavor, which punches your tastebuds with hyper-tart raspberries and lemons. There’s a bready backbone in there somewhere, but it’s mostly just sour fruitiness.
Grade: B. It’s refreshing, in an assaulting kind of way. Lots of sour there. But it also has a lot of good fruit flavor.