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Fort Collins Brewery-Dining-Lodging Pairings

Suds and grains abound in Fort Collins, home to more than 20 breweries — including the fourth largest in the United States — and with more than 200 restaurants, it is becoming a robust mecca of innovative and locavore-focused restaurants. 

Rally King Brewing
Rally King Brewing
A Night at Ace Gillett's
A Night at Ace Gillett's
Drinks at Sunset Lounge
Drinks at Sunset Lounge
Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market
Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market
Dinner at Ginger & Baker
Dinner at Ginger & Baker
Solarium International Inn & Hostel's Hammocks
Solarium International Inn & Hostel's Hammocks
Beer at Jessup Farm Barrel House
Beer at Jessup Farm Barrel House
Edwards House
Edwards House
Cheese Plate at Welsh Rabbit Bistro
Cheese Plate at Welsh Rabbit Bistro

Because there is so much to try, we’ve created a list of places we think go well together complete with lodgings. Plus, some activities to make sure you don’t become as big as a house as you eat and drink your way through this welcoming town.  

Maxline Brewing — Ginger & Baker — Edwards House — City Park  

Begin your tasting experience at Maxline Brewing with a Peach Mango Pale Tango, a slightly hazy, honey and tropical hop-filled beer. Depending on the day, live music will be bouncing off the shiny beer tanks or you’ll encounter people contorting their bodies for pup yoga — that’s right, beer + dogs + exercise.

Soak up those cold ones at Ginger & Baker, a multiuse spot housed in a historic mill. The Cache is dining Colorado-style. Start with the roasted bone marrow followed by stuffed roasted chicken alongside polenta, greens, house Cajun ham, peppers and onions. And for dessert, try the infamous pie flight trio, a seasonal baker’s selection. 

Take a post-dinner stroll through City Park, a lush, green space with a golf course, swimming pool, trolley stop and pedal boats. If you have the kiddos with you, they’ll run amok on the playgrounds and want to take a slide down the water park features of the pool. 

Rest your weary eyes and full stomach at the gray-and-white columned Edwards House, just steps away from Old Town. This 1904 boutique inn, which looks like it could grace the cover of Southern Living, was recently renovated and offers rooms with dreamy names like Lady Moon and the Sherwood. After your beauty rest, wake up to fresh, light-as-air omelets garnished with juicy tomatoes, bacon and crunchy toast.

Farmhouse at Jessup Farm — Jessup Farm Barrel House — The Elizabeth Hotel — The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market, Magic Rat and Sunset Lounge 

This pairing starts at the Farmhouse at Jessup Farm, where we recommend the lamb tacos (braised red-chili lamb shoulder, street-corn tortillas and cilantro crema) and the Colorado Cubano — a red-chili-braised lamb and pork-belly sandwich served on sourdough. 

A few yards away in this rustic artisan village sits the Jessup Farm Barrel House, serving barrel-aged craft beer. The brewers like to have fun and experiment, which is evident in the 16-tap selection. Try the Helles in Wonderland, a Munich-style pale ale, or the Hurry Up and Wait, a dry-hopped oak-barrel-aged quick sour. 

Check into the Beer and Bike Suite at The Elizabeth Hotel. The herringbone wood floors lead you to a beer-pong table and a bottle-cap-bedecked backsplash sits opposite the “drink, drank, drunk” neon sign. 

Next, head down to Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market for Bison Bourguignon, a slice of braised Colorado bison accompanied by applewood bacon, mushrooms, baby carrots and celeriac purée.

Feel more like a late-night jam session? At Magic Rat, sip on a Rat Tail, aka a dealer’s choice shot and a bottle of Miller High Life as you take in the night’s act. Then finish the night at the Sunset Lounge for Front Range-mountain views and nightcaps. 

The Regional — Equinox Brewing — Armstrong Hotel — Ace Gillett’s Lounge  

Today’s menu from The Regional is calling! For lunch have the Idaho trout sandwich or the root veggie melt and curly fries. Dinner diners should get the sourdough petit baguette served with New Mexico red-chili butter and the “carrots cooked in dirt” bathed in walnut pepian and blue-cheese sauce.  

Have some after-meal drinks at Equinox Brewing, a public house with a sun-drenched patio as the perfect locale for sipping their Moonbeam White IPA or O’Rion Irish Red.

Sleeping quarters this time around are the hip and historic Armstrong Hotel. Comfy beds, bright bathrooms and accent walls adorned with artwork are just some of the highlights. Don’t forget to greet Oreo, the 12-year-old cat, who calls the lobby home.

Once you’ve settled in, walk downstairs to Ace Gillett’s Lounge, an iconic Fort Collins jazz bar. Celebrating a bygone era of classic cocktails in shadowy nightclubs, Ace Gillett’s Sidecar and Ruby Soho (a grapefruit cocktail) end to your night on a classy note. 

Welsh Rabbit Bistro — Remington Flats — Beer & Bikes Tour 

Start this adventure at Welsh Rabbit Bistro, where exposed brick walls and soft light from the storefront windows make you feel like you’re in someone’s living room. Create your own cheese plate and be sure to include honey chevre, Ossau-Iraty and the bison pastrami. Follow it up with an ice-cream flight made using local beer. 

Drop your bags at tonight’s accommodations: Remington Flats. Created for a merriment-seeker, the boutique suites reside inside a lime-green house that shouts “fun.” While each suite is distinctly funky, they all offer bright spaces and complimentary local beer.

The Beer & Bikes Tour with Remington Flats awaits. You’ll hear the history of Fort Collins’ brewery culture from a local guide while you cruise around town atop a New Belgium Cruiser. The tour includes stops at three local breweries and a meet-and-learn with a brewmaster. 

Union Bar & Soda Fountain — Rally King Brewing or Black Bottle Brewery — Solarium International Inn & Hostel — Tai Chi 

Union Bar & Soda Fountain is a modern take on an old-fashioned diner. Feast your eyes on midcentury-modern decor while enjoying a classic malt or egg cream. The all-day cafe serves serious food in a playful way — the coney dog is an all-beef frank slathered in Motown chili and cheddar cheese and nestled among string fries. 

The newly revived Midtown neighborhood is home to Rally King Brewing. Have the Surfer Girl American IPA, winner of the 2014 Taste of Fort Collins homebrew category. Or try Black Bottle Brewery’s Friar Chuck, a German Kölsch, which won the 2015 Great American Beer Festival bronze medal. 

Park yourself in the Solarium International Hostel’s dorm-style rooms with bunk beds or opt for a private room. Colorful walls, interesting artwork and a real sense of community are all included. Wrapped around a botanical courtyard of tropical trees, the Spanish-inspired villa offers a relaxing retreat. 

Change into loose clothing and do some evening Tai Chi or visit the 40-foot tepee out back to sit and just be. 

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Photo Credits: Tim O'hara, Richard Haro