You can write all the tasting notes you like, but when it really comes down to it, beer is about friends and experiences. When it comes to my most memorable life experiences, the events of the night of Friday the 19th October 2018 are right up there.
After a day wondering around Old Town Fort Collins and taking the free tour at New Belgium Brewery, I headed to Beau Jo’s Pizza to meet up with my new friends Frank and John, both of whom I’d met the day before, along with John’s wife Tee and their friends.
After quickly working our way through some Colorado style pizza and a couple of pints, we made our way next door to Washington’s to see Booker T. Jones, the Rhythm & Blues legend of Booker T. & the M.G.’s fame. It was lucky for me that I’d met Frank the night before, else I might not have found out about the gig. Not to mention, luckier still that there were still some tickets available.
Washington’s is a venue of around the size of the O2 Academy in Birmingham (UK), however, the draught beers on offer here are just a little better than the macro lager you’ll find in British music venues of this size. Fort Collins is home to more than 20 craft breweries, including massive brewers like New Belgium and Odell, and you’ll find great quality beer wherever you go in this town.
My drink of choice for the night was Odell IPA, one of Frank’s favourites.
In recent times, in craft beer circles, the argument over the best style of North American IPA has usually been a two-horse race between West Coast and New England Styles. Whilst I’m a fan of both styles when they are done well, my heart belongs to Mountain style IPA, and Odell IPA is a very good beer indeed. Making use of 9 different US hop varieties, balanced with Pale and Vienna Malts, this bold and bitter India Pale Ale is a life changer.
For the next couple of hours, I found myself sat on the front row with my new friend Frank, soaking in the vibrations of Booker T.’s legendary Hammond B3 organ. With a set list featuring M.G.’s classics like ‘Hang ‘Em High’, ‘Green Onions’, ‘Soul Limbo’ and ‘Time Is Tight’, along with covers of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ and Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’, I was living the dream, washing the whole experience down with a few more pints of IPA.
After the show, we moved on to Trailhead Tavern to carry on the good times. This Fort Collins institution is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been to in England. 14 taps of beer, including amazing local craft beers and $2 pints of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a happy hour that runs between 11am and 7pm every day, pool tables, arcade games, skee ball, good tunes, good people, and open until 2am every day of the week. Let’s be honest, we would only ruin a place as much fun as this in Britain!
I think I made it until about 1:30am before deciding to abort the mission and head back to my Air BnB on the outskirts of town. I had a hangover and hair of the dog at the Odell Brewery Tour to look forward to in the morning.
Fort Collins is good for the soul.