Part 1 - Beer Tourism and The Ale Trail (with a focus on the Columbus Ale Trail)
Part 2 - Brewery/Ale Trail Comparisons with similarly-sized metro areas to Columbus
Part 3 - A Compendium of the Nation's Ale Trails
From a United States craft beer perspective, there are a select few cities that make the craft beer seeker's palate water just from the mere mention...Portland, Oregon...San Diego, California...Asheville, North Carolina...and so forth. For these cities, extra ancillary promotions like an ale trail concept are pretty much not needed; for all intents and purposes, the attraction and strength of these craft beer scenes speak for themselves.
For this post, I had originally considered taking a brief look at how all these cities promote their craft breweries and how it fits in the overall picture. Upon closer inspection, it turned out one of these meccas, recently named as one of the top craft beer destinations in the country by a prominent online travel site, provided a contrasting approach to the ale trail equation: one part of the named metro has an ale trail, while the other part does not.
|Interstate 25 may provide the more time expedient route, but US 287 will give you|
a much more scenic view as you visit the numerous breweries in the Fort Collins/
Loveland metro area in Colorado (image from the Fort Collins Coloradoan)
Interestingly enough, for me and my spouse, our first visit into The Centennial State wasn't oriented toward Denver but rather a neighboring metro to the north in Fort Collins/Loveland, the same one hinted at above that was named #3 in Travelocity's Top Beer Destinations in the small metro category.
While these two towns have similar status as settlements on Colorado's wild frontier prior to statehood, as well as acting as gateway towns to nature-oriented attractions (Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Horsetooth Reservoir and the Devil's Backbone, among others,) Loveland and Fort Collins have their own unique personalities and attractions.
|One of the many statues found at the 26-acre Chapungu Sculpture Park|
in Loveland, Colorado (photo courtesy of visitlovelandco.org)
Perhaps the most famous thing about Loveland is the name of the city itself, and its association with Valentines Day. Along with the locally held Fire and Ice Festival held around the holiday, the city's unique Valentines Day Re-mailing Program, now over 70 years old, allows those with a romantic flair an opportunity to send their loved ones a specially-designed postcard. It is probably to no one's surprise that this Colorado city of just over 70,000 people has earned itself the nickname "The Sweetheart City."
|Big Beaver Brewing is one of eight breweries listed on the snazzy passport|
which maps Loveland's Brewery Tour, which launched summer of 2016
|A flight of beers from craft beer stalwart Odell Brewing, one of|
the 23 breweries which lie within the city limits of Fort Collins
And while the brewery number might seem modest at 23 (at the time of this post), you can find just about anything you want, from the saison-oriented Funkwerks to the easy drinking brews of Pateros Creek to the barrel-aged and blended beers of Jessup Farm Barrel House.
However, as Katy Schneider, Certified Tourism Ambassador and Director of Marketing for Visit Fort Collins, well knows, there is much more to her city of roughly 150,000 people than great beer.
|Old town Fort Collins provides a taste of Colorado's pioneer days|
(photo courtesy of visitftcollins.com)
|Bicyclist-friendly Fort Collins, which offers a "Bike Library" bike share concept,|
offers a handy way for folks to burn off extra calories between brewery stops
However, Schneider stated how important it is to nurture the strong craft beer appeal of the area in order to make Fort Collins more than a one-time visit, noting that her city had "more craft beer, craft coffee and craft spirits than nearly any city of its size."
"Yes, craft beer drives visitation but it’s the depth of experiences that keep visitors coming back time and time again."
|The saisons of Funkwerks, which lies on the east side of Fort Collins|
Visit Loveland City of Loveland Loveland Chamber of Commerce
Fort Collins, Colorado Resources
Visit Fort Collins City of Fort Collins Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce