Since Spenser and I are on a budget, we have rarely been patrons of the local breweries or restaurants, even though Fort Collins is full of them. Then, Zack Macfarlane said he was coming for a visit. We were psyched. This gave us a reason to explore FoCo in a way we haven’t yet.
Zack loves booze, broads, and beers. Yes, I know the booze includes beer. It was for emphasis. And, okay, Zack was also here for some climbing. Lucky enough, Fort Collins has all of the above to offer.
We picked him up at the Denver Airport bright and early Saturday morning and headed straight for Guanella Pass, after a quick pit-stop at a local breakfast joint. Zack ate biscuits and gravy with a side of chicken fried steak, Spenser a carnitas benedict, and I polished off a plate of gluten-free Johnny cakes. Needless to say, it was not going to be a serious climbing day, but it was going to be a blast! Guanella Pass provided us an excellent try-hard-enough day, so we decided to take a rest day and give Zack a tour of Fort Collins on Sunday.
Another love of Zack’s that Spenser and I both share is ribs. We have had infamous feasts of homemade chai-spiced (oh yea, that’s right) ribs back home in the Bay Area. Sometimes we yearn for those nights. After working up an appetite climbing, we stopped by Smokin’ Yard BBQ on our way through Idaho Springs. Spenser’s face probably gives it away (see picture below), but it was amazing, fall-of-the-bone good. They also have a variety of sauces for you to choose from, none of which are spicy enough for our liking, but we enjoyed every bite of rib nonetheless. Tip if you are in the area: they have all-you-can-eat rib Mondays. We will have to return! With full bellies, we made the hour drive back home, eagerly awaiting our beds…
On to our Sunday FunDay! The Tour de Fat was on the Saturday, but we decided not to try to venture back into Fort Collins for fear of getting stuck in some severe traffic. Instead, we had our our Tour de Fort Collins on Sunday.
Colorado is a biking state. Everyone owns a bike. We don’t, but we were able to rent them at the Fort Collins Bike Library. You can make a reservation online and for a $10 donation, you ride away with a bike, lock, and helmet (if you so choose) for a day or longer. Of note, multiple breweries are closed on Sundays, so although we couldn’t go to every brewery in the area, we certainly made the most of it.
The Waffle Lab is the best food cart I’ve ever been to. They serve delicious, fresh liege waffles, either full of gluten or gluten-free, with an assortment of toppings to choose from. It was the most difficult decision of the day, but there were no losers. Spenser picked the Maple-Bacon Bliss, Zack went with the special of the day, an omelette on top of the waffle, while I followed my gut to the The Big Capr-easy. If you are in the area, you MUST go, but be aware they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (we have made that unfortunate mistake in the past). They were even kind enough to offer cooking my gluten-free waffle on a fresh pan, two thumbs up!
Brewery #1 on our Tour was the Pateros Creek Brewing Company, conveniently located in the same parking lot that The Waffle Lab resides in. They brew the best gluten-free beer I have yet to taste, it’s full of flavor and doesn’t taste like wee. I made the boys stay for 2 pints since I knew I had no guarantee of finding any gluten-free beer later.
Feeling pretty toasty after 2 pints, we rode on to Equinox Brewing of Fort Collins. Sadly, nothing gluten-free for me to drink…well, except for some amazing homemade root beer, but plenty of libations for the men. If you like IPAs, come here. Spenser and Zack shared two sample racks and we enjoyed the shuffleboard they have in the back. They also have a nice outdoor patio, perfect for this time of year.
Although again they offer nothing gluten-free that is alcoholic, they do have tasty Italian sodas that quenched my thirst. This was Spenser’s favorite brewery, but I’ll let him explain:
You know when you go in to the beer aisle and there are all those Belgian beers that are 10%, $10, and corked? And maybe you think, damn, I’d sure love to try this beer, but it’s too much to commit to. I’m a giant whimpering sissypuss and I can’t commit. I’ve never had these thoughts, but I have thought that it would be sweet to go to one of those breweries and try all the different super-strong, really floral trappist-style ales. Funkwerks is the place. All beers are different, all are strong, and all are very Belgian. For me, the highlight of the tour.
Somehow we got ourselves up at 6am on Monday morning and headed to RMNP. Zack needed to see the Park before he left that evening. We arrived at the Bear Lake parking lot around 8am and promptly went back to bed, with Spenser and I in the cab and Zack taking over the back of the truck. After a nice little nap, we started the hike up to Emerald Lake. It was a beautiful day and there were good sends all around. Spenser is so close to Whispers of Wisdom and I on the Kind, so we must return…
Note: the majority of photo credits for this post go to Zack. Thank you, Zack, for always having your iPhone ready to snap away and letting us use your photo for this post. You da’ best.