St. Vrain Cidery

Visited a friend in Longmont, CO not only to catch up with her, but so that we could check out St. Vrain Cidery.


This place opened in 2014 by Dean and Ciny Landi with cidermaker Dan Daugherty.

Based on their site, ‘the St. Vrain Apple was last seen in 1891 by a farmer taking inventory of Colorado fruits. The name St. Vrain runs deep in the city of Longmont’s history, and our cidery’s name honors this regional apple and our city.’

They have a large variety of ciders on tap from the state, five of which are their own. While there enjoying the adult apple juice, you can order sampler flights, 4oz, 8oz or 12oz pours.

My friend and I each went with the samplers, which had four 4oz pours.


I sampled these (ordered one more after the initial tasting, too):

St. Vrain Cidery Dry Apple (Longmont, CO) This refreshing cider starts with baked apple and a hint of tea on the nose. Fresh, dry apple flavors combine with white wine-like minerality from the Winesap apples in the blend. All followed by a clean, crisp finish. Dry. 6.6% ABV

  • Very dry, a bit too much for me. But they definitely didn’t add anything unnecessary to this cider. It’s all apple!

St.  Vrain Cidery Ironface Infusion (Longmont, CO) We infuse our Dry Apple cider with gin botanicals from Anvil Distillery’s Ironface Gin (Longmont), resulting in our first in a series of botanical ciders. Dry. 6.9% ABV

  • You definitely got that hint of gin/juniper. Subtle, unique, nice. Still very dry. I (personally) don’t like sweet cider, but I don’t like it beyond dry.

Summit Hard Cider Pineapple (Fort Collins, CO) Fresh pineapple flavors blend well with apple. Semi-Sweet. 5% ABV

  • Had to try this because I love pineapple and did have my doubts. This ranked #1 for me. I didn’t expect the semi-sweet. I was expecting it to be candy. Delicious!

C Squared Ciders Ella IPC (Denver, CO) India Pale Cider with dry hop aromas of tropical fruit. Melds into green apple flavors with clean, bitter finish. Off-Dry. 6.0% ABV

  • Just a nice basic off-dry cider. Mild on the hops but gave it a nice taste!

Wild Cider Bee Hoppy (Firestone, CO) Refreshing, crisp, dry hopped cider with citrus undertones. Finishes with a kiss of honey. Off-Dry. 5.0% ABV

  • This is the one I got after my initial tasting. Subtle citrus with very mild hop. Then the sweet at the end was awesome. Totally maintained the off-dry level though. Another one that I had my doubts about but it came in strong.


Was very glad that I got to check this place out. And, my friend and I happened to get there during happy hour and I think my bill was $8-$10 for all this, with tip. So, next time you’re in Longmont, check this out. Or, if you’re a cider fan, plan a trip there, you won’t be disappointed. Take your growler, too. You can get it filled with one of their five ciders.


Jax Fish House

Slowly but surely checking out more restaurants in Fort Collins, CO. One of them was Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. It’s a cozy place where you can sit at the bar for happy hour and watch the oyster get shucked or get a table.


Went on a Thursday night and though we had a reservation, we had a high top-like table facing the bar. It was quite loud and in one of those areas that was sort of ignored because it was almost invisible. It was between support beams/dividers and almost seems like it was more used for people to lean on while socializing during happy hour, but would be used to maximize table space.

We did get some service eventually and chose to start with some drinks while looking over the menu. I chose to go with some bubbles.

When the waitress came to take food orders, I decided to go totally hard core on fish that night for both courses. Started with the Fruit De Mer ($9) – Squid, shrimp, mussels, octopus, basil, jalapeño, red wine vinaigrette.

It was similar to a ceviche. And, there were green olives in there. Bring it on! Good amount for the two of us at the table.


For the main course, I opted for the Seared Scallops ($32.50) – parsnip hummus, balsamic roasted beets, belgian enive, carrots, bourbon pecans.

Overall, each component tasted fine, but the bourbon pecans did not fit with the scallops. They just went against their taste and texture. The sweet didn’t work. The pecans go with the thought/taste of fall roasted veggies, but not scallops. I was pretty disappointed.

The other entree ordered at the table was the Cast Iron Seared Salmon ($28.25) –
brown butter cappelini, roasted celeriac, butternut squash puree, crushed hazelnuts, roasted root vegetables, sage.

I was told it tasted quite good. The celeriac was a unique twist on traditional tastes.



I took quite awhile for these entrees to come out — maybe 40+ minutes. It didn’t appear to be that busy of a night. And just getting our water refilled was a challenge. I was happy to go to the restaurant, there was nothing wrong, cooking-wise, with my food, but it’s not a place I am putting at the top of my list to return to.


Elevation 5003 in FC

After a day on the links in Colorado in late November…


and seeing a beautiful sunset…


one must cap off the night. Recently checked out Elevation 5003 Distillery in Fort Collins, CO. They make a few spirits, including gin, vodka and whiskey. If you visit the tasting room, there is nice selection of drinks they concoct on site. One that I enjoyed, that is not on the menu anymore, but my friends had the bartender make, was the Timber Ridge Ramble. I just know it had gin, blackberries and great taste. If you live in, or are visiting Fort Collins, check this place out. Or, pick up a bottle of their stuff up or order a drink with it from the restaurant or bar you’re visiting.


Torchy’s Tacos

Just moved to Fort Collins, CO and a friend came to visit. She said we had to go to Torchy’s Tacos for lunch. And, I happen to live just over a mile away from this place.


Well, we were able to snag great seats in the bar section (vs. just the stand-in-line-and-place-an-order one). At this type of place a margarita is a first order of business. I got their ‘lite’ (or not regular) one and it was awesome. Not super syrupy – which my friend said hers was. We also had to start the meal off with some guac (no picture). This is a place that adds cheese to everything. Had to ask them to bring one sans-queso after it arrived with it on top (lactard speaking).


There were so many choices on the menu, I was a bit overwhelmed. For a tex-mex place, there was a lot of fried stuff, which I was surprised about. I ended up getting the:

Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, sour cream and cilantro with diablo sauce (got it without sour cream and diablo sauce on the side).

Mr. Pink
Gaujillo seared ahi tuna, cabbage fresca, cotija cheese, cilantro & a lime wedge with chipotle sauce (nixed the cheese and chipotle sauce).



Fried Avocado
Hand-battered fresh avocados fried with vegetarian refried beans topped with pico de gallo, lettuce & Freshly grated cheddar jack cheese with poblano sauce.

Trailer Park
Hand-battered fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo & Freshly grated cheddar jack cheese with poblano sauce. “Get it trashy” – take off the lettuce & add queso.


There was some spice/heat involved in these guys. And dang these tacos are filling! The two of them maxed me out (not to mentione there was guac before hand). Great place to check out for awesome tex mex food in Ft. Collins.

Prost Brewing

Last time I was in Ft. Collins was able to visit another new (to me) brewery — Prost Brewing. They also have a location in Denver. To find this place, you have to walk down crazy back alleys and around corners. Sort of hard to find, but very fun.

They have a huge menu of German-style brews, and offer all of them in small pours (as well as quite large ones), so you can get a good taste range. They have based what they offer on quite a history of alcohol & beer in the US. The way they craft their suds is from German influence and you get great bier satisfaction at this place. And, they welcome dogs. How can you go wrong with that?

There were a few of us there and we ordered several small pours to share. I know I grabbed the Weißbier and Kölsch. Both just great. The others around the table were equally as enjoyable. Glad I was able to check this place out.



Big Beaver Brewing Co.

When recently in Colorado, I of course had to try a new brewery. This time I checked out the Big Beaver Brewing Co in Loveland.


Wanted to get a taste of all their beer so opted for a sampler — the Beaver Teaser. They give you hefty 3oz. of 8 beers for $6.50. They say it’s only supposed to be 2oz each but that doesn’t happen. All the beers have great names, as noted below to the left.

A description of the beers, per the brewery:

Wonder Weiner Wheat: This beer is brewed in the Bavarian tradition with notes of cloves and bananas. No, we do not put bananas or cloves in the beer. The aromas are produced by special yeast that are neither lager nor ale yeast. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Bust-a-Nut Brown: Our most popular beer, this brown ale is brewed in the Northern England malt forward tradition. A light, sweet malt flavor with a clean, nutty finish. ABV: 4.6%, IBU: 10

Shaved Tail Ale: This classic Belgian ale is brewed with Belgian yeast, hops and malt. It contains a minimal amount of hops, which gives it a crisp finish without the bitter bite. ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 10

Juicy Peach Ale: A sweet twist on Belgian ale, this beer has the light aroma and flavor of a ripe peach picked right off the tree. A subtle citrus flavor balances the peach and hop bitterness. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 10

Amber Was Her Stage Name: Amber was her Amber’s bright copper in color with a golden head, medium bodied, and smells of fresh biscuits. She’s made of flaked barley, has a moderate amount of Horizon hops for bittering, and a slight residual sweetness from caramel malt. ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 35

Whiskey Dick Stout: Bourbon soaked French oak chips are used to make this well balanced stout. Finishes smooth and the bourbon is not overwhelming. And darn it all… who took a sip of the stout before I finished taking the photos? ABV: 6.0%, IBU: 17

Screw the Pooch Ale: This American Pale Ale is a 100% domestic ingredient beer, made with hops and barley grown in Washington State. Citra hops produce a citrus aroma and flavor. Crisp finish and a pleasant bitterness will make even non hop lovers’ palates tingle with excitement. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 24

Potent Peter IPA: This IPA is nicely balanced with a moderate dose of bittering hops and crystal malt. A variety of hops are used to dry hop this beer, which produces unique aromas and flavors. ABV: 5.7%, IBU: 42

The Wheat was nice and I loved the Peach — would be perfect during the summer. The Shaved Tail was also a nice standard beer. The others were good to try but not ones I would reach for all the time. Overall, though, nice beer making and glad I checked this place out.



While in Steamboat Springs, was looking for some lunch and came across a sort-of-hidden Italian place, Cugino’s.


Italian food sounded good and their lunch options sounded even better! For under $10 you could get a small pizza and beer (not sure if they have seasonal menus and I was not there during ski season). That was almost too good to be true. And the beer was good stuff, not just some boring macrobrew.

The service was a bit slow but the waiter was very apologetic. And we were sitting outside enjoying the weather so that helped.

When the food came out, well worth the wait! I went for pizza with no cheese (lactard) and some other great toppings, the other pizza at the table did have the nice melted stuff.  Perfect crust, perfect size, absolutely delicious.

Will definitely check this place out again next time I’m in the area.

CO Beer

Was in CO awhile back and was of course overwhelmed by microbreweries. They have new ones popping up nearly every week.  What’s fun about this is that every time I head out there for a visit I have new places to check out. During my trip, I tried some new suds at breweries in Ft. Collins, Estes Park and Colorado Springs. Had to cover as much territory as possible. *Note, all of these were new to me, some had been around for a bit.

#1 Jessup Farm Barrel House, Ft. Collins, CO – This one is in a barn, which is fun. Also has outdoor seating. Their philosophy “By blending beers with different fermentation variations we are able to create unique and original flavors. Our goal is to take the robust characteristics from the barrels, and blend to bring out the complexities and nuances of the flavors.” They have plenty of options, almost overwhelming. They do offer flights, which I highly recommend splitting between 2 people because of the high ABV of some of the brews.

#2 McClellan’s Brewing Co., Ft. Collins, CO – Their in-house beer (they also have ‘other’ taps) are done in Celtic style. ‘Our Cask Ales are a British Isles style of beer naturally carbonated through the fermentation process. We utilize a beer engine to manually pump the beer from a firkin to your glass. We Americanize our ales by serving it cold, and it still maintains a smooth and unique flavor profile that is less filling than it’s carbonated relative.’

Nice because you don’t get it very often. You go to breweries that all have unique beer, but this is very unique.


#3 Maxline Brewing, Ft. Collins, CO – This is one of the locations that had just opened when I was there. And DOG FRIENDLY! Lots of great options. And, since they had just opened they made us sample tons of them, shucks! Look forward to being back soon and seeing how much they’ve grown.

#4 Estes Park Brewery, Estes Park, CO – Checked this one out after going to some very scenic parks and being outside on a cold day. Here you can either pay for pints in the restaurant of get healthy free sample.  You get 5-6 (depending on who’s doing the tasting) hefty pours of their brews (of your choice). And when you have several people there, if each of you picks different ones, you’ll taste everything! They have a very nice spread of beer, and some decent food to help soak it all up.

#5 Butcherknife Brewing Co., Steamboat Springs, CO – You can tell this is a popular place. Packed! One of their pieces of info “If great water makes incredible beer then Steamboat Springs has got to be the soul center of the craftiest beer on the planet. Our location provides us first use off the Continental Divide which means pure, unadulterated, fresh, clean water goes into the heart of every batch we make.”

I personally didn’t love most of what I sampled, I think it was because the ABV was high on those we chose/were able to get on all but one. Was still fun to check out!


Game of Elk

I love game meat. In fact, it’s about the only red meat my body can digest. I have enjoyed venison for ages. And when I travel to great places around the world I love trying new stuff. Now, there is also ‘domestic’ game meat — as in the stuff we have here. I say that because we don’t have my favorite, warthog, which I enjoyed in South Africa, here.

Anyway, last time I was in Colorado, Steamboat (Springs) to be precise, I enjoyed a very nice dinner at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill and was able to expand my game tastes/tastings.


After looking over the menu several times, the elk was calling my name but the cost was not exactly low ($40). But, decided I had to give it a try. After speaking to the server, she mentioned the portion was quite hefty, so the two of us at the table decided to split that along with a house salad, oh and some vino (which of course came out well before the food)!




The elk was nice, traditional game meat. Very chewy, much more so than venison. It was not my favorite game meat ever but would definitely eat it again if offered.

CO Wine

Wine is coming from many places now, and I recently tasted some from Colorado, Ten Bears Winery

The winery proper is located in Laporte, CO.  The sampling covered 7 wines; 2 whites, 3 red, 2 dessert wines and was $5.99.


American Symphony (This lesser knows varietal is a hybrid of two old world grapes, Muscato of Alexandria and Grenache Gris.  It is a lovely, attractive white wine with amazing floral bouquet.  Lightly sweet with hints of Colorado wildflowers and dried peach on the nose followed by fresh apricots and citrus on the palate, finishing with lingering fruit and melon notes, a perfect pairing for a hot summer day.) $17.99/bottle

-Had light honey notes,  floral notes and sweetness

Cameron Pass White (Our Malvasia Bianca and Chardonnay blend is finished off-dry, producing a light to medium bodied, fruity white wine that is the perfect pair for sushi and seafood. Enjoy this wine chilled for a refreshing compliment to our Colorado summer days.) $15.99/bottle

-No nose, nearly clear, eww

American Pinot Noir (Our Pinot Noir is a Ten Bears Winery favorite that we can never seem to make enough of. It is a light bodied Pinot Noir aged on French Oak, for just the right amount of time, to impart delicate oak and tannins, which compliment the dried cherry fruit notes and cocoa, while keeping this noble red perfectly balanced.) $19.99

-Had the nose of Welch’s grape juice, cloudy, tiny chocolate taste at the end

Poudre River Red Table Wine (This light to medium bodied red blend of Alicante Bouschet, Colorado Merlot, Larimer County Marquette, and Zinfandel is a wine to pair with almost anything. Its complex and lively character displays black cherry, and raisin fruit notes, with delicate tannins, making it a smooth and easy drinking red wine. Enjoy at room temperature.) $14.99

-Cranberry nose, light, it’s definitely a simple table red

Grand Valley Cabernet (This full bodied classic Bordeaux style wine is balance to perfection with toasty notes of French Oak finishing with elegant and smooth tannins. Rich garnet and violet color!) $24.99

-Nice body, not chalky, good

Roaming Bear Seasonal (Raspberry/Huckleberry/Pomegranate) (We blended a medium, sweet Muscat of Alexandria, with Pinot Grigio and Barbera, then added natural flavoring to produce this playfully sweet and flavorful wine.) $15.99

-Very sweet, light,  this stuff reminded me of Boone’s

Nutty Laporte Dessert Wine (This is a vintage style port wine with hazelnut flavor added during its American oak aging. Its deep color and rich flavors of cordial cherries make for a deliciously warm finish to a nice evening. Grape varietals used in this port style dessert wine are Tinta Madiera, Touriga, Tinta Cao, and souza.) $18.99/375ml

-Nice!  Just like a port. Chocolate taste to it. Definitely my favorite one.




Overall, a great time trying different wines — never knew CO made some. Not necessarily my favorites, but will never turn down a tasting. Cheers!