Elevation 5003 in FC

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

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and seeing a beautiful sunset…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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:

Brushfire
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).

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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.

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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.

Pueblo Viejo

I love Mexican food! When I find a new place I can check out, I will. And what’s ironic is that I’m posting all these blogs about restaurants and I don’t eat out all that much. I cook the majority of my meals at home. I was away for awhile and I’m also catching up on a bunch of long-overdue blogs.

So, another place in Ft. Collins that I checked out was Pueblo Viejo.

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When they bring you the chips and salsa they also provide a unique bean dip. It’s made with pinto beans (not black beans). Nice to have something a bit different and just had some nice spices in it. Some guac was definitely ordered, too. Very good stuff!

Went for lunch and ordered some chicken tortilla soup. This stuff was amazing! They add tons of veggies to it — cauliflower, carrots and more. Not something very common and I loved it. It gives you a nice hearty meal. If you check this place out, definitely worth ordering.

El Pueblito

Dined at a new Mexican restaurant when I was in Ft. Collins last time — El Pueblito. They also have locations in Loveland & Greeley.

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They had some unique items on their menu that you don’t see in many places. We had to take advantage of them when ordering.

I decided to go with the FAJITAS DEL MAR — Octopus, shrimp and catfish, grilled with tomatoes, onions and bell green pepper , served with rice, beans, guacamole salad and your choice of tortillas.

The other at the table went with TACOS DE LENGUA — Corn tortillas or flour tortillas stuffed with grilled tongue, cilantro, and onions. Served with beans and tomatillo sauce on the side.

I love octopus and it was delicious on the fajita plate. The catfish, I wasn’t a fan of (I don’t know that I’d ever even had catfish). It was just super chewy and almost bland. I was also lucky enough to ask if it was served with cheese for my dairy issues and they mentioned they use butter. I thought that was interesting for a Mexican place. They said they would absolutely just use the oil because of my lactose issues.

You don’t often see beef tongue in restaurants, so this was a good find.

The gaucamole we had at the start was nothing to write home about and the margaritas were marginal, but it was cool having the unique main courses.

 

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.

Prost!

 

Blue Agave Grill

I recently dined at a delicious ‘Contemporary Southwestern Grill’ while visiting Colorado — Blue Agave Grill. Was in Denver and stopped in before going to the Avalanche game. There is a location in Fort Collins, but this one has recently opened.

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Arrive in the 5 o’clock hour and this is a great restaurant off the top because you don’t have to be at the bar/in the bar section to get happy hour specials. So few restaurants do that (at least in DC where I’m used to going out)! So, right away, margaritas, on the rocks, no salt, please — for $5.

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Then, we get the chips and salsa which are the normal addition to the table.

Next, a staple at this type of restaurant, guacamole! We got the basic one — Blue Agave Choice/ Garlic / Green Chilies / Red Onion / Tomato / Lime. It was on happy hour for $4 of $5 — I can’t remember the exact price. Really, that’s awesome! Came out super fast, huge portion and was amazing. The presentation was also nice and super effective. There is the brown ‘stuff’ below the tortilla shell bowl. It’s pureed black beans. That is done so the shell doesn’t move. Smart!

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After that, we just wanted one other simple bite to eat. Opted for the Tuna Tartare / Gingered Soy Sauce / Blistered Shishito Peppers. It was around $7 or $8, I think. Good size portion. Now, I just snapped a small shot of it, but there were probably about 4 times as many pepper around it as tuna. And they were hot! I didn’t touch them, the other eater did. From far away they could look like okra. Dang, fiesty! Nice presentation, but the restaurant could save a lot of peppers. The tuna was amazing, though.

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I wish there was one of these near me in DC. Absolutely amazing. Great service, too. Now, it was also quiet at that hour, but nonetheless, could not have asked for more. Will definitely have to go back next time I’m there.

 

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!

 

And the beer goes on…

Had to continue enjoying the local brews while in Ft. Collins.  One must take in as much as possible when not at home.  So I took one for the team…

Brewery 5:  Odell Brewing Company.  Sample — $4!  For 6 tastes!  This is another one with the whole (unfortunate) issue of 5 oz pours, 6 beers, 5,000 ft elevation…  This was my first stop of the day.  Hey, I was fresh right.  I had to be so careful and drink responsibly in the sense that there was more to come.  My total favorite was Levity with several close runner ups.

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Brewery 6:  Fort Collins Brewery.  Good name considering where I was.  I found another chili beer here.  After sampling a few I ended with this amazing smoky beer, that was that chili one — Mesquite Chili Lime Ale, part of their Out of the Ashes Smoke Beer Series.  Not describable in words.  Go to the store to find it, or better yet, just head out there to have some (limited edition though, so hurry)!

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Brewery 7:  New Belgium Brewing Company.  This is one of my favorites!  Went on the brewery several years ago and the twirly slide at the end if priceless!  This time I just went to sample.  So many options, so little time.  Many new Lips of Faith to try, other random stuff to sample.  It was packed that it was tough to even move.  I just had sips of some new stuff then finished with my favorite Fat Tire.  Oh happy day.

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All good things must come to an end.  I eventually had to get on a plane and come back east.  I do have a brewery tour scheduled at Flying Dog soon.  Looking forward to that!

I’m in a Colorado State of Beer

I had Billy’s Joel New York State of Mind rolling through my head so couldn’t think of a better title for the post.  So, after visiting wine country in Oregon, I headed a time zone east and a couple states south to check out Ft. Collins, Colorado.  I had my fix of wine so hit the breweries this time.

The problem when you go to breweries (proper) is that there are too many choices.  Sometimes overwhelming.  I tried to do samplers at most of them when possible.  The other problem with beer?  *NOTE — I am not dismissing beer, turning it down, or crossing it off my list at all!  Just making travel notes for future reference. Unlike wine where you can spit, that’s not really an option with beer.  Proceed with caution.  And jumping three days forward, my hosts mentioned that when they moved to Colorado they noticed the beer hit them much more quickly (than when at sea level) for awhile.  Thanks!  You couldn’t have told me that when I got here?  I wasn’t going to say anything…

Anyway….

Brewery 1:  Black Bottle Brewery.  Too many, way too many, beers to pick from.  I honestly can’t remember which one I finally opted for to enjoy over dinner, but it was good!  Some of the beer names are great, Social Insecurity being my favorite.

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Brewery 2:  Cooper Smith’s Pub & Brewing.  Great place to both enjoy some great food and beer.  I had a sip of several before deciding what to have.  I do remember one that had the name ‘chili’ in it.  You could taste that green chili in there — it wasn’t necessarily hot but you knew it was there.

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Brewery 3:  Pateros Creek Brewing Company.  It’s a little bit hidden, so you have to know where to find it.  They apparently have great social events in the evening, FYI, if you’re a local.  It’s a small place, but nice brews.  I happened to get there right before a downpour so spent a little bit of time there chatting with the beermaster.  Aside from that conversation, I think I  found that CO, or at least Ft. Collins, has a like of chilis, because they also had a beer with some kick.  Hmmm…  They also make gluten free beer.  I have several friends who would be thrilled.

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Brewery 4:  Equinox Brewing Company.  Sampling flight = 6 beers in 5 oz. pours at 5,000 ft. elevation.  That’s where that whole idea/thought of no spitting/dump bucket REALLY came into play.  I loved the (light) IPA.   I say light as in I didn’t feel like I was bouncing off the walls, on a trampoline or on those OLD SCHOOL pogo sticks.  Just a nice amount of hops.  There was a red on there, too.  Dang!  The weekend I was there, the Great American Beer Festival happened to be in town (Denver, close enough) and many brewers were near the bar so I shared my sampler with them and it was very interesting getting their feedback/comment/sipping notes on the beer.

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More to come…