Exploring Fort Collins Breweries: A Beer Lover’s Paradise


With over 20 local breweries and a rich brewing heritage, this northern Colorado city has become a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

From industry giants like Anheuser-Busch and New Belgium Brewing Company to small neighborhood taprooms, Fort Collins offers an incredible variety of beer styles and tasting experiences. Beyond breweries, the city also boasts craft cideries, distilleries, and wineries, adding depth to the local craft beverage scene.

Outdoor beer gardens, festivals, and a passionate local culture further enhance Fort Collins as a premier beer tourism locale. Whether sampling a flight of IPAs in an industrial taproom or sipping a tart fruit cider on a sunny patio, visitors will find no shortage of ways to indulge their love of quality drinks amid Colorado’s natural splendor.


  • Fort Collins, Colorado, is home to over 20 craft breweries and is considered one of America's top beer destinations.
  • Major breweries like New Belgium put Fort Collins on the map, but small neighborhood taprooms also shape the local scene.
  • Beyond beer, visitors can also enjoy craft ciders, spirits, and wine as part of Fort Collins' robust craft beverage culture.
  • Beer gardens, festivals, and a spirited local community add to the city's appeal for traveling beer lovers.

Key Attractions and Activities

As the self-proclaimed “Napa Valley of Beer,” Fort Collins offers visitors plenty of attractions catering to beer lovers. From brewery tours and tastings to outdoor beer gardens, these are some of the highlights:

Brewery Tours

Many Fort Collins breweries offer behind-the-scenes tours explaining the brewing process and history of the brewery. Popular picks include New Belgium, Odell, and Anheuser-Busch.

Beer Flights

Sample a range of beer styles by ordering a flight at breweries and taprooms around Fort Collins. Most places offer 4-6 small pours, often with a discount.

Outdoor Beer Gardens

Soak up Fort Collins’ 300 days of annual sunshine while sipping a pint of delicious beer outdoors. Top picks include New Belgium, Zwei Brewing Co, Horse and Dragon Brewing Company, and Jessup Farm.

Fort Collins Brewery Nightlife

Hit popular brewpubs like Equinox, Gilded Goat Brewing Company, and Snowbank for a lively night out enjoying craft beers with locals.

Beer Festivals

Celebrate Fort Collins’ beer culture at annual events like the Tour de Fat and the Fort Collins Beer Week.

Cultural and Historical Highlights

Beyond the obvious appeal of drinking craft beer, the cultural amenities and historical significance of brewing also enhance Fort Collins as a travel destination.

Pioneers of Craft Beer

As home to New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins played a key role in launching the national craft beer movement in the 1990s.

Outdoor Recreation

Over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails along the Cache la Poudre River offer a scenic backdrop to enjoy a post-ride pint.

Local Music and Art

A thriving local music and arts scene means there’s always live entertainment and galleries to enjoy between brewery stops.

Historical Architecture

Downtown offers late 19th-century buildings housing brewpubs, shops, and restaurants with historical Fort Collins charm.

Local Flavors and Cultural Immersion

While beer may be the star attraction, visitors can also immerse themselves in authentic local experiences and cultural offerings unique to Fort Collins

Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Thanks to Colorado State’s agricultural programs, many restaurants focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients from local purveyors.

Old Town Charm

Stroll along the tree-lined streets of Old Town to discover boutiques, cafes, and street musicians that capture Fort Collins’ friendly small-town vibe.

Museums and Galleries

Visit the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery or tour Old Town art galleries to absorb more of the city’s pioneer and agricultural history.

Music and Entertainment

Catch some live music at an Old Town venue, or attend a show at the historic Aggie Theater.

Bike Culture

Rent a bike and cruise Fort Collins’ many trails to really immerse yourself in the local active, eco-friendly culture.

The Evolution of Fort Collins Breweries

While Fort Collins today is practically synonymous with beer, this wasn’t always the case. To understand what shaped the city into a craft beer mecca, one must first look to its early days:

Prohibition Roots

Incorporated in 1873, Fort Collins actually prohibited alcohol sales until 1969. This contributed to a slow start for commercial brewing compared to other Colorado frontier towns.


Changing attitudes led to the legalization of 3.2 beer in 1969. The Matterhorn dance hall secured the first license, pouring the earliest commercial beers in Fort Collins.

Craft Beer Origins

Homebrewer and CSU grad Doug Odell launched the city’s first microbrewery in 1990 with his eponymous Odell Brewing Company.

New Belgium Boost

The following year, Jeff Lebesch founded New Belgium Brewery in his Fort Collins basement. Its rapid growth put Fort Collins on the national craft beer map.

Brewery Boom

Odell and New Belgium’s success spawned a wave of microbreweries and brewpubs to open in Fort Collins through the 1990s and 2000s.

Modern Beer Tourism

Continued expansion of heavyweight and neighborhood breweries has cemented Fort Collins’ reputation as a top destination for traveling beer aficionados.

Beer Festival Calendar

From major international events to small taproom celebrations, beer festivals happen year-round in Fort Collins. Mark your calendars for these annual events that capture the city’s enduring passion for craft beer:

CollabFest (March)

Located in nearby Denver, collaboration brews created by breweries from Northern Colorado and around the country are tapped at this festival hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild.

Fort Collins Beer Week (June)

Special tappings, food pairings, and brewery events run for nine days.

Great American Beer Festival (October)

While based in Denver, this iconic festival attracts participation from many Fort Collins breweries.

Innovations in Sustainable Brewing

Thanks to initiatives by pioneering local brewers, Fort Collins has emerged as a leader in sustainable brewing practices:

Water Conservation

Many breweries have installed advanced water treatment technology to reuse wastewater for heating, cooling, and irrigation purposes.

Sustainable Design

New Belgium’s LEED Platinum tasting room uses renewable energy and reclaimed materials, setting the bar for eco-friendly brewery design.

Community Outreach

Through partnerships, donations, and volunteer programs, Fort Collins breweries aim to better the local community and environment.

Specialty Local Ingredients

Some breweries source local grains and fruits from Colorado farms to reduce their carbon footprint while supporting local agriculture.

Renewable Energy

With its own solar panels and wind turbines, New Belgium sources over half its electrical needs from renewable sources.

Outdoor Brewery Patios and Beer Gardens

What better way to enjoy a cold craft beer than outdoors surrounded by Colorado’s natural splendor? Fort Collins breweries oblige with plenty of scenic beer gardens and patios for al fresco drinking, including:

New Belgium Brewing

The fan-favorite back patio has picnic tables facing the foothills, often with live music.

Odell Brewing

Odell’s sprawling beer garden with fire pits and yard games offers the quintessential brewery backyard vibe.

Equinox Brewing

Equinox’s creekside patio pairs nicely with its classic lagers and crisp pilsners on a bluebird day.

Jessup Farm Barrel House

Drink farmhouse ales with a view of the actual farm at Jessup Farm’s rustic barrel-aging facility.

Intersect Brewing

Intersect’s outdoor patio next to a bike trail rewards pedal-powered visitors with beers like its popular hazy IPAs.

Fort Collins Breweries Colorado FAQ

How many breweries are located in Fort Collins?

Over 20 breweries call Fort Collins home, ranging from industry giants like Anheuser-Busch to small neighborhood taprooms like Snowbank Brewing.

What are some of the most popular Fort Collins breweries?

Top breweries in Fort Collins include New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing, and Equinox Brewing. CooperSmith’s Pub and Brewing holds the title of the city’s oldest operating brewpub.

What beer styles is Fort Collins best known for?

While each craft brewery has its specialties, Fort Collins has an especially strong reputation for India pale ales (IPAs). The city’s craft brewers also produce excellent porters, stouts, wheat beers, and lagers.

Are there any cideries or distilleries in Fort Collins?

Yes, Fort Collins has seen growing numbers of craft cideries and distilleries joining the ranks of breweries. Top cider producers include Summit Hard Cider and Locust Cider. Local distilleries like Feisty Spirits and Elevation 5003 are also making names for themselves.

What are some of the signature beer events in Fort Collins?

Can’t-miss beer events in Fort Collins include Fort Collins Beer Week each March and New Belgium’s Tour de Fat festival in late summer. Many breweries also host special small events and anniversaries.

Are brewery tours offered in Fort Collins?

Yes, many production breweries and large brewpubs like New Belgium, Odell, and Anheuser-Busch offer tours frequently. Tours provide a behind-the-scenes look at facilities and the brewing process.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.