Long time readers will often read me deeply sighing about another new brewery planning on opening in Fort Collins. There are three things we don’t really need more of in this town – American fare (burgers, hot dogs, and bar food), pizza, and beer.
But, every now and then I’m proved wrong and I eat some crow. We do have room for some more breweries, and some of those new breweries are serving up some pretty awesome and unique beers.
Being a freelancer and consultant working from home, I bounce around from place to place for meetings with collaborators and clients. Sometimes they are office meetings, other times they are lunch meetings, most of the time they are beer meetings. Which means I’ve had a fair amount of time talking shop over some delicious brews at some of my standby breweries. So, it’s not that I dislike breweries or beer when I lament about the brewery bubble. Quite the contrary! I just think there’s more to Fort Collins than beer. But, when we get a new brewery doing something completely different, I’ll be quick to give out review high-fives.
I live over on the southeast side of town where BJ’s was the only “brewery” to choose from as a neighborhood hangout option. NOPE. That’s never going to happen. Thank god Jessup Farm Barrel House opened – the brewery I can call my meeting place, my hangout, my neighborhood brewery.
Photo Credit: Jessup Farm Barrel House Facebook
Jessup Farm Barrel House opened November 25, 2015 in the Jessup Farm Artisan Village on Timberline and Prospect. The brewery is housed in a 133 year old restored barn, and it is absolutely beautiful. The original structure of the old barn has been preserved as much as possible. The first floor of the converted barn is used for fermenting, blending and barrel storage. The upstairs seating features a large wrap around bar and communal tables surrounded by barrels. And let me just tell you, it can get packed at 6pm when everyone is grabbing a beer after work.
It’s even often packed with dogs, and I’ve witnessed a few get into tussles. So, there’s that.
Brad Lincoln and Gordon Schuck of Funkwerks, a Fort Collins favorite, decided to invest and partner in a new concept managed and brewed by Jeff Albarella. So, this isn’t exactly “Funkwerk’s second brewery” but a completely different concept.
Jeff has a pretty interesting history in beer. After graduating from the Siebel Institute’s World Brewing Academy International Diploma in Brewing Technology program in 2009, he began his career as Assistant Brewer at Carver Brewing Company in Durango, CO, eventually taking over as Head Brewer in 2012. In 2013 Jeff earned a Gold Medal for his European-Style Dunkel Lager at the Great American Beer Festival. So, the guy knows good beer. And you can taste the difference in quality if you’re a frequent brewery hopper.
The brewery is a barrel and blending brewery, utilizing wine, bourbon, tequila, and other specialty barrel-aged beer to create a variety of unique, approachable beers. These are very balanced, smooth, session beers that you can easily sip with friends over a conversation.
I’ve been to the Barrel House so many times that I’ve had the opportunity to drink a good selection of their menu.
On my first visit I had their “Chocolate Flight of Fancy” chocolate and beer pairing flight, with chocolates coming from Sweet B’s Bakery. It consisted of:
- Tequila Freight Delay (tequila barrel-aged IPA) paired with a citrus thyme truffle
- Barbarosa (rum barrel-aged red ale) paired with milk chocolate with white chocolate cranberry filling
- Wheelhouse (bourbon barrel-aged brown ale) paired with a dark caramel pecan
- Wood Knot (Whiskey barrel-aged black ale) paired with chocolate covered cherry
This is where I promptly fell in love with this brewery. Spirit barrels? Gourmet chocolate? Beer? It was all of my favorite things wrapped into one. Honestly, there wasn’t one beer that I didn’t like, nor a chocolate that I didn’t love.
My favorites were definitely the Tequila Freight Delay with the citrus thyme truffle, and the Wheelhouse with the dark caramel pecan. These were excellently paired and the beers were fabulous. The Freight Delay was light and refreshing with a nuanced level of complexity, giving the IPA a subtle smoothness. The barrel-aging process takes the intense hoppiness of an IPA down a notch, but still keeps it rich in flavor.
I returned again a few weeks later sipping on Excentrico, the tequila barrel-aged pale ale. And then going for a pint of the Blood Orange Freight Delay, the dry-hopped pale ale with blood orange puree.
Clearly, I love their tequila barrel-aged beers. All of them. And a lot. As a tequila connoisseur, the beers don’t actually taste like tequila with its distinctive dusty, peppery flavor. So, it’s not like you’re going to drink a beer that tastes like a shot of Patron. But you are going to get a glass that has a deeper, more robust oaky flavor that isn’t overpowering – it blends right in with the beer itself and tastes amazing.
On another meeting visit, I enjoyed a pint of Nib Knot Nitro – whiskey barrel-aged black ale infused with cocoa nibs.
This was so rich and creamy, almost like an adult dark chocolate milk with a subtle hint of whiskey on the aftertaste. Again, another very balanced and smooth beer, with atypical complexities.
I sipped on this while snacking on some Rebel Popcorn. You can get sea salt caramel or caramelized onion blue cheese – or you can go half and half, which is what we did. Both are outstanding, but that sea salt caramel is straight up addicting, especially paired along with the Nib Knot Nitro.
Jessup Farm Barrel House has become one of my favorite breweries in Fort Collins because of the great atmosphere and the completely different selection of beers. Add the fact that they are mere minutes away from home, a place that I can bike to and comfortably hang out, and I am a huge fan. There are so many beers I want to keep drinking, new ones that I can’t wait to try (like the beer cocktails!), and snacks to munch on. I’ll gladly eat crow to say we needed this brewery in Fort Collins.
Jessup Farm Barrel House
1921 Jessup Drive
Kid-Friendly? There are quite a few families here, and non-alcoholic beverages to order
Parking: Shared parking lot with the village
Healthy Options? Natural sodas, and small plate nibbles, some are gluten-free (although not labeled)
Budget-Friendly? Average brewery pricing, snacks top out at $15 and beer is about $8-10.
Recent Health Inspection: Average