By Bobby Bush
An hour's drive north of Denver, Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University. The affable Old Town Square area of downtown Fort Collins also hosts two pretty cool brewpubs.
Linden's Brewing Company Night Club & Restaurant opened in 1990 on Linden Street without the Brewing Company portion of its name. Thought it looks as though it has always been part of the scenery, the 15 barrel, copper clad brewhouse was added in 1999 behind glass along the right wall. To the left sits a long, black marble-topped bar. Six tall serving tanks stately stand behind the bar. A jazz band positions their equipment on a cramped stage, preparing to entertain a crowd consuming, right now, delicious dinners.
Brewer Chad - no one knew his last name - had eight beers on tap in this swanky club of a brewpub. Bebop Blonde, an organic offering, was light, wheat-like with a dry finish. Unfiltered and served with lemon slice, Linden's Honey Wheat was refreshing, yeasty and tangy in the American wheat style. Sax-A-Pale Ale provided fruity zestiness. Slightly on the bitter side of the scale, this perkily carbonated beer would a good session drink make. Linden's Amber Ale offered mild flavor with hints of toffee and orange amidst its intriguing complexity. Encore Abbey was Belgian in style, boasting sweetness with pear and honey sensations.
While preparing to sample the rest of Linden's tasty brews, my appetizer of Mussels a la Brugges arrived. Excellent is nothing short of accurate in describing this delicacy. Delusionator Weizenbock was creamy smooth, medium bodied and yeasty. Both fruit and candy-like sweetness dominated the taste profile in an almost too overpowering proportion. Brewed using an 18th century recipe, Percussion Porter provided smooth, dark tones. Its roasted flavor held faint harshness followed by dry aftertaste. Aged 90 days, Big Band Barley Wine, a "velvety aphrodisiac elixir," was complex (grapefruit and grapes) but not syrupy with hardly any sign of bitterness. What a great place (the bartendress refused to volunteer the availability of Budweiser to anyone unless they first tried the Bebop Blonde or Honey Wheat), but I had to move on.
Established in 1989, CooperSmith's Pub & Brewery is a beerdrinkers' paradise. Split by an alley into pub/restaurant on one side and busy bar/poolroom on the other, seats at either bar are hard to come by. I'd last visited in 1993. Little had changed. And that's a good thing. Seven regular beers plus four specialties, along with house made Root Beer, Cream Soda and Ginger Al,e comprised the drink menu. Tempted by the likes of regulars Albert Damm Bitter, Sigda's Green Chili Beer and Horsetooth Stout, due to the lateness of the night I limited my selection to the specialties: Marathon Gold Lager, Honey Rye Ale, Brother Adam's Mead and my choice, a cask-conditioned ale.
Cask-conditioned Punjabi Pale Ale, cloudy orange-copper in hue, was medium in mouthfeel with a lingering thin white head of foam. Heavy in flavor with citrusy hops bitterness juxtaposed with apples n' pears flavors. Just a touch of the Green Chili Beer before heading back to Denver for the night. With the aroma of apple cider, the fiery intensity of this golden beer built slowly on the back of my throat. Was I ever glad that this was a two ounce taster and not an imperial pint glass! Dwight Hall is the brewer, though I'm sure he has plenty of help in this high-production brewpub.
For more information on CooperSmith's, see their informative website: www.coopersmithspub.com.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush