Monday, April 25, 2011

Breweries: from HUGE to Tiny

This weekend a friend offered to be designated driver and take us up to Ft. Collins to tour some breweries. She loves horses, so our first stop was Anheuser-Busch.

Massive. This big brewery is one of a dozen or so across the country that brews AB products (note: AB was bought by InBev recently). The sheer amount of beer brewed is amazing. This brewery alone pumps out 30 Million barrels per year (60 million kegs). The vessels used in brewing all this beer are massive themselves. The bottling line rips through cases of bottles or cans at an astonishing rate. This is a well run business that just happens to be a brewery. For me, their beers do not cut it. They are adjunct lagers and have no real taste to them. For some, this satisfies them. That's fine, but for me it's on to the next tour...

Odell's Brewing Company is the next step down on the size scale. And it's waaayyy down. If I remember correctly, Odell produces 25,000 barrels a year. AB does that in a week, if not faster. Amazing. But the products are different. While AB produces mostly lagers, Odell produces mostly ales. The former takes longer to produce (about a month) that is double the time most ales need. So, AB puts out more beer that takes longer to produce, than Odell. Again, amazing. Yet, the ales at Odells are more my style. Full of flavor, diverse, prone to mistakes, and innovating. Their production line was impressive, and it's growing. While Odell's is drastically smaller than the ONE AB brewing facility, it's still bigger than...

Fort Collins Brewery, just down the street. This is more like a small bar with a brewery attached. Quaint and cozy. They are about 1/2 the size of Odell's and not at all a threat to AB. It's interesting to see the differences in these breweries. We have the colossal giant, the big-guy micro-brewery, and the small micro-brewery. Then we have...

Funkwerks Brewery, just down the street from FC and Odell's. This is very small and very new. They specialize in "funky" beers, or beers that are made with certain yeast strains that give off distinctive aromas and flavors. Basically, now we're in someone's house (a big house) that is converted to a brewery and tasting room (note: I don't think it's actually someone's house). They have a small but nice selection of beers, and some cheese dishes to pair with these Belgian-y beers. A more personal experience.

It was quite a trip. To see that AB's brewery is so large that it utterly dwarfs a nice sized micro-brewery is impressive as is...but throw in the fact that this AB brewery is just one of a dozen across the country and the picture becomes much more clear: AB is in no danger of being contested by the micros. Wow.

1 comment:

  1. Booker from KC. My son in law in Loveland has been wanting to take me to the breweries in Ft Collins. Interested? 9132320244 (out there from 30th thru 5 May?