Whiskey, Lights, Pinball – a Holiday Outing in Lyons, Colorado

Lyons, Colorado is one of our longtime haunts; after all, we’ve been visiting for more than a decade. It’s home to one of Ryan’s favorite destination, Lyons Classic Pinball, and anytime we’re in town some pinball must be played.

Whiskey, Lights, Pinball, Spirit Hound Distillers. HeidiTown.com

Last Friday, we had a new destination in Lyons – Spirit Hound Distillers. They’d invited me for a tour and we’d gladly accepted. Spirit Hound has been open for four years, and I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first visit.

The distillery has obviously been embraced by locals as the place was packed on a Saturday evening.

We weren’t just here for a tour, but to taste some spirits, including their holiday drinks made with their recently released barrel aged rum. Ryan had a warm chocolatey rum drink while I had my first-ever hot buttered rum – I highly approve.

Hot Buttered Rum, shot courtesy of Spirit Hound Distillers

Photo provided by Spirit Hound Distillers.

We sipped our drinks as head distiller and Colorado booze royalty, Craig Engelhorn, led us on a highly informative and entertaining tour. Craig is responsible for one of Colorado’s best known beers, Dave’s Pale Ale, which was created from his own recipe when he was the brewer at Oskar Blues. This guy has some serious street cred, in Colorado and beyond, when it comes to booze.

Whiskey, Lights, Pinball, photo provided by Spirit Hound Distillers. HeidiTown.com

Photo provided by Spirit Hound Distillers.

To get the entire story of Spirit Hound, I’d recommend taking a tour with Craig because I won’t be able to share everything I learned. I will tell you that Craig knows his stuff and thanks to him (and the rest of the staff at Spirit Hound), this place has been cranking out award winning spirits since opening.  

Whiskey, Lights, Pinball. Award winning whiskey at Spirit Hound Distillers. HeidiTown.com

Photo provided by Spirit Hound Distillers.

When you’re on the tour be sure to ask for evidence of the “angel’s share.”

While whiskey is their flagship spirit, many of their other offerings have been well-received including their gin featuring locally picked juniper berries that locals bring in to the distillery in exchange for a free drink. On that note, when is juniper berry season in Colorado? I need to plan a little juniper picking outing.

Photo provided by Spirit Hound Distillers.

After our tour, Craig set us up with a flight of Spirit Hounds whiskey, which is listed in the 2017 Whiskey Bible on page 283, and for good reason.

Full Disclosure: I’m a whiskey fan, but Ryan’s not, and even he had a favorite among the tasters in our flight. He’s top choice was Barrel 23 and mine was Barrel 26.

Whiskey, Lights, Pinball, the spirit hound. HeidiTown.com

Could this be THE spirit hound?

An evening at Spirit Hound is delightful. It would be the perfect place to meet up with friends or to take visiting family during the holidays. The tasting room sometimes features live bands and other entertainment. Their Facebook page is a great way to stay on top of what’s happening there.

After a fun experience at Spirit Hound, we headed up the street to Oskar Blues for dinner, where I ate some of the best fish and chips I’ve eaten outside of the United Kingdom. After dinner, we played some retro arcade games at Lyons Classic Video (downstairs at Oskar Blues) and then headed over for an evening of pinball at Lyons Classic Pinball. just around the corner from Oskar Blues.

Whiskey, Lights, Pinball. Lyons Classic Pinball. HeidiTown.com

There are so many great reasons to visit Lyons, Colorado. Don’t you think it’s time you made a trip?

Fort Collins for Christmas

Considering a holiday getaway this month? Fort Collins is an excellent Colorado Christmas town. Downtown sparkles with thousands of lights and from Old Town Square to Oak Street Plaza Park, the atmosphere is merry.

Fort Collins for Christmas

This past weekend, we did one-night getaway in Fort Collins to experience the city’s holiday offerings. Before exploring the festive scene we checked into the Fernweh Inn & Hostel on Mulberry, just blocks from the excitement of downtown Fort Collins.

Some people, including my husband, Ryan, have an aversion to any place with hostel in the name. The word makes him worried that he’s going to have to share a bathroom or wash dishes to earn his keep.

Fort Collins for Christmas, the Fernweh Inn & Hostel in the snow

Fernweh is a modern-day, American hostel which offers private rooms as well as bunk rooms. Our private room, “The Loft,” was a virtual suite because the space occupied the entire upstairs of this historic, Victorian home. There was a full bathroom in the room complete with large, soaking bathtub and multiple beds, making it perfect for a family or friends. Continue reading

Gift Guide for Friends with Good Tastes (In Food)

Know someone who loves food? Instead of buying them a cookbook or newfangled kitchen item, how about buying them a foodie experience?

Colorado has blossomed with food tours over the last several years, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing several of these delicious excursions.

Local Table Tours

LocalTableTours.com

This company was started by a Boulder food blogger who has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. Today, Local Table run tours in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. In Denver, they do a tour at The Source, a Taste of Highlands and in downtown (Taste of LoDo and Union Station).

Gift Guide for Friends with Good Tastes

Photo courtesy of Local Table Tours.

Their Boulder-based tours including A Taste of Boulder, Cocktail Tours, Coffee & Chocolate Tours and May through October they offer tours at the Boulder Farmers’ Market.

In Fort Collins, tasting tours include a Cocktail Tour, Waffle & Chocolate Tour, Artisans at Scotch Pines Tour and, the one I experienced this past summer, the Jessup Farm Tasting Tour. Continue reading

How to Avoid I70 Ski Traffic this Winter in Colorado

I love the towns along the I70 corridor, but let’s face it, ski traffic, and even summer traffic, has gotten terrible along this highway. If you can swing it, one of the best way to avoid traffic along this route is to plan your trip for Saturday to Monday. I realize this isn’t always possible, so here are some ways to avoid I70 ski traffic this winter.

Colorado is Open, photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Train

The Amtrak Winter Park Express is back. This is great news, if you’ve got the money. The cheapest fare I could find for a Saturday in mid-January was $108 for a round trip ride per person. For two people, riding the ski train is a rather expensive proposition, but taking the ski train would be a fun way to celebrate a special occasion this winter. Continue reading

Brewery Lights Delight in Fort Collins, Colorado

Looking for something unique to do with the entire family this holiday season? Look no further than Brewery Lights at the Budweiser plant in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Brewery Lights Delight in Fort Collins, Colorado

Last week, I was invited to opening night at Brewery Lights which takes place Thursdays through Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m. through December 30, 2016.

Ryan and I arrived early for a meet and greet with the Budweiser Clydesdales. One of the teams was in town for the weekend, and Clydesdale handler, Zane, introduced us to Frankie. At just four-years-old, Frankie stands 19 hands tall and is about 2000 lbs. He nuzzled us, looking for treats, and seemed to personify the breed’s reputation as “gentle giants.” Continue reading

Skip the Christmas Parade, Get Drunk with Elves – Colorado’s Unique Holiday Events

I started writing for a small Colorado newspaper in 2006. A year later, I started HeidiTown, as well as my magazine writing career. Therefore, I have written dozens of articles and posts about Santa Claus coming to town and Christmas parades.

Skip the Christmas Parade, Elf Crawl Littleton

Photo courtesy of City of Littleton.

I realize that it’s important to get the word out about these traditional holiday happenings, however, I’ve grown tired of writing about them. With that in mind, I asked my Facebook friends if they knew of any unique Colorado Christmas events happening over the next month and a half and I got a few fun responses that I shall share here.

First up is Elf Crawl in downtown Littleton, Colorado. If you haven’t been to Littleton’s downtown, it’s adorable. I actually used to live in the area and we’d occasionally catch shows at Town Hall Arts Center. Continue reading

44 Days of Fall in Colorado

We have 44 days of fall left, but the beautiful fall drives are over, so how do we continue to celebrate this shoulder season? I’ve got a few suggestions.

A Late Fall Getaway in Colorado

November isn’t a big getaway month for most people, but the “shoulder season” is a wonderful time to travel in Colorado. There are less cars on the roads, and unless you’re traveling on Thanksgiving, you’ll find some great hotel deals over the next 44 days.

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An elk herd near Estes Park, Colorado.

We have a tradition of doing birthday getaways in our house and since my husband’s birthday is in November, we’ve done quite a bit of fall travel in Colorado. Denver is actually one of my top picks for this time of year because the city dresses up beautifully for the holidays and it’s fun to stroll a brightly lit up downtown. Continue reading

Out of the Ordinary Winter Escapes in Colorado

I pride myself on finding out of the ordinary destinations. And I don’t just find them online, I visit them. This is the only way to know for sure if a place is worth writing about and worth sending you to. 

Out Of The Ordinary Winter Escapes in Colorado. Sand Dunes Swimming Pool & Hot Springs near Alamosa. HeidiTown.com

The following Colorado destinations are three out of the ordinary winter escapes worth checking out.

Carr Manor, Cripple Creek

I toured this large bed and breakfast while in Cripple Creek a few winters ago. I love unusual repurposing projects and this is definitely a unique one. Carr Manor is an 120-year-old school building that’s been renovated into a bed and breakfast. Continue reading

Trinidad, Colorado, It’s Not What You Think

This is not a post about the island in the Caribbean. This is a post about Trinidad, Colorado. You may have heard about it. Over the years, Trinidad became well-known as the sex change capital of the United States.

Trinidad, Colorado, it's not what you think

ArtoCade on Commercial Street in downtown Trinidad, Colorado.

Interestingly, the clinic that put the town on the map for sex change surgery, moved to California a number of years ago, but preconceptions die hard, especially when a town’s sex change reputation is big enough to have made it onto an episode of South Park.

Before I visited Trinidad this past summer, it was 1) the sex change capital of the United States 2) a place I drove through on my way to New Mexico and 3) the place my friend Amanda, who makes the world’s best green chile, grew up.

After visiting Trinidad, I’ve developed an entirely new perspective on the town. It’s a place where no one is a stranger, where art thrives and history runs deep, where waiters sing and the positive energy is so thick it’s hard not to get caught up in its flow. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Fall Back Beer Fest 2016 in Estes Park

Destination beer festivals are just plain fun, and that’s one thing that sets Fall Back Beer Fest apart. This event is an opportunity to drink good beer in the fantastic Town of Estes Park.

fall-back-beer-festival-logo

The other thing that sets Fall Back Beer Fest apart is that it’s about more than drinking beer – this festival encourages attendees to learn about beer – the beer making process, hops, tasting and more.

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A workshop on beer by Lauren Hoff at last year’s Fall Back Beer Fest.

Plus, this festival always takes place on the day that Daylight Saving Time ends, so you get an extra hour to recover, or to keep partying.

Want to Learn How to Homebrewing?

Fall Back Beer Fest is an excellent beer festival for anyone interested in homebrewing. The festival coincides with the American Homebrewers Association’s “Learn to Homebrew Day.”

Since the beginning, Fall Back Beer Fest has partnered with AHA to be an official Learn to Homebrew Day event location. Local AHA clubs come to Fall Back Beer Fest and brew onsite during the event. This is your opportunity to talk with them, learn about the club and learn about the brewing process.

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Each year, the AHA and the festival give away several homebrewing starter kits to random guests. The idea is to get people excited about all aspects of beer, which seems to be the unwritten mission of Fall Back Beer Fest.

The Rest of the Fest

Fall Back Beer Fest is hosting forty craft breweries this year including some new-to-this-fest brewers such as Wonderland Brewing Co. from Broomfield.

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This was a new-to-me brewery that showed up at FBBF last year.

In the past, a lot of brewers show up at this event – they like destination beer festivals too. This is nice for festival goers because they can meet and chat with the brewers, a rarer and rarer opportunity in the beer festival world, especially during the summer when breweries are stretched thin by the sheer number of festivals occurring on any given weekend.

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In addition to the beer, The Wooks, a Kentucky rhythm and bluegrass band and 2016 RockyGrass band contest winners, will be providing entertainment at Fall Back Beer Fest. Festival food will be supplied by a variety of food trucks, including Umami Mobile Eatery from Fort Collins.

Estes Park for the Win

Estes Park is a wonderful place to visit in the fall. Last year, for Fall Back Beer Fest, we stayed at The Rustic Acre. Their vacation homes are perfect to share with friends and are within easy walking distance of the fest. Read about our getaway here.

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A large held of elk, including babies, walk through Rustic Acres last year when we stayed during Fall Back Beer Fest.

Visit this page, for a list of Estes Park hotels that are offering weekend discounts for folks attending Fall Back Beer Fest 2016.

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Last year, the fine ladies from Feisty Spirits showed up with their bier schnapps. You just never know who you’ll run into at FBBF.

I’ve attended Fall Back Beer Festival for a number of years now and count it among my favorite beer festivals in Colorado. Hope to see you there!

Please note that Hwy 34 from Loveland to Estes Park is closed due to construction this fall and winter. Those driving from Cheyenne and Northern Colorado to FBBF will need to take the route through Lyons via Hwy 66.

Fall Back Beer Fest

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park Events Complex

*shuttles available from downtown

VIP Presale $60 / at the gate $70

GA Presale $35 / at the gate $40

DD Presale $10 / at the gate $10

Purchase Tickets Here

FallBackBeerFest.com

Join this fest on Facebook

Follow this fest on Twitter

***

Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

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