Open in 1988, the Fort Collins Anheuser-Busch Brewery brews 33 different beer brands. In 2018 it became the second brewery with the capacity to support their emergency drinking water program. Their team periodically pauses brewing to produce and can emergency drinking water, in an effort to better support their neighbors coast to coast.
The Fort Collins Budweiser factory offers free guided tours. The beer at the end of the mile-and-a-half walk is also free.
While waiting for the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour to begin, we help ourselves to complimentary soda and pretzels in the bar. The adjacent gift shop sells all the Budweiser paraphernalia one could want, including T-shirts that say “don’t worry, be hoppy.”
Our tour guide, Cory, gathers the group together and gets us under way. Our first stop: the Clydesdale Hamlet, home of the famous Budweiser horses. Cory explains the Fort Collins Bud brewery is the training facility that teaches these immense creatures to be commercial stars, parade ponies and everything else the job demands.
He then leads us through the Willy Wonka-style gates and up to the brewery doors. Inside, we take an elevator to the “hot side” where wort – a young, unfermented beer mixture – is made. Through the hall windows we see the brewing vats – gigantic silver cones that make this facility tied for the fifth-largest automated brewery in the Budweiser system.
From here the wort is sent to the “cold side,” where other ingredients are added. We follow suit, passing in hallways filled with black-and-white photos of the company’s founding workers and product.
In the second elevator, we can smell the bitter fragrance of hops from the room above. As we enter, we stare at the enormous holding vats. “We still make beer like they did back then,” Cory says, “…but we’ve made it more efficient. Guys like Busch, Pabst and Coors are responsible for the mechanization.”
After a few educational stops, we’re led to the beer packing and shipping area. As we watch the massive amounts of machinery, Cory explains the entire process, from the brew being poured, to the cans being pasteurized.
A display of the beer line is next.
“I’ve tried every beer in this case – for training purposes, of course,” Cory says jokingly, “so I can help you find a beer you’ll like.”
Walking through the advertisement hall, with familiar slogans like “This Bud’s for you” and “Nothing beats a Bud,” we pass into the lager cellar. The room, kept at a chilly 48 degrees, stores rows upon rows of giant vats with fermenting lager. The deep carbonated smell fills our nostrils, adding to the anticipation of the beer that awaits.
Once the tour is over, we’re back to the bar to treat our taste buds. Cory explains each 3-ounce taster of beer our bartender serves, from the intake to the aftertaste, and invites us to have an additional 10-ounce beer of our choice.
This tour, which lasts about 1 ½ hours, is free from start to finish, but an expanded Brewmaster Tour is offered for $25 per person. In addition to a hat, T-shirt, tasting glass and 10 percent discount at the gift shop, the paid tour offers a more in-depth look at what makes the Anheuser-Busch one of the most popular companies in the world.
Beermaster Tours must be scheduled in advance, and participants must wear closed-toe shoes and pants. $25 per person for those 21 and older, $10 for those 13 to 20, who are not allowed to taste the beer. October-May, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Thursday through Monday, June-September, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery is another stop to add to your Colorado breweries list!