fortcollinsbeer.jpgBiking is a great way to see the country. Or, in the case of Fort Collins, Colorado, to sample the local beer. Katy Schneider of the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau put together the following afternoon biking tour of the microbreweries in her town 50 miles north of Denver. Fort Collins, which has been called the Napa Valley of Beer, also is home to a Budweiser plant. Don’t want to bring your own bike? No problem. You can stop by the bike library in Old Town Square and check one out – for free.

Here’s Schneider’s self-guided bike tour of beer bliss:

Start: Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewing, next to the bike library in Old Town at 5 Old Town Square, always has something tasty on tap including Not Brown Ale, Poudre Pale and Horsetooth Stout. Looking for something with a kick? Try a Sigda’s Green Chili. Coopersmith’s also serves lunch to provide the fuel you’ll need for your ride. Pints from $4.

ftcollins_046.jpgStop 2: Odell Brewing Company, makers of flagship brew 90 Shilling Scottish Ale and a full range of flavorful beers from the light, crisp Easy Street Wheat to the dark, roasty Cutthroat Porter. Tasting trays and pints from $4. Directions: exit Old Town Square via Mountain Avenue, follow Mountain Avenue across Riverside where it turns into Lincoln, follow Lincoln across the scenic Poudre River for approx. five blocks. O’dells is on the left at 800 E. Lincoln Ave. Distance: .7 miles.

Stop 3: Fort Collins Brewery, makers of the tart, tangy and unique Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat as well as the smoky, complex Z Lager and dark, smooth Chocolate Stout. Tastings from $4. Directions: Follow Lincoln Avenue East for approx. one mile, Fort Collins Brewery is on the left at 1900 E. Lincoln Ave. #B. Distance: 1.5 miles.

End: New Belgium Brewing Company, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale, promotes biking nearly as much as it does beer. From the Tour de Fat every September, to Bike-In Cinema each summer, New Belgium is the trendsetter for beer and bike culture. Tastings are free but go early to get a seat. Directions: Go back the way you came west on Lincoln, take a right on 1st street, follow 1st for approx. 1 block, left on Buckingham, right on Linden, brewery is on the right at 500 Linden St. Distance: 2 miles.

Optional Extension: Big Horn Brewing Company offers a cornucopia of hops and malts with award-winning brews like Buttface Amber, Big Red I.P.A and Total Disorder Porter. Located inside of C.B. Potts restaurant, so you stop here for dinner with your beer. Pints from $4. Directions: Inside of C.B. Potts Restaurant, follow Linden west, left on Walnut to go around Old Town Square, right on Mountain, follow Mountain to Shields, left Shields to Elizabeth, Right on Elizabeth to 1415 W. Elizabeth. Distance: 3 miles.

If you prefer to walk when you drink, try the free tours of the Budweiser plant. They’re offered Thursday-Monday during the winter and daily June 1-September 30. And you get samples when you’re done. Must be 21 to tour the Bud factory.