New Year, New Beer! A peek inside Ft. Collins’ latest addition to the brewery scene

by Ali Owens

I know – we all know what we like. But what’s a new year for, if not to try new things? Do yourself a favor and surprise your taste buds by checking out Ft. Collins’ new kid on the block: Jessup Farm Barrel House. Your inner beer enthusiast will thank you.

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In a city already rife with micro-breweries, the Barrel House sets itself apart right at the entrance. Walk in through the front doors, and you will immediately be greeted by rows of wooden barrels and stainless steel tanks – the belly of the beast. Head upstairs to the tasting room and take in the lofty, airy space – lots of light, and exposed beams in the dramatic A-frame ceiling. It lends a feeling of community; like maybe you’ve entered a friend’s dining room.

And then, there’s the beer. The Barrel House offers a unique spin on the local brewery scene; not only do they have an outstanding lineup of ales, ranging from pale to black, they also create different versions of these beers by aging them in various liquor barrels. So if you’ve ever wanted to try a basic brown ale, for instance, and then taste what happens to it when it’s aged in a bourbon barrel…here’s your place.

In case you’re still not convinced, I’ve taken one for the team and done some research for you, by way of consuming a generously-portioned flight of delicious barrel-aged beers on a weekday afternoon. It was grueling work. You’re welcome.

Train Delay Pale Ale Tequila Barrel-Aged

Stick your nose in this glass, and you might mistake it for a pile of fresh-cut grass clippings.  It’s raw, green and earthy, with a hint of peat – reminiscent of those long summer days working in the garden.  The crisp and refreshing essence is nicely supported by a subtle hop presence.

Grifter Brown Ale Rum Barrel-Aged

Think of chocolate-covered raisins, add the toasted coconut nuances of an Almond Joy bar, and throw in some fresh-brewed coffee, and you’ll have a good idea of what Grifter smells like.  On the palate, it’s velvet-smooth and malty, and the dry decadence of dark chocolate mingles nicely with the mouthwatering sweetness of blackberry jam.

 UB Forty Red Ale Red Wine Barrel-Aged

The aroma of this artful brew brings to mind sugar cookies, toasted marshmallow, caramel and rye.  On the palate, it’s round, warm, and toasty, with a quiet but commanding hop structure and the flavor of roasted pecans throughout.

Wood Knot Black Ale Whiskey Barrel-Aged

This creamy, medium-to-full-bodied brew will punch you in the nose with deep, pensive aromas of bitter cacao, old books, and a hint of pipe tobacco.  The flavors are rich and refined on the tongue, bursting with chocolate, espresso, and leather.  Black ales aren’t usually my thing, but when it’s cold outside, this is absolutely the beer I’d choose to keep me warm.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Barrel House. We’re glad you’re here.