7&7 at The Trailhead

One of my good buddies came into town yesterday afternoon, and even though it was freezing and cold and snowing and awful, I couldn’t resist hopping on my bike to ...

The Happiest Hour: Jax vs. Fish

Can I get a “Hell yeah!” for happy hours? There’s nothing better than clocking out after a long day at work and treating yourself with a drink that won’t break ...

How To Be a Civilized Human Being When Ordering a Drink

There are a lot of “Do’s and Don’ts” for ordering drinks floating around the interwebs, including this recent Buzzfeed post. While I can’t fathom what kind of person asks some ...

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Go Yelp Yourself: The Mayor of Old Town

As a blogger, I get nasty comments about my opinions all the time. (Well, not all the time. Fort Collins is really super nice.) And you know what? That’s fine. You’re totally allowed to have a different opinion than me. Call me Captain Obvious, but different people like different stuff. However, sometimes I run across a particularly annoying review on Yelp that I feel deserves to be called out as misleading or unfair. These aren’t always the bad reviews; they’re just the oblivious ones. 

Before I review any bar or club, I make sure I visit multiple times, on different days and different hours of the night. I sample as many different drinks as my budget allows and really try to understand the intention, the atmosphere, the point of the place. It would be a waste of my time and yours to drink a Coors Light at Elliot’s, review the salad selection at the Trailhead, or complain about the lack of non-beer options in a brewery.

Sadly, that’s not how most Yelp reviewers operate. The rise of Yelp and other crowd-sourced review databases has convinced every fat, entitled American that their opinions matter – that it’s acceptable, even admirable to post a review of every place they’ve ever visited. Everything they eat, everywhere they go is Instagramed, Foursquared, Facebooked, and filed away for posterity, whether they have anything relevant to say or not. That’s one of the reasons I started the Go Yelp Yourself series – I was tired of reading pointless reviews from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

But occasionally I stumble across a review that seems fair, well-balanced, even helpful…except for one little thing that makes me want to slap them upside the head and revoke their internet privileges forever. Observe this recent Yelp review of our world-renowned beer bar, The Mayor of Old Town.

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Dear Cathy,

Oh, honey. You tried so hard. You came so close. You sat down at your computer and wrote a short, informative review that offered definite, actionable details on both products and atmosphere. You helped readers develop a feel for the place – “charming,” great for small-scale group activities or casual romantic encounters. You suggested specific menu items, and have clearly been visiting the Mayor long enough to lament menu changes (although I believe the pretzels are once again available for purchase).

This could have been that rare gem of a Yelp review that actually serves a purpose. Unfortunately, you ruined it with two little lines that are almost poetic in their ability to incite rage and confusion:

“An amazing selection of beer. I always choose a cider.”

Cathy. WTF?

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The Mayor of Old Town is one of the best beer bars in the country, with exactly 100 taps that are usually 98% occupied by, well, beer. I’ve never seen more than two or three ciders on tap, and sometimes they don’t even have that many. If you want cider, we have many fantastic new cider joints such as Scrumpy’s and Compass Cider where you can imbibe in apple-based beverages to your heart’s content. It’s nice that the Mayor offers a cider or two for beer-haters who are otherwise enamored with the establishment. The Mayor has plenty to offer along with their beer, and cider is a polite nod to those who enjoy the food and atmosphere but can’t – or won’t – drink beer. But that’s all it is. A polite nod. So why in the name of all that’s holy do you ALWAYS choose a cider?

Are allergic to gluten? Do you dislike beer? Or are you so paralyzed by all the delicious, craft-brewed options that you must abdicate from deciding entirely? I DON’T UNDERSTAND, CATHY. PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND.

There are plenty of Yelpers who review a place that’s based upon a food, beverage, or concept they freely admit to hating. Those reviews are easily dismissed as idiotic and unnecessary. But you don’t claim that you hate beer. In fact, you call the Mayor’s selection “amazing,” which makes me, the uninitiated Yelp reader who has never stepped foot in the Mayor of Old Town, concerned and confused by the unknown quantity that prevents you from ever ordering a beer in a place that caters almost exclusively to beer lovers. It makes me hurt inside my head, Cathy.

So while I admire your attempt to provide an unbiased, informative review for the beer-drinking masses, I’m afraid I have demand that you turn in your Yelp card until you elaborate upon your original review. Until then, enjoy your cider. No hard feelings.

Love,

Late Night Fort Collins

Spring Clean Your Cocktail Menu

When you go out for a drink, it’s easy to always fall into familiar territory. While you may make the occasional jaunt to Social or Elliot’s for the express purpose of trying something new, you probably don’t even bother to ask for the cocktail menu at your regular Friday night bar. You already know what you’re going to get.

Sometimes you stick with “the usual” because it’s easy. I always order 90 Shilling at Road 34 because it’s cheap, they always have it on tap, and it goes great with their F-ing Nachos. Sometimes you fall in a rut simply because they make the best – the house margarita at Los Tarascos, for example. And sometimes you order the same thing every time just because, well, it’s what you’ve always ordered. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything from the bar at Surfside 7 except High Life and Red Death shots…but I’m okay with that.

Trying new things can go wrong – for the love of god, please don’t order an Old Fashioned at Bondi – but even if you wind up with a glass of undrinkable swill, it still makes your night just a little bit more interesting. And every once in a while, you’ll strike gold with an unbelievable cocktail at the weirdest place.

Your usual is your usual for a reason, but it doesn’t hurt to shake things up every once in a while. Take a closer look at your favorite bar’s cocktail menu this weekend. Order something you’ve never had, or something you’ve always been curious about. Spring is the time for cleaning out the cobwebs and starting fresh. And I’ll let you in on a little secret…picking a new drink is a whole lot more fun than reorganizing your closet. Just FYI.

Good Question: Why Don’t Breweries Stay Open Later?

Considering how many breweries we have around here, it can be surprisingly tough to find a night owl-friendly tap room. Most of my favorite breweries close around 6pm, with few staying open past 9pm. Not that I’m complaining – day drinking is one of my favorite hobbies, and there’s no better place to spend a lazy Sunday than inside a sunny local brewery. Our breweries are daytime creatures, and that’s just fine…usually. But sometimes I wish more tap rooms stayed open late.

Some breweries have been extending their hours later and later recently, but they still close well before most bars and restaurants in the same area. Is it a lack of demand for evening hours, or are breweries just trying to avoid becoming a bar? Staying open after 10pm doesn’t automatically mean everyone is going to get wasted and start barfing, but I will admit that the chances for drunken shenanigans increase as the night goes on. I don’t want Odell to turn into Tony’s, but I wouldn’t mind having the option of spending my night at a brewery instead of a bar.

Fortunately, there are a few breweries jumping on board the nightlife bandwagon. Black Bottle stays open till midnight, although some would argue that it’s more of a brewery/bar hybrid than a true brewery anyway. Coopersmith’s is always open late, but again, it doesn’t really feel like a brewery in there (and I kind of hate their beer). If you venture further south to Loveland, you’ll find that Loveland Aleworks stays open till 10 or 11 on most nights, and Big Beaver doesn’t close till 10 on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Loveland Aleworks has the right idea here.

Unfortunately, all the heavy hitters – Odell, New Belgium, Fort Collins Brewery, Funkwerks, Equinox – close their doors early. Equinox and Funkwerks are your best bet if you get off work late or need a pre-dinner brewery fix. Equinox isn’t necessarily my favorite brewery, but I usually end up spending more time there than anywhere else, simply because they’re open later.

With summer just around the corner, I plan to log a lot of patio time at all the local breweries, but I’m always going to be disappointed when the clock strikes 6 and I have to pack up and move on. What about you? Do you wish more breweries stayed open later, or are their hours just right?