When we first met Lauren she working the taps at Pateros Creek Brewing Co in Fort Collins, CO. It was the 106th brewery visit on our journey and little did we know we would meet back up to mark our 300th brewery as well. She is now working at Loveland Alweworks as well writing for her own beer blog Napa of Beer which keeps tabs on the Northern Colorado beer scene. We asked Lauren a couple questions to learn about her beer travels.
TRP: Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less. OR in a haiku
Lauren: Colorado native with an obsession for craft beer and bike commuting. I enjoy spreading the good word of good beer through education.
TRP: If beer drinking was your “job” what title would you give yourself? If beer drinking is your job, tell us more!
Lauren: I am very lucky that beer gets to be not only a hobby and passion, but also my career! I write and manage NapaofBeer.com which focuses on beer education and women in beer through education and events. I also work for Loveland Aleworks, a small, family owned brewery in Loveland, CO that has been open just over a year. I pour beers in the taproom and also handle marketing, events and education. This past August I graduated from the Beverage Business Institute at Colorado State University with a certificate in Brewing Operations Management. I’m hoping this new program at CSU will help me continue to have a successful and rewarding career in beer.
TRP: How did you get involved in the craft beer industry?
Lauren: I had always been into craft beer as I went to college in Fort Collins, and grew up in Colorado. After I graduated, I was running a nanny agency and saving up money to go to grad school for education policy. I got a full time nanny job working for the family that owns Pateros Creek Brewing Company. I would take care of the kids during the week and help out in the taproom and at festivals on the weekends. It snowballed from there.
TRP: How do you define “beer travel”?
Lauren: If you have to travel to get there, and you are drinking beer, it is beer travel! Luckily, I live in a big state, with many breweries. I can ride my bike 10 minutes to a few breweries, or by driving a few hours get to hundreds of others. This makes for plenty of options from an afternoon down in Boulder or a weekend in Durango.
TRP: Why do you travel for beer?
Lauren: As much as I like to try new beers, it is even more enjoyable to meet the people behind the beer. We always end up visiting fewer breweries than we plan on trips because we end up staying and chatting with someone. Whether we are chatting beer, industry or life experiences, I always learn something new.
TRP: What was your first craft beer travel memory?
Lauren: A bit after I had turned 22, I ran the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon. The finish line was less than 2 blocks from Tommyknocker Brewery. I picked up my medal, bypassed the chocolate milk and bananas and headed straight for the brewery. After 6 months of training, a burger and beer was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t alone in my sentiment, as the place was packed with sweaty people in race numbers.
TRP: Where have your beer travels taken you? What breweries have you visited?
Lauren: I have traveled to many in Colorado. I just visited my 80th Colorado brewery. When I started traveling, there were just over 100 breweries in the state, now we are quickly about to pass 200. They are opening up quicker than I get to them! Aside from traveling up and down the Front Range and I-70 corridors, I also spent 2 days in the Ouray/Telluride area last year visiting several of the area’s beer makers.
TRP: How do you plan your beer travels?
Lauren: When my friend and I planned our road trip to Ouray, we utilized the Beer Drinker’s Guide to Colorado Map. We planned our route from Fort Collins, 7 hours north of our destination, based on the number of breweries along the route, their open times, etc. Many times I travel for specific events, such as Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival in Vail or Great American Beer Fest in Denver.
TRP: What are some of your favorite beer destinations that you have visited?
Lauren: I love going down to the Denver area for the day. There are dozens of breweries plus great local restaurants and tap houses with craft beer focus. I also enjoy hosting out of town friends, other bloggers and beer reps here in Fort Collins/Northern Colorado. We have several breweries and cozy beer bars almost all within walking distance of each other, giving a small town feel.
TRP: Tell us about your most memorable brewery visit:
Lauren: This is like asking “what is your favorite beer?”. There are so many out there! Each of the breweries we visited on our Ouray trip were unique. From getting to put hops in the wort during an exclusive tour, to playing cards for hours with a notoriously angry brewery owner and then meeting the man who makes the Grammy Award statues right across a dirt road from the pub, each brewery gave us a fun experience. Spending a lot of time in Fort Collins breweries has given me other great memories such as, late night 80’s dance parties at Equinox, painting the taproom at Crabtree Brewing and teaching a brewing class with good friend and assistant brewer Natalie Lesko at Funkwerks to a group of 15 women.
TRP: What is your favorite aspect of beer travel?
Lauren: The people! One of the things that drew me most to working in the craft beer industry was the culture. From the employees to the patrons there are so many great people to get to know, share beer with and learn from.
TRP: What is on your beer travel wish list?
Lauren: It is a long one! I really want to check out the Portland beer scene as well as Ashville, NC. There are so many up and coming beer scenes around the country, the possibilities are endless.
TRP: Best Beer State in your opinion:
Lauren: Colorado, but I might be a little biased!
TRP: Where can we find more about you online? Twitter/Facebook/Website etc.
Lauren: You can find me on my website, Napa of Beer. On social media find me on Facebook or on Twitter @NapaofBeerGirl