Beer: Water to beer from Colorado snowpack |

Beer: Water to beer from Colorado snowpack

Douglas Brown
The Denver Post
(rm) FEXXFDBEER_CM 01 Cameron Pass two hours west of Fort Collins on Thursday October 15, 2009. The snow melt here flows through the Michigan Ditch off the pass down to the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins some of which will become beer at New Belgium Brewery. Clyde Greenwood from Fort Collins Utilities talks about the water that flows off of the top. Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
ALL | The Denver Post

People from around the world come to Colorado to make beer. Not for the hops or the grain. They come for the gorgeous water.

The collision of Pacific-borne storms and towering mountains yields enormous reservoirs of pristine snow in the state, much of which melts and submits to gravity, ending up in water-treatment facilities 5,000 feet lower and miles away along the Front Range.

And, eventually, in your pint glass. Hops, barley, yeast and time transform millions of gallons of Colorado water every year into

At New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins as they made Fat Tire Amber Ale on Wednesday October 21, 2009. Brewing employee Andrew Hagdorn checks on a kettle of malt and water mixing that is the first step in the beer making process. (The Denver Post | CYRUS MCCRIMMON)

ale and lager. Colorado breweries (more than 100 of them) pump out more beer – 23,370,848 barrels in 2006 – than any other state.

New Belgium in Fort Collins sits somewhere between brewing leviathan and microbrew startup. Hundreds of workers create an array of beers, from sour Belgian-style ales that cost $15 for a 22-ounce bottle to more-straightforward mugs of suds that sell for $4 at LoDo sports bars.

What goes into that six-pack of bottled blizzard? It starts with snow, in the northern fringes of the aptly named Never Summer Range.

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