If ever there was a living embodiment of craft beer’s rebirth in American culture, it might just be in the vision that gave life to Zwei Brüder Brewing. Recently opened in Ft. Collins, Colo., a town already saturated with more than a dozen outstanding commercial craft beer operations, Zwei Brüder has the distinction of being the southernmost location in a town known for craft beer.
“We chose this location because it was underserved in terms of craft beer,” said Kirk Lombardi, who was the former award-winning head brewer at C.B. Potts Restaurant and Brewery. “There are large neighborhoods to the south and west, along with the community college. We’re just off the bike trail and near the MAX fast transit line. We think we will serve a nice niche in Ft. Collins.”
At the turn of the 20th century, most every neighborhood had its own brewery. There were some 4,000 breweries nationwide before this neighborhood institution met its demise at the hands of Prohibition. After Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, beer, like many American products and institutions, remerged as a mass-produced product. But with U.S. brewery count recently topping 3,000, local craft breweries, the beer produced by Kirk and his brother Eric—also a former C.B. Potts brewer—is back in demand with a vengeance.
Their brewery named, Zwei Brüder, is German for two brothers. Kirk and Eric have a passion for German beer styles, which is the bedrock of their brilliant tap line up. German beers are made in adherence to Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law, which limits beer to four ingredients: water, barley, malt and hops. Their two best sellers are Pils, a German-style lager that is dry and balanced, and Dunkel, a Munich-style dark lager. They also serve a Munich-style golden lager called Hell, which in German, translates to bright or light colored. There is also Weißbier, a tasty Bavarian-style wheat.
But even German breweries have been inspired by the new American craft beer culture and are mixing up some of the recipes. Zwei Brüder has followed suit. While I was visiting, they had a Colorado-style red ale and ZweIPA, an “almost” double IPA. The Lombardi brothers have also jumped on board the session beer trend, with their Zwickle Leicht. Kirk said that seasonal beers are definitely in the forecast at Zwie Brüder.
The large 10-barrel system is on full display at the high-ceiling Zwie Brüder Brewery, which has all the airs of a neighborhood hang out. A ping pong and foosball table sit among the solid blue-streaked pine beetle kill pine tables and benches. A rolling garage door opens the tasting room to a patio in nice weather. A food truck, serving up homemade smoked meat entrees, is usually parked outside.
“We’ve had good turn out from the local neighborhoods,” Kirk said. “With the concern about needing a designated driver, people in south Ft. Collins now don’t have to travel too far from their neighborhood to enjoy the craft beer experience. For many, we’re just a short bike ride away on the bike path.”
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