Craft Beer Cellar is located in Old Town Fort Collins, right off of Mason and is the perfect spot for every beer lover. You can find anything from local Colorado beers to imported European beers alike. Even better, or at least something we love, you can break up any six pack and make your own so you can try all kinds of beers without breaking the bank.
To learn more about the two guys behind this awesome oasis, both Justin and Chris, we decided to ask them a few questions.
Q: What made you decide to open Craft Beer Cellar?
Justin Wright: I have loved beer since I first visited some friends in Boston in 2004 who introduced me to Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus 12, and some other big amazing beers. While I regretted it the next day, the path was set. When the original CBC opened my wife told me about it and I became an immediate customer because of the service, knowledge and sheer amount of beer they had. I have an MBA and have always wanted to be my own boss, so this mix of passion and education is why I wanted to do this.
Chris Lazzery: Well, to be perfectly frank, I was miserable at work at my desk job in Boston. The idea of being my own boss appealed to me for some time, and I was a customer day one at the original CBC in Belmont, MA. I loved the model (education, hospitality, and knowledge) and the original owners are just fantastic people. They announced the franchise program about 18 months after opening and it was just something I put on the back burner for a while. Cue May 2014 and I made up my mind to open my own store.
Q: What is your background in the beer world?
Justin: I don't have any! I'm just a super beer afficionado, who loves to homebrew (when I have the time, which is never right now), and I love reading about beer. I'm getting my Certified Cicerone as well, just to round out my education, and it won't stop there as I'll do BJCP and more beyond that.
Chris: Professionally, none. But I have been enjoying craft beer since I've been of legal drinking age. I've homebrewed for a couple of years, and I am trying a new beer nearly every day. I simply love beer. I'm currently awaiting my Certified Cicerone results and plan to further my education with various certifications in the future.
Q: Do you have an all time favorite beer? What is it?
Justin: This is a hard question that we get asked nearly daily in the store and my answer is always "I don't have one." Am I drinking this with food? Am I drinking it after I mowed the lawn? Am I having dessert? Am I just enjoying the flavor? All those go into my decision so I guess my favorite beer would be the one I'm drinking at the time. I'll be honest though and say I'll always be partial to Belgian beers, specifically saisons, dubbels, quads, tripels, strongs, oud bruins, flanders reds.....well I just named nearly all the Belgian styles....
Chris: I could probably rattle off 25 right now. It really depends on my mood, what I am eating, or a specific memory of drinking something special in a special environment. For example, I remember the first time I tried De Molen's tremendous Hel & Verdoemenis (or Hell & Damnation); I was on vacation with a couple of my best friends in the world in Amsterdam and we came upon a wonderful beer bar called 't Arendsnest and I chose that beer. To this day it remains one of my favorite imperial stouts and it brings me right back to that day when I crack one open. But short answer: I simply do not have one favorite, but many.
Q: What is your favorite brewery to go to in town? Why?
Justin: I have a top 3 in no particular order: Horse and Dragon, Funkwerks and Snowbank. We have great relationships with any of them, and at any point I can go to any of those 3 and really enjoy myself, from the amazing beer to the atmosphere with their employees.
Chris: In no order, Horse & Dragon, Funkwerks, and Zwei Brewing. Of course, I have to mention Odell as well. Unparalleled brewing skill and patio/taproom atmosphere. But the other three I enjoy because they are more intimate, have wonderful people working there and they brew dynamite beer, and each brewery has it's own niche, so depending on my mood, I can have a totally different experience in each place. It really sets Fort Collins apart from a lot of places.
Q: Do you have an all time favorite beer pairing you can share with us?
Justin: Fruited sours, like kriek/framboise/similar, or a tart, cherry forward acidic Flanders Red combined with a slice of traditional New York Cheesecake. The beer acts as the fruit, and the acidity of the sours cuts the fat from the cheesecake, making you want to take another bite and another sip to savor the delicious pairing.
Chris: This is a wonderful question. I love, love, love pairing food and beer. Justin and I recently split a Mikkeller Spontandoubleblueberry sour with a Mary's Mountain blueberry cheesecake cookie and the pairing was to die for. But I think my favorite, off the top of my head, was at the Alaskan/Surly beer dinner at Vail Big Beers this year. The dish was a flourless chocolate cake with torched marshmallow topping paired with Alaskan Perseverance and Surly Darkness, two incredible Russian Imperial Stouts. The result was pure decadence. I'm seriously salivating thinking about it.