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Brew district possibly coming to Old Town Fort Collins

Proposing a designated “brew district” in some towns might seem out of place, but then again, most towns aren’t Fort Collins.

Colorado is widely regarded as a hub for quality beer, and Fort Collins accounts for 70 percent of the state’s craft brewing industry.

Now, the local group known as “The Committee to Expand and Enhance the Downtown Experience” (it’s a part of UniverCity, which aims to bring CSU, downtown Fort Collins and the Poudre River together) is looking to capitalize on Old Town’s growing reputation as a beer drinkers’ destination by creating the new brew district.

“We are in fact being referred to around the country, around the world, as a craft brewing capital — the Napa valley of craft beer,” said Michael Short, executive director of the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association. “So now what we’re doing is trying to put some definition around that and play to something that clearly is becoming one of our strengths as a community,”

The proposed brew district would be located in Old Town Fort Collins, an area that currently functions as a central location for the town’s breweries.

“We have a unique group of craft breweries that are making their mark in the world,” former mayor and liaison to the committee, Doug Hutchinson, said.

The ultimate goal of the group’s vision would be an internationally renowned brew district that attracts beer connoisseurs from around the globe. The theoretical brew district would highlight the brewers’ positive impact on the community while attempting to minimize irresponsible drinking in the culture.

“We have to continue to envision the outcome we seek, which is for a very safe fun place to come and visit, shop, dine and play,” Short said.

Avoiding things like DUI’s and other pitfalls of irresponsible drinking is one of the main concerns in creating the brew district. The committee doesn’t seek to just expand the brewery’s interests. As their name implies, their goal is to enhance downtown as a whole.

“All of us value the balance we have between our shopping, our dining and the bars. What makes it such a great place is the fact that it is all three of those things,” Short said.

Hutchinson cites public and private partnerships in Old Town, such as the recently opened Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and the brew district, as factors that can make the Fort Collins Old Town experience more enjoyable.

The committee wants to establish a positive image in the proposed brew district, one free of the negative connotations related to a heavy drinking culture.

“Everybody already knows that side of the story, and we’re in a position to present a different side of the story,” said Kristy Clark, a retired community member who partakes in the committee.

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