Community Outreach, Odell Style

Last Saturday, April 27, a team of volunteers rounded up by Odell Brewing [web|fb] got together to apply a few new layers of color to the interior of the Center for Family Outreach in Fort Collins [web|fb]. The CFFO is a non-profit which works with adolescents to cultivate positive life choices and healthy relationships with family and peers. In the words of Director Laurie Klith, these are “kids who are facing some challenge,” ranging from anger-management to substance abuse to run-of-the-mill teenage drama. After 13 years at their previous location, the center recently moved into a new space with a larger footprint and a need for a livening touch of anything-but-eggshell-white. With painting supplies provided by Fort Collins-based OtterBox [web|fb] and labor supplied by Odell’s outreach program [web], volunteers had base coats applied to four rooms in no time flat. Meanwhile, a group of the center’s kids were hard at work in the kitchen preparing an impressive meal of lasagna, French bread, salad, and lemonade (again with financial support from OtterBox). Lunch was preceded by a thank-you poster and an earnest toast from the kids, and followed by second coats of paint and mural work by those who were feeling both artistic and brave.

 

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I'm going to pretend that the red word off to the right is "Hops."

 

Free from their culinary duties, the kids joined in on the brush and roller work for the afternoon, voted on quotes to be inscribed upon their classroom walls, and generally made us all feel that we were doing worthwhile work for people who genuinely appreciated it. For whatever bumps in the road these kids are experiencing now, they by and large came across as future assets to society. And this is due in no small part, I’m sure, to the support, encouragement, and guidance of caring individuals around them such as those at the Center for Family Outreach.

As you might expect, the intersection of beer people and volunteers is a sublime sliver in life’s grand Venn diagram. Teachers, coppers, and candlestick makers, each was a pleasure to work with and to get to know after we’d released our rollers and picked up some pints at the Odell taproom. Karla Baise, Odell’s Community Outreach Coordinator, and her husband John, who manages packaging operations, gave us an impromptu tour around the brewery and basically treated us like sweaty, paint-splattered royalty (oh man, that barrel room!). These guys know a thing or two about volunteer retention. And once word spread that I’d ridden my bike up from Denver, seemingly half the group offered me a couch for the night. As nice as it was sleeping on the bank of Poudre River at the edge of town the night before, I was grateful for a warm, soft place to rest after a couple long days of pedaling and painting. And the next day’s seventy miles through farmland and suburbs made sure I had time to reflect on how grateful I am for good people, good beer, and a good bike. A fantastic weekend it was.

Fermentation Begins at Denver Bicycle Cafe

Denver Bicycle Cafe entrance

Bikes. Beer. Coffee. So goes the slogan of the Denver Bicycle Cafe [web|fb], a second-year operation specializing in three components crucial in keeping a city like Denver rolling. Located in the City Park West neighborhood, the combination coffee shop/craft beer bar/full-service bike shop plays the additional, unofficial role of community educator. At least once a week, the cafe hosts free events such as coffee cuppings (with local roasters), beer tastings (with local breweries), and bike maintenance clinics (with the Bike Depot [web|fb]), ensuring that we all know headset from Hallertau from Huehuetenango. Less frequent events include presentations by Denver leaders and innovators, beer and cheese pairings, and, as was the case this past Saturday, introductory classes on the applied art of all-grain homebrewing.

Long-time homebrewer and hops gardener Brady Smith guided ten of us through the process of brewing a Petite Rye Saison, a 5.9% ale which should pair beautifully with the warmer days ahead (hat-tip to The Brew Hut homebrew shop [web|fb] for their donation of malt and hops). The class covered everything from strike water chemistry to wort aeration, and in between touched on topics such as hot break and chill haze, avoiding a stuck mash, homebrewing software, and of course the ever-important cleaning and sanitization. The time required for enzymes to do their work during the mash afforded plenty of room for questions, and questions there were, all fielded expertly by Mr. Smith. The class’s students brought with them a mixture of experience levels, but I’m certain we all left with a firmer grasp of what it takes to put delicious homebrew in a glass.

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After the final hop addition and just before flame out

 

Besides the obvious reasons for beginning this blog with a brew day at a bike shop, I think the Denver Bicycle Cafe’s focus on community engagement is equally apt. It’s my hope here to put a spotlight on some of the good things in life, and perhaps occasionally to educate. If there are specific topics you’d like to see covered, or anecdotes you’d like to share, leave them in the comments, and let’s get to talking bikes and beer!