Taps Sports Bar & Grill is located on the south-side of Fort Collins at 169 South Boardwalk Drive, and yes, it’s a sports bar, but not an ordinary sports bar. Taps is different from most other sports bars because they are also a bona fide tap house with 40 taps and demonstrate a strong commitment to Colorado craft beer. Owner and operator Mark Spring comes from Colorado and believes in being local, making food from scratch and having as many local craft beers flowing through his 40 taps as he can. Never fear domestic drinkers, he still puts Coors and Budweiser on tap for you, but he’s always looking to rotate a lot of local Colorado breweries onto his taps. Mark even went local when he hired Scott “Manno” Manning as his kitchen manager, a chef who went to high school in Fort Collins, and is well versed in the art of Charcuterie (the smoking and curing of meats). Even Fort Collins’ own Scene magazine named Taps the best sports bar in town for 2014. Like most sports bars, Taps stills houses pool tables, video games and 26 TV’s for all types of sporting events.
Mark will tell you, “We’re local. We do pub food done right. We have all American beers. We’re good people just trying to have a good time.” Under Mark’s guidance Taps is committed to providing a great customer experience, great service, and being approachable. When Mark hired Scott to run his kitchen, he hired someone who didn’t just want to do your standard sports bar food. As Scott often says, “Our pub fare is scratch made food that you would be hard-pressed to find in most restaurants. We believe in a commitment to quality in our food and our beer selection.” Here’s what Taps does with their food that you don’t find in most restaurants. They smoke everything on the menu except their burger patties. This includes their chicken wings (they don’t need sauce, but you can get that if you wish), salmon and cheeses. The bacon is to die-for here, where they smoke their own pork belly, cut it themselves and then cure it. All their meats are smoked with a variety of woods like hickory, pecan, peach and occasionally mesquite and apple wood. But food isn’t the only thing going on at Taps. They have a great and well-rounded beer selection, and host one of the coolest and unique beer events in Fort Collins.
Every March since 2011, during the NCAA college basketball tournament (otherwise known as “March Madness”,) Taps hosts their own beer bracket tournament. The last tournament was all strictly Colorado breweries pitting their beers against each other to see what beer would be the favorite amongst Taps customers. It simply works like this: Each round two beers are selected to see which one sells the most that night; whichever sells the most wins and advances to the next round. This year eight Colorado breweries participated: Avery Brewing Co., Boulder Beer, Black Bottle Brewery, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, New Belgium Brewing, Odell Brewing Co., Left Hand Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues Brewery. The winner for this year’s bracket was “Social Insecurity” from Fort Collins’ own Black Bottle Brewery. Mark noted this year’s beer bracket “was really just the coolest year [for the beer bracket] because we only did Colorado beers while it fell on Colorado Craft Beer Week, and our customers really enjoyed having multiple choices from each of the [Colorado] breweries we put on tap.” Scott also commented that, “Some of our regular customers were here with cameras taking pictures of the taps, talking about this being one the best beer lineups Taps has ever had, and that kind of feedback made all the organizing of this event worth it.” Having worthwhile events is key to any establishment like Taps, and the beer bracket will be a popular one for years to come.
Mark believes that having a staff with “beer knowledge” is a valuable part to each customer’s experience. “Our staff samples and knows how to describe a beer, and we want our staff to do this for curious customers,” Mark explains. It’s this commitment to the customer’s experience about craft beer that sets Taps apart from other typical sports bars. Also, there’s a relationship between Taps and the local breweries that sell their beer there. Mark promotes local beers and local “breweries are starting to help us sell their beer to get it out to market.” Mark asserts, “I think a lot of people are starting to look at us as a place where it’s good to release something new and to have beers on tap first.” We couldn’t agree more and we’re among the growing crowd of people who look to Taps for great beer and food. We understand that downtown Fort Collins is the place to be around here, but its places like Taps Sports Bar and Grill that make going “off the beaten path” in Fort Collins totally worth it. When you’re on the southern side of Fort Collins and looking for a spot with great pub food done right, plenty of Colorado beer and a really friendly knowledgeable staff, try Taps for a change of pace. Taps will keep you coming back for more!