Beer Me: September 27, 2016 – October 3, 2016
The wet hop story is a race against time and decomposition. Once hops are harvested, there’s a 24-hour window to get them added into brew kettles before the flavors and aromas begin to fade. While logistically cumbersome, this expedited process begets some of the freshest possible flavors.
Here in Denver – far removed from the Western Slope where the majority of the state’s hops grow – brewers are beholden upon their suppliers to harvest, process, and deliver whole cone hops within that scant timeframe.
One farm doing its best to keep the front range stocked in humulus lupulus is High Wire Hops in Paonia. In 2016, the eight-acre farm provided around 6,700 pounds of wet hops to breweries such as Caution Beer Co., Alpine Dog Brewing Co., and Joyride Brewing Co.
“Wet hops take quite a bit of time for us as opposed to just drying everything and processing it,” explained High Wire farm owner and manager, David Warren. “We start harvesting around noon and we’ll harvest until the evening for the next day’s delivery. As we harvest, everything gets weighed out for the orders as we’re harvesting and goes right into the coolers…We’ll have the hops loaded up by around 6:30am, head out, and usually get [to Denver] by about 11am.
“We use a refrigerated truck as well. That way, once the brewers get their hops, everything is still cool all the way through. Refrigeration is everything with the wet hops. The hops are so delicate they just won’t hold up without the refrigeration.”
About 10% – 15% of High Wire’s overall hop yield will be used to fulfill fresh hop orders. The farm’s eight acres will produce around 2,000 pounds of hops per acre. While at capacity size-wise, the former dairy farm is still working toward maximum production – hops plant take between four and five years to reach full maturity.
Growing in Colorado has some distinct advantages over other hop-producing areas. The alpha acids in Colorado hops are much higher than industry norms and the temperature fluctuations between night and day create a certain terroir that has become a selling point for North Fork Valley produce over the years.
“There’s definitely a solid demand for Colorado-grown hops,” said Warren. “There’s a good reputation for quality.”
Colorado-grown hops will take center stage at this year’s Fresh Hop Festival, taking place Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the future home of Brewery Liberati (2403 Champa Street). Tickets are $40 and include entry to the event, unlimited libations, and a commemorative glass.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 @ 7:30pm: Simpsons Trivia Night at Chain Reaction
“Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution,” or so says Homer Simpson. If you’re looking for a temporary solution to the Tuesday night doldrums, head to Chain Reaction where they’ve selected The Simpsons as the theme for their first foray into themed trivia. Questions will be culled from the first 10 seasons of the cartoon classic and prizes will leave you shouting “Woo-hoo!”
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 3 – 8pm: Pumpkin Porter at Strange Craft Beer Company
Using over 250 lbs of pumpkins (25 lbs per barrel), this robust porter blends spices with roasty, burnt chocolate, and sweeter toffee-like notes. Mild acidity from darker malts and a medium body make this brew surprisingly light on the tongue, with a lasting but moderate roasted finish. 5.7% ABV.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 4 – 10pm: Fresh Hop IPA Tapping at WestFax Brewing Co.
Get a jump on the fresh hop bandwagon at WestFax when they release their Fresh Hop IPA. The 6.6% ABV, 75 IBU beer utilizes Colorado hops, including Sorachi Ace, Cascade, Columbus, Chinook, and Centennial.
Thursday, September 29 – Sunday, October 2, 2016: Fourth Anniversary Party at Black Shirt Brewing Co.
Black Shirt will be celebrating their fourth anniversary by tapping four different Belgian-style Quad variations throughout the weekend. Entertainment includes And the Black Feathers and RL Cole on the Pallet Stage on Friday with DJ Details spinning on Saturday. The party is free but a $10 VIP ticket will get you a pour of the quad, a 4th-anniversary glass, and a goodie bag but act fast, there are only 40 tickets available per day.
Friday, September 30, 2016 @ 5 – 10pm: Oak & Orchard Release at Epic Brewing Co.
Epic is rolling out the first two beers in their Oak & Orchard sour series. The Syrah and The Pinot will be available on draft and in 375ml wax-dipped bottles, limit six per person. This event is free to attend, but a $30 VIP ticket will get you a cellar tour, charcuterie pairing, select barrel tasting, and your choice of either release. King of Wings will be serving tangy Kansas City BBQ wings made with Epic’s Tart & Juicy IPA.
Saturday, October 1 & Sunday, October 2, 2016: Lakewood Cider Festival at the Lakewood Heritage Center
Benefiting the Rocky Mountain Cider Association and South Jeffco Rotary Club, the Hard Cider Tasting package offers more than 50+ ciders from over 12 different cider producers. Tickets are $25 and include entry into the larger, family-friendly Lakewood Cider Festival. Event runs from noon – 4pm each day.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 @ 10:30am – 5pm: Zwanze Day 2016 at Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Bring a camping chair and get to Crooked Stave early if you want to sample a pour of this year’s Zwanze beer, a framboise reminiscent of what Cantillon was brewing 30 years ago. The first 150 people in line will get a Zwanze Day 2016 glass, Zwanze pour, and Cantillon pour for $20. The next 150 will get a glass and Cantillon pour for $15. Read more about this national event here.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 @ noon – 10pm: Hellbilly Bottle Release at City Star Brewing
Loveland’s City Star is releasing their fall offering, a sour harvest ale brewed with pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla, dubbed Hellbilly. The 7% ABV ale was aged for 10 months in oak rum barrels. 500 22-ounce bottles will be available at $18/bottle, limit one case. The beer will also be on tap. The G-Spot Food Truck will be serving eats and The Felonius Smith Trio will be providing the soundtrack from 7 – 9:30pm.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 @ 1 – 11pm: Chainsaw Princess of Karate Release at Odd13 Brewing
Odd13’s latest four-pack is a sour ale with dragon and passion fruit. The beer will be on tap during the release and $1 from every pint and/or four-pack sold will go to Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center of Fort Collins.
Saturday, October 1, 2016 @ 2pm: Gratitude 2016 at Our Mutual Friend Brewery
Each year, Our Mutual Friend celebrates, “friendship and the beer made possible by it.” The RiNo brewery will be offering $4 standard pours and $5 special release pours all day, along with food trucks, music, and giveaways. The tentative bottle release list includes the 2015 GABF silver medal winner, 24FPS Golden Sour and the draft list is filled with barrel-aged beers and other taproom favorites. No ticket required.
Sunday, October 2, 2016 @ noon – 7pm: GABF Presale at River North Brewery
To ensure locals get first crack at some special GABF beers before the masses descend on Denver, River North will release bottles of Saison Conspiracy Noir, Barrel Aged Nightmare Fuel, Single Cask J. Marie, and a few other choice selections.
Monday, October 3, 2016 @ 3 – 10pm: Dogfish Head Taproom Takeover at New Image Brewing Co.
Kick off GABF week at New Image in Arvada where they’ll be tapping kegs of Dogfish’s 120 Minute IPA, Punkin, and a few other selections from Delaware’s finest. Come early because these will go fast!
Monday, October 3, 2016 @ 6 – 9pm: GABF Launch Party w/ Great Divide at Avanti F&B
Avanti kicks off GABF week with a tap takeover of Great Divide beers. Drafts will include Gose (w/ fleur de sel and grains of paradise), The Smoothness (black lager aged in Jameson barrels), 2014 Oak-Aged Yeti, and 2016 Oak-Aged Yeti.
Monday, October 3, 2016 @ 7pm – midnight: Sour & Wild Monday at Freshcraft
Monday is for sour and wild beer and Freshcraft will be tapping a whole slew of varieties, including Mama Bear’s Sour Cherry Pie from Crooked Stave, La Bonte Plum from Wicked Weed, and Koelerado Currant from Trinity, along with a special, limited keg of Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales.
Still thirsty? Use this handy map of Colorado breweries and other drinking establishments to plan your next adventure. Cheers.
Matt Sandy, a self-proclaimed “Beer Gadabout” and Certified Beer Server, has been enjoying beer since he was of legal drinking age. Having been born across the pond where “legal drinking age” is a relative term, let’s just say he washed down a shandy or two while still in short pants. He moved to Denver in 2007 and immediately took up residency at the Great Divide taproom. Since then, he’s enjoyed exploring all of the craft corners of this great town and in this column will highlight weekly beer-related events that you should consider drinking in.