For millennia, the art of brewing and the science of farming have been intertwined. High Hops Brewery, a greenhouse turned hops farm turned brewhouse in Northern Colorado, is carrying forward the tradition. Emilio is enjoying their “Cold One” Craft Lager.
First, a brief history lesson… A little over fifteen years ago, archaeologists excavating a cave near what is now Haifa, Israel, unearthed 13,000 year-old stone mortars that contained residues indicative of beer-brewing. The archaeologists determined the cave had been used as a graveyard by the ancient Natufian people, who brewed beer at the site for ritual feasts to revere the dead.
This was a huge discovery. Not only did it mark the potentially oldest record of man-made alcohol in the world, it showed the earliest known cultivators of cereals that could be used in brewing beer (the Natufians, growing rye specifically) were the people doing the brewing.
Indeed, farming and brewing have a long history together. High Hops Brewery in Northern Colorado, with their brewhouse located at their hops farm, show the practice is still alive today.
High Hops Brewery’s story started back in 1991, when plant lovers Amanda and Pat Weakland of Windsor, Colorado opened a small greenhouse and garden center called Plant-A-Scape. Both brought backgrounds in farming and gardening to their endeavor of growing plants, but neither had any idea the brewing future that lay ahead.
Inspired by the expanding beer industry in Northern Colorado, Pat took up home-brewing. But when a hops shortage hit the country in 2006, prices for hops spiked. In response, the Weaklands planted a hops farm at their garden center, which they renamed The Windsor Gardener. Soon they were selling hops across the US, as well as helping Windsor’s local community of brewers access hops and brewing supplies.
In early 2012, they began construction on a brewhouse and tasting room at The Windsor Gardener, along with an indoor beer garden and outdoor patio overlooking the hops field. A few months later, High Hops Brewery was officially born.
Today, the brewery features over 40 beers on tap and several beers in cans (including Emilio’s favorite “The Cold One” Craft Lager). Their brews have earned a number of awards, among them the Great American Beer Festival gold medal for their gluten-free sour beer, Puckerberry.
That’s not the end of their story though. In 2018, the Weaklands opened a distillery at The Windsor Gardener called The Heart Distillery. From the distillery they produce five different spirits, four of which have won prestigious awards from the ASCOT and the American Distilling Institute. Check it out: theheartdistillery.com
Even with their long list of brewing and distilling accomplishments, the Weaklands never forgot their gardening roots. Through their garden center, they continue to offer helpful resources and advice for plant lovers and gardeners of all levels.
While Emilio isn’t much of a gardener himself, he’s glad to enjoy a chilled lager on a warm summer day.