Hops & Handrails

By Andrew Kaczmarek

Longmont, Colorado recently hosted a custom-built, 25-foot scaffolding ski ramp, 23 craft brewers, live music and a crowd of Coloradans for the first-ever Hops and Handrails—an event  hosted by Left Hand Brewing Company (LHBC). Hops and Handrails benefited three non-profit organizations: A Woman’s Work, SOS Outreach and the Colorado Brewers Guild.

The three aforementioned non-profits are all doing great work: financially supporting women in the St. Vrain Valley, helping underserved youth though outdoor adventure and advocating and promoting craft beer in the state of Colorado. Drinking beer for a good cause always makes the craft beer taste just that much better, and when it comes to shredding I’m sure the same can be said.

On a cold and snowy day—perfect for hitting the rails—the riders and skiers hurled tricks in the pursuit of the best trick. Competitors were vying for a year’s supply of beer, and an overall grand prize of $1,000 in cash. The centerpiece of the rail jam was a set of LHBC kegs welded together by a LHBC brewer, over which flips, turns, grabs and hops in every direction took place. Other features on the course included an old school Subaru buried in the snow, and a pair of standard rails mounted near the top of the ramp.

“For the weather it was a great turnout, and we had a lot of fun out here serving beer,” said Twisted Pine Brewing Company’s Kay Witkiewicz. The 23 craft breweries served beer to a brave crowd tromping through the mud and snow sampling a fine selection of Colorado craft beers.

Mic Heynekamp from Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista said: “Definitely one of the more interesting beer festivals; a bunch of crazies jumping down the ramp, bunch of crazy brewers and some crazy beers in an overall awesome event!”

Hops and Handrails was probably the coldest beer festival many in the crowd had ever taken part in, but every once in a while it’s good to taste frozen beer foam—or astutely dubbed ‘hopsicle’ by a festival goer.

Let the hop and beer puns continue next year, because LHBC will again host one of the greatest and most creative beer festivals I’ve ever attended!


Andrew KaczmarekAndrew Kaczmarek, is the current Craft Beer Program Intern, hop farmer, beer writer for the CU Independent, homebrewer and student at the University of Colorado in his final semester. When not pursuing hoppiness, as a Colorado native, he spends his free time skiing, camping or biking in the Rocky Mountains.