I live in an apartment within the city limits of Denver. Fresh hops are about as close to my mind as horseback riding in the nude when I’m putting together a brew recipe. In fact, I’ve never had the opportunity to even get my hands on fresh-grown hops until a friend of mine asked if I wanted some freshies. Um, yes? What started as a quick pick up, turned into a fun little afternoon at Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado.
I got to the taproom around 3 pm on a Friday afternoon. Walking into the building, I felt immediately at home. The taproom gave the feel of a smaller brewery just scaled up in size. The interior was decorated with plenty of wood and a beautiful bar stretching along 2/3 of the building. The swinging doors to the restrooms gave a distinct Wild West feeling that made me want to put on my sheriff badge and spurs. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, they had a digital board showing the beers on tap. It rotated between the menu and then each individual beer giving a description, ABV and any other important information.
I got up to the bar. It was surprisingly busy for 3 pm on a Friday. I mean, Fridays are busy normally, but I assumed it would be a little more scarce in the afternoon. I chatted with one of the bartenders and found out they had Wake Up Dead on cask. I’m not sure if everyone reading this is aware, but Wake Up Dead (Left Hand’s imperial stout) on its own is awesome, but I had never seen it on cask. I ORDERED THAT STUFF UP. After a few sips, I determined this was the smoothest thing I had ever put in my mouth.
Eventually, I was introduced to one of the brewers and led to the back of the brewery. There were hop plants all along the back fences next to the fermenting tanks. These were plants used to get fresh hops for one of the their harvest ales, and for whatever reason, weren’t being utilized this year. This is where I came in. I thought I was picking up a bag of pre-picked hops, but instead I was handed a bag, given a crash course in what kind of hops I should be looking for and was cut loose to pick them myself. I dove into that bush as if it were a glorious green vine pool.
After 20 minutes of intense picking, I felt like I had enough for a batch of beer. I went back into the bar and continued to enjoy my delicious Wake Up Dead. The bag of hops at my side raised no questions and simply provided wafts of hop aroma while I sipped my beer and made new friends. Moral of the story: sometimes you don’t need to seek adventure, it will seek you. Oh, and always order Wake Up Dead on cask.