In early August, I had the pleasure of joining 12 of my brewery co-workers (all from our incredible production team) on our annual “hop trip.” What began, a few years ago, as a weekend investigating the western slope of Colorado and its locally grown hops and fruit, has now become a yearly retreat where we visit our farming friends and bond with each other.
We loaded up our tents and bags (and a whole lot of beer), and headed west through the Rocky Mountains into Palisade, CO. Our first stop was Hippie Chicks Organic Hops. The farm, dubbed a “friend and family supported agriculture project” is now in its 2nd harvest. Run by our friend Julie and her lovely hippie chick friends, the organic hop farm boasts Cascade and Chinook varieties that we will use in our Mountain Standard Double IPA. After greetings and hugs, we immediately went to check out the crops. They were a few weeks away from harvest, and already the hops looked incredible!
This place was awesome! Beautiful landscape, lush hop cones, and cute hippie chick farmers. Seriously, what’s not to love? After a quick beer, the hippie chicks took us all for a “cocktail float” down the Colorado River to cool off before dinner. We rendezvoused at the farm for some barbeque and football before heading to the Peach Street Distillery for a night cap. We ended the night under the stars, sleeping between the bines.
I’m not going to lie. The next morning was a little rough. The rooster had us up bright and early, and we had to clear out for a wedding. So we packed up and did what any brewery crew would do; headed straight to a winery. We checked out a few more wineries and vineyards before making our way to Big B’s / Delicious Orchards in Paonia, CO.
Big B’s boasts a beautiful orchard, storefront, restaurant and camping. Last year, they provided the peaches we used in our Avant Peche, and we used their cherries in our Friek. We took a load off and enjoyed some live music and their local Cider.
While in Paonia, we also visited Rising Sun Hop Farms. The farm has about five acres of hops including Cascade, Chinook, and Nugget hops. Wandering around a hot hop farm had us all thirsty, so it was time for a beer. We decided to check out Revolution Brewing in downtown Paonia. The small brewery, located in an old house, was a real treat. We especially enjoyed their Pale Ale!
After a quick bite (and some Space Station debate), we returned to Big B’s for a campfire, some witty banter, and another night under the stars.
As a company committed to supporting our community, we work to source raw materials from local suppliers like Hippie Chick Hop Farms and Big B’s/Delicious Orchards, both independently owned Colorado businesses like us. The trip provided us a great opportunity to inspect our hops and fruit, and also allowed us to enjoy the great outdoors of Colorado and spend some quality leisure time with our co-workers outside of the brewery.