Hobby and a hops shortage spawn thriving Windsor brewery.
Pining for that patio-beers, no-cares summer scene, but it’s the dead of winter? The indoor greenhouse-style beer garden at High Hops Brewery is made for days like this.
Windsor’s sole brewery sings a sublime NoCo tune overlooking a hops field producing 54 varieties of hop plants—one of the country’s largest selections. During warmer months, the space houses a nursery and homebrew shop. In the winter, it’s converted to a greenhouse containing the 100-person beer garden and recently expanded 40-tap tasting room, all completely covered and heated, with acoustics by local musicians Friday and Saturday nights and occasional Sundays.
The family-run operation has become a magnetic resident hangout and owners Amanda and Pat Weakland are proud to say their family of craft brews lives up to their business motto: All types of beer for all types of people.
“There are so many styles of beer out there and we’re willing to go looking for those beers that are amazing. We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one kind of beer,” Pat says, pointing to High Hops creations like the punch-packin’ honey habañero brew.
The couple opened their seasonal greenhouse Plant-A-Scape in 1991. Shortly after Pat and his son began dabbling in homebrewing, a massive hop shortage hit in 2007, panicking brewers everywhere.
Pat, a dentist by trade (he still holds down his Windsor practice three days a week), saw an opportunity and planted their hops farm out back in 2008—before it became really hip to grow, he says.
His homebrews started turning heads and the family decided to sell homebrewing supplies and hops inside their nursery. Online orders were coming in from all over the country. A few years later, the microbrewery and tasting room came to fruition.
Today, the Weaklands manage more than 20 employees between the garden center and the three-year-old brewery. Their son Zach, 28, is head brewer, crafting beer that consistently takes home the gold at national competitions. The team is constantly rolling out new recipes and rotating taps that include a popular blueberry wheat and an 1890 Red Ale crafted for the Town of Windsor’s 125th birthday.
What to Taste This Winter
Watch for their seasonal nut brown ale; the double-gold-winning Noble One, a Belgian-style quad; and the Picea Pale Ale, a wintry pour employing fresh spruce tips harvested from the hops farm.
High Hops is served at hundreds of Colorado bars, from Vail to Colorado Springs, Estes Park to Delta. The most popular pick? Dr. Pat’s Double IPA, a malty heavily hopped bomber.
6461 CO-392, Windsor, 970-674-2841, highhopsbrewery.com
Stuff to know
- Food vendors make regular appearances, so you can pair your brew with local eats.
- Firkin Humpdays: Every Wednesday a new beer is released at 5 p.m. Arrive early—the release is usually gulped up in an hour or two. Good news is if the crowd-tested brew goes over well, they’ll throw it on a tap.
- Happy hour means $1 off pints from 3 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
- Bring the crew. High Hops is kid and dog friendly.