It’s been 365 days of more than just beer at High Hops Brewery — it’s been 365 days of community.
For Zach Weakland, one of the main brewers at Windsor’s only beer producer, the past year has been a blur. That’s probably appropriate given the almost-monthly awards and accolades the brewery earned from festivals, competitions or nationally acclaimed publications along with a constantly packed parking lot and an endless lineup of live music every week. While some still consider it a hidden gem tucked away on the fringe of town, Zach — and most anyone who spends five minutes on the patio overlooking the hops field — says it feels like the brewery has been a mainstay creating community for decades rather than a single year.
To say things fell into place since they opened their doors would be an understatement.
“I cannot emphasize enough the amazing support we’ve gotten from the community here in Windsor,” Weakland said as a crowd gathered Friday night to celebrate the brewery’s one-year anniversary. The two-day party included everything from live music to prize giveaways and special brews. Plus, a dollar from every pint was donated to the Weld Food Bank, benefitting the region’s flood victims.
“We never in our wildest dreams thought we would get this much support,” Weakland said.
Weakland, along with his dad, Pat, and mom, Amanda and a host of other family and friends have run High Hops Brewery flawlessly during the past year — just ask any of the hundreds of beer drinkers who flood the patio overlooking the hops field or the tap room on any given weekend. What started as a way to bring a home brewing hobby to the masses quickly found a place in Windsor, adding to the family’s successful brew shop and garden center that has expanded for decades.
And they show no signs of stopping, especially as their own on-site bottling line comes online. That will put their beers in liquor stores across the region. That’s in addition to bars across northern Colorado that continue to add High Hops’ locally infused beers to their tap lineups.
Despite all of the growth, Weakland said, High Hops’ focus will remain on serving the local community first.
“It’s just getting better and better,” said Stephanie Fietek, a Windsor resident who makes at least one trip to High Hops every month for the atmosphere, the people and the brews. ”I’m really excited to see where it’s going and how big it’s going to get.”
That success, Weakland said, stems from the motto they’ve pushed since the very beginning: all types of beer for all types of people. From the Honeyed One to the Noble One and limited releases like a sweet potato option later this fall, the Weaklands pride themselves on variety — and quality. That also means the brew masters and bartenders are their own toughest critics, which Zach said has been the hardest part all year. Yet with the community at their side, customers say they’ve crafted a true winning formula that makes them stick out — a formula that’s tricky to find in a region so saturated with breweries and beer culture.
“I think they have all the good ideas,” said Jane Kaiser of Fort Collins. “You need to grow something like this slowly and organically. They’re really innovative.”
The Weaklands knew they had a challenge ahead of them when they starting planning their brewing adventure years ago, searching to turn their already successful 2-acre hops field and supply shop into something that would stick out in northern Colorado.
As they watched people flood through the doors this weekend and their stature grow to the levels of some of the best breweries in the state this year, they were reassured that things are going right in all right ways — especially as they move into year two of crafting brews.