Hops and Handrails Festival Moves Mountains to Longmont, CO

Moving mountains is usually the province and design of Greek gods, religious deities in the pages of sacred books or Hollywood film directors armed with a bevy of computer special effects. However, for one Colorado-based brewer, it has become an annual ritual in the front range town of Longmont, Colorado that is merely a matter of assembling a dedicated work crew driving a parade of dump trucks (carrying 18 loads of ski resort snow in three round trips) and armed with the imagination to throw beer festivals unlike any other. On March 11, for the fifth year, and with the eye-popping cinematic grace of a white-bearded Charlton Heston in a colorful robe raising his arms to part the waters of the Red Sea in a Cecille B. Demille film, the Left Hand Brewing Company pulled off this “miraculous” feat of building a nearly four-story-high snowboard/ski ramp for rail competition, hosting more than 70 breweries pouring craft beer samples, offering a kid’s terrain park and, on the side, throwing a daytime music festival.  It’s a far cry from throwing up tents in a parking lot and claiming it’s a beer fest.

Still, the effect is pure, homespun Colorado charm. Along with the beards, beer and boards were a trio of bluegrass and jam bands that shook the stage and sloshed more than a few full bellies. Leading off were two area favorites with Colorado roots, Grant Farm and the Jeff Austin Band, featuring Yonder Mountain’s former frontman.  Austin may be a family man now, but he still knows how to make it appear that a crowd full of beer-toting music fans were dropped onto a giant hotplate with the propane cranked high. The afternoon closed with the Grateful Dead-influenced Chris Robinson Brotherhood.  Left-Hand Brewing is determined to lead its participants to the “promised land” of beer festivals. And all one can after attending, is, well…Amen!

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