Joyride's Fresh Hop Fest Is Back on September 24

Delicious fresh hop beers are best consumed fresh.
Delicious fresh hop beers are best consumed fresh. Joyride Brewing/Instagram
On Saturday, September 24, Joyride Brewing, at 2501 Sheridan Boulevard in Edgewater, will host its second annual Fresh Hop Fest from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free, and there is no need to pre-purchase tickets or tokens to sample the selection of sixteen fresh hop beers from fourteen different Colorado breweries.

Dave Bergen, Joyride's co-founder and director of brewing, admits that he wasn't sure what to expect before last year's event, but that it was a strong inaugural showing. "We were busy almost from the very beginning," he recalls. "We learned that there was a yearning for these types of beers and to have them all in one place." Bergen also mentions that the demand for flights was very high last year, so the brewery has ordered additional taster glasses and paddle holders this time around. Joyride has also combined another popular event with the Fresh Hop Fest: its make-your-own tie-dye station, a partnership with Lively Vibes.

The inspiration for the fest started when Bergen was looking to see if another brewery or bar would replace Falling Rock's annual Fresh Hop Fest, but nobody stepped up. Bergen was a big fan of these beers and really looked forward to drinking them every year. "These are such unique beers," he says, adding that he looks forward to fresh hop brew day every year. "Every harvest is going to be a little different, so there's also a sense of wonder and mystery as to how the beer will turn out," he notes.

The process of acquiring the hops, often from along the Western Slope, can be an adventure in itself. Brewers are frequently a part of the process, waiting to find out when the hops will be ready, and even helping pick the hops. Comrade owner David Lin, who has won multiple Great American Beer Festival medals for the fresh-hop Superdamp IPA, loves the challenge. "It's a logistical nightmare every year," says Lin. "From Denver, it could be a ten-hour round trip to go pick up [the hops]. Freshness is key, and Colorado brewers are building strong relationships with hop farms [to make it work]."

Bergen appreciates the difficulty of the ordeal, too. "A lot of times you forget that beer is an agricultural product, but you remember real quick when you're helping out during harvest," he says. "It's a lot of hard work."
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Riding the success of the first year, Joyride's Fresh Hop Fest is back.
Joyride Brewing
One tradition from Falling Rock that Bergen will continue to uphold is donating 10 percent of event sales to the Colorado Brewers Guild, which represents and supports independent Colorado craft breweries. "I've worked closely with [the Guild] for many years," says Bergen. "I've been on the board of directors since 2018 and served as the chair of the board in the craziness that was 2020. I know firsthand how hard the Guild works to promote, protect and propel independent Colorado breweries, and I think it's important to support them back." Bergen credits the Colorado Brewers Guild for helping lessen the negative impact of the pandemic on the local industry.

Colorado Brewers Guild Executive Director Shawnee Adelson is also excited for the event. "Fresh hop season only comes once a year, and brewers get excited to work directly with their hop suppliers to make some of the freshest beers," says Adelson. "Fresh hop beers create a unique flavor profile that is almost impossible to replicate, which is why there is a lot of excitement around this time of year." Adelson adds that donations from the festival will help support the Guild's mission, which is to protect, promote and propel Colorado's independent craft breweries.

On September 24, attendees can expect to find a bustling taproom at Joyride, with fresh hop beers from Barrels & Bottles Brewery, Broken Compass Brewing, Call to Arms Brewing Company, Comrade Brewing Company, Fiction Beer Company, Jagged Mountain, Joyride Brewing Company, Launch Pad Brewery, New Terrain Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Ratio Beerworks, Station 26 Brewing Company, Strange Craft Beer Company and Vail Brewing Company.

Bergen held the fest a couple of weeks earlier this year to help capture these beers at their freshest time. Fresh hopped beers will fall off in quality faster than a typical beer, so it is important that drinkers enjoy them as soon as possible. "I feel like Colorado's harvest has been trending earlier for a few years now," Bergen notes. "It's always going to be tough to pick the perfect date, as harvest dates in [various hop regions like] Colorado, Yakima and Michigan are all going to be different, but I'm pretty stoked at how the timing this year is going to work out."

Still, a few breweries had to decline because their beers wouldn't be ready in time. That trade-off may be worthwhile, however, in the name of quality.
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Ryan Pachmayer is a beer writer living in Arvada. He has written for publications such as Craft Beer & Brewing, Zymurgy, Porch Drinking, Homebrewing DIY and Punch. He is also the head brewer at Yak & Yeti Brewpub, marketing director at New Image Brewing and a BJCP Certified Judge.