Big air and bountiful beers

Hops Handrails comes to Longmont

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Courtesy of Lefthand Brewing

If you can’t make it to the mountains this weekend to celebrate the spring snow, then head out to Longmont for the third annual Hops Handrails event, presented by Lefthand Brewing this Saturday, March 28.

Part beer festival and part snowboarding competition, it is certainly unique — it’s kind of like a spring version of The Boulder Cup Cyclocross race with highly specialized professional athletes doing athletic feats you could only dream of while you quaff delicious beers.

And the best part is all of the proceeds from the event go to charity, so no guilt while you sip that coffee infused porter.

This year the event is expanding both vertically and horizontally.

Drawing on the expertise of Winter Park Resort, the ramp for the Rail Jam competition is doubling in height to a whopping 40 feet tall. As the riders kick off the edge, they will slide down over six semi truckloads of snow brought down from the mountains, while navigating a 200-footlong terrain course with numerous features.

“There will be keg jibs, rail slides and cars to incorporate into their runs,” says Bob Holmes, senior strategic alliance and partnership manager of Winter Park Resorts. “Depending on the weather, we might even toss in a quarter pipe — it should be fun to watch.”

With the riders competing for up to $1,000 in prize money, you know the tricks should be memorable.

The Burton Riglet Park will be offering kids of all ages the opportunity to pull some tricks while you sip on some suds.

Tunes will be flowing all afternoon courtesy of two bands. Euforquestra will be dropping funk and groove while Whitewater Ramble brings high-octane Rocky Mountain dancegrass.

But let’s not forget the most important part of the afternoon: the beer. Never one to hog the spotlight, Lefthand has upped the ante for this event. They have commitments from 50 breweries to be at the festival pouring tasters of their beers.

National luminaries such as Lost Abbey, Victory, Sierra Nevada, North Coast, Green Flash, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas and Firestone Walker (to name a few) will be pouring at the festival.

Colorado breweries are also well represented with a who’s who of some of our state’s finest showing up to support the event. Avery, Crooked Stave, Elevation, Fate, Odell, Oscar Blues and Upslope are but a few who will be tapping kegs all day. Meanwhile, local culinarians from Abo’s Pizza, Georgia boys BBQ and Sisters’ Dumplings will be serving grub all day.

The best part is that while you are having fun sipping and watching the shredding, you are helping SOS Outreach and the Lefthand Brewing Foundation.

“We love this event,” says Seth Ehrlich, executive director of SOS Outreach. “Last year it raised over $8,000 for at-risk kids to experience the outdoors. Hopefully this year we will top $10,000.”

The event is this Saturday, March 28 from 12-5 p.m. at Roosevelt Park in Longmont. Tickets for both the Beer Fest and Rail Jam are $30. If you just want to watch the Rail Jam, tickets are $10. For tickets and information, visit www.lefthandbrewing.com.