The Battle of Hops: Gettysburg of the West
When passing by the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, any historian will no doubt appreciate a stop at the Memorial to the Battle of Hops just south of Fort Collins. A little known, but extremely bloody conflict in early 21st century, the Microbrew Wars were started when the state legislature approved the mandatory inclusion of at least one micro-brew in the beer vendors at Mile High Stadium. The many micro breweries throughout the state banded together to prevent New Belgium from taking this highly coveted spot, and the conflict raged from September ’04 to May ‘05. The casualties were high throughout the eight months of fighting that ensued, and eventually the state, in an emergency session at the Budweiser center, adopted a beer from Wisconsin to prevent further loss of life and property.
Begin your tour of this pivotal moment in state history in downtown Fort Collins where local artists have designed a number of tasteful memorials to the bravery of the soldiers of this conflict.
Your next stop should be the visitor center just south of Longmont. Appropriate for children of all ages, it is housed in a newer building, with all windows being made from broken beer bottles, casualties of the many battles fought in that region. The center provides an invaluable resource when tracking the progression of the war, from artifacts to testimonials. Be sure to ride down the New Belgium slide, captured by the RMBs in December to boost morale. Pause a moment to watch the marvelously detailed miniature recreations of the creative strategies used by both armies in January when they had to resort to drinking their own product after losing their water rights to a new sub-division. Finally, an extra $5 will reward you with a most informative video on the method of ‘green’ warfare practiced by New Belgium throughout the conflict.
If you are ready to stretch your legs further, then a personal or guided walk of the battle field would be well worth your time. Begin from the north side to trace the progression of the New Belgium army, or from the south (just outside the visitor center) to walk through the last strong hold of the Real Micro Brewers. Helpful and costumed re-enactors can be found riding their bikes throughout the battlefield and can answer any further questions.
A note for safety: Be sure to wear shoes at all times.
Please note that it is expressly forbidden to remove any artifacts from the battlefield. This includes everything from bottle caps and glass shards to unexploded mortars and recyclable hand grenades. Some of these items can be purchased as mementos in the gift shop for a reasonable price.
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