Hop­scotch goes be­yond whisky and beer

> BY GAIL JOHN­SON

The Georgia Straight - - Food -

When Hop­scotch started out in 1995, the craft brew­ing scene had yet to come to life, and the sin­gle-day fes­ti­val ded­i­cated to whisky and beer fea­tured fewer than three dozen ven­dors. Along with those bev­er­age in­dus­tries, the lo­cal fest has grown up over the years.

The 2017 fete lasts nearly a full week, wrap­ping spir­its, cider, wine, and cock­tails into the mix, and at its sig­na­ture week­end tast­ing event plays host to more than 130 ex­hibitors with about 400 prod­ucts avail­able for tast­ing.

Given Van­cou­verites’ love and knowl­edge of so many types of ar­ti­sanal drinks, it’s hard to re­mem­ber to take over when Bar­nett was ready and Canapes Cater­ing and Events. the days when the beer se­lec­tion at to move on to other things. Droski is also a part­ner in the Deighton most bars and restau­rants was lim­ited Bloch met Droski years ago af­ter Cup, an an­nual gala held at the to a hand­ful of pale-yel­low pours. the lat­ter had left On­tario for B.C. in Hast­ings Race­track in part­ner­ship

“Twenty years ago, beer was 2000 with the in­ten­tion of com­plet­ing with the So­cial Concierge. beer,” says Adam Bloch, Hop­scotch a busi­ness de­gree. A mu­si­cian, The two friends bring dif­fer­ent tal­ents ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, speak­ing to the he played in sev­eral bands and, along to the ta­ble; Bloch, whose dad was Straight on a con­fer­ence call with with a DJ pal, ended up putting on an ac­coun­tant, de­scribes him­self as as­so­ci­ate pro­ducer Dax Droski. blowout year-end col­lege par­ties at the one with the math­e­mat­i­cal mind “That’s not the case any­more. There the now-de­funct Pur­ple Onion. He who pores over num­bers and de­tails; are so many dif­fer­ent brands, va­ri­eties, went on to start his own events and Droski, who helps com­pa­nies with flavours, and ac­cents—choco­late, “brand ac­ti­va­tion” com­pany called brand­ing strate­gies, is the ideas guy. peach, grape­fruit, cin­na­mon, Pa­rade Agency as well as Cock­tails “Some­times we butt heads,” ba­con… On an ed­u­ca­tional level, the

2 fes­ti­val gives peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally learn what’s out there, and on a mi­cro level, to learn what makes With dozens of satel­lite events, din­ners, and tast­ings, it can be hard to nail down your road map ev­ery one so dif­fer­ent.” for the 22nd an­nual Hop­scotch Fes­ti­val of Whisky, Beer and Spir­its. Here are a few sug­ges­tions

Adds Droski: “Hop­scotch is to pare down your op­tions. known for be­ing Scotch- and beer­fo­cused, and whisky is very much GRAND TAST­ING HALL (Novem­ber 24 and 25 at the PNE Fo­rum) Hop­scotch’s pre­mier the event’s an­chor, but we’ve gone in ex­pe­ri­ence, this is a fest within a fest. Along­side live mu­sic and plen­ti­ful food op­tions, look for hun­dreds the di­rec­tion of adding other spir­its of prod­ucts to ex­pe­ri­ence, from mak­ers like 4 Mile Brew­ing Co., As­lan Brew­ing Co./maui Brew­ing Co., be­cause peo­ple want to try a num­ber Auchen­toshan (whisky), Bench 1775 Win­ery, Bridge Brew­ing, Forty Creek Dis­tillery, Glen­dalough, Glen­far­clas, of dif­fer­ent ar­ti­san prod­ucts. On the Indige­nous World Win­ery, Mer­ri­dale Cidery and Dis­tillery, Ole Smoky Moon­shine, Red Racer, ed­u­ca­tional side, peo­ple have the op­por­tu­nity Wood­ford Re­serve (bour­bon), and many, many more. to try prod­ucts that they may never pick up on their own. It’s a fes­ti­val of li­ba­tions.”

While Bloch and Droski are run­ning the pop­u­lar fest to­gether for the first time this year, nei­ther is new to putting on mas­sive, suc­cess­ful, fun­fu­elled events. Bloch’s in­volve­ment in Hop­scotch, in fact, goes back well over a decade, to when it was be­ing helmed by Dave Bar­nett. Bloch— who had moved to Van­cou­ver from Toronto, where he fin­ished an eco­nomics de­gree, via Los An­ge­les, where he had pur­sued act­ing—had met Bar­nett at the Me­dia Club, and the two be­came fast friends. Hav­ing started pro­duc­ing events to make money to sup­port his film work here, Bloch, ea­ger to be part of Hop­scotch, helped get the word out by hand­ing out fly­ers. As time went by, he started do­ing more and more, so it only made sense for him

Where to start at the 22nd an­nual Hop­scotch Fes­ti­val WOMEN AND WHISKY > GAIL JOHN­SON

Cor­ner, the Rose Gar­den (wine), Spir­its of the Globe, and Craft Cock­tails, for in­stance. Each will have a dif­fer­ent feel, too; look for live mu­sic at the beer sec­tion by jazz-funk band Elec­tric Monks and a more mel­low vibe where spir­its are be­ing sam­pled.

There’s also a strong fo­cus on B.C. prod­ucts, in­clud­ing the tast­ing hall’s Lo­cal: B.C. Craft Beer Pav­il­ion pre­sented by the B.C. Craft Brew­ers Guild. “We re­ally wanted to em­pha­size the lo­cal as­pect,” Bloch says. “There are so many amaz­ing B.C. brew­eries; they def­i­nitely needed their own space.”

Then there is the tast­ing hall’s food. Look for Pawn Shop’s tacos, Dixie’s BBQ brisket, and BKH jerky and Sin­ga­porean short ribs, and bites from La Pen­tola, Steel Toad Brew­ing, and other eater­ies. There will also be a hot­dog show­down that will see Juno Kim, a cre­ator of suc­cess­ful pop-up restau­rants, face off against other lo­cal chefs.

“We re­ally wanted to up the restau­rant game this year,” Droski says. “We’ve changed it up and re­ally taken it up to a whole new level.”

While the sub­stance is there, the new Hop­scotch doesn’t forgo style, ei­ther. The fest out­grew its orig­i­nal digs at the Rocky Moun­taineer Sta­tion, hav­ing moved the Grand Tast­ing Hall to the PNE Fo­rum. How­ever, the two over­seers say the venue will be en­tirely un­rec­og­niz­able once peo­ple step in­side. Think mag­nif­i­cent, tall drap­ery and just the right light­ing, the lat­ter be­ing pro­vided by Atomic2 Light­ing, which works with ma­jor film com­pa­nies.

In ad­di­tion to Hop­scotch’s Grand Tast­ing Hall (for which about 3,000 at­ten­dees are ex­pected each evening) the fest fea­tures dozens of other events, in­clud­ing mas­ter classes and din­ners. (See side­bar.) And de­spite the fes­ti­val’s firm fo­cus on al­co­hol, it’s not in­tended as a place for pub­lic drunk­en­ness. The PNE has easy ac­cess to pub­lic tran­sit, Bloch notes, and Hop­scotch is hop­ing to once again be part of the B.C. Liquor Dis­tri­bu­tion Branch’s Get Home Safe pro­gram. “Our num­ber one pri­or­ity is safety,” Bloch says. “You shouldn’t drink and drive, and it’s not a fes­ti­val to come and get drunk.”

Hold­ing the fest in their hands for the first time, Bloch and Droski couldn’t be more ex­cited about what’s to come.

“There’s such a buzz about the fes­ti­val,” Droski says. “Con­sumer palates have com­pletely changed, and peo­ple want to learn about what they’re drink­ing.”

The Hop­scotch Fes­ti­val of Whisky, Beer and Spir­its takes place Novem­ber 20 to 26 at var­i­ous Van­cou­ver venues.

Lib­erty Dis­tillery’s Robert and Lisa Simp­son make Trust Whiskey Sin­gle Grain and Sin­gle Cask Madeira from B.c.-grown or­ganic bar­ley. Amanda Siebert photo.

Hop­scotch Fes­ti­val ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Adam Bloch and as­so­ci­ate pro­ducer Dax Droski. Amanda Siebert photo.

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