On Friday night I braved the weather and the crowds and went to the Hopscotch Festival at the PNE in Vancouver. One of my dear friends was kind enough to give me free tickets again this year, despite my non-attendance in previous years (mostly due to not wanting to leave the house in the pouring rain), and I was really glad I went!
I’m by no means a connoisseur, but I do enjoy a glass of whiskey, bourbon, cognac, and occasionally scotch on a cold winters night. Hopscotch also includes a bunch of microbreweries so I was pretty much like a kid in a candy shop! Yes, it was crowded, and hot, and full of really tall dudes and some pretty drunk cougars, but being able to try things you would never dream of buying is fun. When the retail price of the bottle is $130 and it costs you $3 to taste, I consider that decent value.
I tried so many different things, needless to say I woke up with a wee bit of a headache the next day, but here are a few of my favourites.
Penderyn Peated Welsh Whisky I decided to try this one for my dad, who loved Wales. I had no idea what to expect, having never tried any sort of drink from Wales and I was pleasantly surprised. It has a carmel flavour that lingers on your palate. It’s a peated whisky but didn’t taste overly smoky to me. I’d say it’s good for beginners. Would I buy it, probably not.
Ardbeg Single Malt Islay Scotch Whisky Wow, holy flavour is all I have to say about this one. It’s expensive, it’s peaty (basically like licking a campfire) and kind of insane. You won’t taste much else after this one. You get olives, lemons, menthol and an almost nutty flavour all mixed together. I don’t think I fully appreciated the beauty of this product, but am really glad I tried it.
Prairie Vodka This one comes in a pretty bottle, direct from Minnesota. It’s a corn vodka, and it’s organic. It kind of tasted like water after the Ardbeg, but I typically don’t like my vodka to have much flavour. It was really smooth and reasonably priced at around $40. I’ve never been faithful to a brand of vodka for long, so this one might end up in my freezer next.
Tavi Tequila Apparently Tavi is owned by some guy from White Rock, but it’s authentic 100% agave, Mexican tequila. They have the full range of products you’d expect from Patron or Herradura, but their branding screams d-bag. It was good, but didn’t taste better or worse than other premium tequilas I’ve tried. It was really funny to watch people at their booth, because the girls working it were scantily clad in sequinned tank tops. The guy next to us, who looked exactly like Andre from The League, was like, “oh, yeah agave, I love agave.” Whatever.
As the night wore on and we got a bit tipsy we decided to switch to beers. The only one I tried that really stuck out in my mind was the the Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA. I’ve seen this one on the shelves in the states, but never bothered to try it. Not sure why, because I pretty much love everything in the Deschutes family. I was expecting this one to be a suuuuper hoppy Oregon style beer, but was pleasantly surprised by it’s non-hoppy character. Maybe they’ve mis-badged it, because Mirror Pond is hoppier than Chainbreaker, but it was really light and refreshing. It’s got a nice citrus taste, but doesn’t have the coriander that I usually find overpowering. I will definitely pick up a case of this next time I’m down south.
So there you have it. Hopscotch offers something for everyone, unless you’re strictly a wino, in which case you’re totally screwed. Tickets are pricy at $50 each, plus the cost of tasting tokens. But if you can get your hands on a promo ticket for next year it’s totally worth checking out.