Meditations

Raise a Glass at HopScotch


hopscotch

Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, a few of my favorite things are bourbon, single malt and beer. And by a stroke of hoppy, malty, genius, all three are on offer at Hopscotch, Vancouver’s beer and whisky* festival. In recent years it has come to include other spirits as well, but the basic rules of the game are this: you purchase a ticket and get a bag full of tokens plus a tasting glass. Beer is generally worth one token and whiskies can be worth between 2 and 4, depending on the calibre. The one with the least tokens or most tasting notes (or something like that) at the end of the night wins.

whisky

Despite being a die-hard whisky connoisseur, this was my first year at Hopscotch and I was happy to see that even though I was familiar with most of the products, there were some new and interesting selections on offer.

Here are some that stood out:

Beer:

  • Red Racer IPA from Central City Brewing is smooth and hoppy and one of the best beers I’ve had in a while. I’ve been hearing some buzz about this brewery and happy to see that they’re living up to the hype. Unsurprising that CAMRA‘s voted it Best Beer in BC 2 years running. The Winter Ale was good but not quite at the same level as the IPA.
  • This fall found me dipping into Steamworks and Granville Island for pumpkin ale a little more frequently than usual, but had I tried Howe Sound’s Pumpkineater Imperial Ale before November, I would have skipped them both and stayed home with a couple bottles of HS. Outstanding flavour.

Whisky:

  • Nikka Whisky. I sampled some Nikka Whisky From the Barrel at a friend’s house just days before HopScotch, so I had an idea of the quality of the Taketsuru (21 year old) and Miyagikyo (12 year old) but nevertheless, the complexity in both of these blew me away.
  • Bruichladdich I’m not new to Bruichladdich and I’ve tried most of them before, but I think they’re worth mentioning. Peat,  a heavy peaty (surprise!) whisky with a bite is one of my favorites. Waves is matured in madeira casks and is a little gentler with fruit and smoke but no less robust.
  • Amrut is the Indian single malt and I was glad of a chance to sample it, as I’ve not had it before.  The original single malt was the favorite, bringing a honey and caramel luxuriousness to the palate. I also enjoyed the Amrut Fusion, which is redolent of  oak and vanilla.
  • The Dalmore 12 year old was the first Scotch I tried, but it held it’s own for the evening. Subtle orange and cinnamon notes.

I was worried that it would get a bit chaotic on the tasting floor with the mix of beer and whiskey (and now spirits). There’s not a lot of rare whiskies on offer, but it’s big enough that there’s something for everyone and I look forward to checking out next year’s event.

*Spell it ”whiskey’ or ‘whisky’ as you like. Scotland , Canada and Japan spell it ‘whisky’. America and Ireland spell it ‘whiskey’. I usually default to whisky and Hopscotch also refrains from using the ‘e’.  My spell check is not in favour.

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