Last Saturday I attended my very first Hopscotch an event that has become an annual rite for Scotch, Whisky and Beer drinking Vancouverites. Initially I had some reservations about the beer portion of festival noticing an absence (or very limited presence) of many of my US Northwest favourites but I had many pleasant surprises and found myself tasting out of my element –a good thing! So onto the ales; some of the beers I sampled include Delirium Tremens, Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Biere, Lagunitas Brown Shugga’, Rogue’s Yellow Snow IPA, Granville Island’s Imperial Chocolate Stout, Howe Sound Winter Ale, Whistler Brewing’s Winter Dunkel Signature Series vol. 2, Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale 2009 Vintage, Tree Brewing Co. Vertical Winter Ale and Tree Brewing Limited Reserve Spiced Ale. For the sake of brevity I will do a sports reel style recap highlighting the memorable moments –for better or worse.
10.Coming in at my least favourite libation Lagunitas Brown Shugga’…wow sweet beer, not sweet like awesome dude, but sweet like drinking a glass of brown sugar dissolved in a mediocre ale.
9. Rogue Yellow Snow IPA; ah Rogue sometimes I think that you and I will never meet in the middle, either I cannot discern the nuances between your hopped up beers or too many hops drown the other elements. The former is the most likely case and kudos on the fun seasonal name.
8. Sliding in at number eight, Howe Sound Winter Ale, nice dark ale but on the whole not remarkable.
7. Next up one of the two chocolate beers on this evening’s roster Granville Island’s Imperial Stout. A complex stout with many competing elements; coffee at the forefront, a slight bitterness and just a hint of its chocolate namesake.
6. Smuttynose made me wait and it was a little warm so it rounds out the bottom half of the list. I found the barley wine really dominates this ale with its distinct rich liquor taste not letting the great taste notes of the wheat ale come through.
5. Jolly Pumpkin swings in at five with a strong, cloudy ale containing lots of malt flavour and that somewhat unique taste so often described as barnyard.
4. One of the two Tree offerings lands at number four. The limited reserve Spice Ale was the final beer of the evening (and free). Dark strong ale with a mild amount of spice but to be fair this beer will get another turn at bat since I have one cooling in the fridge.
3. Third star of the evening goes to (oops did I switch metaphors?) Delirium Tremens the ale that heralds itself as the ‘World’s Best Beer’. Okay, okay it was good, very good, clean and strong with just the right amount of fruitiness. I would have no trouble picking out this Belgian from the rest of the line-up and I would not hesitate to pick it up again.
2. Our second star of the evening, and the second kick at the chocolate can, Whistler Brewing’s Dunkel. Quite possibly the best chocolate beer I have tried. Dark and slightly effervescent, a malty Dunkel with a prominent chocolate taste.
1. Drum roll please, my favourite of the evening, the only beer to make it to repeat drinking status… Tree Brewing’s Vertical Winter Ale. Mild ale that is crisp with a nice balance of spice and vanilla. A beer to accompany fireplaces and good books –the benchmark to which all ales aspire, at least in my mind.
Out of a possible five I would give this event a 4.0 (points lost for the ridiculous cab/shuttle situation and lack of options for us vegan beer aficionados; c’mon it’s Vancouver)