Brand new style, same great Kelowna festival

Hopscotch revamps its look to a more West Coast vibe for this year’s event.

After nine years, it’s time for a facelift.

The annual Hopscotch event in Kelowna is stepping away from its exhibition-style feel to more of a connoisseur tasting experience.

Adam Blotch, the Hopscotch executive director, says the event used to have an old-school corporate trade show vibe, but this year things will take a monumental turn.

“The whole brand is different, although it is still called Hopscotch, the idea now is to make this the least expensive event for a great night out,” he explains. “We have completely jazzed up the venue, we are bringing in extra long drapes, to change the aesthetics so when you walk in you’re no longer walking into the Kelowna Curling Club, you’re walking into the Hopscotch grand tasting hall.”

The lights will also be dimmed to create a warmer atmosphere and instead of a live band there will be a DJ.

Hopscotch is known for its variety with more than 100 beers and spirits to sip and savour, but this year there will be yet another unique twist.

According to Blotch the products will be divided in pavilions within the hall, such as a B.C. craft beer section, a world beer section, a B.C. spirit section and a international spirit section — there will also be several small wine tasting stations set up.

“We will have a whiskey corner, where you can just taste whisky from Japan, B.C. and all over,” Blotch says. “For the first time ever we will also have an on site liquor store, so if you try something and like it, you can buy it.”

The changes come as the world of craft beer and spirits progresses, says Blotch, as products have evolved since the event first took place eight years ago.

“There is a huge craft beer and spirit movement now. The government has created new licenses for new distilleries and breweries, so it was just time for the festival to get onboard with the brands we are representing.”

Blotch says there was also a consensus that the event needed to have a West Coast feel to it as it is native to Vancouver.

“We are more in line now with the whole Vancouver, Seattle, Portland scene and vibe than the corporate event that it used to be,” notes Blotch. “I just didn’t want one person leaving thinking that the event wasn’t worth the money.”

Although the festival will still anchor on education where those in attendance will be treated to a showcase of craft cocktails made by mixologists — there is even a rumour of a giant Negroni making machine.

“Last year we had about 45 vendors now we have over 70, and more than 200 products. There is going to be a ton of whisky to try, if you like American beer there will be a ton of American craft beer, if you like craft beer there will be a ton of craft beer, and a ton of spirits.”

The event is almost sold out and Wednesday is the last day to get your tickets at a discount, so click here for more info.

Hopscotch takes place Sept. 22 and 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kelowna Curling Club.