Jammin’ at Hop Jam 2014

Man these lines are long!
                I wish there were more restrooms!
The food isn’t that great.
               I’d like to see a better selection of beer.

These are all examples of things you didn’t hear ANYONE say at the extremely well-executed Hop Jam 2014. It was hard to even write that last line given all the rock-star beers they served up this weekend.

HopJam2014-1-SThe event was held at Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton Valley, VT, which is Vermont’s highest base elevation ski resort located midway between Burlington and Montpellier. On a beautiful almost fall day, there was no better place to be than in the 70-degree weather and blue skies of the Green Mountains.

The stage was setup at the base of the slopes with its back to the lodge and its face toward the mountains. The base of the hill ended right before the stage, which gave the whole event the feeling of lawn seats at a music festival. Food was right next to the stage so you were sure to not miss any of the crunchy tunes while getting something to eat. The beer – scratch that – the hoppy, light golden-colored unicorn blood was just up the hill in a tent divided into VIP and GA areas. Both in earshot of the music but not so close as to make it difficult to talk about what everyone was really there for: THE BEER!

Hop Jam set out to be all about good music, killer food, A-list hop-forward beer, and friends. Well, it’s safe to say that Meg and her team from Meg’s Events absolutely nailed it. Just looking at the headliners with food from the Mad Taco and the Phantom Food Truck, music by the Alchemystics and the Spirit Family Reunion, and beer from some of the most elusive breweries in the country, it’s easy to see how this was a day full of straight-up winning for everyone involved.

Let’s take a quick look at the complete brewery lineup to get your head in the right place:

The Alchemist

Lawson’s Finest

Hill Farmstead

Lost Nation Brewing

Trillium Brewing

Tree House Brewing Co.

Fiddlehead Brewery

Otter Creek Brewing

Sixpoint Brewing

Green Flash

Burlington Beer Co.

Smuttynose

Zero Gravity

Lagunitas Brewing Co

High Horse Brewing

 

Can you say holy crap?!

 

HopJam2014-20-SUpon walking into the VIP section of the beer tent (ahem, at 11:10 a.m.), I was immediately conflicted. The Alchemist, creators of the famed Heady Topper, were there with Rapture and The Crusher, both 9.6% double IPAs. That being said, something worth mentioning is that this was not a tasting. Those monster DIPA’s came in a 16 oz. can and everything else was either 9 or 12 oz. pours!! Now you can see why my dreams of pacing myself were quickly going to the wayside. I needed to seize the moment while I had the chance, so I did. I don’t always start off my Saturdays with a double IPA, but when I do, I drink a Rapture!! It was like Heady Topper’s cooler, older brother who had a Camaro and could buy cigarettes. Is it a good idea to start off a nine-hour, hop-fueled beer adventure with a DIPA? No. It’s a GREAT idea!!

Seriously though, stop being such a sissy. There’s always plenty of deep-fried pork belly from the Mad Taco to fix what ails you. (See what I did there?) As the day went on and the sun went down, we found a nice spot on the lawn to enjoy some more beers (albeit at a slightly slower pace at this point for most), listen to the barrage of stringed instruments that was the Sprit Family Reunion, and watch people wondering around looking for their spirit animals.

HopJam Med-8-SAt that point, as with most good things, Hop Jam 2014 had to come to an end. Worth mentioning was the vibe toward the end. Everyone said goodbye to their new friends while helping the event staff get a head start on cleaning up. It was like leaving summer camp. It was somber yet peaceful. No one wanted to leave. This is when I realized that Hop Jam truly was a one-of-a-kind event with a very different feeling than any other fest I’ve attended. I hope to see it happen again next year and I hope they keep it small and manageable.

A big thank you to everyone involved. Particularly Meg from Meg’s Events, who so graciously welcomed AmericanCraftBeer.com into the Green Mountain family.

See you again soon!

 

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