One of my favorite things to do (when I’m not drinking coffee) is to visit one of Vancouver’s many craft breweries. As such, it should be no surprise that when I heard that a coffee beer festival was in the works, I was very excited.
In today’s Q&A we’re catching up with Mike, the organiser of Hopwired Festival, to talk about his upcoming coffee beer fest, his coffee preferences, wankers and some mushy stuff about his missus.
Disclaimer: this is nota paid-promotional post, but I am presenting the awards at the event, so I’m definitely keen to promote it.
You’re the brains behind the upcoming Hopwired festival. Tell us about what made you want to start a coffee beer event?
Boredom. I work in the beer industry and I find an over-saturation of events that are great for newbies who are still timid on approaching craft beer, but aren’t very inclusive to everyone and might even be boring to someone who’s done a wide circulation of events. There are some events with great purposes for their market and season, but not a lot of growth or changes to get me to come back after two years. I started planning my event with things I love in mind; coffee, beer, donuts, and collaborations. This event is selfishly made in the model of what I want as a drinker.
Simplicity. It’s all in the yeast, the sugars, the care and attention of the pH of the beer and coffee, and then the cellaring of the final product – y’know, simplicity – haha.
What makes a good coffee?
The story, the simplicity to understand the coffee with its flavor profiles, and the fruit-bowl flavor range. There are so many large roasters who are very open about their story and operating on a large budget. I’ve found similarities with small, independent roasters. I get the impression, like people in the beer business, roasters love telling their story. I think what resonates with me is when I have a drink and can immediately talk to the producer. One of our much smaller roasters sold me a bag of coffee that had noticeable notes of mango, coconut, honey, and vanilla. It still sits with me how someone that small got to such high-quality level of producing. I see this care, attention, and detail of product with the small craft brewers.
How did you choose your brewery and roaster combinations?
By asking a lot of questions to both the brewers and roasters. There was something like a six month consultation period, then we introduced them through exchanging their contact information. Some knew each other already, so we just slammed them with a couple of great ideas and history was made.
What fun things can we expect at Hopwired?
We’ve got forty amazing vendors with unique products, an award show by some coffee snob wanker, one of the top craft beer podcasters in-person to interview vendors, Cartems donuts, food trucks, friends.. and an overall unique show! This sort of collaboration event is new, not just to our city but the country… it’s going to be different!
Do you have advice for anyone starting their own event for the first time?
Be prepared to be on the phone all time (and in debt). Most of all, don’t go with a cookie cutter model. Be a trailblazer and do anything to make your dreams happen. Make it meaningful to you. Plan three years out, be transparent, be inclusive of everyone and keep all of your focus on what matters: to be different. Don’t be a beer festival or a coffee festival, be something else. It’s hard because there’s not a lot of originality left. Don’t make yourself someone else’s competition. Put experiences first and money last.
What coffee shop have you yet to visit, but want to?
If you could have a coffee beer with someone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My wife. It seems like a common thing, and believe me it can be – but since we started planning Hopwired, we haven’t had much time to talk about anything else! It might be nice to talk about beer with her and not the festival!
Thanks to Mike for chatting with us today. If you’re interested in attending Hopwired festival at the Croatian Cultural Center, there are still a few tickets left to buy here. They’re $52 and include all your beer and coffee, as well as donuts and other treats. Food trucks will be available at extra cost.