Cider Mag Winter 2015 Issue 52 - Page 36

HOP JAM 2015 More than a beer festival By Phill Andrews Photos by Kelly Brinza B en Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God wants man to be happy,” and the weather for the 2nd annual Hop Jam seemed to echo those thoughts precisely. Hop Jam returned to Bolton Valley, VT on August 22, 2015 for a second round of good tunes, great food and amazing beer. The sun baked off early morning clouds and the day stayed cool enough to enjoy all those high-alcohol super hoppy IPAs without feeling like you were going to pass out. The music was as eclectic as the beer offerings, and Hop Jam 2015 kicked off with Rough Francis, a high-energy punk quintet from Burlington. Rough Francis’ groove was actually far more intoxicating than those early afternoon pints. The sound was immediately gratifying, with hard charging bass riffs and air-drum inducing percussions; their music is incredibly raw yet polished enough to start the festival off. To call Hop Jam a beer festival is a little mistaken. Despite having libations from over a dozen brewers from Vermont, Massachusetts and beyond, event organizer Meg Shultz of Meg’s Events envisioned a music festival that had great beer, rather than a beer festival with music as an afterthought, or a great music lineup with overpriced pints from one or two vendors. Shultz said, “I would rather have a great festival than a large one.” Schultz reported that last year Hop Jam sold about 800 advance tickets online, while this year the number grew to 1300. “We just came to drink beer with our fellow brewers and friends from Vermont and Massachusetts,” said Matt, a brewer from Trillium. “We’re not looking to break into any new markets; we can’t even keep up with demand where we are, but a beautiful, sunny day in Vermont with great music, how can you pass that up?” One of the improvements made over last year was the addition of “beer curators.” Each of the brewers loaded all of their kegs onto one truck, and the curators and the excellent volunteer staff handled the rest. The curators worked carefully to keep Russ Lawton of Soule Monde Ryan Montbleau and Friends 36 • CIDER MAG • Winter • 2015