For those who enjoy their beer, there’s usually a need for a pick me up the following morning. Coffee and beer have developed this balanced relationship, with one taking priority in the AM hours, and the other making the afternoon and evening its home, but there are instances where the two meet in amazing happenstance. Hopwired Festival returns for the third and possibly final time on February 29th, from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. So, While there is a fittingly bittersweet note to this year’s event, how did we get this far with such a bespoke festival?

Guests can look forward to interacting with brewers and roasters. Photo courtesy Hopwired Festival

First Cup

Back in 2017, there was talk of a new festival happening at the beginning of 2018. Hopwired was a brand new idea from Mike Willis, founder of West Craft Specialty Imports, to not only showcase beer and coffee but to showcase them together. “I started putting this event together with the idea that I could put on an event that I would love to drink at and not be bored. The spirit of the festival is collaboration and I think in today’s climate it’s great to see people communicating and planning things for the greater good while designing a tasty new beer.” 

One of the nicer beer festival glasses provided, perfectly suited for the variety of collaborative beers. Photo by Mathieu Poirier


Similar to Good Beer Hunting’s Uppers and Downers happening across the US, this event was about more than just the beer and coffee; this was about the relationship between them, and an attempt to educate and bridge the gap between two of the world’s favourite drinks.

Offering a selection of coffees from local and distant specialty coffee roasters alongside breweries offering a selection of coffee-based beers, sometimes joining forces directly on a single project, this event went from a crowd-funded idea to get off the ground to a relaxed afternoon of 400 people enjoying an amazing array of beverages in the festival-friendly space at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre. In addition to the beverages though, there was a focus on just what makes brewers and roasters such a perfect pair. Discussion panels led by Cascadian Beer Podcast host Aaron Johnson delved into some of the unique offerings and the stories behind them while providing entertainment and education at the same time.

Aaron Johnson of Cascadian Beer Podcast (left) leads discussion panels with brewers and roasters. Photo by Mathieu Poirier

Year 2 Comes Around for a Top-up

All-inclusive coffee awaits attendees. Photo courtesy Hopwired Festival

2018 was “Can we do this?”, but 2019 became “We CAN do this!” Returning to the Croatian Cultural Centre, the event expanded to both halls, welcomed about 1000 people, and grew to add many more breweries, roasters, discussion panels. Breweries were now buying into the theme and creating a variety of coffee beers that blew the first year’s amazing lineup out of the water. 

Temporal Artisan Ales’ win for best in show for an American wild ale coffee beer collaborated with Primer Coffee out of Bellingham, WA, shows the leaps and bounds the festival made, especially since there was nothing wild or sour offered in the first year’s event. On the continued theme of collaboration, it became even more engrained in the event. Everything is Awesome, the official beer of the event, was put together by Backcountry Brewing and Counterpart Coffee out of Squamish, BC, along with Willis. Also, the winners of the inaugural event’s best coffee and espresso, Smoking Gun Coffee Roasters, collaborated on a unique version of one of the most recognizable Imperial coffee stouts in the world, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel.

Tristan Stewart, Owner/Brewer at Temporal Artisan Ales (Center), discusses his award-winning coffee beer, Dual Process Theory. Photo Courtesy Hopwired Festival.


Time for Decaf?

When the opportunity to hold the event on a leap day arose, Willis jumped at the chance, but also knew that this was likely going to be the last year. When asked why he’s considering ending the festival after this year, Mike was open about not wanting the event to lose its energy as the caffeine wears off eventually, so planning for a limited number of years allows for the possibility of new festivals with different energy and opportunities to educate.

The panels exist because of that desire for education, and this year’s lineup is no exception. Aaron of Cascadian Beer Podcast returns for the third year to discuss a variety of topics including wild and funky beers, foeder-ageing, as well as looking back at the history of Chuckanut Brewery from Bellingham and Montreal’s Brasserie Dieu du Ciel.

Guests enjoy the variety of offerings at the Croatian Cultural Centre. Photo by Mathieu Poirier

“There’s a hell of a lot of great coffee and beer in Vancouver and Canada and we are so very blessed,” according to Willis, so if you want to take advantage of what is a ridiculously fun event that might not come around again next year, don’t miss out and grab your tickets today.

Limited tickets are still available through the Hopwired website for up to $65, and are all-inclusive of your beer, coffee, and espresso.

BC Ale Trail breweries in attendance at Hopwired include:

Backcountry Brewing // Canoe Brewpub // Field House Brewing  // House of Funk Brewing  // Howe Sound Brewing // Lighthouse Brewing // Ravens Brewing // Silver Valley Brewing // The Bakery Brewing // Townsite Brewing // Twin Sails Brewing // Wildeye Brewing

Click here to to enter to win tickets through a special BC Ale Trail social media contest.


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