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Hopscotch: A Hoppy Collaboration

Here in Vermont, we’re well known for our craft beers. In fact, we’re one of the leading states in the U.S. for breweries per capita. What can we say? Vermonters love their local beers! Well, we do too.

Years ago, as the craft beer movement exploded in our state, we had a thought. At Mad River Distillers, we produce craft-made spirits with local and fair trade ingredients. What if we created a whiskey using one of the state’s favorite local products as an ingredient? We could create a truly distinct single malt whiskey using a local craft beer. 

Craft Beer Becomes Single Malt Whiskey

Single malt whiskey and beer are both made, almost exclusively, from malted barley. Beer (especially the craft beer commonly produced in Vermont) will typically have other additions to it, such as hops. However, single malt whiskey is not made with hops. In a way, it is much like beer until the distillation process. We thought it would be fun to experiment and distill a craft beer into a single malt whiskey. Though “Scotch” is a protected classification (similar to "Champagne"), our Head Distiller, Alex Hilton, came up with the name Hopscotch as a play on words.

Our Hopscotch Collaborations

This year marks our 7th release of Hopscotch. Each year, we collaborate with a local brewery, using their beer to distill our whiskey. Each collaboration results in a distinctive flavor that is entirely Vermont-made. Previous collaborations include:

  • Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Our very first batch of Hopscotch was brewed with owner Sean Lawson at his original brewery. This is the only Hopscotch that was not produced with a pre-existing beer recipe. The resulting spirit tasted very much like a traditional Scotch.
  • 14th Star Brewing Co. Our second batch of Hopscotch was distilled from 14th Star’s Tribute Double IPA. This is a very hop-forward beer, and resulted in a very hop-forward whiskey.    
  • Stone Corral. Our third batch was distilled from Stone Corral's Scotch Ale, which is a very dark, malty ale brewed with additions of peated malted barley, which absolutely came through in the finished spirit.
  • von Trapp Brewing. The fourth batch of Hopscotch was distilled from Trapp’s Helles Lager, which is a classic German style lager that has a nice balance of malt and hops. The distinctive flavor of this beer came through in the whiskey.  
  • Upper Pass Beer. The fifth batch was distilled from Upper Pass’s First Drop American Pale ale. With a slightly lower ABV than many of the Double India Pale Ales you’d find, but still full of flavor, this made for a full flavored and fairly hop-forward whiskey.
  • Otter Creek Brewing Co. Our sixth batch of Hopscotch was distilled from Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest beer, which is a malty, sweet, almost amber colored ale. This malt-forward beer made for a more traditional whiskey flavor.  

For this year’s Hopscotch release, we partnered with Zero Gravity. This batch was distilled from a stout brewed specifically for this collaboration by owner Paul Sayler, without using any hops, but instead a small addition of Brettanomyces to add a unique flavor profile to the whiskey. After aging for more than three years, the resulting whiskey is both unique and tasty. 

Available For A Limited Time

Now that our latest batch is out of the barrel and all bottled up, this limited time Hopscotch with Zero Gravity can be found at our Burlington Tasting Room and at the Mad River Taste Place in Waitsfield. We’ll be celebrating the release of this special batch during the first weekend of December at our Burlington Tasting Room, offering Zero Gravity beer, Mad River cocktails and bottles for purchase (available in both 375 ML and 750 ML sizes), and tastings of our spirits. Stop in and pick up a bottle of our local and craft-made Hopscotch, while supplies last. 

To hear more about our upcoming release event, and all other happenings at Mad River Distillers, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by Alex Hilton and Brianne Lucas and published on November 23, 2021

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