This article first appears in Salty: The Island’s Food Digest on October 1st, 2016
Vinyl + an ever-changing craft beer selection + a rotating menu of $8 edibles – sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably already discovered Charlottetown’s newest dedicated craft brew bar, HopYard, which unveiled its unique triple threat this past May with hopes it would be a hit amongst locals and visitors. The bar is located on Kent Street in the former Lot 30 location and is the brainchild of owners, Brett Hogan and Mike Ross.
Brett is a recent UPEI graduate and Mike has been working in the foodservice industry since he was 19. The two met while working in sales at the PEI Brewing Company. They spent a lot of their time in restaurants and bars throughout the Maritimes and realized PEI was missing a dedicated craft beer bar. The pair began hatching the concept for HopYard and recruited Chef Jane Crawford, whose creativity and mad kitchen chops have resulted in one of the most innovative menus in Charlottetown.
HopYard’s relaxing vibe is evident the minute you walk through the bar’s big green door – an open concept encourages mingling, while the large record collection in the centre of the bar offers a refreshing twist on the jukebox concept, where patrons select the tunes, but don’t have to part with any coins.
Chef Jane’s menus pay homage to food-centric places around the world and special events. They’ve included a Little Italy, Southern Comfort, Asian Fusion, and Carnival-themed menu (the last one in honour of Old Home Week). HopYard is also planning to take part in Porktoberfest and is a cooking up a trivia and cask night to get folks through the winter months.
Bringing new, unique beers to HopYard has been mostly smooth sailing. The PEI Liquor Commission has been very helpful, and the brew bar has been able to offer brands never poured on PEI before, including a Double IPA from Unfiltered Brewing, a seasonal Gose from Goodrobot, and Mystique, a sparkling cider from Hemmingford, Quebec. The owners expect the variety of beers on offer will only increase in the future, as they currently have an additional 10+ breweries that want to be on their taps.
While still in its early days, HopYard favourites thusfar include: Upstreet Craft Brewing’s Commons Pilsner, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and the ‘Eat the Whole Menu’ option.
“For anyone trying to break into the beer and food service industry in Charlottetown, I would just suggest only doing it if you have a real passion for it. It is a ton of work, but if you really enjoy it then it doesn’t feel like work. Mike and myself both have a big passion for craft beer and that is what has driven us.” says Brett.
That passion emanates from the minute you walk through the front door and, no doubt, more innovations and additions will further cement HopYard’s spot in Charlottetown’s bar and restaurant scene.