BC Beer Baron #39 – Bomber Choqlette Porter

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this month’s feature week will look at beers of a chocolate nature, perfect to celebrate the occasion.

Today’s selection comes from Bomber Brewing, which adds chocolate three separate times to the brewing of this recipe, resulting in the Choqlette Porter. As the brewery puts it, this beer is a perfect blend of “chaos and balance” and given its stats of 5.5% ABV and only 18 IBU, I can kind of see what they’re getting at. Bomber even goes so far as to say the beverage is “London and Paris at home in one drink.”

Bomber Choqlette Porter

I first had the Choqlette Porter at last year’s Toast to the Coast at the Vancouver Aquarium. I think I went back to their booth on four separate occasions for a refill. I guess you could conclude that I liked it! I had it again a couple weeks back during the Tapped Vancouver event at the Yaletown Roundhouse. It was just as I remembered it and this time I was able to share the experience and advocate for the beer with Mrs. Sip and other members of the Sip Alliance.

Bomber has a nice, intimate little home in ‘Yeast Van’, located across the street from Off the Rails Brewing and soon to be joined in the neighbourhood by Luppolo Brewing. It’s a fun place to visit, but unfortunately, the Choqlette Porter may have run its seasonal course and might not be seen again until the fall. If that’s the case, at least we have the memories!

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BC Beer Baron #38 – Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey Ale

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this month’s feature week will look at beers of a chocolate nature, perfect to celebrate the occasion.

En route to visit friends following an event at Big Rock Brewing’s Urban Eatery, Mrs. Sip and I were checking out the brewpub’s store when we came across today’s beer. Never ones to show up empty-handed and thinking the brew would serve as a bit of a hosting gift, we quickly made our purchase and moved on to our final destination.

The Dark Cherry Abbey Ale is strong (well duh, Sip Advisor… it is 9.5%) and sweeter than some might like. That sweetness comes from the brewmaster’s use of Belgian candi sugar to go along with the naturally sweet taste of fruits such as cherries, raisins, and plums, already in the recipe. Include four different malts (Belgian dark, wheat, caramel, and chocolate) and there’s a lot going on with this beer.

Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey Ale

The 750ml bottle retails for $12, which given the serving size and alcohol content, is a fair price. It even comes in a box and would make for a nice Valentine’s gift for anyone with a beer lover on their arm. Single on V-day? Why not enjoy one for yourself and forget all your relationship troubles.

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

My Valentine is typically a fan of stronger beers from the Belgian family, but she can be put off by fruit-flavoured creations. She found the Dark Cherry Abbey Ale to be intense in taste, but since it was shared amongst a group of four, that was just about right and a bigger serving might be too much.

When researching this beer, I discovered that Big Rock’s staff have made movie and music pairing suggestions to go with some of their product line-up. Musically, this beer should be paired with Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt (TV’s Catwoman from the 1960’s campy Batman), while the film Mixed Nuts (starring an ensemble cast including Steve Martin and Madeline Kahn) has been picked for your viewing pleasure. As far as more traditional pairings go, such as of the food variety, Big Rock suggests washing down a slice of Black Forest Cake with this beverage.

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BC Beer Baron #37 – Spinnakers India Pale Ale

I have great faith in Spinnakers Brewing. After all, they managed to make a good Oyster Stout, so anything else must be great.

Their India Pale Ale is modeled after Northern England’s take on the beer, which many moons ago was prepared this way so it would survive arduous sea voyages and still be drinkable by the ship’s crew. With stats of 7.1% ABV and 55 IBU, this beer isn’t for lightweights and newbies, but hardened veterans of the IPA scene. And that’s just the way the Sip Advisor likes ‘em.

Spinnakers India Pale Ale

The brewpub mentions that this beer is a favourite among their regulars and you can add the Sip Advisor to that growing list.

Next time Mrs. Sip and I find ourselves in Victoria, I’m making it a priority to visit Spinnakers. Yes, I’m putting it ahead of family and friends who have moved to the island because I need to visit this establishment that is celebrating their 31st year of operation. At the very least, I have to keep a keen eye on lookout for any of their products that come available in local stores, as they have a very eclectic line-up of products that I would love to sample. The brewpub even has guesthouses you can stay in, should you choose. Sounds right up our alley!

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BC Beer Baron #36 – Howe Sound Sky Pilot Northwest Pale Ale

Earlier this week, the Sip Family gathered for a meal at Dunn’s Famous BC, where among their menu of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine, are a few products courtesy of Howe Sound Brewing.

The Sky Pilot Northwest Pale Ale (known as Dunn’s Pale Ale at the restaurant) was a solid beer pitcher choice, perfect for our impending feast. At 5% ABV and 30 IBU’s, it’s an easy drinking ale that can be shared amongst eclectic tastes.

Howe Sound Sky Pilot Northwest Pale Ale

The beer is named in honour of Sky Pilot Mountain, which is said to bring visitors and nature together in the Sea-to-Sky region of B.C. It is also brewed in collaboration with the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, which operates in Howe Sound’s home of Squamish and takes guests on a 10-minute journey from base to peak. Once at the top, there are a number of activities to partake in, including walking trails, snowshoeing , a tube park, skiing and snowboarding, and biking in the summer months.

The beer’s bottle features a car from said gondola, as well as a tribute to the attraction’s opening day of May 16, 2014.

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BC Beer Baron #35 – Russell Farm Fresh IPA

Located in Surrey, Russell Brewing is a larger operation than most craft breweries. I’ve enjoyed a few of their products before, so was eager to try this beer when the opportunity arose.

The Farm Fresh IPA uses Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops from Chilliwack Hop Farms. I had never tried or even seen this beer, prior to coming across it at Tapped Vancouver last month. Apparently, it is part of the brewery’s Specialty Series, which means it’s a limited release. The Specialty Series also features one of the Sip Advisor’s favourite brews, the Smokey the Beer Rauchbier.

Russell Farm Fresh IPA

As for the IPA, I found it to be pretty typical. That’s not to say it was bad or anything. It just didn’t wow me as I hoped it might. Given I only received a half-size tasting glass serving from the chintzy pourer at the Russell/Driftwood booth, I should probably still give the bomber a fair shot before completely moving away from this IPA. The beer has a 6.5% ABV and 48 IBU, which all seem like pretty fair numbers.

I wish the Russell establishment had a tasting room, but that is currently not the case. The brewery is located close enough to Ma and Pa Sip’s home that visiting would be a cinch. Apparently one is in development, but it can’t come soon enough!

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BC Beer Baron #34 – Steamworks Heroica Red Ale

For Christmas, Mrs. Sip’s family gifted me Steamworks Brewing’s Mash-Up (Vol. 2) variety pack and I’m very glad they did as there are some solid beers in this collection.

Among them, is the Heroica Red Ale, which is a very tasty, albeit hoppy brew. The story of this beverage goes much deeper than just enjoying it, though.

Steamworks Heroica Red Ale

The beer is dedicated to BC Firefighters, who risk their lives on a daily basis to save others. Featuring a firefighter rescuing a damsel in distress on the bottle, the beer was originally released in September 2014 on a limited basis, but returned for the 2015 fall season.

Winning a gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards might have helped in that decision, but it should also be noted that proceeds from sales of the beer go to the BC Burn Fund, in partnership with the Burnaby Fire Department. The October 2014 campaign raised over $10,000, thanks to beer drinkers across the province.

I’m more than happy to drink to that!

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BC Beer Baron #33 – Moody Ales Hardy Brown Ale

Myself, Cousin Sip and her husband recently returned to Romer’s Burger Bar (Yaletown location) for another round of their Craft Bowl competiton, which featured this beer from Moody Ales. To remind readers, the contest pits two to three beers against each other with diners getting to sample each option before picking their winner, which they then receive a full serving of.

While I chose the Hardy Brown Ale’s competitor for my full serving, it was a very tough choice and the stiff competition was evident by the nearly identical scores for both brews on the point’s board.

Moody Ales Hardy Brown Ale

The brown ale had a strong toffee-flavoured aftertaste, which I wasn’t fully sold on. Upon first sip, I had originally thought I would choose the Moody Ales option as my pick for the contest. The only reason I sided with the other Craft Bowl beer, in this case, was because I wasn’t sure how a full serving would pan out. Cousin Sip went with the Hardy Brown Ale and at the time we left the restaurant, the Moody Ales brew was holding a slight lead.

I have yet to visit this Port Moody-based brewery and have only sampled a couple of their beers. I really need to try more of the company’s wares before coming to any final conclusions on their product.

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