The 6th annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW henceforth) has arrived and with it comes a host of great events to welcome summer and get your brew on. Mrs. Sip and I were busy with a full slate of activities. Here’s how it all went down:
On Saturday, we had tickets to the What the Hop? Beer Trivia, which turned out to be incredibly good value. The cost was $60 to enter a team of four and this included a sleeve of beer with each of the four trivia rounds, from one of the breweries sponsoring the event, as well as a couple appetizers per team. It was originally advertised as one starter dish per round per team, but turned out to only be two of the four. That was really the only disappointment of the day.
The beers included the Red Truck ISA, Fuggles and Warlock White IPA, Parallel 49 Jerkface 9000, and Central City IPA. Our team, ‘Beer Today, Hung Tomorrow’, made a good showing, placing in the top five of 30 or so squads. We missed out on the grand prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the Whistler Beer Festival in September, but I was rewarded in other ways, as any beer my fellow team members didn’t like or had enough of, seemed to float my way. I have to mention that the venue, Colony on Main Street, and the host of the game, IQ Trivia 2000, were also great and made for a very fun afternoon.
After the trivia, we wandered down the street for our first visit to Main Street Brewing. There, I grabbed a flight of their beers and continued the drinkfest. Not ready to pack it in just yet, our next stop was the nearby Brassneck Brewery, where it was one more pint for the night. By 11pm, we were back at our temporary accommodation and it was nighty-night for the Sip Advisor. Heck, I had to rest up for Sunday’s sandwich pairings!
The next day brought the This Sandwich, That Beer Throwdown at The Portside Pub, in Vancouver’s historic Gastown. This place is neat in that you actually kind of feel like you’re aboard a ship… or at least I did! Before the festivities got underway, Mrs. Sip was thirsty for a beer. This provided a chance to try the Campfire Kolsch that was made specifically for VCBW 2015. We both liked the brew, but it was time to get our eat on, with nine sandwiches and nine cask beer accompaniments on the menu for the afternoon.
There was a lot of food and beer to consume and we feel we got good value, once again, with a price point of $45. My favourite sandwich was the Duck Confit with Pancetta from The Tasty Torpedo, while my beer of choice was the Steel & Oak Smoked Hef. Not surprisingly, these two items were paired together and it’s amazing how a nicely paired beer can improve a sandwich and vice versa. There were no duds in this competition.
That said, the winners of the day were the aforementioned Tasty Torpedo for best sandwich; Townsite Brewing’s Sour Saison for best beer; and the combo of Calabash Bistro’s Braised Jerk Chicken sandwich, paired with Dageraad’s Sri Lankan Dubbel, for the best total experience. This event sells out quickly every time it is run, so don’t delay when the opportunity for tickets comes up.
Wrapping up our busy week of commitments (although these are the best kind of commitments!) was the Beer Cocktail Competition at Blackbird Public House. After a great weekend of events, we had high hopes for this one, as well, but it kind of failed to deliver. On the cons side, we had trouble finding seating for our group, as the venue chose not to close down and run a private event or reserve a section for the production, meaning we were battling with the after work rush of customers for a spot. The table we eventually landed at made us feel disconnected from the festivities. Worse yet, we didn’t get to try all of the beer cocktails and while this was mentioned in the event’s details, what’s the point of having the competition at all, if those who paid to be part of it, don’t get to try each entry? For that matter, what’s the point of handing out samples if there’s not enough to share with everyone? This is a kindergarten lesson that still applies in the adult world!
It wasn’t all bad, though. The pros included the pint of Driftwood New Growth Pale Ale everyone received, which was really nice, the $20 ticket price, and the few glasses of Jameson Irish Whiskey we managed to get our hands on. In the end, we had a good enough time (making the best of it), but when the winner was announced, we just didn’t care anymore. I don’t mean to crap on the hard work of people who put on the event, but some lessons could be learned from a similar cocktail competition, such as Made with Love.
In wrapping up, I still have to say that VCBW has treated the Sip Advisor, Mrs. Sip, and members of both the Sip Alliance and Sip Syndicate (that’s a lot of sips!) very well. Just wait until future installments when I launch my own event: the salty snack food and beer pairing, plus trivia competition, all rolled into one!