Beer of the Week #12 – Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Vancouver Island Brewing seems to be going through a bit of a rebranding, featuring a few old favourites with new names. Of those included in the new campaign is this product, which I picked up a six-pack of recently.

The Carmanah Ale is of the amber ale variety, featuring flavours of pine “as deep as a forest of Sitka spruces”. The 4.8% ABV easy drinking beverage was perfect for a long day of sipping, including drinking games, providing longevity and durability.

Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Joining the Carmanah Ale (aka Sea Dog Amber Ale) with new packaging is the Piper’s Pale Ale and 48 Dark Lager (formerly Hermann’s Dark Lager). The movement is using geographic coordinates, along with the tagline: “Where’s Next?”

The brewery did change ownership last summer, thus the company reboot. This particular release is named for Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, located on Vancouver Island. The park features numerous hiking trails.

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Snack Time #5: Hidden Valley Honey BBQ Ranch

While dressing is not a snack in a traditional sense, when it’s used on a variety of snack items, it can become an extension of that amazing family. Such is the case with this delicious product from Hidden Valley Ranch.

On a recent trip to shop in the US, the Honey BBQ Ranch dressing caught my eye and I have since returned to grab another bottle. The sauce is a beautiful blend of sweet from the honey, spice from the BBQ and tang from the ranch.

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Hidden Valley has released a number alternative ranch dressing offerings. This includes Cilantro Lime, Buffalo, Sriracha, Avocado, Cucumber, Roasted Garlic, Buttermilk, Bacon, Spicy, Fiesta Salsa, Cracked Peppercorn, and Sweet Chili.

The Sip Advisor is a sauce junkie (our fridge is filled with flavours) and therefore, this product will be a permanent staple of my south-of-the-border shopping lists. I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

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Beer of the Week #2 – Trading Post Three Bears Breakfast Stout

To celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday, the Sip Family made our way to the Fort Langley area, for a meal at Trading Post Brewing’s Taphouse & Eatery. There, I was able to reacquaint myself with this beer, which I hadn’t tried since the brewery opened.

The Three Bears Breakfast Stout had a very heavy espresso flavour, which was a little much for the Sip Advisor, given I don’t drink coffee and even abhor the beverage and the culture that has grown around it. That said, I still enjoyed the 6.7%, 40 IBUs drink.

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Trading Post has named many of their beers based on the stories of early BC settlers. This beverage gets its moniker from Hudson’s Bay Company chief factor Gavin Hamilton’s tale of encountering three bears and only needing two bullets to save himself.

Prior to this birthday gathering, I didn’t know that Trading Post had a Taphouse & Eatery, having only visited their tasting room before. The eatery had some great food dishes on their menu. I went with the Pulled Pork Poutine, which really hit the spot.

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BC Beer Baron #366 – Longwood The Big One IPA

Much like for Christmas, the Sip Advisor was looking for the perfect beer to profile on New Year’s Eve. While that didn’t come as easy as its predecessor holiday, I did come across this product, courtesy of Longwood Brewing.

The Big One IPA is constructed using hops and malted barley grown locally. At 6.5% and 65 IBUs, this beverage is sure to measure on your Richter scale and is available in 568ml extra-tall cans at private liquor stores around the province.

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Sure, the beer was designed as a reference to the massive earthquake predicted to hit this part of the world sometime in the future, but I thought it was an ideal selection for the end of this BC Beer Baron project. This is the ‘big one’!

The Nanaimo-based brewery is also home to a brew pub, which I would love to visit on a future trip to Vancouver Island. The location has become “one of Nanaimo’s premier destinations” and that’s good enough for me.

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BC Beer Baron #346 – Bridge The Grinch Winter 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. Already the best time of the year, the fact it’s Winter Ale season makes it that much better.

Just like the character of the Grinch experienced his heart growing three sizes thanks to the Whovillians, perhaps the same happened with Bridge Brewing, given their bevvy of seasonal releases for Christmas. Of course, that’s not to say the folks at the brewery were bad to begin with…

The Grinch Winter Ale is a limited edition beer, providing the elements one would expect in a winter warmer, such as flavours of caramel, plum pudding and spices. Bridge has created a great Seussian poem for the 6.5% ABV, 26 IBUs beverage that really should be read before enjoying the brew.

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There is also a barrel-aged version of The Grinch, which I have yet to try. This variation features the recipe being aged in bourbon and Sherry Wood Single Malt Whiskey barrels. Apricots also used by Sons of Vancouver in their amaretto have also been added to the mix.

As far as Christmas-themed beers go, Bridge also has the Sleigh Booster Imperial Red Ale, which comes with stats of 9% ABV and 71 IBUs. Mrs. Sip gave me both The Grinch and the Sleigh Booster in a self-made beer advent calendar last year and it resulted in a wonderful Christmas!

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BC Beer Baron #316 – Bridge Hopilano IPA

On our recent visit to Bridge Brewing’s new tasting room, the Sip Alliance tried everything the company could throw our way. Amongst more than a dozen options, was this diamond in the rough… not to say the rest of the lineup isn’t smooth, as well.

The Hopilano IPA is of the northwest variety, made with Cascade, Centennial and Columbus hops. The 6% ABV, 59 IBUs beverage is heavy on citrus flavours, such as lemon and grapefruit, while also mixing in a distinct bitterness that balances the rest of the recipe.

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I like what Bridge did with this beer’s name, taking the Capilano region of North Vancouver and changing it to Hopilano. Capilano is home to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a major tourist attraction in the province, which is prominently featured as part of this brew’s logo.

Of the IPA, which is now available in canned six-packs, the brewery writes: “Like our West Coast climate, our beer will leave your mouth lush and wanting more.” Well, I’m always wanting more and this is the type of beer I don’t mind getting me there!

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BC Beer Baron #287 – Fernie Pumpkin Head Brown 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. The season of pumpkin-spiced everything is upon us… and things are no different in the craft beer world. Let’s see what BC has to offer for fans of the flavour.

Fernie Brewing has become a pretty solid contributor to this BC Beer Baron project, a sort of revelation brewery for the Sip Advisor. That trend continues with this fall seasonal release.

The Pumpkin Head Brown Ale uses the brewery’s First Trax Brown Ale as its base, before adding organic pumpkin and spices to the mix. The 5% ABV, 13 IBUs beverage was first conceived back in 2010 and now returns each year to haunt drinkers… in a good way, that is.

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Available in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores, the product can also be found at Alberta booze retail locations. According to the brewery, suggested food pairing include fall favourite dishes, which I can only assume means heaps of candy from strangers and a full bowl of gravy.

The Pumpkin Head Brown Ale took home a silver medal at the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards in the Fruit Beer category. Pumpkins are technically a fruit, so well done by Fernie to sneak this drink into consideration for the class.

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