Sip Trips #107: Canadian Carousing

This past weekend was spent celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday and that meant a fair bit of liquor shopping and time spent enjoying all the splendors this country has to offer. Let’s see how the Sip Advisor and company saluted the nation:

My first order of business, as it is with every Canada Day, was to stock up on supplies. Earlier in the week, I had focused my attention on the Big Rock Canada 150 Variety Pack, which I thought would be an ideal set to enjoy on Canada Day. For whatever reason, the set wasn’t available at BC Liquor Stores, so I had to go a little out of my way to find it. Each of the brews is meant to highlight a different region of the country and is comprised of a Hibernation Ale, Peach Pilsner, Maple Lager, Oak Aged Rye Ale, Oyster Stout, and rounded out by their Signature Series Grasshopper Kristallweizen.

Canada Day Drunk

Among my other shopping finds was the Bridge Brewing Bridge Builder Variety Pack. This six-pack features two each of the Bourbon Blood Orange Wheat Ale, North Shore Pale Ale and Wunderbar Kolsch. Although I haven’t tapped into the bottled six-pack yet, I foresee many opportunities ahead.

Ever the amazing wife, Mrs. Sip also pointed out the Red Truck Hand Built Series Mix Pack, which contains eight tall cans, two per of their Blackberry Bourbon Ale, Golden Ale, Saison and White ISA. Usually I want more from Red Truck’s in-store releases and this one has the potential to be quite special.

Those finds accumulated, I didn’t have to worry as much as first thought about my beer cache, as Ma and Pa Sip picked up an amazing set for me, while they were vacationing in Portland, Oregon the weekend before.

Canada Day-4th of July

The Sierra Nevada Across the World Beer Camp features 12 very unique collaborative brews, six from stateside and six from overseas. The pack contained nine bottles and three tall cans, with such intriguing options as a Ginger Lager (brewed with Ginger and Cayenne, fermented on oak) and Thai-Style Iced Tea (brewed with lactose, orange peel, black tea, tamarind and star anise). I will have to chase down future installments of this wonderful product.

While I could have lounged around poolside all weekend, Mrs. Sip and I had to return to reality and start setting up our baby registry. I will say the baby registry was a lot more fun than our wedding registry, but paled in comparison to drinking and floating in the great outdoors.

Returning home to attend the Queen with Adam Lambert concert, we dropped into Patron Tacos & Cantina for dinner, prior to the show. Mrs. Sip and I shared our usual order of Queso Fundido and collection of four tacos, which I paired with a Goose Island IPA, a tasty rotating tap for the restaurant. As for the show, the drink selection was quite limited, with nothing on tap available in the arena; therefore, no craft beer options. I settled for a generously-poured rum and coke. The show itself was amazing, as the band played for more than two hours straight.

Oh Canada Beer

The next day – and last of the glorious long weekend – found us on the patio at Jimmy’s Tap House. This used to be my neighbourhood haunt, but I hadn’t visited for some time. After a pint of Main Street Brewing’s Naked Fox IPA, which went very well with my Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, I was reminded of how good the place was and will return more regularly. Best of all, their Monday daily special was 50 per cent off each second entrée, so our bill was quite reasonable.

Now we have to return to work and push through the holiday hangover. At least we know there will be plenty more fun over the course of the summer, all of which will be highlighted here!

Beer of the Week #19 – Big Rock Kiwi Fruited Blonde Ale

Our recent travels with the Sip Syndicate led us to Big Rock Brewing’s Urban Eatery, where I selected this off-menu product. Given what I’ve seen so far this year, kiwi may be the experimental flavour of 2017 for BC breweries.

Despite not being my usual go-to beer style, I picked the Kiwi Fruited Blonde Ale because it was unique and something I had not tried before from the brewery. I was rewarded with a refreshing drink that went down easy and had a light kiwi tartness.

Big Rock Kiwi Fruited Blonde Ale

At 5.2% ABV and 30 IBUs, this beverage is another hit coming from the BC-based portion of Big Rock’s operations. Perfect to go along with a beer that features the kiwi bird on its bottle, the brew uses Southern Hemisphere Topaz Hops.

Available only in British Columbia, this limited edition beer (advertised as “an adventure unto itself”) can be found at the brewery’s Vancouver tap house. It can also be located in bomber-sized bottles at a liquor store near you.

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BC Beer Baron #348 – Big Rock Winter Spice 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.

At last month’s Chowder Chowder, hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium, Big Rock Brewing was my choice for MVP of the evening, highlighted by this offering. Thanks guys, for the good time and being the last group to close up shop at the event.

The Winter Spice Ale is like Christmas in a bottle, as Cousin Sip put it. The 6% ABV, 12.5 IBUs winter warmer features flavours of caramel, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The beer was created to help Canadians get through the long, dark and cold season.

Big Rock Winter Spice Ale.png

First released last winter, the Sip Advisor was very happy to see the Winter Spice Ale return to store shelves, along with the brewery’s Midnight Rhapsody Dark Ale. The Winter Spice Ale can be found in bottled six-packs, throughout western Canada.

Suggested food pairings include ginger beef, braised duck, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pie, and chocolate. Meanwhile, Big Rock’s staff suggest listening to Wintertime Love by The Doors or watching the movie Fargo, while enjoying the beer.

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BC Beer Baron #318 – Big Rock Mosaic Lager

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 all the crazy brewing options out there, lagers sometimes get lost in the shuffle. That’s why the Sip Advisor is giving them their own feature week. After all, we should support and give thanks to the beers that brought many of us to this craft beer dance!

In recent weekends, Mrs. Sip and I have been spending time looking after at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, while they are on vacation. There, I’ve been enjoying a few cans of this Big Rock Brewing product, left behind by a guest at the Sip Advisor’s recent annual beer pong tournament.

The Mosaic Lager is of the India Pale variety and is very refreshing. The 5.5% ABV, 70 IBUs brew is made using Mosaic hops – didn’t see that coming, did you? – which provides flavours and aromas of grapefruit and citrus. Suggested food pairings include an eclectic assortment of dishes, such as burgers, bratwurst, roast chicken, sushi, and hard and aged cheeses.


This is yet another release from Big Rock Urban Eatery brewmaster Jody Hammell, whose hard work has made the company’s foray into BC a smash success. Of the beer, Hammell says: “I ferment it low and slow, then age it until the beer tells me it’s ready. I don’t put a time frame on it, it puts a time frame on me.”

The Mosaic Lager is available from BC, as far east as Manitoba, in canned and bottled six-packs, as well as in Big Rock’s Variety Pack. The lager is joined by the Purple Gas Fruit Ale, Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch, and Grasshopper Wheat Ale.

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BC Beer Baron #279 – Big Rock Citradelic Single Hop IPA

When Mrs. Sip and I recently enjoyed a Vancouver Canadians baseball game, I took great advantage of their Craft Beer Corner, which serves up brews from five different BC breweries. There, I downed a few servings of this Big Rock Brewing mainstay.

The Citradelic Single Hop IPA uses Citra hops, of course, to deliver a citrus and tropical fruit-flavoured experience. The 6% ABV, 67 IBUs beverage was the first to be brewed exclusively at the Vancouver-based Big Rock Urban Eatery and proved so successful that it has been rolled out to Alberta and Saskatchewan drinkers.


Suggested food pairings include game birds, spicy Thai and India curries, and fried foods including fries, corn dogs, potato chips and mixed nuts. Urban Eatery executive chef Alex ‘Beer Belly’ Newton has also created a Crunchy IPA Kimchi recipe, using the brew.

Big Rock staff suggestions for movie and music accompaniments to the Citradelic IPA include Dazed and Confused on the screen and House of the Rising Sun by The Animals on the record player. Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing also has a Citradelic IPA, but I suppose both companies are cool with that.

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BC Beer Baron #249 – Big Rock Hollow Tree Red Ale

On a recent trip to Big Rock’s Urban Eatery, I ordered a pint of this fantastic Big Rock Brewing beverage to pair with the restaurant’s BRUeben sandwich and skinny fries.

The Hollow Tree Red Ale was the first release to come out of the Vancouver-based Big Rock location. At 5.8% ABV and 55 IBUs, the beer is well-balanced and refreshing. Notes of caramel and toffee combine with citrus and grapefruit, thanks to the use of whole Cascade leaf hops.

Big Rock Hollow Tree Red Ale

Inspired by “BC’s majestic red cedars,” Big Rock’s BC brewmaster concocted the Red Ale to be enjoyed “after a day exploring our beautiful backyard”. The Hollow Tree won first place at the 2015 BC Beer Awards, in the Amber/Brown Ale category.

It is available in bomber-sized bottles at the Urban Eatery’s beer store, as well as other liquor retailers. Speaking of the Big Rock beer store, they have a great deal of a pizza and growler to-go for $18, on select days and times.

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BC Beer Baron #218 – Big Rock White Rocket White IPA

On a recent trip to Big Rock’s Urban Eatery – while guiding out-of-town visitors around the Vancouver craft scene – my drink selection was a pint of this Big Rock Brewing release.

The White Rocket White IPA is unfiltered with a wit beer base. This provides a spiciness to the beverage, before IPA flavours (hops and citrus fruits) finish the tasting experience. At 7% ABV and 70 IBUs, the brew is strong, but doesn’t overwhelm. Big Rock’s BC brewmaster, Jody Hammell, says the White Rocket was the result of leftover Belgian wit yeast and an empty tank for experimentation.

Big Rock White Rocket White IPA

The Sip Advisor was served this beer from one of the Urban Eatery’s nano-taps, but it is also available in bomber-sized bottles. While many of Big Rock’s products can be found in other provinces, this brew is a British Columbia exclusive.

Suggested food pairings include spicy curries; Mexican dishes, such as cheese enchiladas; grilled chicken or fish; and sweet desserts, including crème brulée. I paired the drink with a feature dish, the Papas Bravas Poutine (fried potatoes covered in tomato sauce, truffle aioli, and cheese curds), and that seemed to work well, too.

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BC Beer Baron #187 – Big Rock Traditional Ale

While hitting the Friends Pub in Kelowna, BC over the weekend to watch the Germany vs. Italy Euro 2016 quarterfinal match, the Sip Advisor enjoyed this beer (with some chicken strips and fries) from Big Rock Brewing.

The Traditional Ale features great flavours of caramel, roasted malts and nuts, perfect for watching some footy. I would have had a second serving, had I not volunteered to be the designated driver for the day. The 5% ABV beverage is smooth, with mild carbonation and hops. Big Rock calls the drink “comfort food in a glass”.

Picture 5098

The beer was one of the company’s original three offerings and one of the first English-style brown ales brewed in Canada. It remains Big Rock’s most recognizable release to this day and is available throughout Western Canada and as far east as Ontario.

I’ve always loved how the brewery pairs their beverages not just with food, but movies and music as well. The Traditional Ale is thought to work well with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles, for you viewing and listening pleasures, respectively. As for food, suggested unions include sharp cheeses, red meats, and stews.

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Sip Trips #65: Cowtown Capers

Despite only being back from a month-long vacation in Asia for a week and a half, last weekend found us in Calgary, Alberta for a friend’s wedding. And you better believe Mrs. Sip and I got our craft beer on!

My first impression of the Calgary craft beer scene was that I was amazed by how much BC craft beer has infiltrated the province and comprises their industry. Half of the selection at restaurants, bars, and beer and wine stores are BC beers. This is partly due to taxes being lessened for BC and Saskatchewan products. Sadly, taxes were raised drastically for wares from outside western Canada, which some worry will kill the import of products from the rest of Canada, the US, and abroad.

Cursing Taxes

Our weekend began with a late Friday night arrival in Calgary and we immediately hit the streets to check things out. It didn’t take long for us to get the fun started, as we stopped into the 5 Vines beer and wine store, where we had a great chat with their purchaser. He provided us with samples of the Fahr Fahr Away Hefeweizen and the Dandy Chatty Chappy English Mild, both of which were quite good.

Next up, was dinner and drinks at Bottlescrew Bill’s Pub (also housing Buzzards Restaurant & Bar). Here, we delved into more Calgary based brews, including Wild Rose Electric Avenue, Buzzard Breath Ale (brewed by Wild Rose as the restaurant and pub’s house beer), Tool Shed Flat Cap Stout, and Village Wit. Bottlescrew Bill’s has a really neat beer passport idea where you have one year to complete an 80-beer international challenge, with prizes up for grabs for those who are successful.

The next day, we made our way to one of Calgary’s National Beerhall locations, where we greatly enjoyed hanging out on their Rooftop Beer Garden and throwing back a number of solid beers. Among them, were the Village Squeeze Lemon Berry Helles, Wild Rose Velvet Fog Wheat Ale and Wraspberry Ale, and Big Rock Lucky 13 Femme Wave Red Ale. Our server even offered to get us set up with a game of bowling in their basement, but we had friends to meet, prior to the wedding.

Bowling Ideal Sport

The next pre-wedding stop was Last Best Brewery, where Mrs. Sip and I shared a flight of tasters. On our board was the Dirty Bird Black Lager, Hefeweizen, Caramel Latte Beer, IPA#2 – The Contender, Mandarina Kolsch, and Dunkelweizen. My favourites among the bunch were the Caramel Latte Beer and the IPA #2 – The Contender.

The day after the wedding, we met the newlyweds for lunch at Native Tongues Taqueria, where I paired a mezcal-based margarita with some delicious legit tacos (chicken, pork, and beef). We also shared the restaurant’s salsa sampler, which had some very interesting tortilla chip enhancers.

With a few hours to kill before flying back to Vancouver, Mrs. Sip and I conducted our own crawl of the downtown core. Our first stop was Wurst, which is a haven for drinkers of European beer, as they watch football matches from the continent. We took advantage of happy hour, which offered $5 domestic and import draught. Our bevvy of choice was the Erdinder Weisbier, a favourite of both mine and Mrs. Sip.

happy-hour first responder

Next up, was Ship & Anchor, where legend has it one day the bar got fed up with macro breweries competing with each other and decided to banish them entirely from their menu. Here, Mrs. Sip tried their house beer, the Ship & Anchor Barnacle Pilsner, while I went for the Village Blacksmith, which was a very nice India Black Ale.

We wrapped things up with a stop at Briggs Kitchen + Bar for some food and drinks, having heard good things about the location from our fellow out-of-town friends. While splitting a delicious serving of Newf’s Poutine (that would be lobster, of course), we tried a couple of their interesting cocktails, including the Pepper & Tonic (Beefeater Gin, lemon, simple syrup, jalapeno and pineapple jelly) and The Finch (Jamesons Whiskey, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, cucumber, simple syrup, lemon). Topping the meal off with the eatery’s Warm Chocolate Pot was the icing on the cake for this wonderful weekend away.

Given this was my first visit to Calgary in 15 years (and the first one of legal drinking age), as well as Mrs. Sip’s inaugural foray into the city, we only hope it doesn’t take such a long time to get back to Cowtown!

BC Beer Baron #122 – Big Rock Rauchbier

When Big Rock Brewing opened their Vancouver-based Urban Eatery in 2015, Mrs. Sip and I were quick to check out the new addition to BC’s craft beer landscape. On that inaugural visit, the Sip Advisor fell in love with this release and it has since become a highlight of my stopovers, if available.

Rauchbier is German for ‘Smoked Beer’ and anyone that has followed this site or this project knows my affinity for smoky cocktails and brews. This product uses both Beechwood Smoked Malt and Peated Malt to achieve its unique flavour and finish.

Big Rock Rauchbier

The 5.8% ABV, 25 IBUs beverage welcomes you in with the scent of campfire and bacon, which have to be two of the most manly aromas out there. According to the Urban Eatery website, this beer is only available in BC, so we should all take advantage of the west coast treat.

While I haven’t made it to the Urban Eatery since earlier this year, it is a place I try to take friends visiting from out of town. Their unique food dishes and beer lineup provide a bit of everything for everyone and live music is often in the cards, as well.

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