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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Flavour Revolution – Cantaloupe

Food Foundation

Recently, I wrote an article about foods, such as the Macadamia nut, that were named after people. Today, we look at foods that have derived their name from a town or city. For example, the cantaloupe gets its name from the town of Cantalupo, in Italy. Let’s take a little journey across the globe and see where we end up for more eats!

Buffalo Wings – Buffalo, United States

I remember a time when the Sip Advisor didn’t like Buffalo wings. Today, though, I’m very thankful to the fine folks of upstate New York for creating these spicy pub favourites. The Buffalo wing dates back to 1964, when it was created by Teressa Bellissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar in the city of Buffalo. No blue cheese for me, though, that stuff is gross!

Buffalo Wings

Black Forest Cake/Ham – Black Forest, Germany

If you travel through Germany’s Black Forest region, you can not only have some dinner, but also your dessert, as well. The smoked ham from the area is okay, but the Sip Advisor fully endorses getting filthy with a slice of their tasty cake. And for the most part, I’m not even a big cake fan. Black Forest cake is the only place I’d rather see a Maraschino cherry than as a cocktail garnish.

Yorkshire Pudding – York, United Kingdom

The first ever recipe for Yorkshire pudding appeared all the way back in 1737. You’d have to imagine the quality of the ingredients in these early side dishes was pretty poor, but somehow the meal caught on and is still enjoyed to this day. While reading about the food, it was noted that it could also be a dessert, which had me thinking that I really don’t want beef and gravy as a follow-up course.

Cheese – Various

There are just too many cheeses named after places to single any out with their own section. Some cheeses that belong to this group include Gouda and Edam (The Netherlands), Cheddar and Stilton (United Kingdom), Colby and Monterey Jack (United States), Gruyere and Emmental (Switzerland), Asiago and Parmesan (Italy), Brie and Camembert (France), and many others.

cheese wrath

Hamburger – Hamburg, Germany

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Maybe vegetarians, but even they have devised ways to consume a nice patty. We have the beautiful port city of Hamburg (where the Sip Advisor has a fair bit of family) to thank for all that beefy (or veggie) goodness. Minced meat steaks were popular in Hamburg and spread to other parts of the world, thanks to Hamburg being a common starting point for voyages.

Dijon Mustard – Dijon, France

I am a fan of mustard, but I understand where some (like Mrs. Sip) might not enjoy its strong flavour. While there are still factories outputting Dijon mustard in the town of its origin, apparently most of the country’s mustard is actually produced using Canadian mustard seed. Dijon mustard came about when folks subbed verjuice in for vinegar. Today, white wine is used, instead.

Nanaimo Bar – Nanaimo, Canada

I always like throwing some Canadian content into my pieces, if possible. A short ferry trip from the Sip Advisor’s home (plus a little drive) will land you in Nanaimo, B.C., where this delicious chocolate, icing, and brownie combo hails from. A young Mrs. Sip once ate too many Nanaimo bars at one event and ended up getting sick, thus ending her days of consuming the dessert.

Flavour Revolution: Melon Mule

Melon Mule Cocktail

Of all the melons out there, I’ve never been a massive fan of cantaloupe. Despite my opinion, cantaloupe has sometimes been known as the ‘Fruit of Kings.’ We also have to remember how well it pairs with prosciutto, the meat of legends!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This cocktail was tasty and refreshing, with the specialty Grey Goose cup keeping things chilled throughout the drinking experience. While cantaloupe is not among my favourite fruits, the Le Melon Vodka is very nice and smooth. I fully recommend it to all you little sippers out there!

Germany – Widow Maker

Just Too Sweet

In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer learns that Germany is the ‘Land of Chocolate’ and that is entirely true. In fact, Germany is home to a number of wonderful treats, even venturing beyond the world of rich, creamy goodness. Here are some of the notable items Germany is able to bring to the international potluck!

Ritter Sport

Who couldn’t fall in love with these little chocolate bars, which are divided into 16 bite-size pieces, making it easy to eat as little or as much as you desire. Although the company was founded in 1912, the famous chocolate bars for which the brand is most associated didn’t debut until 1932. The Sip Advisor’s favourite Ritter Sport choices, include Knusperkeks (milk chocolate with biscuit) and Knusperflakes (milk chocolate with cornflakes), clearly showing that mixing chocolate with a crunch is a preference. The company even has a museum dedicated to squares and everything they entail.

Ritter-Sport Truck

Haribo

Based out of Bonn, Germany, Haribo is not only a great gummy candy company, but they are the originators of the concept, creating the world’s first gummy bear in 1922. They have since dramatically expanded their lineup to include cola bottles, jelly beans, wine gums, sour cherries, and so much more, including numerous products you just can’t find outside of Europe. While I’m not the biggest fan of gummy candies, I do enjoy them from time to time and in small doses. Their slogan rings true: “Haribo makes children happy – and adults as well!”

Kinder

Although Kinder products originated with Italian company Ferrero, the brand name is German (meaning children), the chocolate is huge across Germany, and Kinder Schokolade  is kind of its own entity in the country… all that adds up to being good enough for the Sip Advisor. Mrs. Sip and I still pick up Kinder Surprise eggs from time to time, depending on what the toy inside might be. We’ve grabbed eggs that contained Disney characters – I was hoping for a Scrooge McDuck – and other lines, just for the thrill of opening that little plastic egg. The chocolate is alright, too!

Trolli

While Haribo introduced gummy bears to the world, Trolli made their own mark, unleashing gummy worms into the hands of curious children on the 60th anniversary of the gummy bear. Today, the company pushes 150,000 tons of gummies out of their factories around the world, including four in Germany alone. Trolli has been involved in one controversy that I actually find quite funny. In 2004, they released a line of Road Kill gummies, featuring chickens, squirrels, and snakes with tire tracks embedded on them. Animal rights groups squashed the candy, which seems like overkill… get it!?

trolli-weirdly-awesome

Marzipan

While marzipan is enjoyed across the globe, it is in Germany (particularly the city of Lübeck, whose marzipan is geographically protected by the European Union) where you can find entire stores dedicated to the almond meal confection. Ma Sip figures I’m a good German boy because I enjoy marzipan. That said, I did overindulge one Christmas as a teenager and ate an entire bar of marzipan in short order. Now I limit myself to small servings, spread over a few days and really only around the holiday season. When the Sip Advisor was last in Germany, I also made sure to pick up a bottle of marzipan liqueur for future cocktails!

Black Forest Cake

What foray into Germany’s famous confectionary treats would be complete without a slice of Black Forest Cake. The Sip Advisor is a huge fan of this dessert… we’re talking cake mush all over my face, grinning ear-to-ear into Black Forest Cake! There’s just something about the mix of chocolate, whipped cream, and cherries that works so well and turns this Cookie Monster into a cake lover for brief periods of time. Enjoying a cut while actually travelling through Bavaria should be on every traveler’s bucket list… get on it, my little sippers!

Germany: Widow Maker

Widow Maker Martini

  • 1 oz Jagermeister
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

Germany is also home a number of famous car companies, from Porsche to BMW to Volkswagen and everything in between. I could have talked about that, but soothing my sweet tooth is so much more pleasurable!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I garnished the drink with a Maraschino Cherry as an homage to the Black Forest Cake. I had a hell of a time finding Maraschino Cherries that had stems with them, as they look so much better in cocktails over stemless Maraschino Cherries. The most interesting part of this martini is how the Jagermeister and Kahlua go so well together. A very tasty cocktail that’s not too strong, at all.

March 2 – Key Lime Pie

Dessertification

Truth be told, I’m not much of a pie fan (dirty jokes aside). It’s not that I don’t like pie, but I’m more of a cookie and brownie man. I thought it might be best to list some of my favourite dessert treats, in case anyone out there is looking to butter me up like the living legend that I am.

Two-Bite Brownies

While they’re advertised as two-bite treats, it’s much more enjoyable to shove the entire brownie in your mouth and chomp on it noisily. If you’re looking for a fun evening in the future, try having a brownie bash. Each player brings a bag of two-bite brownies, which are emptied out into the centre of the playing surface. Then each competitor builds up a fortress for safe keeping of their treasures and you play Hungry Hungry Hippo’s style, running and retrieving one treat at a time until all the brownies have been claimed.

Sponge Bob Two Bite Brownie

Rainbow Chips Ahoy

Nothing beats ending a long hard day with a plate of cookies and a cold glass of milk… unless it’s a fat beefy burger and an ice cold cocktail. Hell, if your guy-et is going well, why not do both! Rainbow chips Ahoy (which are clearly superior to regular chocolate chips ahoy) are one of my favourite camping supplies and you truly haven’t experienced all the joys of life until you’ve made smores between of these two cookies. As a bonus, the rainbow chips take you back to fond childhood memories quicker than the sight of an ice cream truck.

Black Forest Cake

Mrs. Sip really stole a piece of my heart when we celebrated our first dating anniversary and she bought me an entire Black Forest Cake even though she isn’t besties with any cake other than Ice Cream Cake. Yes, that black forest beauty and I spent a bulk of the next week together, sharing tender glances, romantic embraces and nights of unbridled passion.

Chocolate Fondue

The fun part about fondue (maybe they should just call it FUNdue… great, now the lame police are after me… why do I always write the worst jokes?) is coming up with interesting things to dip in the chocolate. While pedestrian items like fruit, marshmallows and sponge cake are used by the masses, I am an extreme fondue-er, dunking sub sandwiches, turkey legs, and edible underwear into the melted goodness.

Chocolate Fondue

Minnie’s Bake Shop Cookies at Disney Parks

These cookies are amazing! Every time Mrs. Sip and I are in Disneyland or Disneyworld, a good portion of our snack budget (well, budget is a loose term, given it’s an infinite amount) is spent of these treats. We’ve come home with an entire suitcase filled with the delicacies before… and it’s not like we make them last for as long as possible. They are often demolished in a single serving, as we go into a trance-like orgy of cookie destruction. The next morning, we awake to smears of chocolate and peanut on our clothing (luckily we’re still in clothing); crumbs, like fallen snow, littering the floor; and splashes of milk dripping from the ceiling.

Black Magic Cupcakes

This is Mama Sip’s world famous recipe, which has caused her to be hounded over the years by family, friends, co-workers, even da freakin’ pope, to make them. Basically, they are a chocolate cupcake with chocolate chip cheesecake mixed in and are absolutely fabulous warmed up or even cold. Made from a secret family recipe that has been handed down for thousands of years, I may have said too much already. If you would like the recipe, please send $500 to Sip Advisor Enterprises and I’ll get back to you in due time.

Drink #61: Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie Shot

  • Rim glass with Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • 0.5 oz Fireball Whiskey
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Milk
  • Top with Whipped Cream

There are at least three variations of this shot and I kind of put pieces together from all three to make my version. Enjoy!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Full disclosure: I left out an ingredient when making this shooter. Originally, I forgot to include Galliano, so I had to make it again. It worked out pretty well when done properly. The Graham Cracker Crumb rim was a key part of the recipe.

February 16 – Tootsie Roll

More Missed Connections

A month and a half into the life of this blog, my Missed Connections post seems to be one of the most popular. Therefore, we’re going back to the pages of Craigslist to dig up some more gold. Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect time for people to be searching for that special someone and hopefully (for our reading pleasure) they’re looking for it in all the wrong places!

Missed Connections: In Search of the Black Forest

Sexy german Frauline with the sexy sexy….

bagels and sweet smile yesterday. I’d like to put me liderHOSEn Into your black forest.

Black Forest Cake

Advisor’s Take: I like this guy’s style, coming straight out with his intentions (masked behind some wonderfully cliched euphemisms). I’ll even forgive him for the atrocious spelling. Still not sure exactly what a ‘sexy sexy’ is, but I’m sure someone will get me up to speed with today’s lingo.

Missed Connections: Taco Time

Talked about tacos. You said that you wanted to start a taco blog. Saw that you had a pretty nice pooper underneath those skinny jeans. Hit me up if you want to munch.

Advisor’s Take: Ah, street meat romance! Is there anything better in the world? Very nice double entendre with the “want to munch” line. I LOVE it when guys refer to my ass as a pooper (sexy, no?). Plus the guy clearly has goals. His conversation about starting a taco blog is hauntingly similar to the discussion I had with Mrs. Sip before starting this wonderfully amazing site.

Missed Connections: Finger Lickin’ Good

You Licked My Fingers

I spotted you on a crowded light rail train heading to Folsom. You had friendly eyes and a purple bandanna around your neck. When a seat cleared, I sat next to you. I tried to avoid looking at you, knowing I would blush and smile too much. I grasped my iPad firmly, determined to stay cool, when you reached out and began licking my fingers. It was disgusting and adorable. I began making kissy noises and fawning over you; scratching your ears, patting your head. You got off before I could ask for your name.

Me: excitable, clean-cut, blue jacket. Typically a cat person, but will make an exception.

You: small and compact, with black and white fur and ears that stuck out.

Licking Fingers

Advisor’s Take: Love this one. Nice touch with the “typically a cat person” line. There’s just something about animals wearing bandanas that drives me crazy, too. When I first read this, all I could think about was how much I hate transit and the weird people who use it. This has rejuvenated my view of hanging out with strangers.

Missed Connections: Tat’s All Folks

Tattoo Convention Fun – Need Female companion

Going to a great kick off party Thursday (2-7-2013) for the tattoo convention.

I cover entry, drinks, hotel etc.

You be hot female age 21 – 40 who loves to party.

If all works out, we can hit convention Friday and repeat that night.

Reply with stats, pics (nude not necessary, but I won’t say no) and number.

Advisor’s Take: NO! WRONG! Nude photos are always necessary! Jeez, what a first time John we have here. 21-40? At least he’s not picky about choosing his woman (he’ll take daughter or mother). But do they have to have tattoos? Those types of questions will keep me up all night!

Before someone gets on their high horse about how dirty guys can be, I will have the Sip Nation know that one of the more creatively dirty connections I came across was by a woman from Atlanta. I won’t reproduce it all here, but I’ll let you know that it has all the goodies: lumberjacks, T&A, a hotel room (downtown even!), cute whiskers, and a bucket of chicken! Oh, not to mention my favourite, “dranks”. You can read it here: Missed Connections: Tickled Taint

Drink #47: Tootsie Roll

Tootsie Roll Shot

So, how many shots does it take to get to the center of a liquor-induced nap? One, two, three, CRUNCH… okay, just bit into the shot glass. No time for a nap now, it’s off to the hospital for me!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoyed this shot and having the Tootsie Roll stir stick to snack on afterwards was a wonderful touch, if I don’t say so myself.