BC Beer Baron #116 – Black Kettle Kentucky Common

When the Sip Alliance visited Black Kettle Brewing in February, we weren’t sure what to expect, but they had a new and unique beer on tap that quickly caught my eye.

The Kentucky Common is a darker, stronger (6.5% ABV) brew, with a slight sweetness. It goes down easy though and is a very enjoyable beverage. As far as I know, the beer is only available on tap at Black Kettle’s home of operations.

Black Kettle Brewing

So, what is a Kentucky Common and how did it end up in BC? Well, it’s an ale (also going by the names Dark Cream Common Beer, Cream Beer, or Common Beer) that was popular pre-prohibition in Louisville, Kentucky. Apparently, it’s rare to find nowadays, so I’m feeling a little lucky that I had the chance to have a serving.

For those that haven’t yet checked out Black Kettle Brewing at their North Vancouver tasting room or elsewhere, I urge you to do so. Through early 2016, they have been my MVP of both a beer festival event and a brewery crawl. Here’s hoping they keep up the great work!

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BC Beer Baron #54 – Black Kettle Tropic Thunder Saison

A true highlight of our recent self-guided North Vancouver brewery tour was popping into Black Kettle Brewing, a place I had wanted to visit since picking them as my MVP of the Tapped Vancouver event we attended in late January.

Their Tropic Thunder Saison was every bit as good as the movie that inspired it and made me go back and watch the film again. This saison was hoppier than most beers of this breed, but I think that is what I liked most about it. At 5.5% ABV, this experimental brew was a hit amongst our entire group and I think we’re lucky it was on tap when we happened to be there.

Black Kettle Brewing

On this visit to Black Kettle, we had a fantastic time with Philip (one of the founders of the brewery), who gave me the impression that he could very well be the Seth Rogen of BC’s craft beer scene. What was supposed to be just a drink each, turned into a much longer stay (trying everything they had on tap) and we only left because we had two other destinations on our itinerary with daylight running out.

For those also hoping to stop into Black Kettle’s tasting room, it should be noted that Google’s walking directions might not be very helpful, as they try to lead you through a marina with no exit; railway tracks that are technically private property and illegal to be traversing on foot; and Native reserve land, which in this case was maze-like. Don’t go chasing waterfalls, my little sippers, please stick to the main roads that you’re used to!

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BC Beer Baron #31 – Black Kettle IPA

The thing I like best about beer festivals is being introduced to breweries I haven’t yet had the chance to experience or in some cases, breweries I’m being reintroduced to. Such was the case at the recent Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse, where the Sip Advisor was able to get reacquainted with Black Kettle Brewing, after last trying their wares at July’s Tip N’ Taste in Langley.

As myself, Cousin Sip, and her husband approached our first booth of the night at Tapped Vancouver, we each picked one of the company’s options. I went with the IPA and found it to be a great starting point to my evening. I later returned for their two other selections (the Pale Ale and Scottish Ale), which will be profiled here at later dates. Where was Mrs. Sip, you might be asking? Well, she was running late, as is typical for her and with beer available, we weren’t willing to wait.

Black Kettle IPA

The brew comes in at 6.4%, but is lighter than most IPAs, while still being joined by the hoppy taste we’ve all come to expect from this variety of beverage. As an IPA fan, I will look out for this product when buying beers and suggest it to friends who also like their brews to have a little more of an edge to them.

I named Black Kettle my choice for MVP of the Tapped Vancouver event (not that this was an actual competition there) and it has earned its way onto our list of must-visit breweries when the Sip Alliance finally gets their act together and tours North Vancouver’s burgeoning brewery region. This little exploration can’t happen soon enough!

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Sip Trips #56: Tapping and Tasting

While many would hesitate to be out at an all-inclusive beer and cider event on a Thursday evening (especially one where you’re supposed to play Urban Rec volleyball that same night), that’s not a theory Mrs. Sip and I follow. Rather, along with members of the Sip Alliance, we checked out Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse.

I probably would have balked at the event’s $66 regular entrance fee; however, when the activity came up on Groupon for $30, it was a pretty easy decision to make. For the price, we had unlimited access to all vendors and a souvenir tasting glass (which Mrs. Sip and I have a growing collection of). We did find it odd that this event would be taking place on a Thursday, rather than over the weekend, but the old “it’s for charity” argument won out.

Donate-A-Quarter-To-Charity

The breweries and cideries featured at the gala included: Black Kettle, Parallel 49, Bomber, Driftwood, Howe Sound, Lonetree Cider, Phillips, Whistler, and Russell. To be honest, I think the $30 entrance is just barely justifiable and I feel for anyone who paid the full price. There was absolutely no food – save for one food cart outside – and some beer vendors only brought one option with them, while others gave half pours, even though the event was all-inclusive (ie. fill my damn glass, homey!).

The MVP of the night would have to be Black Kettle Brewing, which had numerous bombers of three different beers and never went stingy with their pouring. Whistler Brewing would have ranked highly too, but their selections were from the brewery’s Winter Party Pack, which I had just purchased days before. I can’t fault them for that… or can I!?

I have to say that I’ve enjoyed both booze events I’ve attended at the Yaletown Roundhouse, having also relished the 2014 Made with Love cocktail competition hosted there. It’s a fun venue and its close proximity to the Sip Advisor offices is much appreciated. Too bad volleyball at the Richmond Olympic Oval didn’t go nearly as well as Tapped Vancouver!

Volleyball Balloon

On Saturday, to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s recent birthday, we put together our own blind wine tasting. Each couple was tasked with bringing a bottle of wine (white or red), which would be concealed in a BC Liquor Store paper bag. Then, the group would sample at will until notes and scores had been entered on each selection, before the final reveal.

We ended up with five whites and three reds, which I think was the perfect balance. My favourite bottle of the tasting was the Pinotage Mrs. Sip and I brought home from South Africa’s Groot Constantia winery. The overall winner was Cappo Shiraz, which Mrs. Sip’s parents won in a raffle through their curling association, of all places.

Wine Tasting Today

The event was a lot of fun for all and gave typically white drinkers a chance to try some reds. If you have a wine lover in your close circle, I suggest doing this for a birthday event. They will love the effort you put into it, as well as getting everyone together to celebrate.

That about wraps January up for the ol’ Sip Advisor and it’s been one hell of a month. When you have a brewery complimenting ‘how you weekend’, you know you’re doing well! Next month doesn’t let up however, as we have a bunch of great activities already lined up, such as the Science of Cocktails and the Family Day long weekend will no doubt include some sort of hijinks!

Sip Trips #34: Beer Baron

Well, this was a beer-soaked weekend if there ever was one – and there have been many! With a self-guided bike and beer tour, as well as a brews cruise on the docket, there’s much to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

With friends visiting from Toronto this weekend, I wanted to show them as much of Vancouver’s amazing craft beer scene as possible. I settled on a bike and beer tour of the affectionately named ‘Yeast Van’ area, which is home to numerous breweries.

Our first stops of the day were Bomber Brewing, followed by Off the Rail Brewing, located right across the street. Both locations offer some good beers and a totally different vibe. With so many stops planned on our itinerary, we largely split tasting flights between couples. My favourite beer at each stop was the Dunkelweizen and Raj Mahal IPA, respectively.

bike and beer

Next up was a short ride to Callister Brewing, which features a number of Real Cask brews, as well. With 10 beers on the menu, our crew ordered one of everything, providing many opportunities to find the perfect beer. I particularly enjoyed the Seshuinox and Apricot Resurrection varieties.

Another short jaunt and we arrived at Powell Street Brewing. When originally constructing the plan for the day, I had marked Powell Street as a stop that was optional. I’m very glad we made it there, though, as each of the four beers I sampled were quite good. This included the Wayne Grisettesky (awesome name!), Amarillo Sour, Right Kind of Crazy Double IPA, and Ode to Citra Pale Ale.

After a few tasting rooms to loosen us all up, it was time to visit what I considered would be our main event: Storm Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I love this place for its great staff (the Heathers!), funky atmosphere, and amazing beers. I really enjoy trying the brewery’s  ‘Brainstorms’, an ever-changing list of creative and unique beverages. On tap this time was a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Ale, Gin and Tonic Pilsner, Cream Soda Pilsner, Iced Mocha Stout, Raspberry Berlinerweisse, Dry Hopped IPA, and Vanilla Whiskey Stout. I gave high rankings to each of these options and can’t wait to go back and try the next batch of conceptions. Perhaps best of all, doing a tasting at Storm is by donation and with that, you get up to six samples.

Our last stop of the beer and bike tour was Doan’s Brewing, another first visit for the Sip Advisor. Here, we tried each of the four beers available, including their Kolsch, Alt Bier, Rye IPA, and German IPA. Nothing against Doan’s (their brews were decent), but the stop was a little anti-climactic after Storm.

anticlimatic

We had also hoped to get into Parallel 49 and Strange Fellows, but by the time we hit either place, later in the day, they both had long waits to get in and those in our group who had rented bikes, had to return them. The day was long from over, though, as after dropping off our rides, we walked over to Big Rock Urban Eatery in the Olympic Village area.

For this trip to Big Rock, I was more enamored with the food than the beer. I ordered what I describe as the ‘Eric Cartman Special’: crispy fried chicken skin, called Chickeronnes. The waitress pointed out to me that there was no meat involved in the dish and I told her that’s exactly how I wanted it! They didn’t blow my mind or anything, but now I can say I tried them. One of our party was celebrating their birthday, so the restaurant brought her a serving of their Fiasco Smores. I thought this dish was fantastic, with boozed up ingredients, including chocolate stout gelato, rauchbier ganache, and bourbon vanilla marshmallow.

We finished the day at Craft Beer Market, a must for any visitor to the city, as far as the Sip Advisor is concerned. Sadly, a few of the beers I wanted to try were already tapped out. We also tried to order some samples of beers we were curious about, only to receive a full serving. Despite that, the beer (Hoyne Dark Matter, Dieu Du Ciel Rosee D’Hibiscus, Hilliard’s Chrome Satan) was still good and it seems they improved on their Fast Food Sushi appetizer.

As if that wasn’t enough beer for a lifetime, we had purchased a Groupon earlier in the week for the Vancouver Craft Brew Cruise. Thanks to an additional discount, the originally priced $50 tickets only cost $24 per person. The cruise featured 17 craft breweries and with entry, you got five drink tickets. Each additional ticket was only $1, which is cool with the Sip Advisor. Through my own choices, sharing, and a couple freebies, I managed to try 16 different brews (or at least that’s what I recorded). I gravitated towards options I hadn’t experienced before and there were many available on the boat. My favourites included the Black Kettle IPA, Hoyne Summer Haze, Dageraad Burnabarian, and Phillips Short Wave.

female boat

Following the cruise, we were on the hunt for food and conveniently came across some reps for Central City, who advised us of their new downtown location on Beatty Street. What luck, as they were featuring half price burgers. Our group ordered five different options and all were good. My choice was the Crispy Crunch chicken burger, which was absolutely delicious and paired very nicely with my Steel & Oak Smoked Hef.

As if the week wasn’t busy enough already, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on Tuesday. To commemorate the day, we had dinner at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which was special because that’s also where we stayed on our wedding night! Sadly, Mrs. Sip wasn’t feeling well, but I have largely recovered from a similar cold and ordered their Caliente cocktail, which mixes tequila, smoked serrano peppers, cilantro, and pineapple juice. It was muy bueno!

Next week looks busy again, with a visit to the Pacific National Exhibition and their craft beer fest scheduled for Saturday and one of my favourite events of the year, the Made with Love cocktail competition, on Monday.

Sip Trips #28: Tipsy Taste

This week’s main event was Tip N’ Taste in Langley, which has become one of my favourite events on the drinking calendar. Mrs. Sip and I first attended the beer bash in 2008 and have enjoyed watching it evolve over the years.

The event cost $30, but with that, you got five drink tickets (which you can usually stretch into more samples) and five food tickets. This is a far better deal than some events I’ve seen recently where you’d pay a similar fee and that only covered your entry. While I’m not the biggest fan of tokens/tickets and prefer an all-inclusive vibe, I have to hand it to the organizers of Tip N’ Taste for at least giving attendees fair value.

Drink Ticket

Prior to Friday, I had mapped out a bit of a game plan going into the festival, including breweries that had beers I wanted to try and breweries that were new to me. As you’ll see below, I did pretty well for myself over the course of a couple hours.

My first stop of the evening was Coal Harbour Brewing, which was featuring a few beers that looked neat. I tried their Woodland Witbier, followed by their Smoke and Mirrors Smoked Ale, which I was particularly fond of and went back for later, although by then they were out.

Next up was one of my favourite visits of the night, where I had a long chat with the guys from Big River Brewing, while sampling each of their four available beers: Acid Trip Sour Wheat, Sidewheeler Blonde Ale, Belgium, and Red Bretty IPA. The Acid Trip was my favourite of the bunch.

Acid Trips

Finally moving on, I enjoyed a pair of wheat beers, first from Black Kettle Brewing and followed by Howe Sound Brewing, which was serving up a Blueberry Wheat I had marked on my ‘To Do’ list from my initial walk around the convention floor.

At this point in the evening, it was time to switch things up and go to some darker brews, in order to fend off palate fatigue. I started with the Old Yale Sasquatch Stout and followed that with the Cannery Blackberry Porter (which had always caught my eye in liquor stores, but I had never picked up). I wrapped up my visit to this section of the room with the Mt. Begbie Nasty Habit IPA, which was another good pick.

Earlier in the night, I had made note of the only spirit table at Tip N’ Taste, which was serving up De La Tierre Maple Liqueur Tequila. It was a very interesting blend, which went down easier than most other tequilas and would probably make for some fun cocktails.

tequila night

Going back to beer, I snagged a sample of Mission Springs Chinook ISA and then went to visit my alma mater, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which has recently launched a diploma program in Brewing and Brewery Operations. They were featuring a Golden Ale, one of the first releases to come from the new course.

I finished the evening with a couple quick hits, trying to get rid of my final drink tickets. I’ve enjoyed a few Russell Brewing products lately and made a stop by their table to try their Blood Alley Bitter, which I’d somehow never tried before, despite being a staple of their lineup. My last beverage was the Lighthouse Tasman Pale Ale, which was guzzled quickly as event organizers tried to clear the room of happy drinkers.

Happy Drunk Cat

As for food, there were some really good offerings at the event. Earl’s had a chicken taco, while Original Joe’s gave you a pair of pulled pork sliders, and Me N’ Ed’s came through with some delicious slices of pizza!

All in all, this was another successful Tip N’ Taste for the Sip Advisor. Next week, I’ll outline our weekend camping trip to Golden Ears Provincial Park, which is always preceded by a thorough liquor shopping trip!