Sip Trips #29: Camping Capers

There’s a lot to get to this week, so let’s get right to it. With Mrs. Sip’s return from Europe, she brought home a bottle of Pimms Strawberry with a hint of Mint and a bottle of Croatian wine. Friends of ours, living in London, also had mini bottles of schnapps (peach and pear) to send back with her.

For our camping trip to Golden Ears, some serious shopping had to be done, to stock up on beverages for the getaway. While I prefer drinking from bottles, it’s always good to have some canned beer on you when camping, as it fits better in coolers, is easier to conceal (if need be… I don’t tell people how to live their lives!), and provides near identical relief.

camping tent

I grabbed the Big Rock Swinger Pack to satisfy this requirement. The mixed set included their Grasshopper Wheat Ale, 7B California Common, Rhine Stone Cowboy Kolsch, and Cherry Farini Kristalweizen, which I was particularly curious about and was looking forward to try. I like Big Rock, but I find their Grasshopper to be very light on the wheat side. The Cherry Farini was a little heavier, though, and I liked the flavour, which wasn’t too overwhelming. As for the rest of the pack, they were solid brews and just right for the summer heat.

While you always worry about whether your packed enough booze, some of the bottles I picked up with the hopes of consuming while out in the forest, I never even got to. This included the Red Truck Campfire Kolsch (ironic due to the current province-wide campfire ban), Old Yale Moon Dance Mango Wheat, Hoyne Dark Matter, and Cannery Blackberry Porter.

Mrs. Sip and I did split the Mango Wheat after returning to civilization, and while good, it wasn’t chilled to the right level, having just made the journey home with us in a cooler that had lost much of its cool. That’s my fault for jumping the gun on the beer, but thirst needed to be quenched!

camping bar

For future camping, we learned to save our canned beers for trips to the beach or hiking, as they travel a little easier than bottles and seem to stay chilled longer. Tasting glasses also seemed to be a hit, especially with bigger bomber bottles that were better split and shared among friends.

Late last week, we managed to squeeze in a bike ride to Postmark Brewing, where we sat down to a tasting flight of their beers, including the Raspberry Lemon Zest Hefe (the brew that drew me into visiting the location), West Coast Pale Ale, IPA, and Dry Irish Stout.

While there, we also grabbed a couple of products from their store, including the Glassbender Farmhouse Ale and BISA, a Belgian ISA. It was interesting to note that the Farmhouse Ale was $4 cheaper in the store, compared to the adjacent restaurant. If you’re on the fence about whether to give the brew a shot, pick it up and take it home. Mrs. Sip and I both enjoyed it, pouring it into plastic wine glasses while camping, to emulate how the beverage was being served in the restaurant. The BISA, which combines tangerines and spice, is at the forefront of my Drinking ‘To Do’ List!

bears-on-camping

I also bought a bottle of Wiser’s Vanilla Spiced Whiskey recently, as I need to get caught up on all the recipes I wasn’t able to put together as first we had to vacate our apartment due to the flood all the way back at the start of May and then Mrs. Sip leaving for a month-long vacation in Europe, taking our camera with her.

The next week looks busy (when doesn’t it?) with a family barbecue, a trip to the drive-in theatre, a Vancouver Whitecaps game – where thankfully, the stadium has come to embrace the craft beer revolution! – and who knows what else wild stuff we’re likely to get up to!

Sip Trips #22: Festivality

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.

Beer Trivia

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.

cat sandwich

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!

sharing was caring

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!