Sip Trips #121: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

With Christmas closing in, the Sip Advisor decided to take some time off work… but it certainly wasn’t spent relaxing. Here’s what we got up to in the lead up to the big day and how we fought off the post-holiday blues:

Last Thursday, the Sip Family crossed the border to do some last minute shopping in Bellingham. We hoped to start our visit with drinks at Menace Brewing, but it wasn’t open for the day yet. Lucky for us, Mrs. Sip spotted yet another brewery across the street. Melvin Brewing (a Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery with a brew pub in Bellingham) hosted us for lunch. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered from their $10 lunch menu, with her selecting Fish & Chips, while I went with the Sandwich & Soup combo (Beef Dip with substituted Fries). For drinks, we passed around pints of their Block Away Brown Ale and Mash Murder Stout ($3 beer of the day special), while also sampling the Peaches Innit Pale Ale. All beers are brewed onsite and we quite good.

Christmas Shopping

On Christmas Eve, en route to a family dinner, we first met Sip Syndicate members at Central City Brewing in Surrey. Mrs. Sip and I had won a tour and tasting experience for six people at one of Central City’s trivia nights at their Downtown Vancouver brew pub in the summer and had to use the pass prior to the end of the year. For those keeping track, this was Baby Sip’s fourth craft brewery visit already. My flight of beers included the Smore Stout, Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, Imperial IPA and Super Solar IPA. It was a very nice and relaxing setting to enjoy some drinks together and could become a yearly holiday tradition.

Finally, the big day arrived. As for liquor-based Christmas gifts, Mrs. Sip gave me the Central City/Parallel 49 Great White Wonder Adventure Pack (their annual collaborative advent calendar), which was marked down, given the month had come and gone. That doesn’t mean the beer can’t still be enjoyed, though. Last year, I picked up some of the individual bottles from this set and I’m hoping for some enjoyable beers this time around. Mrs. Sip also gifted me a Groupon for Andina Brewing, which provides a set of tasters for two people, as well as a growler and fill. I also received a bottle of Serbian Honey Brandy, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with. As for the gift of giving, I picked up the Erdinger Variety Pack for Mrs. Sip, along with a few other treats.

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The week ended with an impromptu visit to Craft Beer Market for a holiday wrap-up with friends. On Wednesday, the restaurant offers $8 wings and $5 BC craft beers, which is a terrific combo. Mrs. Sip and I split an order of Salt & Pepper Wings and their Gaucho Chicken Flatbread, while I selected the Torchlight Broadside IPA and Whistler/Craft Snowed In White IPA (with $1 going towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank) for my beverages. Mrs. Sip went with the Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Moody Ales Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout for her drinks.

This weekend will be another busy one, with a birthday/housewarming to attend, drinks with the guys on the schedule… and, oh yeah, that minor hidden-on-the-calendar event we call New Year’s Eve!

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Sip Trips #111: Long Weekend Lounging

While the August long weekend was busy, there was actually far more time for rest and relaxation than I had originally anticipated. Still, it wasn’t all laid back and lazy:

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a bit of a date night at local favourite Patron Tacos & Cantina. Straying slightly from our usual order, we split their Queso Fundido and Chicken Quesadilla dishes, while Mrs. Sip satisfied her craving for Horchata and I downed a pint of their Patron Lager. The meal was very filling, so we even took home some leftover with us.

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The next evening, the Sip Syndicate gathered at The Yale Saloon for dinner. Here, I paired a Granville Island Pale Ale with their BBQ Sample Plate (split with a friend), which included a serving of brisket with jalpeno cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad. My only complaint from visiting the Yale Saloon last year remains the same, as it would be great to see more local craft beer added to the menu. At least a Granville Island selection is now available.

Following the meal, we made our way to Sunset Beach for the Celebration of Light fireworks. First, a quick liquor store stop was necessary, where we grabbed a pair of Postmark West Coast Pale Ale tall can four-packs to consume while watching the show in the sky. I was hesitant about attending the long weekend Saturday show (we typically see the lone Wednesday presentation for lighter crowds), but things weren’t anywhere near as bad as I feared. Best of all, the Team Canada contingent put on a fantastic show.

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On Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I decided to get some of the shopping out of the way for our Baby Shower Beer Garden. I’ve been stressing over having a good mix and the right amount of brews for the event, so it was relieving to make a few decisions. Wanting to have a fair variety, we grabbed mixed packs from Big Rock, Central City, Bowen Island, and Vancouver Island breweries. We also picked up some traditional options in Blue Moon, Budweiser, Canadian and Strongbow Cider, to cover all our bases. Also while out, I nabbed the Phillips Hop Box for myself, along with an extra-tall can of Longwood’s Berried Alive Raspberry Ale.

Sadly, the long weekend couldn’t last forever, but that didn’t mean the fun halted. With the work week back in full swing, we took time out to attend the brand new IQ2000 trivia night hosted at the Central City Brew Pub on Wednesdays. Our team put on a pretty good performance, finishing third and earning a pass for six people to enjoy a tour and tasting at the brewery’s impressive Surrey location. As for food and drink, I was saddened to learn that my Crispy Crunch Burger is no longer on the menu. I settled for their Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, which was also good. My beverage selections included the Mystery Tap (the cheapest brew on the menu for adventurous drinks), which turned out to be Central City’s Lemon Groove Golden Ale, followed by their White Ale. We’ll be back in a couple weeks to take home top prize!

Sip Trips #98: Suds Search

With Mrs. Sip on injured reserve – you know, being pregnant and all – the Sip Advisor has been without my best drinking buddy for a few months. I’d be completely lost if the guys in my life hadn’t stepped up to try and fill that massive void and while not the same, I greatly appreciate their efforts. Such was the case on Friday when we hit the town in search of beer, burgers and booze.

After a few drinks at the Sip Advisor headquarters, we made our way to the Central City Brew Pub for dinner and further beverages. To eat, I ordered my usual Crispy Crunch Burger (with Beer-Battered Fries), which was fantastic as usual. Being cheese sensitive, I noticed the change to Jalapeno Havarti on the sandwich, which I found to enhance the meal enjoyment. I paired my burger with the Strathcona North West Pale Ale and later the Longwood Steam Punk Dunkelweizen, which were both decent, without standing out too much.

Chicken Burger

Moving on from Central City, we stopped next at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. There, I enjoyed two servings of the Howe Sound King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen, which is a favourite of mine, especially on a hot summer day, relaxing poolside at Ma and Pa Sip’s place. A round of Scotch (Bruichladdich Classic Laddie) was also ordered for the table because why the hell not!

On Tuesday, we sat down to dinner with the Sip In-Laws at Patron Tacos & Cantina. Mrs. Sip and I combined an order of four tacos (Al Pastor, Carnitas, Shredded Beef, Shredded Chicken) with their Queso Fundido, which was more than enough for the two of us. To wash the delicious food down, I went with their Michelada (beer with spices), which was on special. It was a unique twist to just ordering a brew and it came in a massive glass, so there was plenty of the beverage to accompany my meal.

This weekend, Mrs. Sip and I are off to Las Vegas again. I’ve already stockpiled a list of places to hit, so next week’s Sip Trips should be pretty epic!

BC Beer Baron #349 – Central City Red Racer 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.

With a logo featuring Central City Brewing’s red-headed mascot still aboard her familiar bike, but for the season, decked out in gloves and earmuffs, you know this selection was made for winter drinking. The Sip Advisor is only too happy to oblige.

The Red Racer Winter Ale combines flavours of vanilla and maple syrup with notes of spice. The 6% ABV beverage is to be enjoyed while only partially chilled, as recommended by the brewery. The overall effect is a warming finish that will help drinkers get through the chilly weather.

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The beer can be found in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. It is also included in Central City’s Season’s Greetings advent calendar (in partnership with Parallel 49 Brewing). Oddly, when I popped into their Surrey brewery and store in November, I wasn’t able to locate the beer then.

One of Central City’s most popular products also hits shelves this time of year: Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine. ‘Tis the season for barley wines, which I haven’t got into previously, but one brought back from Colorado by Ma and Pa Sip may have opened that door.

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BC Beer Baron #289 – Central City Patrick O’ Pumpkin

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.

A few months back, the Sip Advisor was lucky to come across a fire sale of sorts at Central City Brewing’s Surrey facility, featuring drastically marked down prices on some products. I’m assuming they were clearing some stock to make way for their spring line-up, but I didn’t really question my good fortune.

One of the beers I picked up for cheap was the Patrick O’ Pumpkin. This Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale is light on pumpkin, but strong on booze (8% ABV). Aged in bourbon barrels, it’s a fall seasonal that acts as a winter warmer.

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The Sip Advisor is not the biggest fan of pumpkin-spiced products, but because this was a light feature to the recipe (or so my taste buds told me) I enjoyed the beer. The strength from the bourbon barrel aging is what did the trick for me and the experience was well worth my low investment.

This beer is chapter three of the Central City Story series, which has introduced characters similar to those found in the Sin City comics franchise to the brewing world. Patrick O’ Pumpkin is “a seasoned and embittered ex-cop, fallen to the dark side. With a fiery temper and ruthless attitude, Patrick O’ Pumpkin is Central City’s local trouble for hire!” Earlier chapters included Detective Saison and Mayor Kolsch.

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BC Beer Baron #173 – Central City Dark Cherry Stout

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. Fruit beers may have some traditionalists up in arms, but if they only them a chance, they would see how good the beverages can be. In putting together this feature week, I tried to incorporate as many different fruits as possible, so let’s see what BC has to offer in this realm.

On one of our many trips to the Central City Brew Pub in Vancouver a couple months back, this tap menu item from their own brewery instantly caught my eye and I quickly ordered a serving.

The Dark Cherry Stout combined a few of my favourite things: cherries, chocolate and beer. This 6% ABV, 30 IBUs offering was fairly good. There was a reasonable amount of cherry flavour to the recipe, although I always like more when it comes to my beverages. In most cases, I want to know that taste is there, not just get a hint of it.

Central City Brewing

I’m not sure how easy it would be to find this stout, as it wasn’t even listed on the brewery’s website, at the time the Sip Advisor experienced it. I would assume it was available at Central City’s tasting room, as well as at their Surrey brew pub, but I can’t be certain of that.

As far as Central City stouts go, I’ve also tried their Habanero Stout, which I found to be quite enjoyable. If the Dark Cherry Stout has disappeared with the end of the winter season, I would urge all you little sippers to be on the lookout for it next year.

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BC Beer Baron #168 – Howe Sound Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale

On a recent visit to Central City’s Vancouver Brew Pub, I paired my usual Crispy Crunch chicken burger order with this release from Howe Sound Brewing.

The Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale was light and sweet, thanks to being brewed with all-natural Fraser Valley honey. I would have preferred more of a hoppy punch from the 5% ABV, 16 IBUs beverage, but I understand beers have to be made in all sizes to satisfy the masses. All in all, I still enjoyed the overall drinking experience.

Howe Sound Garibaldi Honey Pale Ale

Available in one-litre bottles, providing enough beer for three full “glasses of glory”, the Honey Pale Ale has taken home both a gold medal at the North American Brewing Awards and a bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards. The brew is a member of Howe Sound’s year round core lineup, making it relatively easy to locate.

The beer was created to honour Mount Garibaldi, which was named after Italian general and politician Guiseppe Garibaldi, who unified Italy in 1860. Mount Garibaldi is the highest point of the Sea-to-Sky region and is a potentially active volcano which looms over Squamish (home to Howe Sound).

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