BC Beer Baron #118 – Bridge Wunderbar Kolsch

Our recent exploration of North Vancouver’s craft beer scene was driven by the redemption of a Groupon at Bridge Brewing. This deal allowed the Sip Alliance to try every beer the brewery had available.

Among those brews was the Wunderbar Kolsch, which was light and refreshing, but far from boring, featuring a complexity that took the product to a different level. This is the brewery’s take on a traditional German Kolsch, perfect for the spring and summer seasons, enjoyed outdoors on a patio, or preferably near a cool body of water.

BRB15-019_Generic Awards Label.indd

Sure, the first thing I hoped for was that the beer would taste like a Cadbury Wunderbar (one of the best chocolate bars in existence), but then it probably would have identified as a stout, rather than a kolsch. I was far from dissatisfied with the experience, though.

Apparently, I’m not alone, as the Wunderbar Kolsch picked up a silver medal at the 2015 Vancouver International Craft Beer Awards, in the Hybrid category. It can be found in bomber-sized bottles, as well as in six-packs. Prost, to all my little sippers out there!

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BC Beer Baron #55 – Bridge Lonsdale Lager

For our recent tour of North Vancouver craft breweries, Bridge Brewing was marked with permanent ink, as we had plans to redeem a Groupon Cousin Sip had picked up, allowing for tasting flights and souvenir glasses for the four of us.

In picking a particular beer to profile from the North Vancouver brewery, I settled on the Lonsdale Lager, as sometimes that style of beer doesn’t get the love and attention it deserves, overshadowed by many of its ale cousins. That said, I was surprised to learn that the lager is a seasonal release for Bridge, rather than part of their year round line-up. The beer is only available in draught form and for growler fills, so don’t expect to stumble across six-packs or bombers out there in the marketplace.

Bridge Lonsdale Lager

For its part, the Lonsdale Lager is a solid beer (5.2% ABV and 17 IBUs) of the Helles variety. I don’t think it will blow drinker’s minds, but they won’t want to send it back, either. It’s a perfect beer (and one every craft brewery needs) to have as an option for that one person in your group who can’t stand anything hoppy or experimental and just wants something “normal”.

Our recent visit to Bridge was our first to their new location, having previously stopped at their former home a couple years back, as part of a Vancouver Brewery Tours route. I have to say that the move was a good one and their new tasting room is much more visitor friendly.

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Sip Trips #45: Hip Hopscotch Hooray

The annual Hopscotch Festival recently took over Vancouver and Mrs. Sip and I were more than happy to embrace the week of special events. Here’s what we got up to:

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, we went to the Unibroue Pairing Dinner at The Devil’s Elbow. I can’t say enough good things about this event. Mrs. Sip and I attended the same Hopscotch dinner last year (at The Abbey) and this year’s rendition was so much better. First, we lucked out with a four-person table, but the beer and food distribution was executed much better this time around. Last year, you were required to share a plate of whatever the food pairing was, as well as pass a bottle of beer between not only your table, but also an adjacent one, as well. This year, it was individual dishes and a bottle of Unibroue split between four people, on average.

sharing food

The cost was $63 each and I’d say it was worth every penny. The pairings included: mussels with La Fin du Monde; arugula salad, goat cheese and duck breast with Ephemere Apple; duo of crostini (pulled pork and foie gras) with 17 Grande Reserve; smoked brisket with Trois Pistoles; and a trio of tarts (pecan pie, chocolate mousse, and salted caramel) with Maudite, for dessert. We also received a bonus serving of La Resolution to wrap things up. My favourite dish – a tough choice to narrow down – was the pulled pork crostini.

Unibroue sommelier Sylvain Bouchard is an amazing storyteller and full of knowledge about not just Unibroue, but beer in general – and he clearly enjoys his own product. The venue this year provided a better space for Bouchard to speak to the group, as last year, he felt he was always speaking to only half the restaurant at each time. Like the year before, each guest was given a complimentary Unibroue cookbook, as well as a beautiful Blanche de Chambly glass.

After a few days off, we went to the Grand Tasting Hall – Beer and Food edition. I’ve been hesitant in past years about the Grand Tasting Hall because of its high price and crowds. This was the first year to feature a beer only tasting experience in the afternoon and when a Groupon came out, cutting the entry price in half (only $19, including a glass and five sample tokens), I was quick to jump on it.

crowds people

The beers I tried, included: Okanagan Springs Chili Porter, Boxer Watermelon Lager and Apple Ale, Moody Ales Smouldering Smoked Porter, Stanley Park Sazerac Porter, Granville Island Dunkelweizen, Big Rock Winter Spice, Mt. Begbie Cold Smoke Porter, Bridge The Grinch, Deep Cove Double Trouble IPA and Luminescent Chocolate Coconut Porter (likely my favourite of the festival), Four Mile Pale Ale and English Strong Ale, Fernie Sap Sucker Maple Porter, Coal Harbour Smoke & Mirrors and Blackwing Baltic Porter, and Maui Coconut Porter and Mana Wheat.

Given the timing of the event, there were a number of dark beers to be had, as many of the suppliers brought along stouts, porters, and winter ales. Despite being on my wish list, I didn’t get to try Bravo Peche Mel and Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout, as I couldn’t even locate the Muskoka booth. I also didn’t see Bad Tattoo Brewing, although they were advertised to be there. I was impressed that so many exhibitors brought unique beers to be sampled and not just their flagship brews. Only a few of the options available cost more than one token and two was the maximum.

While none of the liquors were available, their booths were set-up from the night before and you could see which companies were exhibiting their wares, giving me an idea of what the full event would be like. According to the Official Tasting Guide (also available online), some samples would cost as much as nine tokens, with an average of three tokens needed per tasting. If a Groupon comes out again next year, I would return to the beer event, but am still hesitant to do the full gala.

groupon expensive

Mrs. Sip and I wrapped up our Hopscotch activities with the Whiskey and Chocolate Tasting at Legacy Liquor Store. I was surprised when Mrs. Sip grabbed tickets to this, given her bad experience with whiskey, many moons ago in Scotland, but I think the chocolate won out here.

Among the whiskeys we sampled and chocolates they were paired with were: Forty Creek with Cacao Barry BIO Milk, Rebel Yell with Cacao Barry Zephyr, The Balvenie with Cacao Barry BIO Dark, and Aberlour with Cacao Barry OCOA. We also got an extra chocolate, the Cacao Barry INAYA. Each chocolate, from Cocoa West, was delicious and you really got a sense of how well the two products accentuate one another when paired.

With tickets priced at $30 each, I’m not really sure the event was worth it price wise, but we did have fun together and it was good to see Mrs. Sip get back on the whiskey train… even if that means I didn’t get to finish her glasses!

February 15 – Heart Warmer

Holiday Hell

Valentine’s Day is a funny beast to deal with. Among heightened expectations, shops and services everywhere jack up their prices and take advantage of the love frenzy (also the name of a sexual position I invented a few years back, but have yet to unleash on Mrs. Sip). After all, a sucker is born every minute and Valentine’s Day makes a fool out of us all. One of the best “Valentine’s Days” Mrs. Sip and I spent together was a couple days after the actual day, as Mrs. Sip had to travel for work and we weren’t able to be together. Here are the top five reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th!

#5: Use Your Coupons

It sucks that most coupons (from sites like GrouponSocial Shopper, etc.) can’t be redeemed during the Valentine’s Day block of dates, usually Feb. 13-16, depending on where the holiday falls. And this is because the institutions using the coupon service know they have you hooked already for those dates. So, let’s get a little revenge on these establishments by redeeming for a romantic dinner on February 12th or 17th. Then, really rub it in their face by exchanging gifts, flowers, and the whole shebang!

Saint-Valentine

#4: Discounted Treats

Walk into any store after Valentine’s Day and you will find massive discounts on chocolates and other goodies, as the retailer is quickly trying to change their seasonal shelves over to anything from St. Patrick’s Day to Easter to even Christmas already (the holiday comes out earlier and earlier every year!). You can score some pretty wicked deals during this rush for savings, but be weary of fellow shoppers who will stop at nothing to deny you of you half-price stuffed bear.

#3: Easy-to-Get Reservations

If you don’t plan ahead and get onto making reservations as soon as the calendar rolls over to a new year, you may miss out on your preferred dining choice. Next you know, you’re chowing on McDonald’s takeout – actually not so bad, as Mrs. Sip and I did this last year when she wasn’t feeling well enough to fulfill our expensive seafood reservation… I saved a ton of cash! – and are decked out in sweatpants or pajamas, laying out on your couch… sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it!?

I Tolerate You

#2: Cheaper Flowers

I’ll never understand how stores can get away with not only increasing their prices on flowers, but doubling them just because it’s Valentine’s Day. And yet they sell out every year and if you don’t grab a bouquet earlier in the day, you may be left with the scraps nobody else wants. Go any other day and your cost will be cut in half, you will have a ton of options to choose from and you risk getting into a skirmish with another dude over posies.

#1: What is So Important About February 14th?

Mrs. Sip and I make a point of having date nights on a frequent basis. Yes, it’s not always easy to accomplish with busy schedules that include work, social gatherings, sports, and other commitments, but if you only have time for each other on a capitalism-created holiday, then you have more issues to deal with than where to eat and what kind of flowers to buy. Treat each other like you actually love each other and the rest will fall into place easier than you ever thought!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Heart Warmer (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Heart Warmer Shooter

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Cream Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Cream Liqueur
  • Splash of Chile Chocolate Syrup
  • Garnish with Love Hearts

Valentine’s Day should be celebrated with the one you love, but perhaps not the way the restaurants and stores would have you spend it. Get together with your partner and have a quiet night in, snuggling up on the couch and watching zombie horror flicks… or whatever you two nutballs are into!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I was originally going to complete skip any Valentine’s coverage this year, but decided that February 15th was the perfect day to drop some love wisdom on all y’all (and yes, I realize how that line could be interpreted!). Therefore, I needed a recipe and decided to go with an original I had been working on for a little while. Combining the Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Liqueurs was a great start, but the crowning touch was the Chile Chocolate Syrup. It left a wonderful light burn on the lips, tongue and made the whole experience a little more unique than your usual shooter!