Beer of the Week #36 – Tin Whistle Summertime Coconut Hopfenweisse

When I first learned about this beer from Tin Whistle Brewing, I knew I’d have to get my grubby mitts on it eventually. A recent trip to Legacy Liquor Store helped me cross the drink off my always growing to do list.

The Summertime Coconut Hopfenweisse was a good beer, refreshing and wheaty, but very light on the coconut flavour. The 5.5% ABV, 20 IBUs is described as having a “subtle hint of coconut on the finish,” so I guess it comes as advertised.

Tin Whistle Brewing

Available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores, this limited release may be hard to find, now that summer has come and gone. Some craft beer-focused restaurants and bars may also have it on tap, but it could be elusive to unearth.

I still have to visit Tin Whistle’s facility on my next trip to Penticton. I’ve always enjoyed their presence at the Penticton Farmer’s Market, allowing me to have a drink and stock up on supplies for my stay in the city.

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BC Beer Baron #130 – Red Collar Tripel

The Sip Advisor is working hard to be all-inclusive and try to incorporate as many BC breweries into this 366-day project as possible. With that in mind, on a recent visit to Legacy Liquor Store, I was looking to highlight another first timer and Mrs. Sip’s selection of this Red Collar Brewing product satisfied that.

The Tripel (of the Belgian variety, of course) is a ‘Special Edition’ release and comes in at 9% ABV and only 12 IBUs. Therefore, it has all those characteristics Belgian Tripel lovers (Mrs. Sip included) expect from their beers, such as the scent and taste of bananas and spice.

Red Collar Tripel

I like Red Collar’s warning with this beer: “It is deceivingly smooth and should be consumed with care and respect as the alcohol content can sneak up on you.” That’s pretty good advice no matter what you’re drinking!

The rest of Red Collar’s line-up is highlighted by many Belgian and German-inspired brews, such as a Dubbel, Marzen, Doppelbock, Dunkelweizen, Patersbier, Witbier, and Hefeweizen. I hope to stop by when Mrs. Sip and I are in the Okanagan region this summer.

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BC Beer Baron #117 – Hearthstone Chocolate Milk Stout

While they weren’t part of our North Vancouver brewery crawl a couple months back, I was able to recently sample a few Hearthstone Brewing products at Legacy Liquor Store in the Olympic Village.

While sampling, I really enjoyed the brewery’s Chocolate Milk Stout, which has a bold chocolate taste from the cocoa nibs from East Van Roasting Company, used in its recipe. The 5.5% ABV, 19 IBUs is “perfect to cuddle up next to a ­fire with,” according to the beer’s description.

Hearthstone Chocolate Milk Stout

It sounds like the stout is quite versatile and can be combined with two other Hearthstone products for unique beertails. First, it can be mixed with the previously reviewed Graham Cracker Ale to manufacture a s’more flavoured beverage and second it can be paired with the Wyld Raspberry Berliner Weisse for a chocolate-berry treat.

As for an update on Hearthstone’s tasting room, it should be open soon and will feature woodfire pizzas, straight from ovens imported from Italy. Mrs. Sip and I can’t wait for our maiden voyage there!

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BC Beer Baron #90 – Category 12 Critical Point Pale Ale

Looking to get off our butts and go for a long walk (despite the dreary weather) a couple weeks back, Mrs. Sip and I made our way to Vancovuer’s Olympic Village, where Legacy Liquor Store was hosting a tasting of Category 12 Brewing products.

One of my favourites among the four samples provided was the Critical Point Pale Ale, which was very easy drinking with just the right amount of hops. This Northwest Pale Ale comes in at 5.6% ABV and 49 IBUs with flavours of caramel and citrus.

Category 12 Critical Point Pale Ale

In Category 12’s scientific fashion (their brewmaster earned a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry, after all), this is how they describe the beer: “The pressure is on. It’s going to take cunning to blend science with instinct and the clock is ticking. But timing is everything and precision is the only thing that matters. Confidence, analysis and art collide to create a perfectly balanced beer. And, when it comes down to the wire, success tastes even more satisfying.”

It may not happen right away, but I would love to eventually visit Category 12 at their Victoria location. Hell, Mrs. Sip and I are in serious need of a return to the island and a tour around the town of all the amazing breweries over there. Now we just need to find some spare time.

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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!

Sip Trips #10 – Creative Control

The last couple weeks, Mrs. Sip has been quite busy and out of town on both weekends. This weekend, we made a point of not having too many plans, allowing us some freedom to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Here’s how that all turned out:

Friday night, we enjoyed a late night dinner at EXP Restaurant and Bar, which is one of my favourite places in downtown Vancouver. This haven for video game fans of all ages has a spectacular menu, with great food (I have yet to leave disappointed, after trying numerous items) and drinks, all themed after gaming franchises. I recently discovered their Classic Cheese Burger of Experience – complete with deep fried pickles – which I would throw on my Top 5 Vancouver burgers list. It’s also advertised to give the consumer +25% XP, so you have that going for you, too!

Video-Games-Money

While at EXP, Mrs. Sip and I grabbed a pitcher of Granville Island Winter Ale, which we were told by one of the owners/managers was the last keg of the seasonal beer the brewery had. It’s a brew that I’ve enjoyed for a number of years and it is fantastic fresh from the tap. With winter giving way to spring, this will likely be the last time I get to enjoy it until next fall and we enjoyed it in style!

On Saturday, we joined Ma and Pa Sip for dinner at Frankie’s Italian Kitchen. Mrs. Sip and I have celebrated a couple occasions here before and we really enjoy their food and cocktails. Another good meal was spoiled, though, as we were finishing up and minutes away from leaving, one of the staff (perhaps a manager) asked us, without any touch of courtesy, to wrap up quickly, so they could seat another group. We had put down some good money on this meal – appies, mains, and bottle of wine included – and to be asked to hurry up so another group can sit, was rude.

I don’t like to dwell on bad, though ,so let’s get back to the good. The weather in our neck of the woods has been amazing the last couple weeks, so Mrs. Sip and I decided to take full advantage with a long walk to Craft Beer Market and its neighbour, Legacy Liquor Store.

Walking Overrated

At Craft, we had great service from a bartender who was more than happy to let us sample some of the many beers they have on tap. We particularly liked the collaboration beer produced by the brewmasters of Craft and Granville Island Brewing, which was an Imperial Gingerbread Porter.

We then popped over to Legacy for their free tasting, which included Belhaven Scottish Stout and Crabbie’s Orange Ginger Beer. Thanks to my weekly Legacy newsletter, I was made aware of Breakside Brewery’s Tropicalia, a beer which combines lychee and yellow chilies. It was a very nice brew – paired later with nachos – with just enough of a singe on the taste buds, exactly the way I like it!

We wrapped up the week that was with a very unique experience: the combination of an Irish pub experience with the performance of an Irish ghost story play… or at least that’s the way it was supposed to be. The venue just recently changed its name and look from Cieli’s, an Irish watering hole, to The Roadhouse, a hole! I kid, as not much has changed aesthetically yet, but it’s a little tragic that the whole theme was swapped just prior to this engagement and St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Bar

During the show (called The Weir), I made a point of enjoying a couple pints of Guinness, although I’m not the biggest fan of stouts. After all, if you’re going to watch an Irish show in a formerly Irish pub, you might as well drink Irish too!

Speaking of Guinness, a couple weeks back, Ma and Pa Sip stopped at a British product store and picked up a bag of Guinness potato chips for me. Now, I’m a huge chippy monster, but (as previously mentioned) have never been too crazy into Guinness as a beer option. All that said, these chips are amazing, with a wonderful flavour and good crunch. My only regret is that I didn’t have a bigger bag to enjoy, but at least I’ve now been introduced to this delicious stout-infused snack.