Sip Trips #118: Pucks and Parties

This week has been a busy one as the Christmas season ramps up and Mrs. Sip and I have three Vancouver Canucks games on the schedule to attend. Thank god for our grandparent babysitters! Let’s get right to the action:

Late last week, with Ma and Pa Sip over, we grabbed dinner at the new Johnny Rockets location in Downtown Vancouver. I had their Original burger, which was pretty good. What I liked best was their half fries/half rings, allowing eaters to enjoy both side dishes. More restaurants need to adopt this concept. While we didn’t order them, the chain also offers a number of tasty milkshake options. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

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On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I had our first Christmas party of the season, through her office. The meal took place at Piva Modern Italian Restaurant, where we tried a number of great menu items. For appies, I particularly liked the Polenta Fries, while my main course of Duck & Fig Pizza was terrific. The meal provided a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and while Mrs. Sip’s Prosciutto Pizza was good, we were both raving about my selection.  For beverages, I enjoyed the Terra Saison and Red Pilsner, both from Steel & Oak Brewing, and for dessert, I tried the Bagpipes in my Ferrari (Glenmorangie, Disaronno, smoke and oak bitters), which was a solid nightcap.

The next day, we had our first Canucks game of the week and this is one we’ve had circled for some time. With the dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs in town, I swapped some of our other half-season tickets in order to attend this game. With a 2-1 victory for the home side, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Shock Top Wheat Ale and Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout the game, which helped with the intensity and anxiety of the matchup.

The weekend wrapped with our annual family visit to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Christmas Train. This was Baby Sip’s first time riding the Christmas Train, although we did take her on the Halloween Train when she was only just over a month old. As is tradition, we followed the park visit with dinner at the nearby White Spot location. Here, Cousin Sip, her husband, Sis-in-Law Sip and I split a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale, while I ordered my usual Legendary Burger. The two pair quite nicely with each other and made for a delicious meal.

Man Sized Mug

Lastly, on Tuesday, we celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday at The Keg. I, once again, selected the Prime Rib Sliders with side of fries for my meal, which was very good. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sip and I had to eat fast to get to another Canucks game, as food took a while to be served thanks to the kitchen being backed up by a private party. My Sliders were only $13 during happy hour, down from their usual $18 price tag. For dessert, Ma Sip saved her slice of wonderful Billy Miner Pie for Mrs. Sip and I, which we consumed in quick order following yet another Canucks triumph.

The weekend is full of scheduled activities and doesn’t let up at all. ‘Tis the season, after all!

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Beer of the Week #44 – Steel & Oak Terra Saison

At Piva Modern Italian Restaurant in New Westminster to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s work Christmas party, I selected this Steel & Oak Brewing beverage from their menu. It paired quite well with my delicious Duck & Fig Pizza.

The Terra Saison was very tasty and just what I was hoping for with my first drink of the night. The 5.8% ABV brew is made with turmeric, ginger root, white peppercorns and star anise and comes in a 500ml bottle, good for two healthy servings of suds.

Steel & Oak Terra Saison

The Terra can be found at private liquor stores around Greater Vancouver. The release was the first of Steel & Oak’s Brewers Series. Next up is the Secretariat, a guava-conditioned saison, hitting store shelves and the brewery’s tasting room in 2018.

With Piva located in Steel & Oak’s neck of the woods (where the brewery is the only one New West has to offer), it was only natural their beers would show up on the menu. I also had the Red Pilsner during dinner.

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BC Beer Baron #329 – Steel & Oak Steinbier

At last month’s BC Beer Awards, Mrs. Sip and I made sure to stop by Steel & Oak’s booth, as it’s among our favourite companies. There, we were able to try this very unique limited edition release that surely won’t be around long.

The Steinbier is a collaborative brew combining the talents of Steel & Oak and Sebastian Sauer from Germany’s Freigeist Bierkultur. Jorden of Steel & Oak posted a blog about the collaborative process that bred this delicious beverage.

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What is a steinbier, you might be asking? Well, it’s more than simply a beer fit for a stein. In fact, it’s a brew that is mashed in wooden tubs, using hot stones. This typically results in flavours of caramel and soot… mmm, soot!

The 6% ABV, 30 IBUs lager can be found in bomber-sized bottles. As for Freigeist Bierkultur, they “strive to break the creative chains of industrial brewing by reviving and updating Germany’s unique, historical beer styles.”

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BC Beer Baron #298 – Steel & Oak Smoked Honey Doppelbock

The Sip Advisor is a big fan of smoked beers and a dedicated supporter of Steel & Oak Brewing. Therefore, when I came across their table at the recent BC Beer Awards and saw this on their tap list, I knew I had to try a sample.

The Smoked Honey Doppelbock appealed to me on so many levels. Of course, there was the smoky flavour with each sip, but there was also exactly the right amount of sweetness from the honey. At 7.9% ABV and 20 IBUs, this beverage was right in my wheelhouse stat wise.

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Steel & Oak joke that the beer is “best enjoyed while seated in a leather chair with your feet up on a rich mahogany coffee table.” While that may work for some, I’ll take it with a scantily clad Mrs. Sip, silhouetted perhaps by a roaring fire!.

The limited edition release is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores and at Steel & Oak’s New West tasting room. It’s been a little while since I was able to pop in for a flight, so I think I should remedy that glaring error promptly.

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BC Beer Baron #265 – Dogwood Organic IPA

As I’ve mentioned previously, when Mrs. Sip and I visited the Originals Restaurante Mexicano in New West recently, the Sip Advisor was impressed with the diner’s small, yet varied craft beer menu. That included this product from Dogwood Brewing.

The Organic IPA isn’t as hoppy as some IPAs, relying more on its malt content to deliver flavour. This is a good thing for those that don’t do bitter so well. The 5.9% ABV, 50 IBUs beverage presents flavours of caramel and citrus fruits in a well-balanced package.

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While Dogwood doesn’t provide any food pairing suggestions for the beer, Mrs. Sip and I found it worked rather well with our taco platters, complementing the various flavours and spices in our meals. The IPA is available in cans at private liquor stores.

I have still yet to visit Dogwood’s South Vancouver tasting room and really should get around to it. The company is very proud of their all-organic lineup of brews, which also includes a Honey Ale, Fest Ale, and Stout, as well as seasonal treats.

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BC Beer Baron #254 – Ridge Café Morena English Brown Ale

While sitting down for a meal of tacos at Originals Restaurante Mexicano in New West, Mrs. Sip and I were pleasantly surprised to learn of the diverse lineup of brews available on the eatery’s three craft beer taps. Mrs. Sip ordered a serving of this Ridge Brewing release.

Good thing she did, as we both instantly enjoyed the Café Morena English Brown Ale, loving the flavours of coffee, caramel and nuts that came through with each taste. The 5% ABV, 27 IBUs drink was complex and refreshing. While I prefer higher carbonation, this style does call for minimal fizz.

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The beer is available in bomber-sized bottles and the brewery notes that the beverage is best enjoyed warm. Our serving was ice cold, so perhaps it works both ways (like an iced coffee). Mrs. Sip and I aren’t even coffee enthusiasts (or fans at all) and we loved this beer.

The husband and wife owners of Ridge Brewing are Mexican, so why not partner with a taqueria. Ridge can also offer other brews that pair well thematically with the cuisine, such as their Gringa Loca Witbier and Ay Caramba! Jalapeno IPA, which I finally got to try recently.

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BC Beer Baron #230 – Steel & Oak Smoked Hefeweizen

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. Mrs. Sip and I are huge fans of hefeweizens and witbiers. I mean, is there a better summer beer style? Let’s take a look at what BC has to offer in the field.

Conveniently located just minutes away from Mrs. Sip’s office and the second best reason for travelling to New West (Mrs. Sip being the first!), Steel & Oak Brewing has quickly become one of our favourite spots.

The Smoked Hefeweizen is the first beer I ever tried from the brewery, as we visited soon after the brewery launched. Good thing too, cause based on word of mouth and a spectacular opening line-up, it wasn’t long before Steel & Oak had to temporarily close their doors, as they had run out of sweet suds!

Steel & Oak Smoked Hefeweizen

I love my smoky beers and Steel & Oak seems to specialize in this area. Along with their flagship Smoked Hefeweizen (5.2% ABV, 15 IBUs), they also have special releases including a Smoked Dunkelweizen and Smoked Lager.

Mrs. Sip and I have often brought this beer with us when camping and it’s perfect to enjoy around a roaring fire, out in the fresh air and wilderness. With another trip coming up this weekend, we better get around to stocking up.

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