Sip Trips #101: Hop Circuit

This weekend, the Sip Alliance made our way to Yeast Van Brewery District for the 2nd annual East Van Brewery Open House. The event ran from 1-5pm, featuring 14 breweries. Although we got off to a late start, we managed to hit a handful of places and had a fantastic time in doing so.

Our journey began at Coal Harbour Brewing, which I’ve never been inside, as they don’t traditionally operate a tasting room. While they are in the process of changing that, it was great they opened the doors to the public and joined the rest of the neighbourhood for this event. While at Coal Harbour, I enjoyed free samples of their Rye Pale Ale, Mango Saison Cask and Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale, which is a favourite of the Sip Advisor. Drinkers could also pay $5 for a glass etched with Coal Harbour’s logo and a pour of beer.

Beer Glass Not Going to Work

Moving on, we travelled to Andina Brewing. This was another inaugural visit for me, as the company is one of the newest additions to the landscape. Hard to miss given it’s bright yellow exterior, we’d like to return and enjoy some South American food in their tasting room. On this stop, we tried their Session Ale, which was available in 12-ounce pours for $3.

Next up was Bomber Brewing, which came with a brief lineup, as they have a very limited capacity. The wait was worth it, though, as I was able to enjoy a pint of their Super Pest Double IPA with Pomegranate (7.5% ABV, 80 IBUs). They were also selling Girl Guide Cookies, so you can bet we snagged a box and feasted on the treats.

After finishing our drinks, we crossed the street to check out Off the Rail Brewing. There, you could buy drink tickets, good for either the SMASH Pale Ale or Raj Mahal India Ale. Mrs. Sip also purchased one of the cheese twists that are popular icons of BC craft breweries and pair ever so nicely with beer.

Girl Guide Cookies Box

Our final brewery stop was Luppolo Brewing, yet another first time seating for yours truly. We split a flight of their wares, comprised of the Agreste Wild Farmhouse Ale (which has recently become the company’s first bottled release), Belgian Blonde, Pale Ale and West Coast Farmhouse. Each variety brought something else to the game and was enjoyable to drink.

To sum up, we particularly liked the places that opened up their brewing spaces to accommodate more visitors. I know serving laws likely hindered some locales, but we weren’t willing to wait outside any operation that had a long lineup. This included some of our favourite places within the industry. While it was busy, we liked seeing so many people out and enjoying the neighbourhood. Of particular note, was how many babies were out with their parents, something Mrs. Sip and I will likely be doing when the 3rd annual Open House occurs in 2018.

BC Beer Baron #341 – Off the Rail East Bound Nut Brown Ale

On a recent visit to Off the Rail Brewing, Mrs. Sip grabbed this beer for me and her to try (although I didn’t share as much as I should have). This proves good things do come from the pursuit of cheese twist snacks.

The East Bound Nut Brown Ale features flavours of nuts, chocolate and caramel/toffee. At 5% ABV and 32 IBUs, the beer is lighter with a decent hop presence, which helps in balancing the sweeter tastes. The entire recipe results in a rich brew.


The product is available in bomber-sized bottles at the brewery and private liquor stores. I’ve found, through this BC Beer Baron project, that Brown Ales rank highly among my favourite beverage styles, which wasn’t expected.

Mrs. Sip and I were in attendance the day Off the Rail first opened their doors and it’s nice to return on occasion. So long as they keep those addictive cheese twists in stock and continue to create good beers, we’ll be back.

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BC Beer Baron #311 – Off the Rail Harvest IPA

With Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip desperately wanting one of the cheese twists that some BC craft breweries are famous for, we ended up at Off the Rail Brewing. This did, however, provide me an opportunity to grab this beer.

The Harvest IPA is made with 85 pounds of freshly-picked Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops from BC Hop Co. The 5.8% ABV beverage paired nicely with the aforementioned cheese twist, thanks to its balanced mix of citrus and bitter tastes.


This was the 2016 version of the Harvest IPA, which typically is released in the fall to coincide with the fresh/wet hop harvest. The brew is available on tap and in bomber-sized bottles, from the Yeast Van brewery, for a limited time.

The fresh/wet hop season produces many great beers each year and has brought to mind some selections that I need to keep an eye out for in 2017. It may be the best time of the year for hop heads and breweries, alike.

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BC Beer Baron #241 – Off the Rail Beez Kneez Honey Ginger Ale

Always on the lookout for new and interesting beers, I recently came across this Off the Rail Brewing release while popping into a private liquor store in Kelowna, as the Sip Syndicate loaded up on suds for the long weekend ahead.

The Beez Kneez Honey Ginger Ale is sweet with a ginger bite on the finish. There’s a nice balance between the two here, but the Sip Advisor is learning that I’m not the biggest fan of beers with honey as part of the recipe. However, I know the sweetness is exactly what others are looking for in their brews. If that’s the case, this might be the beverage for you.

Off the Rail Beez Kneez Honey Ginger Ale

The seasonal release, which comes with stats of 5% ABV and 34 IBUs, is available in bomber-sized bottles at various liquor stores, as well as being on tap at Off the Rail’s East Vancouver tasting room. It would likely make for a good drink to have on hand while enjoying the great outdoors and imbibing in summer fun.

Sampling this beer reminds me that Mrs. Sip and I are way overdue for our annual self-guided bike tour through the ‘Yeast Van’ breweries. There are a few new additions to the region – along with the classics – so that should make for a great journey.

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BC Beer Baron #170 – Off the Rail Raybuck Red Ale

As previously mentioned, on a recent visit to the Olympic Village Craft Beer Market, I ordered their six-beer flight featuring local brews. Another tasty treat among that sextet was this release from Off the Rail Brewing.

The Raybuck Red Ale was created as an homage to some of the favourite Irish Ales of the Off the Rail crew. Caramel notes highlight the brew, which is constructed using both Cascades and Willamette hops, for a medium level of bitterness (40 IBUs).

Off the Rail Raybuck Red Ale

The 5.4% ABV beverage is available in bomber-sized bottles, as well as in packs of four pint-sized cans. This was the first packaged release from the brewery and it was a good one to kick things off (the rail) with.

This trip to Craft Beer Market was highlighted by my six-pack order, which I also encouraged our visiting American friend to try. As this was his introduction to BC’s craft beer scene, he was rightfully blown away and our ensuing mini-brewery tour may have been more than he could handle!

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BC Beer Baron #85 – Off the Rail Raj Mahal India Ale

Since the first time Mrs. Sip and I stepped foot into Off the Rail Brewing (chancing upon the location for its grand opening), this has been my favourite beverage among their ever-expanding lineup.

When we popped into the East Vancouver tasting room recently and I ordered a glass of the Raj Mahal India Ale, I had the chance to confirm that’s still the case. The brew is an interesting blend, using lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, for a very refreshing experience.

Off the Rail Raj Mahal India Ale

The 5% ABV, 38 IBUs beer can be found in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. It should be noted that this is not an IPA, but rather a India Ale and therefore drinkers who aren’t into IPAs might still enjoy the Raj Mahal.

Off the Rail is located across the street from Bomber Brewing. The two will soon be joined by Luppolo Brewing and together, the Adanac Street companies comprise part of the Yeast Van brewery district. With spring arriving soon, it’s time to dust off the bike and prep for regular trips out that way.

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #34: Beer Baron

Well, this was a beer-soaked weekend if there ever was one – and there have been many! With a self-guided bike and beer tour, as well as a brews cruise on the docket, there’s much to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

With friends visiting from Toronto this weekend, I wanted to show them as much of Vancouver’s amazing craft beer scene as possible. I settled on a bike and beer tour of the affectionately named ‘Yeast Van’ area, which is home to numerous breweries.

Our first stops of the day were Bomber Brewing, followed by Off the Rail Brewing, located right across the street. Both locations offer some good beers and a totally different vibe. With so many stops planned on our itinerary, we largely split tasting flights between couples. My favourite beer at each stop was the Dunkelweizen and Raj Mahal IPA, respectively.

bike and beer

Next up was a short ride to Callister Brewing, which features a number of Real Cask brews, as well. With 10 beers on the menu, our crew ordered one of everything, providing many opportunities to find the perfect beer. I particularly enjoyed the Seshuinox and Apricot Resurrection varieties.

Another short jaunt and we arrived at Powell Street Brewing. When originally constructing the plan for the day, I had marked Powell Street as a stop that was optional. I’m very glad we made it there, though, as each of the four beers I sampled were quite good. This included the Wayne Grisettesky (awesome name!), Amarillo Sour, Right Kind of Crazy Double IPA, and Ode to Citra Pale Ale.

After a few tasting rooms to loosen us all up, it was time to visit what I considered would be our main event: Storm Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I love this place for its great staff (the Heathers!), funky atmosphere, and amazing beers. I really enjoy trying the brewery’s  ‘Brainstorms’, an ever-changing list of creative and unique beverages. On tap this time was a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Ale, Gin and Tonic Pilsner, Cream Soda Pilsner, Iced Mocha Stout, Raspberry Berlinerweisse, Dry Hopped IPA, and Vanilla Whiskey Stout. I gave high rankings to each of these options and can’t wait to go back and try the next batch of conceptions. Perhaps best of all, doing a tasting at Storm is by donation and with that, you get up to six samples.

Our last stop of the beer and bike tour was Doan’s Brewing, another first visit for the Sip Advisor. Here, we tried each of the four beers available, including their Kolsch, Alt Bier, Rye IPA, and German IPA. Nothing against Doan’s (their brews were decent), but the stop was a little anti-climactic after Storm.


We had also hoped to get into Parallel 49 and Strange Fellows, but by the time we hit either place, later in the day, they both had long waits to get in and those in our group who had rented bikes, had to return them. The day was long from over, though, as after dropping off our rides, we walked over to Big Rock Urban Eatery in the Olympic Village area.

For this trip to Big Rock, I was more enamored with the food than the beer. I ordered what I describe as the ‘Eric Cartman Special’: crispy fried chicken skin, called Chickeronnes. The waitress pointed out to me that there was no meat involved in the dish and I told her that’s exactly how I wanted it! They didn’t blow my mind or anything, but now I can say I tried them. One of our party was celebrating their birthday, so the restaurant brought her a serving of their Fiasco Smores. I thought this dish was fantastic, with boozed up ingredients, including chocolate stout gelato, rauchbier ganache, and bourbon vanilla marshmallow.

We finished the day at Craft Beer Market, a must for any visitor to the city, as far as the Sip Advisor is concerned. Sadly, a few of the beers I wanted to try were already tapped out. We also tried to order some samples of beers we were curious about, only to receive a full serving. Despite that, the beer (Hoyne Dark Matter, Dieu Du Ciel Rosee D’Hibiscus, Hilliard’s Chrome Satan) was still good and it seems they improved on their Fast Food Sushi appetizer.

As if that wasn’t enough beer for a lifetime, we had purchased a Groupon earlier in the week for the Vancouver Craft Brew Cruise. Thanks to an additional discount, the originally priced $50 tickets only cost $24 per person. The cruise featured 17 craft breweries and with entry, you got five drink tickets. Each additional ticket was only $1, which is cool with the Sip Advisor. Through my own choices, sharing, and a couple freebies, I managed to try 16 different brews (or at least that’s what I recorded). I gravitated towards options I hadn’t experienced before and there were many available on the boat. My favourites included the Black Kettle IPA, Hoyne Summer Haze, Dageraad Burnabarian, and Phillips Short Wave.

female boat

Following the cruise, we were on the hunt for food and conveniently came across some reps for Central City, who advised us of their new downtown location on Beatty Street. What luck, as they were featuring half price burgers. Our group ordered five different options and all were good. My choice was the Crispy Crunch chicken burger, which was absolutely delicious and paired very nicely with my Steel & Oak Smoked Hef.

As if the week wasn’t busy enough already, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on Tuesday. To commemorate the day, we had dinner at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which was special because that’s also where we stayed on our wedding night! Sadly, Mrs. Sip wasn’t feeling well, but I have largely recovered from a similar cold and ordered their Caliente cocktail, which mixes tequila, smoked serrano peppers, cilantro, and pineapple juice. It was muy bueno!

Next week looks busy again, with a visit to the Pacific National Exhibition and their craft beer fest scheduled for Saturday and one of my favourite events of the year, the Made with Love cocktail competition, on Monday.

Sip Trips #7 – Lover’s Lane

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone and it was a great day for Mrs. Sip and me. We were quick to snap up tickets for Vancouver Brewery Tours “For the Love of the Craft,” which combined breweries, with a distillery and a chocolatier.

One of the drawing features of the tour was that it visited a number of places Mrs. Sip and I had yet to haunt, although we had been meaning to for some time. This included Strange Fellows Brewing and Odd Society Spirits. Other stops included Storm Brewing and Schokolade Café.

With a cost of $83 per person, we were curious to see if the tour value matched the investment. With all transport, two beer flights, numerous chocolate samples, a cocktail, and a free drink voucher include, I’d say it was quite fair. I wish we had been able to taste more of the spirits at Odd Society, rather than receive a Gin & Tonic, but other than that, I was quite satisfied with the itinerary and perks. Ryan, the owner and operator of the company and tour was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful during the trip.

True Love Food

I have no doubt that Strange Fellows (only opened in late 2014) will be one of the city’s biggest craft breweries in due time, as there is much they can do with their expansive property. Storm Brewing, on the other hand, has been around for a long time and is one of the funkiest businesses we’ve ever been in. A combination of rubber rats as mascots and an cornucopia of experimental beer flavours, including the spicy Hot Night in Thailand IPA and Cream Soda Pilsner, has captured the attention of beer drinkers for two decades.

The second half of the tour meant chocolate and spirits, which I’ve learned over my years with Mrs. Sip, are not mutually exclusive! Schokolade had many tasty chocolate varieties and I enjoyed them so much, I snuck away to pick up a box for my valentine. Odd Society has a handful of craft liquors, which as I mentioned above, I still need to try. We did order a cocktail called The Drive, which apparently is comprised of each of their alcohols. It was quite tasty and I’ll have to go back for future liquid libations.

We finished our evening by using our free drink ticket at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar, where I enjoyed a meal that has quickly launched to the top of my favourite burgers list. To wash that deliciousness down, I tried the High Tea beer cocktail, which combined IPA beer, gin, Earl Grey syrup, grapefruit juice, and bitters… a very interesting blend that complemented my awesome sandwich.

Best Burger

Continuing the weekend filled with hitting places we’ve been meaning to visit for some time, Mrs. Sip and I went for a long walk Sunday, in the gorgeous, but unseasonably sunny weather. I mean, this is mid-February! At least the beautiful skies allowed for us to get around to so many stops, sans umbrella or taxi.

Mrs. Sip and I always seem to get lucky when we go on our walkabouts. This time, while en route to Bomber Brewing’s first anniversary celebration, Mrs. Sip spotted its neighbour and newest microbrewery in the city, Off the Rail Brewing, which was enjoying their first day in operation. We only hope that next year, to celebrate their mutual birthdays, they shut down the street for a massive beer-fueled block party!

Dogs Birthday Party

Mrs. Sip and I shared a set of tasters at each location, while enjoying speaking with the friendly staff at Bomber, the new surroundings of Off the Rail, and the jovial atmosphere at both locations. I think Pa Sip, a true train nut, would enjoy Off the Rail, based solely off the name of the company and some of their beer offerings, including the Crazy Train IPA and Derailer Pale Ale.

This outing was capped with a long-awaited visit to Devil’s Elbow Ale House, the occasional home hangout of the CAMRA craft beer group. The bar is an offsite tasting room for Howe Sound Brewery and offers the company’s collection of brews for tastings and true pints, among other menu items, including a beer, bourbon, and bacon trio that I must try.

It was a weekend chock full of beer flights, gluttony, and quality time spent with my love. Really, that’s the way things should always be!