BC Beer Baron #44 – Phillip’s Longboat Chocolate Porter

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. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this month’s feature week will look at beers of a chocolate nature, perfect to celebrate the occasion.

Phillips Brewing is popular amongst craft beer aficionados both on Vancouver Island and the mainland and they have another winner on their hands here.

The Longboat Chocolate Porter is smooth and flavourful. The beer hits you with chocolate first and then finishes with the traditional coffee aftertaste that porters are known for.

Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter

The brewery believes (and the Sip Advisor agrees) that one of the world’s classic historical pairings is that of chocolate and beer. Phillips goes so far as to associate their beer with the duos of “Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, Super Dave Osborne and Mr. Fuji, cheddar cheese and pickles, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Mork and Mindy, [and] Bonnie and Clyde!”

The smallest size the Longboat comes in is as a bomber because “341 mL just isn’t enough!” Suggested pairings for the brew are with vanilla ice cream and chocolate. Phillips also provides a few recipes using the Longboat Chocolate Porter, which customers can try. These include, Funky Gingerbread Cakes and Hammer Brownies.

I’ve managed to get over to Phillips on a couple occasions for growler fills (in fact, the Sip Advisor’s first growler ever was from Phillips – a nice souvenir from a weekend jaunt to Victoria) and tastings. Sadly, our most recent visits to the island have been too short to fit in a stop, but we honour the brewery from home, when we can.

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Sip Trips #56: Tapping and Tasting

While many would hesitate to be out at an all-inclusive beer and cider event on a Thursday evening (especially one where you’re supposed to play Urban Rec volleyball that same night), that’s not a theory Mrs. Sip and I follow. Rather, along with members of the Sip Alliance, we checked out Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse.

I probably would have balked at the event’s $66 regular entrance fee; however, when the activity came up on Groupon for $30, it was a pretty easy decision to make. For the price, we had unlimited access to all vendors and a souvenir tasting glass (which Mrs. Sip and I have a growing collection of). We did find it odd that this event would be taking place on a Thursday, rather than over the weekend, but the old “it’s for charity” argument won out.

Donate-A-Quarter-To-Charity

The breweries and cideries featured at the gala included: Black Kettle, Parallel 49, Bomber, Driftwood, Howe Sound, Lonetree Cider, Phillips, Whistler, and Russell. To be honest, I think the $30 entrance is just barely justifiable and I feel for anyone who paid the full price. There was absolutely no food – save for one food cart outside – and some beer vendors only brought one option with them, while others gave half pours, even though the event was all-inclusive (ie. fill my damn glass, homey!).

The MVP of the night would have to be Black Kettle Brewing, which had numerous bombers of three different beers and never went stingy with their pouring. Whistler Brewing would have ranked highly too, but their selections were from the brewery’s Winter Party Pack, which I had just purchased days before. I can’t fault them for that… or can I!?

I have to say that I’ve enjoyed both booze events I’ve attended at the Yaletown Roundhouse, having also relished the 2014 Made with Love cocktail competition hosted there. It’s a fun venue and its close proximity to the Sip Advisor offices is much appreciated. Too bad volleyball at the Richmond Olympic Oval didn’t go nearly as well as Tapped Vancouver!

Volleyball Balloon

On Saturday, to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s recent birthday, we put together our own blind wine tasting. Each couple was tasked with bringing a bottle of wine (white or red), which would be concealed in a BC Liquor Store paper bag. Then, the group would sample at will until notes and scores had been entered on each selection, before the final reveal.

We ended up with five whites and three reds, which I think was the perfect balance. My favourite bottle of the tasting was the Pinotage Mrs. Sip and I brought home from South Africa’s Groot Constantia winery. The overall winner was Cappo Shiraz, which Mrs. Sip’s parents won in a raffle through their curling association, of all places.

Wine Tasting Today

The event was a lot of fun for all and gave typically white drinkers a chance to try some reds. If you have a wine lover in your close circle, I suggest doing this for a birthday event. They will love the effort you put into it, as well as getting everyone together to celebrate.

That about wraps January up for the ol’ Sip Advisor and it’s been one hell of a month. When you have a brewery complimenting ‘how you weekend’, you know you’re doing well! Next month doesn’t let up however, as we have a bunch of great activities already lined up, such as the Science of Cocktails and the Family Day long weekend will no doubt include some sort of hijinks!

BC Beer Baron #28 – Phillips Phoenix Gold Lager

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. For the opening month of this project, I wanted to look at some of the flagship and original offerings from breweries around the province.

The Phoenix Gold Lager literally rose from the ashes, as a collection of the bottles was rediscovered in 2003, two years after Phillips began making beers. It’s a solid brew that the brewery suggest pairing with spicy Asian foods, seafood, and medium cheeses.

Phillips Phoenix Lager

Originally located in Esquimalt, B.C., Phillips began creating beers in 2001. I love the story behind Phillips and if you visit the brewery’s website, you can read a poetic version of the tale. To sum up here, though, brewer Matt Phillips risked his financial future on the success of the brewery, maxing out numerous credit cards (no bank would give him a loan) in order to get the operation up and running.

Obviously, things worked out, as the brewery moved into their current facility, in Victoria, in 2008 and are regarded as one of the province’s most popular brewing companies. For example, their Blue Buck Pale Ale (which will eventually be featured as part of the BC Beer Baron project) has often been credited for successfully introducing drinkers to craft beer.

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

Sip Trips #49: Amazing Advent (Part 4)

Mrs. Sip has advised me that as we enter the second half of the craft beer advent calendar, some of her selections aren’t based on the beer having a winter or Christmas theme, but being intriguing brew styles that she knew I’d enjoy trying. So, let’s get right down to it!

Day 11: Hale’s Ales India Session Ale

Coming to you live from Seattle, this fall seasonal was a really awesome beer with hops that didn’t completely blow you away, but were prevalent enough to really be relished. At only 4.7%, this has been one of the lighter beers to come from the advent calendar, but that’s another fine change to have as the month progresses. This is the first beer I’ve had from the Washington company, but it advertises itself as the Northwest’s longest running independently owned brewery. I’ll have to find more selections.

Hale's Ales ISA

Day 12: Parallel 49 Sahti Claus Finnish Sahti

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Finnish Sahti style beer, but if they’re anything like Parallel 49’s version, it’s a pretty good variety. Traditionally, Sahtis are characterized by the flavor of juniper berries, sometimes used instead of hops. Apparently, Parallel 49 first released this beer in 2013 and it has somehow slipped under my radar these past few years. Like Phillips Brewing, Parallel 49 has some really unique labels and this is among them, featuring what can best be described as a European Santa Claus/bigfoot cross.

Parallel 49 Sahti Claws

Day 13: Phillips Thorny Horn Sour Raspberry Brown Ale

Speaking of Phillips, the Victoria brewery makes a second appearance in the advent calendar, thanks to another variety that I’ve never come across before. In recent times, I’ve enjoyed some really good brown ales and the addition of sour raspberry had me salivating after pulling this bottle from the calendar. I think the brown style ale gave the sour raspberries a perfect balance and this beer went down very easy. This may be one of the brewery’s tamest labels to date, though.

Phillips Thorny Horn

Day 14: 4 Mile Sweet Potato Harvest Spiced Ale

This was another very unique brew that had me excited from the moment it was revealed. I’m very impressed with Mrs. Sip’s choices for the advent calendar and her pushing me to experiment with many of these beers. After previously enjoying 4 Mile’s English Strong Ale, this brew had a fair bit to live up to and while it wasn’t as good as the Strong Ale, I still liked it. After looking more into 4 Mile’s seasonal brews, I’m looking forward to trying their Prickly Pear Cactus Wheat Ale and Tangerine Dream Ale, due out this spring.

4-Mile-sweet-potato-harvest-spiced-ale

I’m kind of sad to be halfway through the craft beer advent calendar, having really enjoyed it being part of my late evenings, revealing the next brew shortly after the clock turns over to start a new day. Mrs. Sip may have created her own monster here!

Sip Trips #47: Amazing Advent (Part 2)

With my awesome craft beer advent calendar continuing strongly, Mrs. Sip has suggested I profile the beers more frequently than the usual once-per-week format that the Sip Trips articles usually take. Therefore, I’ll be posting after every four beers or so. Let’s get the fun underway!

Day 3: Bridge Brewing The Grinch Winter Ale

I tried a sample of this beer at the recent Hopscotch Festival Grand Tasting Hall and enjoyed it, so I was happy to find a full-size serving amongst my advent calendar selections. Much like the famous Dr. Seuss story, this beer will make your heart grow three sizes (and no, that doesn’t mean you’ll be in need of emergency services) and change your tune from a Grinch into a Christmas lover and hero. If you go to the Bridge Brewing Seasonal Beers page and find this release, you will be treated to a great Seussian poem about The Grinch beer.

Bridge Brewing The Grinch

Day 4: Anderson Valley Brother David’s Double Abbey Ale

From Boonville, California, Mrs. Sip grabbed this beer because their logo of a bear with antlers gave her the impression that it was a Christmas-themed release. And while the mascot is very cute, we’ve since discovered that the bear (antlers and all) graces all Anderson Valley products. The beer’s label states that the Double Abbey Ale “may be the closest you’ll ever get to heaven on earth” and that “it is sure to raise your spirits!” This brew is currently my favourite from the advent calendar and it’s no surprise it won a gold medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.

BrotherDavidDoubleAbbeyAle

Day 5: Townsite Biere d’Hiver

Biere d’Hiver roughly translates to Beer of Winter and features prune and plum essences, which is quite unique. As the bottle states: “The sugar plum fairy swings into the brewery on a zunga, bringing with her a delicious Belgian dubbel, full of spicy, plummy flavours.” This is the first beer I’ve had from the Powell River brewery and it’s a good place to start, given it won third place for strong beers at the 2013 BC Beer Awards and the same rank in the Belgian Style Abbey Ale category at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. It’s suggested that you can age this beer for up to five years before consuming.

Townsite Biere d’Hiver

Day 6: Phillips Scarfface Cranberry Orange Wit

Given the winter beer season is largely comprised of dark, heavier brews, it was very refreshing to pull this selection from the advent calendar. When I was looking into BC winter and Christmas beers recently, I couldn’t find any entries from the Phillips Brewery, but Mrs. Sip was able to. Phillips has always had fantastic labels for their beers and this one is no different, featuring a nefarious figure with orange head, festive fedora and scarf, and candy cane weapon. The beer pours an orange, almost pink hue and you can really taste the citrus, with cranberry coming through in the brew’s tart finish.

Scarfface-Cranberry-Orange-Wit

This advent calendar has been a lot of fun so far and we’re not even through the first full week. Please continue to join us as we run the gamut!

 

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.

anticlimatic

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 #23: Cannon Ball

Vancouver Craft Beer Week has come and gone, wrapping up with a two-day festival on the PNE grounds. Mrs. Sip and I originally had plans to attend this event, featuring over 100 breweries, but decided, in the end, that sitting poolside on the gorgeous weekend and hosting our own beer bash with friends was more ideal.

pass-me-a-beer

From years past, I had heard of the festival being too crowded, with long lines and companies running out of their supplies. That said, everyone I have talked to this year, enjoyed it. Personally, I’m still hesitant to pay $35-$40 for any of these festivals where you get minimal to zero tasting tickets or tokens (in fact, the VCBW event gave you only admission and a taster glass… hell, I already have a full set of those from other activities during the week) and you still have to buy all of your samples on top of the entry fee.

In preparation for our pool time, Mrs. Sip and I hit the Central City Brewery in Surrey. There, we filled up a growler of their India Style Red Ale and grabbed some other bombers, including the Maple Bacon Ale and a Belgian Tripel, which was part of the brewery’s Hobbit series of releases. I also just learned that the company will be opening up a new brew pub, mere blocks away from the Sip Advisor’s home in downtown Vancouver, proving good things come to those that wait!

All of our friends who visited over Friday and Saturday brought their A-game and my parents’ fridges were crammed full of awesome beers and other treats. I particularly enjoyed the 33 Acres of Sunshine French Blanche that was left behind. The whole weekend has me thinking that a poolside beer festival is something I should coordinate for the future, becoming a legend and icon in the industry. All I need to do is make sure I have plenty of lifeguards on hand!

lifeguard on beer break

On Sunday, we ventured into the bush (translation: the suburbs of Vancouver) for some local winery visits. The tour was put together to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s mother’s birthday, and included stops at Backyard Vineyards (where Mrs. Sip is a member and had her spring shipment of wines to pick up) and Township 7 Winery. It was a relaxing and fun afternoon, even with your faithful Sip Advisor playing the rare role of designated driver. Sometimes, you just draw the short stick!

Following work on Monday, Mrs. Sip and I were off to Victoria (aka Vancouver Island) for her sister’s university graduation the next day. Upon arriving, we quickly made a jaunt to the Moon Under Water Brewpub to fill a couple growlers of their delicious beer. We ordered the This is Hefeweizen and Creepy Uncle Dunkel, which paired well with our late night snack and relaxing. I only wish we had more time to enjoy all of Victoria’s fantastic breweries.

graduation thanks

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s big achievement, we made reservations for Afternoon Tea at the infamous Empress Hotel. While the occasion offered a different kind of sipping than the Sip Advisor is accustomed to, the experience deserves mention in this week’s post. The finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, and even tea, were all exquisite and the bucket list-level event is something we will each remember for years to come.

Back on the mainland, we wrapped the week up with a visit to Craft Beer Market to meet a friend. The visit was fruitful in that we got to try the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale that vaulted to the top of my “to try” list, as well as the Yellow Dog Stick Toss Cranberry Saison and Phillips Electric Unicorn White IPA. All three were good, with the Killer Cucumber being my pick of the night, thanks to a subtle and refreshing cucumber flavour. Talk about taking advantage of the joint’s $5 B.C. beer special!