BC Beer Baron #102 – Russell Punch Bowl IPA

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. It may have taken some time, but IPA’s now rank among my favourite styles of beer. Let’s take a look at some of the best BC has to offer, among this acquired taste.

While researching which beers to feature as part of IPA week, I began licking my chops when I came across this Russell Brewing option. And that was before I learned it was a gold medal winner at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards, in the American Style IPA category.

The Punch Bowl IPA takes flavours such as stone fruit, berries, and melon and hops them up for a perfect blend of beer goodness. Part of the brewery’s Specialty Series, this Northwest IPA has all the right stats in all the right places, with a 6.5% ABV and 65 IBUs.

Russell Punch Bowl IPA

Russell has some interesting logic that went into the creation of this beer, writing: “India Pale Ale was a beer created to make the trip from England to India, Punch was a fruit drink introduced to England from India. So as tribute to full flavoured beer and to party drinks that can be spiked, may we present the Punch Bowl!”

On top of the typical 650ml bomber format, the Punch Bowl IPA has just been released in new 341ml bottled six-packs, available at BC Liquor Stores and other private locations. If you’re big into India Pale Ales (and who isn’t!), Russell also has the IP’eh!, which is about as Canadian as you can get with a beer.

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BC Beer Baron #35 – Russell Farm Fresh IPA

Located in Surrey, Russell Brewing is a larger operation than most craft breweries. I’ve enjoyed a few of their products before, so was eager to try this beer when the opportunity arose.

The Farm Fresh IPA uses Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops from Chilliwack Hop Farms. I had never tried or even seen this beer, prior to coming across it at Tapped Vancouver last month. Apparently, it is part of the brewery’s Specialty Series, which means it’s a limited release. The Specialty Series also features one of the Sip Advisor’s favourite brews, the Smokey the Beer Rauchbier.

Russell Farm Fresh IPA

As for the IPA, I found it to be pretty typical. That’s not to say it was bad or anything. It just didn’t wow me as I hoped it might. Given I only received a half-size tasting glass serving from the chintzy pourer at the Russell/Driftwood booth, I should probably still give the bomber a fair shot before completely moving away from this IPA. The beer has a 6.5% ABV and 48 IBU, which all seem like pretty fair numbers.

I wish the Russell establishment had a tasting room, but that is currently not the case. The brewery is located close enough to Ma and Pa Sip’s home that visiting would be a cinch. Apparently one is in development, but it can’t come soon enough!

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

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!

Sip Trips #32: Boats, Baseball, and Beer

Wow, this weekend was so insanely busy that I can only mention in passing that Mrs. Sip brought back from Las Vegas bottles of Viniq Ruby Liqueur and Bacardi Arctic Grape Rum (a future Flavour Revolution feature). Let’s get on to the meat and potatoes of this wrap up, which includes a voyage to Galiano Island for their Beer and Wine Festival and a Vancouver Canadians baseball game sandwiched by two Main Street bars!

We left for Galiano very early on Saturday, in order to make sure we made it to the festival on time, as the later ferry of the day didn’t jive with the event. For $45, we had all-inclusive access to about 15 breweries and wineries, while volunteers served finger foods to the attendees. Each guest also received a wine and beer glass with their entry.

finger food

The lineup of breweries and wineries attending were a nice mix of ones I have tried and enjoyed and others I was experiencing for the first time. I didn’t really do the wine stops, except for getting a tasting pour of the Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon, in order to justify holding a wine glass most of the day. I hope in future years, that some more craft distilleries from around the province join in on the island fun.

My favourite beers of the festival were the Lighthouse Race Rocks Ale, Yukon Amber Ale, and Bomber Passionfruit Ale, of which I spent the last chunk of the event running around getting refills. Most companies brought just enough stock to last the duration of the festival and very few tents shutdown shop early.

One thing I noted, as a festival strategy, was that the wine booths had massive lineups, while the beer booths usually had none at all. What we found, was that people going for the wine would stay at the front, trying each of the companies offerings before moving on – and there could be a lot – while for beers, people would get a pour, walk away and enjoy, then return for the next option.

queue spelling

Upon returning to the mainland and not ready to let the party stop early, we hit the liquor store and picked up mixed cases of Lighthouse and Vancouver Island beers. Mrs. Sip also grabbed a bomber of Driftwood White Bark Wit, while I snagged the Russell Smokey the Beer.

The next day, we were back home, but only to head out again and meet some of our fellow CAMRA members at The Main on Main Street, prior to our Vancouver Canadians baseball game. There, I ordered pints of Hoyne Dark Matter and 33 Acres of Life, which were both very enjoyable, as we met new people.

While the Canadians lost the game, we scored a major win with the overall experience. The organization has made great strides to include craft beer in their stadium, even building a ‘Craft Corner,’ with five rotating taps, which we were conveniently seated near. Together, Mrs. Sip and I went through four of the five beers, which included Big Rock Citradelic IPA, Howe Sound You’re My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat Ale, Bomber Passionfruit Ale, Steamworks Pilsner, and Whistler Grapefruit Ale (the only brew we neglected). These paired nicely with our ballpark snacks of popcorn and a foot-long hot dog. Apparently, aside from Whistler Brewery (a prime sponsor of the Canadians), the breweries serving draft changes regularly.

baseball thoughts

Following the game, we met up with a friend at Portland Craft, which I’ve wanted to visit for some time. Every once in a while, despite the abundance of options on the B.C. market, I thirst for something I can’t typically find, and this outlet, which largely features brews from the Portland region, was perfect for providing some new blood into my system.

I was hoping for a bit more variety from the bar (there weren’t many typical summer options available), but they did offer 16 beers on tap and others in bottle. I enjoyed two IPAs, the Alameda Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA and the Worthy IPA, both of which I would order again.

We also had events at Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club and a birthday boat trip through Vancouver’s beautiful harbour on Accent Cruises, which I just can’t get into without making this article super long. The busy schedule doesn’t let up this weekend, as we’re off to Disneyland, where drinking has become a large part of the park routine!

Sip Trips #28: Tipsy Taste

This week’s main event was Tip N’ Taste in Langley, which has become one of my favourite events on the drinking calendar. Mrs. Sip and I first attended the beer bash in 2008 and have enjoyed watching it evolve over the years.

The event cost $30, but with that, you got five drink tickets (which you can usually stretch into more samples) and five food tickets. This is a far better deal than some events I’ve seen recently where you’d pay a similar fee and that only covered your entry. While I’m not the biggest fan of tokens/tickets and prefer an all-inclusive vibe, I have to hand it to the organizers of Tip N’ Taste for at least giving attendees fair value.

Drink Ticket

Prior to Friday, I had mapped out a bit of a game plan going into the festival, including breweries that had beers I wanted to try and breweries that were new to me. As you’ll see below, I did pretty well for myself over the course of a couple hours.

My first stop of the evening was Coal Harbour Brewing, which was featuring a few beers that looked neat. I tried their Woodland Witbier, followed by their Smoke and Mirrors Smoked Ale, which I was particularly fond of and went back for later, although by then they were out.

Next up was one of my favourite visits of the night, where I had a long chat with the guys from Big River Brewing, while sampling each of their four available beers: Acid Trip Sour Wheat, Sidewheeler Blonde Ale, Belgium, and Red Bretty IPA. The Acid Trip was my favourite of the bunch.

Acid Trips

Finally moving on, I enjoyed a pair of wheat beers, first from Black Kettle Brewing and followed by Howe Sound Brewing, which was serving up a Blueberry Wheat I had marked on my ‘To Do’ list from my initial walk around the convention floor.

At this point in the evening, it was time to switch things up and go to some darker brews, in order to fend off palate fatigue. I started with the Old Yale Sasquatch Stout and followed that with the Cannery Blackberry Porter (which had always caught my eye in liquor stores, but I had never picked up). I wrapped up my visit to this section of the room with the Mt. Begbie Nasty Habit IPA, which was another good pick.

Earlier in the night, I had made note of the only spirit table at Tip N’ Taste, which was serving up De La Tierre Maple Liqueur Tequila. It was a very interesting blend, which went down easier than most other tequilas and would probably make for some fun cocktails.

tequila night

Going back to beer, I snagged a sample of Mission Springs Chinook ISA and then went to visit my alma mater, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which has recently launched a diploma program in Brewing and Brewery Operations. They were featuring a Golden Ale, one of the first releases to come from the new course.

I finished the evening with a couple quick hits, trying to get rid of my final drink tickets. I’ve enjoyed a few Russell Brewing products lately and made a stop by their table to try their Blood Alley Bitter, which I’d somehow never tried before, despite being a staple of their lineup. My last beverage was the Lighthouse Tasman Pale Ale, which was guzzled quickly as event organizers tried to clear the room of happy drinkers.

Happy Drunk Cat

As for food, there were some really good offerings at the event. Earl’s had a chicken taco, while Original Joe’s gave you a pair of pulled pork sliders, and Me N’ Ed’s came through with some delicious slices of pizza!

All in all, this was another successful Tip N’ Taste for the Sip Advisor. Next week, I’ll outline our weekend camping trip to Golden Ears Provincial Park, which is always preceded by a thorough liquor shopping trip!

Sip Trips #26: Canadian Celebration

While Mrs. Sip is away, the Sip Advisor mouse will play and that was certainly the case this past weekend. With Canada Day occurring mid-week, the partying stretched on… although, that’s not a lot different than if Mrs. Sip had been around the whole time. She is definitely missed around the offices here!

Canada Day

On my way out to Ma and Pa Sip’s place in Delta on Saturday, I stopped by Four Winds Brewing to see what was new at my hometown brewery. They have expanded since I last visited a couple years back and had a number of interesting beers on tap. I decided to sit down to a set of tasters, including their Saison, Grisette, Passionfruit Berlinerweisse, and Nectarous. The Nectarous was the reason for my trip out there, as I was informed of the limited release by a friend, and decided I wanted to add a bottle to my burgeoning brew collection.

The rest of the day was spent in gluttonous splendor, as the Sip Advisor ate and drank to his heart’s content. Cousin Sip brought over Granville Island Brewery’s summer mixed pack, while I tapped into a collection of ales, highlighted by my Russell Smokey the Beer, which was smoky and delicious. To be honest, I probably should have saved it for a time when I was more appreciative of what was going into my system, but it was the right beer at the right time.

As the next day left me kind of lonely and with the weather changing for the worse, I decided to run a couple errands and that always includes a stop at the liquor store. Here, I grabbed a six-pack of the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale, as well as bombers of Lighthouse Jackline Rhubarb Grisette and Elysian Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale. I’ve gone through most of the Cucumber pack and think I prefer the brew on tap, but have yet to crack open either of the bombers.

errands to run

For dinner Monday night, Ma and Pa Sip accompanied me to the Yaletown Brewery, where I enjoyed their chicken schnitzel sandwich, along with a Shangri La Saison. The strong beer (6.8%) went well with my meal and was a good beverage choice, given the recent heatwave in B.C.

Back in April, I wrote about coming across the Viniq Shimmery Liqueur and how it was one of the most amazing spirit products I’ve ever seen. It’s so cool, that Mrs. Sip was once showing it off to a friend and he was so mesmerized that he forgot to stop pouring the beer he was emptying and it spilled all over the place. Well, the company has now added a Ruby version to their line-up and I noticed that they have a bunch of great recipes available for each variation. Now, we just have to stop admiring the bottle and open it up!

Sip Trips #25: HOME!

Well, this last week brought some good news and some bad news. On the good side, Mrs. Sip and I were finally able to move back into our place, seven weeks after our kitchen sink suffered a burst pipe and a small flood ruined our apartment. On the bad side, Mrs. Sip left for a European vacation before this even happened, so the Sip Advisor was left to deal with the whole return by himself. At least I have sweet lady liquor as a companion and coping mechanism!

The evening before moving back in, Ma Sip and I shared a few appetizers at The Union. Although Mrs. Sip and I had lived right above this restaurant during our exile from home, we had never managed to actually eat there. The place features an Asian-fusion type menu, such as spring rolls, Thai chicken wings, and sweet and sour pork tacos. To wash it all down, I ordered a pint of their rotating tap, the Persephone Rum Runner Red Ale. It was a very enjoyable beer, so I’m glad I lucked upon the menu item.

Chinese Food

The next night, to show I had no favouritism to one parent over the other, I sat down to dinner with Pa Sip at one of the many Cactus Club locations. Over a delicious burger, I had sleeves of both the Ugly Wheat Ale and Pemberton Pilsner. Both beers went down easy, but I can’t say that either overly wowed me. Maybe that’s because I was enjoying my meal so much.

Long a fan of wheat beers, this weekend I picked up the recently released Okanagan Springs Hefeweizen Pack, featuring Sonder (banana-clove), Ginger, and Lime variations. Of the three, I think I liked the Lime option best, as it just goes so naturally with a wheat beer and especially when you’re drinking outside, in the sun and poolside at Ma and Pa Sip’s place.

Since the weekend, I was itching to get back on my bike and do some touring. On Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity and made my way over to the Granville Island Brewery, which has launched a few new releases recently that I wanted to try. I ordered a set of tasters that included the Two Tides ISA and Shipload of Hops Imperial IPA, as well as a couple old favourites in the False Creek Raspberry Ale and Hey Day Hefeweizen. I liked all four beers, with each bringing something new to the game, as I rotated around the set. Unfortunately, GIB’s Kellerbier was only available for growler fill, so I’ll have to try that another time.

bike crash

After leaving the island and en route to returning home (still feels weird to say after seven weeks out of our apartment), I made a pit stop at Legacy Liquor Store to see what was new in stock. There, I grabbed the Parallel 49 Apricotopus – an apricot-flavoured sour saison – and Russell Smokey the Beer rauchbier. I love my wheat and smoky brews, so I’m looking forward to trying both these offerings.

I’ll wrap things up this week with a quick product review: A few months back, Ma Sip bought me a bag of Guinness potato chips and they were amazing. Recently, she tracked down their Rich Beef Chilli variety and gifted me a bag. These were also quite enjoyable with a strong taste of chilli meat, mixed with the Guinness stout flavouring. It was a hit with this chippy monster. I just wish the Guinness products came in bigger bags!