BC Beer Baron #32 – Steel & Oak Tortuga Wild Ale

If you had told me at the start of this 366-days of BC craft beer project that February would hit and I still wouldn’t have covered Steel & Oak Brewing (one of my and Mrs. Sip’s preferred breweries), I would have told you to lay off the sauce… and leave it for the Sip Advisor. That’s just a testament to all the good beer out there in this province.

The Tortuga Wild Ale is a special release, as part of Steel & Oak’s Oak-Aged Series. This brew was aged a full year in Caribbean rum barrels and then given a second fermentation to add notes of sour cherry. I’m not very familiar with wild ales and although I’m not a huge fan of sour beers, I did enjoy this beverage. The Tortuga has a strong rum finish following tart sour cherry beginnings and something about the combination of those two elements really worked for me.

Steel & Oak Tortuga Wild Ale

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

This wasn’t really for her. She liked how the beer was strong (7.3% ABV), being a Belgian Dubbel and Tripel fan (are there Beligan Singels?), but didn’t really enjoy the sour tastes. She would gravitate towards other Steel & Oak products.

Tortuga, of course, is an island in the Caribbean – belonging to Haiti to be exact – which was an epicenter of pirate activity in the 1600’s, including being heavily referenced in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. And where there are pirates, there will also be rum. For what it’s worth, a direct translation of the term means turtle or tortoise. The more you know [rainbow swipe]!

It may have taken us a while to get to our first beer from Steel & Oak, but it certainly won’t be our last… especially with a bottle of the company’s Smoked Dunkelweizen sitting in my fridge!

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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 #27: Calm Before the Storm

Well, there wasn’t a whole lot going on this last week, but that will change this weekend, with the annual Tip N’ Taste in Langley, as well as Mrs. Sip’s return from Europe on Monday. I better enjoy that last weekend of laziness!

Of course, that’s not to say that the week was absent of drinking. What a foolish conclusion you had come to, my little sippers. With the various beverages, I tried a bunch of new products, starting with a couple of the wines Ma and Pa Sip recently picked up while touring the Naramata Wine Region. These included the Monster Rose Bubbly and Deep Roots Gamay, both of which were quite enjoyable.

wine with more wine

I also managed to do a little shopping here and there, picking up a bottle of Old Yale Mango Wheat, which I’m looking forward to trying, and one of my favourites from last summer: Steel & Oak’s Smoked Hefeweizen.

The Smoked Hef was my contribution to dinner with Cousin Sip, where we also worked our way through Mill Street Brewery’s summer seasonal mixed pack, including their Lemon Tea, Amber Lager, Ginger Cat, Tankhouse Ale, Summer Ale, and Organic Lager beers. Along with that, we also drank Bomber’s Passion Fruit Ale and Tree’s Vertical Winter Ale. You might think it odd to enjoy winter ale during the height of summer, but you can’t argue with flavour.

Ice Cream Hot Chocolate

I picked up the Smoked Hef at the Viti Beer and Wine Store in Vancouver. Their prices are a little higher than other places around town, but not too extreme. Plus, they have a selection of some items that you just can’t find anywhere else. I did find the Rogue Sriracha Stout there, which I’ve been trying to track down for a while. Sadly, it came at a price of nearly $20, although it is a 750ml bottle. I might just have to take the splash eventually.

That’s about it for now. I will be live tweeting and instagraming from Tip N’ Taste on Friday, so if you’d like to join the Sip Advisor’s public debauchery, click the links above to check out my various accounts. I will also have a wrap up of the event for next week’s Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #5 – Cask Comforts

No need for a lengthy lead up, let’s cut right to the chase. The big outing this week for the Sip Advisor was attending Yaletown Brewery’s Caskival 2015 event on Saturday. The event featured 13 cask IPAs, from 13 different craft breweries around the region.

For $25, each person received a punch card for the 13 casks and then it was time to travel around and get your IPA on! Beers were provided by Whistler BrewHouse, 33 Acres, Brassneck, Red Truck, Yellow Dog, Moody Ales, Bomber, Bridge, Deep Cove, Steel & Oak, Yaletown Brewery, Big Ridge, and Parallel 49.

IPAs

After about half our cards were punched out, we were in need of some eats, which we found at The Distillery, next door. With beers at a minimum of 5.5% and most in the 7% range (maxing out with the Parallel 49 Toques of Hazard 9.2% offering) we were all flying pretty high by the end of the event. Still, my punch card was fully used… a grand achievement!

I’ve really been getting into IPAs over the last year and many of these were very good. I found that I’m not really into dark IPAs, such as Bridge Brewing’s Black Rye IPA. If I had to choose a favourite among the bunch, it would have been Red Truck’s Citrus IPA, which blends lemon, lime, and orange juices together with your typical heavy hops.

That evening, I was part host to a birthday celebration for Mrs. Sip and I used my legendary skills to defend the title ‘King of Mojitos,’ which I bestowed upon myself many years ago. Raspberries, blackberries, limes, and mint were flying around everywhere. I think I even wound up with some fruit in my hair!

Mojito Dog

To celebrate the end of the work week, Mrs. Sip and I finally cracked open the Steel & Oak/Four Winds Gratzer collaboration I mentioned last week and the dark, smoked sour brew came exactly as advertised. It’s a lighter beer, at only 4%, but tastes really good and goes down easy. I wish we had more in the fridge!

In new product releases, I stumbled upon Schweppes Dark Ginger Ale the other day. While I didn’t pick it up, I’m very curious, given my affinity for ginger ale, as a cocktail mixer. And here I always thought ginger ale was already quite dark, especially compared to lemon-lime sodas. This may be a rare item to hit Canadian markets first.

The biggest liquor news of the week may have been Budweiser’s anti-craft beer ad, which aired during the Super Bowl. It broke the internet, as far as fans of micro-breweries are concerned and many of them immediately backlashed against the campaign. Jim Vorel of Paste Magazine, perfectly attacked the attack ad, most notably pointing out that Budweiser slammed a beer flavour that is made by a brewery they recently acquired. What a bunch of mooks!