Sip Trips #55: Dirty Dancing

The week that was, was incredibly busy with activities each night of the weekend and Mrs. Sip’s birthday on Tuesday. Things started off with a lot of laughs as we went to The Comedy Mix to see Last Comic Standing winner Iliza Shlesinger do her thing, sharing a bucket of beer over the evening.

Prior to the show, we made a trip to Romer’s Burger Bar for their ongoing Craft Bowl competition. The tournament sees each Romer’s location offering two to three beers for customers to choose their favourite in a blind taste test. The winners move on to the next round, with the ultimate champion crowned Super Bowl weekend.

Bud_Bowl

The cost to play a role in the competition is only $6, which gets you a small sample of each brew, as well as a full serving of the one you choose as your pick. The three beers available for this trip were Strange Fellows Pale Ale, Postmark IPA and Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. I won’t go into too many details on the samples, as each will be featured as part of my BC Beer Baron project.

I will say that I ended up choosing the Postmark IPA, but two of our group went for the Strange Fellows Pale Ale, one went for Driftwood Fat Tug IPA, and one went completely off the board, so our tastes were quite varied. For the one who didn’t like any of the three options, Romer’s was nice enough to give him a sleeve of something else off their menu for his full serving. We will be back for another round of the Craft Bowl!

Moving on, the Dine Out Vancouver Festival (January 15-31) is currently taking over the city and when the event line-up was first released, I excitedly came home with about 10 activities penciled in for further research. Upon seeing the price of some of those proceedings, though, I whittled my list down to one activity: the Winter Beer Hall at Big Rock Urban Brewery, which we attended Saturday.

cat at table eating

For $40, we were treated to a three-course meal, accompanied by five 7 oz. cask beer samples. Big Rock was also responsible for brewing the Dine Out Van Fest Ale (a first for the annual foody festival), which was available at the Winter Beer Hall. The English-Style Brown Ale was joined by beers from some of the region’s top breweries, including Real Cask, Bridge, Doan’s, and Storm (a perennial favourite for Mrs. Sip and me). More on those selections when they come up in the 366-day BC craft beer project.

Once we were finished our meal, Mrs. Sip and I moved to a quieter part of the restaurant and ordered a couple other beverages in Big Rock’s Midnight Rhapsody (which I’ve been wanting to try for a while) and Winter Spice Ale (another choice I’ve been curious about). The night rounded out with visiting friends who live close by and sharing even more sudsy goodness.

Sunday morning, I was invited to watch the Seattle Seahawks game versus the Carolina Panthers at The Pint. While I arrived late, with the Seahawks down 31-0, the second half comeback provided some entertainment, while I enjoyed the pub’s Double Caesar, Rum and Coke and a pint of beer. All items were on special, so it wasn’t too much of a hit to the wallet, as Seattle came up short in their bid for another playoff victory.

football playoffs

The weekend wasn’t over yet, though. For Christmas, I bought Mrs. Sip tickets to the touring production of Dirty Dancing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Prior to the show, we sat down for dinner at Wild Tale, which on Sundays features a five-course lobster dinner for $50-$60. Mrs. Sip and I have become big fans of The Flying Pig chain of restaurants and Wild Tale is a member of that family. When Mrs. Sip heard about the lobster dinner, we made reservations quickly.

The meal began with seafood chowder, followed by mussels, and then a trio of salads (potato, coleslaw and mixed greens). Then, it was main event time, with your choice of one pound of lobster or one and a half pounds for $10 more. The restaurant could only procure the one and a half pound lobsters, so we received the larger size for the smaller price.

lobster delicious with butter

We made our reservation for 5pm, so as to enjoy as much of the restaurant’s 4-6pm happy hour and capitalize on discounted glasses of wine and beers. My Stanley Park Pale Ales paired quite nicely with a number of the dishes, particularly the chowder. Following dinner, it was off to the show, where one might say we had the time of our lives!

There’s never a dull moment at the Sip Advisor Offices and certainly no rest for the wicked. Tonight we will be attending Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse, while this weekend will be spent celebrating Mrs. Sip’s birthday with blind wine tasting and drinks with friends. After all, there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead!

BC Beer Baron #9: Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout

Cousin Sip had one of Storm Brewing’s new refillable bomber bottles and because she’s going through a month of trying not to drink (what an odd concept!), she was practically forced to give the amazing brew to me, before the beer went bad. In my travels, I’ve never seen refillable bombers (growlers and Bostons seem to be the norm), so I hope this is a new trend that will spread across the land.

The Vanilla Whiskey Stout is pretty easy to sum up: it’s spectacular. The beer is strong and flavourful, with a blend of vanilla and whiskey tastes. The smell is also very inviting and we all marvelled over how good it smelled after being trapped in its bottle for as long as it had.

Storm Brewing

For those that have yet to visit Storm Brewing, it should be on every local beer aficionado’s bucket list. When you first enter, though, you might think the brewery has no interest in their customer’s experience. I urge you to push on, my little sippers, and you will meet one of the best staffs in the game. Aside from the people, the beers are amazing and ever-changing, with a list of “Brainstorms” that is updated regularly. I promise you will fall in love with the brewery that features a rat as their mascot.

You won’t find Storm beers at any liquor store, but some selections can be located at bars around BC’s Lower Mainland. The Vanilla Whiskey Stout has quickly become one of my favourites and it’s totally worth the effort of searching high and low for a serving… or convincing you cousin to share the joy!

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.

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 #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!

Sip Trips #4 – Wild Weekend

As we continued the celebration of Mrs. Sip’s birthday, the weekend got off on the right note with a fantastic meal at The Keg in Yaletown. We got a table on their beautiful rooftop patio, which even in January is the place to be for a fun night out.

As per usual, I ordered the Prime Rib Burger, which is routinely one of the finest meals I’ve ever enjoyed. It will forever perplex me that it’s also one of the cheapest items (only $12) on the restaurant’s menu, but let’s keep that our little secret!

Well-Rounded Diet

With the meal, I enjoyed a Kentucky Buck cocktail (Keg-Sized, of course!), which combines bourbon, muddled strawberries, lemon juice and ginger beer, followed by a Manhattan, complete with three ounces of booze! Both drinks were very good and I’d recommend them to anyone, but particularly fans of bourbon.

The next night, we hit one of Vancouver’s newest craft breweries, Steel Toad. The facility is one of the nicest in town, with a top-notch staff of bartenders and servers. While I haven’t found a beer on their menu that blows my mind, they have a growing repertoire of solid choices. The beers I did try this time around, included the Saison Sauvignon, Double Hop Pale Ale, and Berliner Weisse.

While the beer is coming along, I can say without any doubt that they’ve got their food menu nailed down. I really enjoyed the Hawaiian pizza I ordered, while Mrs. Sip swears by the cauliflower beignet, complete with curry mayonnaise that I swiped for my pizza! The hot sauce chicken wings were also pretty good, with the burn subdued by shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey, shaken with ice. One member of the Sip Syndicate is a major proponent of drinking Jameson shots this way and I think he might be onto something.

Whiskey Doctor

Mrs. Sip was working hard last week to provide content for the Out and About articles. She picked up the Steel & Oak/Four Winds collaboration brew, which I’m really looking forward to trying and I’m surprised it has survived this long in our fridge. I’ll have more on the Gratzer, when we finally crack it open.

She also booked us on the Vancouver Brewery Tours Beer, Chocolate and Spirits Tour for Valentine’s Day. With stops at a few places we’ve been meaning to visit, such as Strange Fellowes Brewing, Odd Society Spirits, and Storm Brewing, this excursion will provide a wonderful way to spend the big day with the one I love… oh, and Mrs. Sip will be there too!

In pseudo-alcohol news, it was recently reported that a high speed rail line connecting Vancouver and Portland may be in the works, proposed by Cascadia High Speed Rail company. The train would connect the two cities in under two hours and would be a craft beer lovers dream. It would cost billions of dollars to construct and is many years away from ever being realized, but we can hope, right!