Sip Trips #145: Hop Pursuit

A couple weekends back, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends at their family cabin in Birch Bay, Washington for a little getaway. To keep hydrated, I bought both the Hale’s Brewing mixed six-pack (Ale, IPA and Weizen) and the 21st Amendment Brewing Variety Pack (Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale, Blah Blah Blah Imperial IPA, Brew Free or Die Blood Orange IPA, Brew Free or Die IPA, Down to Earth Session IPA). Both were good, with the 21st Amendment case definitely being geared towards hopheads.

With only a couple months left to achieve my goal of getting Baby Sip to 52 breweries before her first birthday (one for each week of her life), we popped into Four Winds Brewing on Monday, joined by Cousin Sip. I had glasses of their Velo Pale Ale and Operis Brett Saison. This is my hometown brewery, so it was nice to finally get Baby Sip there and the beverages were pretty good, to boot.

Trip-To-Hometown.jpg

The next day, I tagged along with Ma and Pa Sip for a shopping trip in Washington. We ate lunch at Bellingham’s Chuckanut Brewing, where I enjoyed a delicious BLT and glass of their Willis Helles Lager. The sandwich was good and the beer decent. I love that craft breweries in Bellingham that also offer food have Tim’s Potato Chips as a side dish.

Keeping the streak going, on Wednesday, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and I visited Strange Fellows Brewing, pushing our brewery tally up to 42 with eight weeks left in our pursuit. At Strange Fellows, I had the Guardian White IPA, which was very refreshing. The girls selected the El Jefe Wheat Ale and liked it.

Wheat Smoothie

As for drinking at home, I recently grabbed Vancouver Island Brewing’s Summer Outpost Mix Pack, containing their Juan de Fuca Cerveza, Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Ukidama Lychee Saison, and Broken Islands Hazy IPA. I really enjoyed this collection, particularly the Helles and Hazy IPA.

The upcoming long weekend has a few items on the docket and then we’re off to Halifax, Nova Scotia to explore some east coast breweries. We have two weddings to attend during this time, so there will be plenty of drinking and celebrating on the horizon!

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BC Beer Baron #164 – Parallel 49/Strange Fellows People Are Strange Hoppy Saison

For the second consecutive year, Parallel 49 Brewing has joined forces with 12 different BC craft breweries to release a package of unique beers, dubbed Brews Brothers Volume 2. The Sip Advisor figured spending the first chunk of June reviewing these releases would be a great idea. So, let’s get on with things.

We wrap up our Brews Brothers odyssey with this collaboration featuring Strange Fellows Brewing. These two East Vancouver neighbours are among the most popular spots in the city for craft beer lovers and their coming together is something I was eager to try.

Parallel 49 & Strange Fellows People Are Strange Hoppy Saison

The People Are Strange Hoppy Saison didn’t disappoint and was a bit of an exclamation point of this amazing pack of beers. I’ve already declared that this will be the summer of saisons for the Sip Advisor (having previously enjoyed the summer of IPAs in 2014 and the summer of stouts in 2015) and I’m glad this 6.5% ABV beverage was part of that. One note: the taste kind of reminded me of those coloured marshmallow eggs you get around Easter.

Each beer is named after a classic rock song and People Are Strange by The Doors was a perfect selection given Strange Fellows is the partner brewery involved. While not the band’s greatest hit, this track is a great example of The Doors psychedelic rock style, which made them standout in the industry.

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BC Beer Baron #152 – Steel & Oak/Strange Fellows Tu Meke Saison

While heading out to join Mrs. Sip and company at her office for happy hour last Friday, I decided to grab a couple growlers for my drinking enjoyment and was very happy to find this Steel & Oak and Strange Fellows collaborative effort.

The Tu Meke Saison was brewed to be the feature beer of the 2016 Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW) festivities. This Oceania-inspired brew has already been recognized as ‘Best in Show’ at the 2016 Collaboration Tap Takeover at Big Rock Urban Eatery over the weekend and without trying any of its competition, I can see why it’s so popular. The offering is very good and I’ve already come to the conclusion that this will be the summer of saisons for the Sip Advisor. Using Tasmanian pepperberries, along with a variety of New Zealand hops, notes of spice, berries and citrus await the drinker.

Steel & Oak & Strange Fellows Tu Meke Saison

Tu Meke is a Maori term, applied to good things that happen. That’s exactly the result this beverage will provide, as proceeds from its sale will go towards Music Heals, the official 2016 VCBW charity partner. It can be found in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores and other private establishments across the Lower Mainland.

Mrs. Sip and I aren’t attending any of this year’s VCBW events, having found the 2016 lineup to be a little lacking, especially compared to last year’s calendar, when we made it to three different attractions. Our recent return from vacation also played a role in this decision, but many of the activities we enjoyed so much last year, did not return to be part of the 2016 festivities.

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BC Beer Baron #93 – Strange Fellows Jongleur Belgian Wit

On a recent visit to the Library Square Public House, one of the beers I enjoyed over the evening of sports viewing was this treasure from Strange Fellows Brewing.

The Jongleur Belgian Wit was incredibly tasty and refreshing, with flavours of orange and spices. The beer is light and easy drinking, at only 4.5% ABV and 12 IBUs. I know I’ve tried this beer before, but this serving of the suds was especially memorable… even if the rest of the night got pretty foggy!

Strange Fellows Jongleur

Of the brew, the company writes (in their very unique style): “Amid bursts of confetti and music, the Juggler entertains us with a handful of oranges. As the oranges rise and fall, the planets revolve in the universe, babies are born, and the old pass on. Jongleur – our silky bodied, spicy and aromatic Wit – infuses any moment with a spark of joy. A glass of this bright and refreshing beer reminds us of the juggler’s simple lesson: to take pleasure in both the big and the small things in life.”

Suggested food pairings include seafood, curries, and Thai. The beer, part of Strange Fellows ‘Foundation Series’, can be found in four-packs of 473ml cans, as well as on tap around Vancouver.

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BC Beer Baron #62 – Strange Fellows Cyclhops Galaxy IPA

On the way home from our Fraser Valley craft brewery crawl – and with Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip fiending for the cheese buns that can be found in many ‘Yeast Van’ tasting rooms – we decided to make one last stop into Strange Fellows Brewing, to cap the night.

There, we sat down to yet another flight of beers (at this point, I had lost track as to exactly how many we had enjoyed) and despite palate fatigue rearing its ugly head, I found a good beer in the Cyclhops Galaxy IPA. While many IPAs mix in multiple styles of hops, Strange Fellows keeps things simple, simply using the galaxy variety. This provides tropical flavours, such as peach, lychee, passion fruit, mango, and lime.

Strange Fellows Brewing

The brewery uses a quote from Serbian poet Dejan Stojanovic to perfectly sum up their view on this IPA recipe: “To say more while saying less is the secret of being simple.” Thanks to its simplicity, the beer (the company’s first venture into American IPA territory) is said to pair well with Mexican and Indian cuisine, as well as grilled food.

Unfortunately, you will only find the Cyclhops at Strange Fellows, but this is as good a reason as any to visit. While Mrs. Sip and I have only been on two occasions, both were quite enjoyable and we should make a point of going back more regularly.

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BC Beer Baron #19 – Strange Fellows Talisman West Coast Pale Ale

While I picked a different beer during the Romer’s Burger Bar Craft Bowl competition round last week, both Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip selected this Strange Fellows Brewing offering and to be honest, it was my runner-up and a strong contender for my choice, as well.

The Talisman West Coast Pale Ale is purported to be the perfect offering to win favour from the Sirens of the Seas, hopefully gaining folks “safe passage and a bountiful catch” rather than “storms and shipwrecks”. I like to play a little risky, though and there’s no way any sea creature is getting my beer!

Strange Fellow Talisman

According to Strange Fellows, this beer pairs well with absolutely anything. They did narrow that down slightly with the suggestions of burgers, cheese, fish and chips, and pizza. I had my sample with garlic fries and those two seemed to go well together.

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

I preferred this beer over my other two Craft Bowl options because it was lightly hopped compared to its IPA competitors.

Mrs. Sip and I have only been to Strange Fellows location once before and should really try to get back there, as our original visit was shortly after the brewery opened. That said, I have tried some of their other brews at bars around Vancouver and have enjoyed them. Of specific note is their Nocturnum Dark India Pale Ale, which will certainly be featured as part of this 366-day BC craft beer project eventually.

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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!