Sip Trips #173: Annual Activities

This past week was incredibly busy for the Sip Advisor. Two of my favourite yearly events sandwiched my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding anniversary, which is always highlighted by some unique activity. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it:

The week began with a trip across the line to Washington State. We decided to pop into Bellingham’s Aslan Brewing for dinner, where I enjoyed a pint of their Ginger Rye Ale, paired with a host of food items, including Mac Bites, Bacon Bison Burger with Waffle Fries Poutine and Pepper Chicken Taco. The beer was tasty, with a nice spice to it and each culinary item was downright delicious. Even Baby Sip was into much of the meal, chomping down on the mac n’ cheese balls and beef from the burger.

On Saturday, we attended the Battle of the Brews in Surrey for the second straight year. I love this event, as our $40 early bird ticket allows unlimited beer and food over the four-hour runtime. Over 20 breweries and a handful of restaurants participated. While each brewery offered some great variety, Russell Brewing brought a spectacular and unique lineup, with three fruit-flavoured beers: Cucumber Sour, Triple Berry Milkshake IPA and Strawberry Hibiscus Milkshake IPA. As for the food, everything I had from Pulled Pork Sliders from Benny’s Texas BBQ to Double Chocolate Brownies from Brown’s Social House hit the spot.

cat bbq

Not content to end the day after the event, we ventured to ABC Brewing, where they were hosting a pop-up patio party. Here, I tried their Bradburied Australian Pale Ale and I continue to be impressed with the company’s releases and experimentation with different styles, many of which you don’t come across very often.

Sunday marked seven happy years of marriage for me and Mrs. Sip. To celebrate the occasion, I booked us a surprise Taste Vancouver Food Tours route, wandering through the Gastown neighbourhood of the city. I felt the $90 fee was reasonable, as we learned a lot of history for the area, while stuffing our faces with a number of savoury and sweet selections: Chicken Kara-Age at Guu Izakaya, Tortellini at Brioche Urban Eatery, Fish & Chips at 131 Water Kitchen & Bar, Pulled Pork Sandwich at Peckinpah, Ice Cream at Soft Peaks, Cheesecake at Trees Organic Coffee, and Chocolate at Rogers’ Chocolates. The tour also included a sample of Summer Ale from Steamworks Brewing and taste of wine at Brioche.

After a day of rest, I was back in Vancouver to attend Caskapalooza 2019 at Craft Beer Market. This was my third time taking in this event ($25 for 12 tokens), featuring the wares of over 30 breweries. The experimentation for this year’s Caskapalooza was amazing, highlighted by ingredients such as yellow watermelon, caramelized cinnamon and pequin peppers, among many others. With so much variety, it’s hard narrowing down my favourite beer of the day, but it may have been R&B Brewing’s Tart Strawberry Rhubarb IPA. This year’s Caskapalooza included no food, which may have been for the best as it was usually a frenzy anytime a tray came out of the kitchen. Better to not offer and therefore not disappoint, than leave people upset that they missed out.

disappointed cat

After using up all our tokens, we travelled to the nearby Brewhall for dinner and further drinks. My Korean Chicken Burger with Curly Fries was tremendous. The burger included a sumptuous gochujang sesame sauce and any place that offers Curly Fries will also be tops in my books. To wash the meal down, I enjoyed pints of Brewhall/Dageraad Citriplicate Belgian Blonde Ale and Brewhall Neon Lights Pale Ale, both of which were very much in my wheelhouse.

Next up, is the Labour Day long weekend, which I’ve taken an extra day off for, to help offset how busy we’ll be. We have 1st birthday parties and family barbecues to attend, as well as take Baby Sip to the Vancouver Aquarium and check out the newly-opened Stanley Park Brewing location.

Sip Trips #148: The Next Chapter

As Mrs. Sip and I wrap up our moving out from Downtown Vancouver, things have been insane around the Sip Advisor Headquarters, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Still, we managed to squeeze some fun into the chaos, especially with the celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary. Here’s what we got up to in our last couple weeks living in Vancouver:

For the second year in a row, we attended Caskapalooza at Craft Beer Market and it was a very, very good event. Like last year, tickets were $25 (plus taxes and fees) and included 12 tokens. Between myself, Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip, we tried nearly every beer of the 36 available. My favourites included a Smoked Apiary Dunkelweizen from Foamers’ Folly, Mariner’s Cuban Night Sky, and a Ginger-Cinnamon Rye Amber Ale from Trading Post. There were so many good and unique beers here that we are definitely planning on attending the 2019 Caskapalooza. The only minor tweak I’d like to see, if possible, is for the Caskport document, which allows drinkers to jot down what each brewery is offering, to already be filled out. This would a) advise folks of what is available and b) eliminate people stopping at the front of a lineup to write in the available information.

Keg Safety First

Following the event, we stuck around for a drink and some food. Mrs. Sip and I split the delicious BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, while my beverage was the Electric Bicycle Frosty Mugs Brown Ale. This was the second time I’ve been able to try a brew from Electric Bicycle and both have been unique and quite tasty. I have to try to visit their tasting room soon.

Last Friday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a moving out party of sorts, where our goal was to finish and get rid of all our mostly consumed liquor bottles. We ended up with about 25 bottles that had minimal liquid left and throughout the night, we all did our best to put those bottles out of their misery. I had a great time playing bartender and coming up with unique, but simple cocktails for the crowd to enjoy. Over our last week in the place, I managed to finish each and every bottle we were hoping to go through. Mission accomplished!

To celebrate our previously mentioned sixth wedding anniversary, we attended the Battle of the Brews competition in Surrey. The event started a little rough for us because as we arrived at our Skytrain station, I spotted the beer tents and it dawned on me that this was an outdoor event, on the one day in recent memory it rained. Things quickly turned around; however, as the organizers had planned for such a scenario and had ponchos ready for any guest that wanted one. The Battle offered a great selection of beers from a number of breweries, as well as awesome food from Brown’s Social House, Cactus Club, Dublin Crossing, Milestones, and many more. My favourite beer was Parkside’s Human’s – An IPA for the People, while my top food choice was Cactus Club’s Mini Crispy Chicken Sandwich. With all that going on, I thought the $50 we paid per ticket was very much worth it. My only complaint here was they need more on-site bathrooms, as five porta-potties is not enough when hundreds of people are drinking all afternoon. At least the long lines could be avoided if you learned about the washrooms in the adjacent Surrey City Hall.

Porta-Potties.jpg

We wrapped up our Vancouver life with one final meal on the rooftop patio at The Keg’s Yaletown location. I order the Prime Rib Sliders at their $13 happy hour price (with side of fries) along with a Keg Caesar, also on special. Our group also split a bottle of Danzante Pinot Grigio and to top off the meal, we were given a slice of Billy Miner Pie for dessert, on the house because we were celebrating our anniversary.

I will certainly miss living in Vancouver, as my years running this site have documented all the great experiences we’ve been able to partake in. That said, we’re on to another exciting chapter in our lives and only time will tell what that has in store for us!

Sip Trips #121: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

With Christmas closing in, the Sip Advisor decided to take some time off work… but it certainly wasn’t spent relaxing. Here’s what we got up to in the lead up to the big day and how we fought off the post-holiday blues:

Last Thursday, the Sip Family crossed the border to do some last minute shopping in Bellingham. We hoped to start our visit with drinks at Menace Brewing, but it wasn’t open for the day yet. Lucky for us, Mrs. Sip spotted yet another brewery across the street. Melvin Brewing (a Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery with a brew pub in Bellingham) hosted us for lunch. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered from their $10 lunch menu, with her selecting Fish & Chips, while I went with the Sandwich & Soup combo (Beef Dip with substituted Fries). For drinks, we passed around pints of their Block Away Brown Ale and Mash Murder Stout ($3 beer of the day special), while also sampling the Peaches Innit Pale Ale. All beers are brewed onsite and we quite good.

Christmas Shopping

On Christmas Eve, en route to a family dinner, we first met Sip Syndicate members at Central City Brewing in Surrey. Mrs. Sip and I had won a tour and tasting experience for six people at one of Central City’s trivia nights at their Downtown Vancouver brew pub in the summer and had to use the pass prior to the end of the year. For those keeping track, this was Baby Sip’s fourth craft brewery visit already. My flight of beers included the Smore Stout, Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, Imperial IPA and Super Solar IPA. It was a very nice and relaxing setting to enjoy some drinks together and could become a yearly holiday tradition.

Finally, the big day arrived. As for liquor-based Christmas gifts, Mrs. Sip gave me the Central City/Parallel 49 Great White Wonder Adventure Pack (their annual collaborative advent calendar), which was marked down, given the month had come and gone. That doesn’t mean the beer can’t still be enjoyed, though. Last year, I picked up some of the individual bottles from this set and I’m hoping for some enjoyable beers this time around. Mrs. Sip also gifted me a Groupon for Andina Brewing, which provides a set of tasters for two people, as well as a growler and fill. I also received a bottle of Serbian Honey Brandy, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with. As for the gift of giving, I picked up the Erdinger Variety Pack for Mrs. Sip, along with a few other treats.

Christmas Spirit.jpg

The week ended with an impromptu visit to Craft Beer Market for a holiday wrap-up with friends. On Wednesday, the restaurant offers $8 wings and $5 BC craft beers, which is a terrific combo. Mrs. Sip and I split an order of Salt & Pepper Wings and their Gaucho Chicken Flatbread, while I selected the Torchlight Broadside IPA and Whistler/Craft Snowed In White IPA (with $1 going towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank) for my beverages. Mrs. Sip went with the Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Moody Ales Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout for her drinks.

This weekend will be another busy one, with a birthday/housewarming to attend, drinks with the guys on the schedule… and, oh yeah, that minor hidden-on-the-calendar event we call New Year’s Eve!

Beer of the Week #38 – Central City India Session Ale

As Mrs. Sip and I settle into nesting mode following the birth of our daughter, I’ve been doing a lot more drinking at home, rather than out and about. One notable beverage I enjoyed was this Central City Brewing product.

The India Session Ale (aka ISA) has quite a delicious Mosaic hops flavour, yet remains light. The 4% ABV, 40 IBUs beverage is one of a few of the ISA style to resonate with me recently and open my eyes to how good the variety can be.

Central City India Session Ale

I discovered the beer available in the Central City Reign of Hops Mixer Pack. It can also be found in both regular and tall-can formats. Suggested food pairings, according to Central City, include salads, pasta and pizza.

This style of beer seems to be perfect for summertime drinking. It can also provide a nice remembrance of the sunny season when you drink the brews during the fall and winter. Put your shades on and reminisce!

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #102: True North Strong and Free

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Central City Brewing has released the Red Racer Across the Nation case, featuring collaborative beers from 12 of the country’s provinces and territories (only newest territory Nunavut is left out). Always a fan of collaboration beers, I just had to pick up the set, going straight to the source to do so, before it was even rolled out to liquor stores. Each 330ml beer was brewed at Central City’s Surrey facility and was inspired by the province or territory it comes from. Here’s the lineup of the pack:

  • Left of the Divide IPA (with Four Winds Brewing from Delta, British Columbia)
  • Berry Light Berliner Weisse (with Last Best Brewing from Calgary, Alberta)
  • Wide Open Spaces Kellerbier (with Black Bridge Brewing from Swift Current, Saskatchewan)
  • Land of Rice and Honey Saison (with Half Pints Brewing from Winnipeg, Manitoba)
  • Upper Reaches Pale Ale (with Beau’s Brewing from Vankleek Hill, Ontario)
  • Bouclier Canadien Pilsner (with Le Trou Du Diable from Shawinigan, Quebec)
  • Restored Hop(e) ESB (with Picaroons Traditional Ales from Fredericton, New Brunswick)
  • “New” Scottish Ale (with Garrison Brewing from Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • Bière d’ici Honey Ale (with PEI Brewing from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island)
  • Hop To The East Hefeweizen (with Quidi Vidi Brewing from St. John’s, Newfoundland)
  • Swift Currant Dark Ale (with Yukon Brewing from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories)
  • Miner’s Refresh Grissette (with NWT Brewing from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories)

Central City Across the Nation Case

Hitting store shelves in early May, the beer sets were released in two formats: a 12-pack of the entire collection and two six-packs, featuring the East and West releases bundled together. Tasting events in each province have been arranged for the case’s launch. Sadly, the Sip Advisor will be out of town for both BC occasions. For a full listing of upcoming tastings, please view Central City’s press release.

The price tag of just under $35 (with tax and deposit) is quite a bit more than one would pay for the average case of craft beer, but this is a special release. I’m looking forward to trying a number of these beers and getting to know some of the breweries from across the nation.

“There is a great sense of comradery amongst us craft brewers in Canada, and what better way to show our pride in our country than to bring together some of Canada’s best breweries on a celebratory mix-pack to commemorate this huge Canadian milestone,” said Gary Lohin, brewmaster of Central City. “We all know Canada is renowned for our great beer and it has been such an honour to work with each of the breweries. We can’t wait to showcase some spectacular beers and the brewing talents of all 12 breweries.”

Beer of the Week #10 – Russell Root Beer Milk Stout

With my trusty BC Liquor Stores gift card in hand (thanks again Ma and Pa Sip) I recently grabbed this Russell Brewing new release. Always a root beer fan, since I was a wee little sipper, how could I pass the opportunity up?

The Root Beer Milk Stout instantly caught my eye as a unique and must-try beverage. I was not to be disappointed, as the drink has just the right level of root beer (sassafras) flavour, mixed with the chocolate taste you’d expect from a milk stout.

Russell Root Beer Milk Stout

With the recent explosion of hard root beer drinks, why shouldn’t the brewing game get in on the action? The 6.5% ABV, 30 IBUs beverage is available in bomber-sized bottles at the aforementioned BC Liquor Stores, for a decent price.

Russell believes this product is perfect to “Celebrate the winter months… with the best, feet-up-by-the-fire-job-well-done feeling a brewer could dream up.” I tested that theory while we were recently away and they nailed it!

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…

BC Beer Baron #349 – Central City Red Racer Winter Ale

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. Already the best time of the year, the fact it’s Winter Ale season makes it that much better.

With a logo featuring Central City Brewing’s red-headed mascot still aboard her familiar bike, but for the season, decked out in gloves and earmuffs, you know this selection was made for winter drinking. The Sip Advisor is only too happy to oblige.

The Red Racer Winter Ale combines flavours of vanilla and maple syrup with notes of spice. The 6% ABV beverage is to be enjoyed while only partially chilled, as recommended by the brewery. The overall effect is a warming finish that will help drinkers get through the chilly weather.

central-city-red-racer-winter-ale

The beer can be found in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. It is also included in Central City’s Season’s Greetings advent calendar (in partnership with Parallel 49 Brewing). Oddly, when I popped into their Surrey brewery and store in November, I wasn’t able to locate the beer then.

One of Central City’s most popular products also hits shelves this time of year: Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine. ‘Tis the season for barley wines, which I haven’t got into previously, but one brought back from Colorado by Ma and Pa Sip may have opened that door.

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