Sip Trips #86: Best of 2016

Each year, the Sip Advisor fondly looks back at the best drinking nights (in order of occurrence) of the previous calendar… at least what he can remember of them. Join us as we take a moment to dissect and celebrate 2016:

Libational Learning

When a night ends with the Sip Advisor passing out on the couch, sans clothing, you know it’s been a good one! The Science of Cocktails extravaganza was a fascinating and booze-fueled evening. We wanted to return this year, but Mrs. Sip has a trial starting the next day, so that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. #Responsibilities

Family Day Festivities

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Alliance explored both the Fraser Valley and North Vancouver craft beer regions, hitting more than a dozen locations. Many of these, were first time stops for our group and it opened our eyes to all the wonders that exist outside of Vancouver.

family-time

Crawling Around

Just one day after the Portland Beer & Wine Festival, we were back at it, hitting the streets of the City of Roses and searching out some of its most popular breweries. Over the course of the day, we worked our way through a half dozen tasting rooms. Eventually, we ended the journey with an Easter-themed burlesque show and Voodoo Doughnuts… because why the hell not!?

Lion City Leisure

With three nights in Singapore to start our five-week Asian adventure, we decided to spend one of those nights at the swanky Marina Bay Sands. Our hotel package included their evening happy hour, which in true Mr. and Mrs. Sip fashion, we rocked until they kindly asked us to leave. We followed this with swimming in the resort’s rooftop pool, 63 floors above the city.

The Happiest of Valleys

The fun didn’t stop there, as our cruise made a two-day stop in the vibrant city that is Hong Kong. This allowed us the chance to enjoy some nightlife, helped along by Mrs. Sip having a few friends living in the city. Coincidentally, it was also Wednesday race night at the Happy Valley Racetrack. Over a couple pitchers of beer, the Sip Advisor even picked a winning horse and took home a small prize.

horse-racing-for-rich-people

So Many Options

Arriving in Tokyo, Japan, we chose to stay near the Golden Gai district of the city. For those unfamiliar with the area, it is home to approximately 300 little bars, within a six-block radius. Our exploration led us into a few uniquely-themed watering holes, such as the one centered around horror movie and metal music cultures.

Drinking Sky High

Our fun in Tokyo didn’t stop there. The moment Mrs. Sip discovered that this attraction existed, we knew it would be a highlight of our stay in the city. At the Park Hyatt, their Peak Bar offered visitors the chance to drink all-inclusive during sunset hours, while looking down at the bustling city below, from the 41st floor. We ended up sitting next to a couple from Australia and spent the night drinking with them, as I challenged the bartender to make me her best drink with each different alcohol available.

Tipping N’ Tasting

Among my favourite annual beer festivals is the Tip N’ Taste event in Langley. It provides a chance to sample brews from companies based more in the Fraser Valley region of BC, as well as other entries from around the province. This year, we stayed overnight at the Convention Centre Hotel, which hosted the event. That meant the after party quickly moved to our room!

beer-crisper

Island Wedding

While on Prince Edward Island for a friend’s wedding, Mrs. Sip and I were introduced to a number of great people, who we partied away the weekend with. Following a meet-and-greet barbecue on the eve of the wedding, we accompanied our new associates back into Charlottetown for an impromptu night on the town, which ended much later than we had anticipated.

All You Need is Love

The Made with Love cocktail competition has become an annual tradition (three years running) for Mrs. Sip and I. It’s always a fun night out, trying the drinks of some of Vancouver’s most popular bartenders. Best of all, we get to play a role in picking the winning entry, although none of our personal favourites ever seem to come out on top.

Cruise Credits

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday, we booked a one-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. Over the course of the evening, the Sip Advisor took in parts of four bottles of wine, a half-dozen beers, a couple cocktails, and a bottle of bubbly to boot, won through a ‘Finish the Song Lyrics’ quiz.

cruise-captain-morgan

Irish Blessings

Over the last couple years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have celebrated my birthday in Hawaii, aboard a cruise ship, in Southern Africa, and now Ireland – although it was a couple days after the actual date. The Sip Syndicate was along for this ride and we celebrated in true Irish style with shots of Jameson Whiskey and pints of Guinness.

Fear and Loathing

Our trips to Disneyland nowadays typically include enjoying the sights and sounds (and lines) of the park with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand. In October, we were also primed for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, which involves getting a good buzz going, prior to entering. Once that was accomplished, all we had to deal with was psycho killer clowns, a rogue’s gallery of baddies and even some Jabbawockeez!

Award Season

My first year attending one of BC’s best craft beer shindigs proved why I had missed out in previous years. Unable to attend because of vacations and other commitments, we finally made it to the BC Beer Awards, where the Sip Advisor was able to sample about 20 different beers from the wonderful breweries that make up the province’s craft industry.

awards-season

Diamond Celebration

To commemorate Ma Sip’s 60th birthday, the entire family ventured to Disneyland, which also recently celebrated the same milestone. Mrs. Sip’s aunt also had her 50th birthday on that weekend, so there was much to revel in. That included a fair bit of drinking at the park and in our hotel rooms, as we made the change from day to night wear.

Traditional Tidings

To celebrate Christmas this year, the Sip Family stayed in Leavenworth, Washington, which is famous for being a little slice of Bavaria, hidden in the mountains. The town is a haven for Christmas lovers, and it’s here that we explored the many wine tasting rooms, a couple breweries and exuded as much festive spirit as one is allowed to, by law.

2016 was an amazing year… at least drinking wise. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has to offer, even though it has quite a bit to live up to!

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BC Beer Baron #321 – Howe Sound Howe Sound Lager

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. With all the crazy brewing options out there, lagers sometimes get lost in the shuffle. That’s why the Sip Advisor is giving them their own feature week. After all, we should support and give thanks to the beers that brought many of us to this craft beer dance!

A couple months back, at the Tip N’ Taste event in Langley, the Sip Alliance had a good long chat with the representatives from Howe Sound Brewing. As the evening ended, they gifted us with a few cans of this beer, which came in handy for the planned after party.

The Howe Sound Lager is a solid, refreshing beer. You know, the kind that even the pickiest of drinkers can enjoy. We all have them in our life, so pay it forward and give them a good option. With the word ‘BRILLIANT’ incorporated in the beer’s label design, the beverage has a lot to live up to, but will leave most more than satisfied.

howe-sound-lager

This Dortmund-style lager comes with stats of 5.5% ABV and 18 IBUs. It’s available in canned six-packs, including at BC Liquor Stores for the low, low price of $10.99 (before taxes and deposit). The beer was recognized with bronze medals at the 2011 and 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards in the Kellerbier category.

The Sip Advisor finds it funny that many of us likely had our first beer in the form of a lager, but this style of brew is largely absent from the craft beer scene. Some have gone so far as to call the variety “endangered”, but hopefully that will change with time and experimentation.

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

BC Beer Baron #263 – Howe Sound Log Driver Juniper Rye IPA

At the recent Tip N’ Taste event in Langley, Mrs. Sip and I spent a fair bit of time at the Howe Sound Brewing station, chatting with one of their reps, while sampling this beer and others from their extensive lineup.

The Log Driver Juniper Rye IPA is an American-style India Pale Ale that is brewed using juniper berries. This gives the beverage a pine flavour, similar to what drinkers can expect when enjoying gin-based cocktails. The brew is on the lighter end of IPAs with an ABV of only 5.5%, but it does come in at a hoppy 45 IBUs.

howe-sound-log-driver-juniper-rye-ipa

The spring seasonal is available in Howe Sound’s patented 1-litre bottles, which are good for three full pints. When available, the product can be found at both BC Liquor Stores and private operations. Its run was only to last until May 31, 2016, but I’ve seen it around and tasted it in July, so it could still be out there.

The IPA is meant to salute BC’s vast and beautiful nature, as well as log drivers (the brave folks who rode logs from forest to sawmills, via water currents) from times past. The term ‘high and dry’ can be traced back to this profession and meant an unsuccessful log drive, where yields were lost for a year thanks to dried waterways and having to wait for the next snowmelt.

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BC Beer Baron #242 – Phillips Solaris White Peach Ale

One of my final drinks of last month’s Tip N’ Taste in Langley was this summer pleaser from Phillips Brewing… and to think, I almost passed up the opportunity.

The Solaris White Peach Ale is light in almost every way imaginable: colour, alcohol (4.3% ABV), hops and malts. That makes the unfiltered beer very friendly to all drinkers with a refreshing peach flavour. For a comparison, Cousin Sip equated the beverage to being like Stanley Park’s SunSetter Summer Ale. As the brewery states: “Life’s a peach, drink it up!”

Phillips Solaris White Peach Ale

Featuring a pyramid as part of its label design, Phillips dares customers to “crack the code of the summer heat and unlock the secrets of the Beeramid”. Part of the Phillips seasonal lineup, the beer is perfect for summer drinking (available in 473ml tall cans) and was released alongside the Electric Unicorn White IPA.

Phillips recently ran a great media campaign (even getting attention from the New York Daily News), involving the delivery of beer by a bald eagle. Unfortunately, this got them into some hot water with the BC government, but they figured out a creative way to finish the promotion.

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BC Beer Baron #236 – Cannery Trellis IPA

One of the things I like best about Langley’s annual Tip N’ Taste event is the lineup of companies they pull together, representing many outposts of the province. For example, joining the fray from Penticton was Cannery Brewing.

Among the products they brought with them, was the Trellis IPA. While I enjoyed the beverage, this IPA is very light on alcohol content at 5% ABV. That said, the hop level is just right at 65 IBUs, so there’s a flavour punch. As the brewery writes: “This drinkable IPA uses several varieties of hops to keep you wanting more but also keep you standing.”

Cannery Trellis IPA

The Trellis IPA replaces Cannery’s previous IPA (now retired), as part of the brewery’s Core Brands lineup. The company also has the limited release Wildfire IPA, among their arsenal. The Trellis IPA is currently available in bomber-sized bottles, with 355ml cans soon to come.

Some recipes the folks at Cannery suggest making, using the Trellis IPA, include beef stew and Thai chicken BBQ. Now the Sip Advisor just needs to find someone to cook some of these delicious sounding items up for me!

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BC Beer Baron #225 – Lighthouse Broadside Northwest Ale

While I appreciate whatever a company brings to a tasting event, when they provide an opportunity to sample something new or unique, that is optimal. Such was the case with Lighthouse Brewing at Tip N’ Taste in Langley.

The Broadside Northwest Ale is the brewery’s newest release. At 4.3% ABV, it won’t knock your socks off, but there is some strong hop flavour in this refreshing beverage. The product is available in six-packs.

Lighthouse Broadside Northwest Ale

The brew is part of Lighthouse’s Explorers Series, which is aimed at “adventurous craft beer lovers looking to discover more flavour, more complex nuances, and more unique characteristics in their beer”.

I appreciate the brewery’s nautical naming scheme and this beer is no different. Broadside refers to the side of a ship where all the cannons are situated. Broadside is also a measurement of a ship’s maximum simultaneous firepower.

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BC Beer Baron #219 – Old Yale Off Trail Pale Ale

One of my favourite vendors to visit with during the annual Tip N’ Taste event in Langley is the Old Yale Brewing table.

This year, they brought the beers that comprise the company’s Summer Craft Cooler, including the Off Trail Pale Ale. Part of the Four Season lineup, the 5% ABV, 35 IBUs beverage is hoppy, but is balanced by malted barley, resulting in a crisp and refreshing experience.

Old Yale Off Trail Pale Ale

The brew is advertised to go perfect with “a juicy burger or your favorite pizza”. Other suggested food pairings include coconut curry with rice and chicken, mushroom meatloaf, grilled tiger prawns, arugula salad, samosas, and strong cheeses.

I have long been a fan of Old Yale’s ‘Tall Tale’ series, but this was one of the first flagship beers of theirs that I have tried. Mrs. Sip and I have an upcoming camping trip at Cultus Lake and you better believe we’ll be popping into Old Yale’s Chilliwack tasting room, while in the region.

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