BC Beer Baron #38 – Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey 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. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this month’s feature week will look at beers of a chocolate nature, perfect to celebrate the occasion.

En route to visit friends following an event at Big Rock Brewing’s Urban Eatery, Mrs. Sip and I were checking out the brewpub’s store when we came across today’s beer. Never ones to show up empty-handed and thinking the brew would serve as a bit of a hosting gift, we quickly made our purchase and moved on to our final destination.

The Dark Cherry Abbey Ale is strong (well duh, Sip Advisor… it is 9.5%) and sweeter than some might like. That sweetness comes from the brewmaster’s use of Belgian candi sugar to go along with the naturally sweet taste of fruits such as cherries, raisins, and plums, already in the recipe. Include four different malts (Belgian dark, wheat, caramel, and chocolate) and there’s a lot going on with this beer.

Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey Ale

The 750ml bottle retails for $12, which given the serving size and alcohol content, is a fair price. It even comes in a box and would make for a nice Valentine’s gift for anyone with a beer lover on their arm. Single on V-day? Why not enjoy one for yourself and forget all your relationship troubles.

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

My Valentine is typically a fan of stronger beers from the Belgian family, but she can be put off by fruit-flavoured creations. She found the Dark Cherry Abbey Ale to be intense in taste, but since it was shared amongst a group of four, that was just about right and a bigger serving might be too much.

When researching this beer, I discovered that Big Rock’s staff have made movie and music pairing suggestions to go with some of their product line-up. Musically, this beer should be paired with Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt (TV’s Catwoman from the 1960’s campy Batman), while the film Mixed Nuts (starring an ensemble cast including Steve Martin and Madeline Kahn) has been picked for your viewing pleasure. As far as more traditional pairings go, such as of the food variety, Big Rock suggests washing down a slice of Black Forest Cake with this beverage.

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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!

February 15 – Heart Warmer

Holiday Hell

Valentine’s Day is a funny beast to deal with. Among heightened expectations, shops and services everywhere jack up their prices and take advantage of the love frenzy (also the name of a sexual position I invented a few years back, but have yet to unleash on Mrs. Sip). After all, a sucker is born every minute and Valentine’s Day makes a fool out of us all. One of the best “Valentine’s Days” Mrs. Sip and I spent together was a couple days after the actual day, as Mrs. Sip had to travel for work and we weren’t able to be together. Here are the top five reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th!

#5: Use Your Coupons

It sucks that most coupons (from sites like GrouponSocial Shopper, etc.) can’t be redeemed during the Valentine’s Day block of dates, usually Feb. 13-16, depending on where the holiday falls. And this is because the institutions using the coupon service know they have you hooked already for those dates. So, let’s get a little revenge on these establishments by redeeming for a romantic dinner on February 12th or 17th. Then, really rub it in their face by exchanging gifts, flowers, and the whole shebang!

Saint-Valentine

#4: Discounted Treats

Walk into any store after Valentine’s Day and you will find massive discounts on chocolates and other goodies, as the retailer is quickly trying to change their seasonal shelves over to anything from St. Patrick’s Day to Easter to even Christmas already (the holiday comes out earlier and earlier every year!). You can score some pretty wicked deals during this rush for savings, but be weary of fellow shoppers who will stop at nothing to deny you of you half-price stuffed bear.

#3: Easy-to-Get Reservations

If you don’t plan ahead and get onto making reservations as soon as the calendar rolls over to a new year, you may miss out on your preferred dining choice. Next you know, you’re chowing on McDonald’s takeout – actually not so bad, as Mrs. Sip and I did this last year when she wasn’t feeling well enough to fulfill our expensive seafood reservation… I saved a ton of cash! – and are decked out in sweatpants or pajamas, laying out on your couch… sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it!?

I Tolerate You

#2: Cheaper Flowers

I’ll never understand how stores can get away with not only increasing their prices on flowers, but doubling them just because it’s Valentine’s Day. And yet they sell out every year and if you don’t grab a bouquet earlier in the day, you may be left with the scraps nobody else wants. Go any other day and your cost will be cut in half, you will have a ton of options to choose from and you risk getting into a skirmish with another dude over posies.

#1: What is So Important About February 14th?

Mrs. Sip and I make a point of having date nights on a frequent basis. Yes, it’s not always easy to accomplish with busy schedules that include work, social gatherings, sports, and other commitments, but if you only have time for each other on a capitalism-created holiday, then you have more issues to deal with than where to eat and what kind of flowers to buy. Treat each other like you actually love each other and the rest will fall into place easier than you ever thought!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Heart Warmer (A Sip Advisor Original Recipe)

Heart Warmer Shooter

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Cream Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Raspberry Cream Liqueur
  • Splash of Chile Chocolate Syrup
  • Garnish with Love Hearts

Valentine’s Day should be celebrated with the one you love, but perhaps not the way the restaurants and stores would have you spend it. Get together with your partner and have a quiet night in, snuggling up on the couch and watching zombie horror flicks… or whatever you two nutballs are into!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I was originally going to complete skip any Valentine’s coverage this year, but decided that February 15th was the perfect day to drop some love wisdom on all y’all (and yes, I realize how that line could be interpreted!). Therefore, I needed a recipe and decided to go with an original I had been working on for a little while. Combining the Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Liqueurs was a great start, but the crowning touch was the Chile Chocolate Syrup. It left a wonderful light burn on the lips, tongue and made the whole experience a little more unique than your usual shooter!

February 16 – Tootsie Roll

More Missed Connections

A month and a half into the life of this blog, my Missed Connections post seems to be one of the most popular. Therefore, we’re going back to the pages of Craigslist to dig up some more gold. Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect time for people to be searching for that special someone and hopefully (for our reading pleasure) they’re looking for it in all the wrong places!

Missed Connections: In Search of the Black Forest

Sexy german Frauline with the sexy sexy….

bagels and sweet smile yesterday. I’d like to put me liderHOSEn Into your black forest.

Black Forest Cake

Advisor’s Take: I like this guy’s style, coming straight out with his intentions (masked behind some wonderfully cliched euphemisms). I’ll even forgive him for the atrocious spelling. Still not sure exactly what a ‘sexy sexy’ is, but I’m sure someone will get me up to speed with today’s lingo.

Missed Connections: Taco Time

Talked about tacos. You said that you wanted to start a taco blog. Saw that you had a pretty nice pooper underneath those skinny jeans. Hit me up if you want to munch.

Advisor’s Take: Ah, street meat romance! Is there anything better in the world? Very nice double entendre with the “want to munch” line. I LOVE it when guys refer to my ass as a pooper (sexy, no?). Plus the guy clearly has goals. His conversation about starting a taco blog is hauntingly similar to the discussion I had with Mrs. Sip before starting this wonderfully amazing site.

Missed Connections: Finger Lickin’ Good

You Licked My Fingers

I spotted you on a crowded light rail train heading to Folsom. You had friendly eyes and a purple bandanna around your neck. When a seat cleared, I sat next to you. I tried to avoid looking at you, knowing I would blush and smile too much. I grasped my iPad firmly, determined to stay cool, when you reached out and began licking my fingers. It was disgusting and adorable. I began making kissy noises and fawning over you; scratching your ears, patting your head. You got off before I could ask for your name.

Me: excitable, clean-cut, blue jacket. Typically a cat person, but will make an exception.

You: small and compact, with black and white fur and ears that stuck out.

Licking Fingers

Advisor’s Take: Love this one. Nice touch with the “typically a cat person” line. There’s just something about animals wearing bandanas that drives me crazy, too. When I first read this, all I could think about was how much I hate transit and the weird people who use it. This has rejuvenated my view of hanging out with strangers.

Missed Connections: Tat’s All Folks

Tattoo Convention Fun – Need Female companion

Going to a great kick off party Thursday (2-7-2013) for the tattoo convention.

I cover entry, drinks, hotel etc.

You be hot female age 21 – 40 who loves to party.

If all works out, we can hit convention Friday and repeat that night.

Reply with stats, pics (nude not necessary, but I won’t say no) and number.

Advisor’s Take: NO! WRONG! Nude photos are always necessary! Jeez, what a first time John we have here. 21-40? At least he’s not picky about choosing his woman (he’ll take daughter or mother). But do they have to have tattoos? Those types of questions will keep me up all night!

Before someone gets on their high horse about how dirty guys can be, I will have the Sip Nation know that one of the more creatively dirty connections I came across was by a woman from Atlanta. I won’t reproduce it all here, but I’ll let you know that it has all the goodies: lumberjacks, T&A, a hotel room (downtown even!), cute whiskers, and a bucket of chicken! Oh, not to mention my favourite, “dranks”. You can read it here: Missed Connections: Tickled Taint

Drink #47: Tootsie Roll

Tootsie Roll Shot

So, how many shots does it take to get to the center of a liquor-induced nap? One, two, three, CRUNCH… okay, just bit into the shot glass. No time for a nap now, it’s off to the hospital for me!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I really enjoyed this shot and having the Tootsie Roll stir stick to snack on afterwards was a wonderful touch, if I don’t say so myself.