Sip Trips #154: Year In, Year Out

Welcome to 2019! It’s been a busy start to the year for the Sip Advisor and company, so let’s get right to it with a look at the last couple weeks:

First things first, a final update on the Storm Brewing 12 Fills of Christmas Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed throughout the month of December. The final eight beers included a Plumageddon Lambic, Christmas Morning Cup of Joe Nut Brown Ale, Salted Chocolate Stout, Merlot Glacial Gnarwhal, Candy Cane Pilsner, Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout, Lightning Wit, and Butter Rum Ale. Also, while stopping by for some of the brews, we were able to try samples of the Almond Roca Ale and Cranberry Black Pepper IPA. These guys and gals will never cease to amaze me!

Prior to a recent Vancouver Canucks game, Mrs. Sip and I met with friends at the Red Racer Taphouse (formerly the Central City Brewpub). I ordered their Teriyaki Rice Bowl, which was a satisfying meal on this wet, rainy day. For drinks, I typically give the Mystery Tap a shot, with the beer being the Doan’s Crystal Weise this time around. I also drank a pint of Parallel 49 Toques of Hazard White IPA.

beer relationship.jpg

On New Year’s Day, we met friends for brunch at The Hub in New West. I really enjoyed my order of the Yankee Burger and Baby Sip seemed to like the pieces of meat and fries I shared with her. What about New Year’s Eve, you ask? Well, it was a quiet affair, with Mrs. Sip and I celebrating at home with Baby Sip. After years of always having elaborate plans for the occasion, we decided to take one off and relax.

This past weekend, the Sip Advisor was out in Langley, so I popped into B’s Craft Beer Lounge, which I hadn’t visited before. The place may be small, but it has an impressive lineup of beers, mostly in bottle and can form, but also with some unique options on tap. My flight was very interesting, consisting of the Storm Eggnog Latte Stout, Old Yale Vanilla Cardamom Imperial Red Ale, Twin Sails/Merit Cool Cool Cool Neapolitan Stout, and Field House Zinfandel Ale with Vanilla and Oak, which was my favourite of the set.

The next day, the Sip Family converged on the Vancouver Aquarium, where Baby Sip and her cousins encountered all the sea creatures on display. Following the Aquarium, we had a late lunch at the nearby Prospect Point Bar & Grill, where I enjoyed their On Point Burger. Our service here was excellent, given our big group and energetic youngsters.

aquarium

We wrapped this edition of Sip Trips with a visit to the Cineplex VIP Theatre at Marine Gateway. While enthralled by Bohemian Rhapsody, I sipped a Red Rum Spiced Red Ale from Dead Frog Brewing. If you’re even a casual fan of Queen, you should see this movie.

Coming up over the next couple weeks are a couple more Canucks games, Mrs. Sip’s birthday, a night of whiskey tasting, and much more. 2019 is rolling along pretty well, so let’s keep it that way!

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BC Beer Baron #353 – Hoyne Appleton ESB

At last month’s Chowder Chowdown, hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium, one of my top beer picks for the night was this offering from Hoyne Brewing. It paired very nicely with my chowder serving at the time, which is always a good start.

The Appleton ESB was smooth and hoppy, with a nice roasted malts/caramel element to the recipe. ESBs (standing for Extra Special Bitter) are not among the Sip Advisor’s favourite styles of beer, but the type has grown on me in recent times.

hoyne-appleton-esb

The 5.2% ABV beverage is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. Hoyne touts that the brew is “free of any pernicious ingredients”… which a thesaurus search tells us means there are no malicious, evil or wicked elements.

While most would conclude the beer is named as it is because of the inclusion of Appleton Rum, it’s actually an homage to Frank Appleton. Appleton conceived BC’s first craft brewery, the Horseshoe Bay Brewing Co., and inspired many.

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

BC Beer Baron #348 – Big Rock Winter Spice 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.

At last month’s Chowder Chowder, hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium, Big Rock Brewing was my choice for MVP of the evening, highlighted by this offering. Thanks guys, for the good time and being the last group to close up shop at the event.

The Winter Spice Ale is like Christmas in a bottle, as Cousin Sip put it. The 6% ABV, 12.5 IBUs winter warmer features flavours of caramel, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. The beer was created to help Canadians get through the long, dark and cold season.

Big Rock Winter Spice Ale.png

First released last winter, the Sip Advisor was very happy to see the Winter Spice Ale return to store shelves, along with the brewery’s Midnight Rhapsody Dark Ale. The Winter Spice Ale can be found in bottled six-packs, throughout western Canada.

Suggested food pairings include ginger beef, braised duck, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin pie, and chocolate. Meanwhile, Big Rock’s staff suggest listening to Wintertime Love by The Doors or watching the movie Fargo, while enjoying the beer.

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

Sip Trips #82: Chowder Chowing

While the Sip Advisor managed to make it to four Vancouver breweries over the Remembrance Day long weekend, those exploits will largely be covered in BC Beer Baron articles. So, let’s get right onto the main event of the week: the Chowder Chowdown at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Presented by Ocean Wise, the occasion offered participants 14 seafood chowders to try, each paired with a BC craft beer (save for the Steam Whistle Brewing partnership). While I love the concept, I’m not sure massive servings of chowder should be paired with carbonated beverages. There definitely came a point where I reached my chowder max, although it quickly subsided.

One other issue was that it wasn’t easy to juggle a cup of beer and piping hot serving of chowder, as you moved through the venue. At least there were a fair number of tables to stand or sit at, which helped with the risky maneuvering.

cat-clam-chowder

My favourite chowder of the evening came from The White Whale Restaurant, which also took home the people’s and judge’s choice awards. My MVP pick for best beer/brewery definitely went to the guys from Big Rock Urban Brewery, who brought with them their Winter Spice Ale. Some honourable mentions should go to Hoyne Brewing, whose Appleton ESB was paired with The White Whale Restaurant entry and The Vancouver Fish Company for their chowder poutine spin on the competition.

After the awards were announced, the event seemed to die quickly. By this point, a number of the chowder stations had run out of their wares and many of the breweries that attended had packed up their contributions. This left folks scrambling for final servings wherever they could be found.

This event probably wouldn’t have gone over too well for those who don’t like beer. There was a Caesar station, Gin & Tonic table and one wine vendor available, but that probably wouldn’t have been enough for people needing options to the breweries.

catch-of-the-day-bear

Ticket were $60 (plus tax) and we felt the event was more than worth it. We paid more than double that for last year’s Toast to the Coast (also at the Aquarium) and the Chowder Chowdown provided a far better bang-for-your-buck experience.

After being dropped off back downtown by the Vancouver Trolley Company, we finished the evening with a visit to Steamworks Brew Pub. Here, I finally got my hands on a beverage that has eluded me for much of the year: their Salty Caramel Ale. I first heard about the beer last February on Twitter, but when I arrived at the brew pub, there was none to be had. Most recently, when Mrs. Sip and I stopped in on Halloween night, it was on their menu, but again wasn’t yet being poured. All I can say is the wait was worth it!

Mrs. Sip returns from India this weekend and that will likely signify the start of the Christmas rush. Join us for all the fun and adventure that’s sure to occur over the holidays!

Sip Trips #40

Coast Toasting

Mrs. Sip and I have finally returned to Vancouver from our epic travels to southern Africa and are getting settled back into the local drinking routine. I had to take some extra time this week, as we visited Legacy Liquor Store, to get acquainted with all the new releases that have hit the market while we were on vacation. A lot can change in a month, especially with the move from summer to fall, but it gives me some things to look forward to.

Speaking of things we were looking forward to, on Friday night, we attended the annual Toast to the Coast event at the Vancouver Aquarium. Mrs. Sip has wanted to go to this for a couple years, but previous engagements have always held us back from checking out the soiree, which sells out each season. A number of wineries, a couple breweries, and even reps from Russian Standard Vodka were on hand, as guests got to enjoy the various exhibits with a drink sample in their hand and an appetizer on their plate. My night began on the right note with a serving of Bomber Choqlette Porter, a delicious dark beer, with notes of chocolate and coffee. I also made sure to end my night with this brew.

cat aquarium

The night was frustrating at times, as the event was scheduled to go until 1am, but most vendors packed up their wares at 10pm, which I think blindsided some guests, myself included. Also, a number of the eats around the venue were in short supply. To begin the night, the sushi table was a free-for-all, but later featured such a diminished stock that a volunteer was handing out one piece at a time on napkins. There was also the Rocky Mountain Flatbread table, which couldn’t keep up with the demand, as each time they brought out one tray, it was gone and those in line, who hadn’t received a slice, had to wait for the next dish to cook up.

I also had to battle through one of my greatest festival pet peeves, where people either get a drink or food and just stand there, neglecting to move out of the way and let the next person be served. This especially occurs at the wine stations, as folks want to try each of the bottles available, before moving on. That is particularly why the Sip Advisor prefers to stick to beer vendors.

The worst part of the evening was getting home after the function concluded. Shuttles from the Aquarium to Waterfront Station downtown were supposed to be offered, with the last one leaving at 12:45am. We stood around from about 12:25am to 1:00am and didn’t see a single shuttle, which left tired and boozed up guests having to resort to calling cabs and then fighting for their reservation when the vehicle arrived.

legit taxi

Much of the food was good, particularly the various desserts, such as Rose’s Shortbread and Chocolatas chocolates. The worst food offering of the evening definitely had to go to Earl’s Kitchen & Bar, which was handing out cups of sea urchin ice cream. The dessert was absolutely awful and a total disappointment from the popular chain.

Tickets were $125 and I asked Mrs. Sip the next day (once she had a chance to recover!) whether she thought the cost was justified. She thought it was, explaining that given all we ate and drank, it would add up to $125 or more on the local market. My argument in opposition was equating the night to an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer and Marge go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and are kicked out at the end of the night before Homer has enjoyed all-he-could-eat. Our group ended up having drinks and pizza when we finally got home (the best meal of the night), which I didn’t think would be necessary after an all-inclusive drink and food fest. Perhaps we’re just that gluttonous!

My final thoughts on Toast to the Coast are a little mixed. I had a good time, but certainly had some qualms with the event, as well. The true decider is whether I would go again in the future and the answer to that is yes… but perhaps not next year. Also, if ticket prices went up without much substance being added, I would be very hesitant. That said, it was a charity event, so I guess we did our civil duty.

woman named charity

Saturday night was spent celebrating a friend’s birthday, beginning with pre-dinner drinks. Here, I was able to try the 33 Acres of Darkness, another new beer that I really liked. I also had a serving of Dead Frog Super Fearless IPA, which was quite enjoyable. I topped off the pre-party with Steel & Oak’s Satsuma Lager, another fine release from the New West brewery.

Our meal was at Minami Yaletown, which is an upper scale Japanese restaurant. Mrs. Sip tackled their Taste of Yaletown menu, including sake pairing. Each of the sakes utilized different ingredients and matched up nicely with their respective dishes. I ordered the Kaisen Soba Peperoncino bowl, while trying the restaurant’s Asian-themed Caesar, complete with wasabi pickles garnish and lemon-pepper rim. It wasn’t the best Caesar I’ve ever had, but was a decent cocktail.

The week was pretty quiet otherwise, but this weekend, Mrs. Sip and I are off to Bellingham, Washington to see what trouble we can get into across the border, working our way through the city’s Tap Trail and other locations. This is a belated birthday gift (we were out of the country) from Ma and Pa Sip and there will certainly be much to write about, so look forward to that in next week’s Sip Trips!