Sip Trips #167 – Festival Follies

One day removed from returning from our Alaskan cruise, Mrs. Sip and I attended the 10th annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW) Festival last weekend. While we enjoyed ourselves, I think my festival days may be done.

Permit me to go on a bit of a rant here: I used to love beer festivals, but view them with such disdain now. When they pop up in my email or on social media, I quickly review the details then often yell at my phone “Ha, I’m not paying that much for so little.” Yeah, I’m THAT guy on public transit!

festival 1

My issue with most festivals stems from how much it costs to get in and how little you get up front. For the VCBW Festival, most people paid $39 for basic entry (VIP tickets were also available) and received absolutely nothing with this price. Tokens were $2 each on top of admission.

To be fair (“to be faaaaaaaaiiiiirrrr” for all the Letterkenny fans out there), I know there are costs associated with renting a venue, licensing, facilities, staff, etc., but throw people a bone here. You don’t have to give them the world, but a few tokens is nice. Or have an all-inclusive wristband option available for purchase.

So why did we go, given those specs? Well, if I’m being frank, we only did this festival because we were one of the first people to buy tickets and because it was the event’s 10th anniversary, we got ours for a smoking deal of only $10 each, plus transaction fee. In that case, you can justify then having to pay another chunk of money on beer sample tokens.

festival 2

By comparison, we will be attending – for the second straight year – the Battle of the Brews in August. For the same price it cost to get into the VCBW Festival, we will be treated to all-inclusive beers and food. For my money (and it literally is), I’d rather not worry about additional costs once I get to the venue. No, my little sippers, I’ve become an all-inclusive guy and I’m too stubborn to change my ways.

Also, transport to Surrey City Hall trumps that which is available to the PNE grounds. Not to go off on a rant within a rant, but how does such a major attraction not have a better transit set up? Every time we go to an event at the PNE (Coliseum or otherwise), we get screwed over with the return trip home.

As I said above, I enjoyed the festival, but that was partly based on not feeling cheated pricewise. What I liked about the event was there were so many breweries on hand and each company brought staples and unique beers to share. Every time we explored one area of the venue, I pointed out to Mrs. Sip that we still had others to venture to. I also liked that you could buy tokens before entering, cutting down on wait times at the event’s commencement.

festival 3

My advice for those who still want to go to the festival despite – or in spite of – my rant, is to go on the Sunday of the weekend-long event. According to a number of the breweries, the crowds on day two were much lighter and we only waited in line for beers once all day and that was for the uber-popular House of Funk Brewing.

Moving on, upon returning home from Alaska, I purchased the Red Racer Across the Nation beer case, which features a collaboration beer with a brewery in each province/territory (except Nunavit). By buying directly from the brewery, rather than a BC Liquor Store, I saved a few dollars, so I’d recommend going that route to anyone who is near Central City’s Surrey location. The case has a number of interesting brews, with my favourites so far being the Kermode Kiwi Saison and Narcisse Smoked Amber Saison. I will probably buy the case a second time, as I’ve shared much of it and the variety is very alluring to me.

This weekend, the Sip Family celebrates my second Father’s Day, where we’re hoping to finally pop into the recently-opened Another Brewing Company (ABC Brewing), as well as visits the acclaimed Bauhaus Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver for a friend’s birthday.

 

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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Sip Trips #15: Back to Basics

This last week wasn’t as jam-packed full of events as the last month or so has been, which has allowed for some rest and rejuvenation, as well as a chance to catch up on some recent developments. This may be a briefer than usual Out and About than most, but that doesn’t mean the quality won’t be there!

Our big trip of the week was to visit the Big Rock Urban Brewery and Eatery location, which is finally open. We first heard about this project last July at the Langley Tip N’ Taste event and it has at last come to fruition. Although the place had been opened a couple weeks already, this was to be the “grand opening” weekend, but there wasn’t a whole lot of action going on. Even the live music that was supposed to be playing that night never started up.

Grand Opening Fail

That said, Mrs. Sip and I each found beers we really enjoyed. I liked the smoky flavour of the Rauchbier, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed the richness of the Chocolate Malt Stout. We also tried a couple of the eatery’s appetizers and generally had a good time at the place. I can see the potential for the Urban location, as a great hangout and place to enjoy live music, and hopefully another visit will provide these additional elements.

The Out and About week ended with splitting a couple pitchers of Russell Pale Ale, while scarfing down a feast of smoked meat and other goodies at Dunn’s Famous, along with Ma and Pa Sip and Cousin Sip. Sadly, my Vancouver Canucks lost their opening playoff game in the dying seconds of the third period, but there is much more hockey to be played in the coming days.

Onto some news items, late last week, the schedule of events for the Vancouver Craft Beer Week in late May-early July was released and there were so many great options to choose from. Mrs. Sip and I were quick to grab tickets to the “What the Hop?” Beer Trivia, This Sandwich That Beer Throwdown (pairing sandwiches and beers together), and the Beer Cocktail Competition. We may make even more plans, but tickets to some events have sold out already, so we’ll have to be quick on the uptake.

Cocktails Super Glue

Observant booze shoppers have likely noticed recently that BC Liquor Stores are touting their new extended hours and, for many, being open on Sundays. These are wonderful changes and one can only wonder why it took so long for the government-operated stores to catch up with the times. I mean, who wants to live in a world where alcohol is harder to locate on one of the few days most of us don’t have to drag our asses to work!?

Speaking of the weekend, this one looks a little crazier than the last one, so look forward to next week’s more robust Out and About. Maybe we`ll even pick up some Sunday liquor, just for the heck of it!