Sip Trips #174: Island Exploring

While the last couple of weeks have been quieter, coinciding with the end of summer, the Sip Family has still kept up a fairly busy schedule of events and activities. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

Following the Labour Day long weekend, Mrs. Sip and I both took an extra day off work to take Baby Sip to the Vancouver Aquarium. While in that neck of the woods, we visited the new Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub. They have set up quite a facility there and we wish our visit wasn’t so brief. I ordered a pint of the Grapefruit & Juniper Red ISA, which was already on tap, despite being on their “Up Next” menu. I’m so glad it was because it paired quite well with the Pretzel Mrs. Sip asked for, accompanied by a very tasty mustard sauce. I’d say the only drawback is that a trip to Stanley Park takes us quite a bit out of the way nowadays, so popping into the brewpub will likely be a rare treat.

mustard

Later that week, to celebrate Pa Sip’s birthday, we had dinner at the Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant in White Rock. While splitting a platter of delicious Fish & Chips, I enjoyed a pint of Steamworks Lager. In my opinion, you just can’t have fish and chips without a frosty beverage and although the restaurant only had this one craft option, I’m thankful they at least had that.

This past weekend, we travelled to Victoria to visit family. While on the island, I was able to hit a couple of the many craft breweries our capital city has to offer. We began our limited crawl at Phillips Brewing, which has expanded greatly since my last visit a handful of years ago. I went with a flight of beers, selecting their Fresa Fresca Strawberry Cream Wit, The Ramanga Blood Orange Witbier, Au Currant Black Currant Wheat Ale, and Death Metal Norwegian Black IPA. I also picked up a bomber of Villager Hazy Kolsch, the official beer of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, for the road.

Up next was Vancouver Island Brewing, where I put together another flight, consisting of their Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Magic Hour Grapefruit Gose, Faller Northwest Pale Ale and Just Desserts Porter. If it wasn’t so expensive to take a vehicle round trip via BC Ferries, we would probably be able to explore Victoria even more. There are many locations over there that I’d love to stop at in the future.

ferries

We wrapped our most recent adventures by trying Burger Heaven in New West. The burgers here don’t come cheap, with the basic option starting at $15 and fancier items closer to $20 or more, but they are very good quality. I went with the Teriyaki, Mozzarella, Bacon & Mushroom Burger and it was fantastic. Our meal ended on a bit of a sour note, though, as we were charged for extra drinks we didn’t order and it wasn’t realized until after we paid. We were refunded for the drinks, but our tip was based on an incorrectly inflated charge. Not to mention, while this could have been an accident, you’re always left wondering whether the server was hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

Coming up for the Sip Advisor is the September birthday blitz, which sees myself, Baby Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and a couple friends all celebrate another year on this earth within a week of each other. Should make for quite a bit of fun!

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Sip Trips #159: Free Bird Follies

As winter fades away and spring emerges from the darkness, the Sip Family has been busy. Mrs. Sip was recently in Las Vegas with her girlfriends, providing the Sip Advisor a little time to get reacquainted with loved ones. Those would include new purchases, such as Steel & Oak Talanoa Wheat Ale and Lamb’s Cherry Spiced Rum. The Talanoa (Fijian for sharing stories and ideas to build relationships and understanding) was brewed by the ladies of Steel & Oak Brewing as their second annual Women’s Charity Brew. Proceeds from the beer, made with black currant and rosemary, are going to The Kettle Society, which provides support for people living with mental illness. The Spiced Rum was an interesting find as I perused the aisles of a nearby liquor store. Thanks to an online suggestion, I’ve used the booze in a Mai Tai recipe and look forward to throwing it in a Dark N’ Stormy soon.

rum locations

As for events, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the Abbotsford Centre last Friday. Prior to heading out to the valley, we had dinner at Milestones, capitalizing on their afternoon happy hour for servings of Phillip’s Electric Unicorn White IPA and Hoyne Dark Matter. The two Victoria-based brews paired nicely with my Crispy Sweet Chili Chicken Bowl, which I would definitely order again. Mrs. Sip had the Caprese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which I snagged a bite of, and also enjoyed.

As for the concert, I think my hearing is still slowly coming back. The show was rocking all the way through the night and the band ending their appearance with an encore performance of Free Bird was everything a fan could have asked for. Arriving early, we took advantage of the Vancouver Island Brewing free tasting being offered and also grabbed cans of a couple Foamers’ Folly Brewing selections, including the Hot Box IPA for me and Raspberry Honey Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip.

freebird nursery rhyme.jpg

After a day of “rest”, where we only had two commitments to make, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Dead Frog Brewing. They turned their Steel Toe Lager green (with natural ingredients), so we crossed that tradition off the to-do list. Mrs. Sip also ordered a pint of the newly-released Pineapple Midnight Tropical Porter for us to share, which had an interesting blend of summer and winter flavours. For food, we imbibed with Pork Carnitas Street Tacos for moi and some Avocado Toast for the mademoiselle. Both were quite good and recommendable. The Dead Frog staff deserve major kudos for doing their best to make guests comfortable on a very busy day and for providing live music and cupcakes for children young and old at heart.

In the coming weeks, Mrs. Sip and I will celebrate 17 years of being in a relationship. I honestly can’t believe she’s put up with me this long!

Sip Trips #145: Hop Pursuit

A couple weekends back, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends at their family cabin in Birch Bay, Washington for a little getaway. To keep hydrated, I bought both the Hale’s Brewing mixed six-pack (Ale, IPA and Weizen) and the 21st Amendment Brewing Variety Pack (Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale, Blah Blah Blah Imperial IPA, Brew Free or Die Blood Orange IPA, Brew Free or Die IPA, Down to Earth Session IPA). Both were good, with the 21st Amendment case definitely being geared towards hopheads.

With only a couple months left to achieve my goal of getting Baby Sip to 52 breweries before her first birthday (one for each week of her life), we popped into Four Winds Brewing on Monday, joined by Cousin Sip. I had glasses of their Velo Pale Ale and Operis Brett Saison. This is my hometown brewery, so it was nice to finally get Baby Sip there and the beverages were pretty good, to boot.

Trip-To-Hometown.jpg

The next day, I tagged along with Ma and Pa Sip for a shopping trip in Washington. We ate lunch at Bellingham’s Chuckanut Brewing, where I enjoyed a delicious BLT and glass of their Willis Helles Lager. The sandwich was good and the beer decent. I love that craft breweries in Bellingham that also offer food have Tim’s Potato Chips as a side dish.

Keeping the streak going, on Wednesday, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and I visited Strange Fellows Brewing, pushing our brewery tally up to 42 with eight weeks left in our pursuit. At Strange Fellows, I had the Guardian White IPA, which was very refreshing. The girls selected the El Jefe Wheat Ale and liked it.

Wheat Smoothie

As for drinking at home, I recently grabbed Vancouver Island Brewing’s Summer Outpost Mix Pack, containing their Juan de Fuca Cerveza, Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Ukidama Lychee Saison, and Broken Islands Hazy IPA. I really enjoyed this collection, particularly the Helles and Hazy IPA.

The upcoming long weekend has a few items on the docket and then we’re off to Halifax, Nova Scotia to explore some east coast breweries. We have two weddings to attend during this time, so there will be plenty of drinking and celebrating on the horizon!

Beer of the Week #12 – Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Vancouver Island Brewing seems to be going through a bit of a rebranding, featuring a few old favourites with new names. Of those included in the new campaign is this product, which I picked up a six-pack of recently.

The Carmanah Ale is of the amber ale variety, featuring flavours of pine “as deep as a forest of Sitka spruces”. The 4.8% ABV easy drinking beverage was perfect for a long day of sipping, including drinking games, providing longevity and durability.

Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Joining the Carmanah Ale (aka Sea Dog Amber Ale) with new packaging is the Piper’s Pale Ale and 48 Dark Lager (formerly Hermann’s Dark Lager). The movement is using geographic coordinates, along with the tagline: “Where’s Next?”

The brewery did change ownership last summer, thus the company reboot. This particular release is named for Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, located on Vancouver Island. The park features numerous hiking trails.

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BC Beer Baron #327 – Vancouver Island Black Betty Blackberry Saison

With the Sip Advisor’s annual beer pong tournament being contested, some good beers were needed for my red solo cups. I chose to fill some of them up with this Vancouver Island Brewing release and had a party!

The Black Betty Blackberry Saison is brewed using freshly hand-picked blackberries from the island and combined with Northern Brewer hops for notes of spice and pine flavour. The 5.5% ABV beverage has a tart finish, making for a refreshing summer beer. According to the brewery: “We brewed this Blackberry Saison and the damn thing went wild!”

vancouver-island-black-betty-blackberry-saison

The summer seasonal is available in canned six-packs at BC Liquor Stores. I also recently came across the beer being part of Vancouver Island’s Pod Pack winter edition, as the feature brew, joined by three other VIB selections.

An homage to the classic rock song of the 1970s, Black Betty by Ram Jam, the tune’s lineage traces back to being an African-American work song. This has caused some controversy when various artists have recorded and released the track.

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BC Beer Baron #266 – Vancouver Island Killer White IPA

While stocking up on supplies for an upcoming camping trip, the Sip Advisor picked up a bottle of this Vancouver Island Brewing new release. Isn’t camping shopping the best!

The Killer White IPA is a wheat ale-IPA hybrid, combining the best from both worlds into one delicious drinking experience. That would include flavours of banana and clove from the hefe yeast and citrus notes from the three different hops used in the beer’s construction.

vancouver-island-killer-white-ipa

Vancouver Island writes of the brew: “This white has some bite to it!” The 7% ABV, 60 IBUs summer seasonal is available in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores, as well as other booze vendors.

Featuring a label with a jumping killer whale, I assume the beer is an homage to Vancouver Island’s whale watching industry. This season lasts from March to October each year and brings a great number of tourists to this part of the world.

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BC Beer Baron #167 – Vancouver Island Sabotage India Session Ale

Last weekend, we hosted a big shindig at Ma and Pa Sip’s place to celebrate Ma Sip’s retirement. In order to get my party face on, I picked up Vancouver Island Brewing’s Summer Pod Pack.

The feature beer in that set was the Sabotage India Session Ale (ISA), which uses three different hops in the brewing process. The beverage is light (5% ABV) and refreshing and provides a nice entry point for those interested in trying hoppier beers, but who are reluctant to dive headfirst into an Imperial IPA or something of that ilk.

Vancouver Island Sabotage India Session Ale

The ISA was a really good beer and a nice compliment to a solid Pod Pack. I should know, I killed off almost the entire thing during the retirement party and I was uncharacteristically selfish and not very open to sharing. The summer version of the Pod Pack also includes Vancouver Island’s Piper’s Pale Ale, Sea Dog Amber Ale, and High Trail Honey Ale.

I have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed with the breweries various mixed packs when trying to pick something out the other day. I narrowed my choices down to VIB and Dead Frog, before going with the island option. Perhaps I was being too picky, but I feel there used to be more experimentation in the mixed packs and a more noticeable line-up change when going from winter to summer sets.

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