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.

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

Sip Trips #22: Festivality

The 6th annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW henceforth) has arrived and with it comes a host of great events to welcome summer and get your brew on. Mrs. Sip and I were busy with a full slate of activities. Here’s how it all went down:

On Saturday, we had tickets to the What the Hop? Beer Trivia, which turned out to be incredibly good value. The cost was $60 to enter a team of four and this included a sleeve of beer with each of the four trivia rounds, from one of the breweries sponsoring the event, as well as a couple appetizers per team. It was originally advertised as one starter dish per round per team, but turned out to only be two of the four. That was really the only disappointment of the day.

Beer Trivia

The beers included the Red Truck ISA, Fuggles and Warlock White IPA, Parallel 49 Jerkface 9000, and Central City IPA. Our team, ‘Beer Today, Hung Tomorrow’, made a good showing, placing in the top five of 30 or so squads. We missed out on the grand prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the Whistler Beer Festival in September, but I was rewarded in other ways, as any beer my fellow team members didn’t like or had enough of, seemed to float my way. I have to mention that the venue, Colony on Main Street, and the host of the game, IQ Trivia 2000, were also great and made for a very fun afternoon.

After the trivia, we wandered down the street for our first visit to Main Street Brewing. There, I grabbed a flight of their beers and continued the drinkfest. Not ready to pack it in just yet, our next stop was the nearby Brassneck Brewery, where it was one more pint for the night. By 11pm, we were back at our temporary accommodation and it was nighty-night for the Sip Advisor. Heck, I had to rest up for Sunday’s sandwich pairings!

The next day brought the This Sandwich, That Beer Throwdown at The Portside Pub, in Vancouver’s historic Gastown. This place is neat in that you actually kind of feel like you’re aboard a ship… or at least I did! Before the festivities got underway, Mrs. Sip was thirsty for a beer. This provided a chance to try the Campfire Kolsch that was made specifically for VCBW 2015. We both liked the brew, but it was time to get our eat on, with nine sandwiches and nine cask beer accompaniments on the menu for the afternoon.

cat sandwich

There was a lot of food and beer to consume and we feel we got good value, once again, with a price point of $45. My favourite sandwich was the Duck Confit with Pancetta from The Tasty Torpedo, while my beer of choice was the Steel & Oak Smoked Hef. Not surprisingly, these two items were paired together and it’s amazing how a nicely paired beer can improve a sandwich and vice versa. There were no duds in this competition.

That said, the winners of the day were the aforementioned Tasty Torpedo for best sandwich; Townsite Brewing’s  Sour Saison for best beer; and the combo of Calabash Bistro’s Braised Jerk Chicken sandwich, paired with Dageraad’s Sri Lankan Dubbel, for the best total experience. This event sells out quickly every time it is run, so don’t delay when the opportunity for tickets comes up.

Wrapping up our busy week of commitments (although these are the best kind of commitments!) was the Beer Cocktail Competition at Blackbird Public House. After a great weekend of events, we had high hopes for this one, as well, but it kind of failed to deliver. On the cons side, we had trouble finding seating for our group, as the venue chose not to close down and run a private event or reserve a section for the production, meaning we were battling with the after work rush of customers for a spot. The table we eventually landed at made us feel disconnected from the festivities. Worse yet, we didn’t get to try all of the beer cocktails and while this was mentioned in the event’s details, what’s the point of having the competition at all, if those who paid to be part of it, don’t get to try each entry? For that matter, what’s the point of handing out samples if there’s not enough to share with everyone? This is a kindergarten lesson that still applies in the adult world!

sharing was caring

It wasn’t all bad, though. The pros included the pint of Driftwood New Growth Pale Ale everyone received, which was really nice, the $20 ticket price, and the few glasses of Jameson Irish Whiskey we managed to get our hands on. In the end, we had a good enough time (making the best of it), but when the winner was announced, we just didn’t care anymore. I don’t mean to crap on the hard work of people who put on the event, but some lessons could be learned from a similar cocktail competition, such as Made with Love.

In wrapping up, I still have to say that VCBW has treated the Sip Advisor, Mrs. Sip, and members of both the Sip Alliance and Sip Syndicate (that’s a lot of sips!) very well. Just wait until future installments when I launch my own event: the salty snack food and beer pairing, plus trivia competition, all rolled into one!