Sip Trips 153: Market Madness

Christmas is rapidly approaching and the Sip Family has been busy. From Vancouver to New West to Langley, we’ve been all over the place in recent times, taking in as much of the holiday season as we can. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

We’re now a couple weeks into Storm Brewing’s 12 Fills of Christmas and the lineup thus far has been delicious and diverse. Week one combined the Must Be Christmas Grape Lambic and Christmas Tree Pilsner, followed by the Dark! The Herald Angel’s Sing CDA and Santa’s Christmas Spiced Ale for week two. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month has in store. On one of my visits to get my fills, I also sampled their Eggnog Latte Stout, which was quite interesting.

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As for events, a couple weeks back we attended the Vancouver Christmas Market, where I enjoyed some liqueur tastings from Okanagan Spirits. I wasn’t really into the market this year, with us no longer living nearby. We get free tickets annually, so still checked it out, but I don’t know if that will be enough to draw me back next year.

What I enjoyed more, was our visit to Mahony & Sons prior to the Christmas Market. There, I ordered a couple pints of Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale – a wonderful beer for those who haven’t tried it yet – along with the pub’s very tasty Poutine. Everything was on happy hour pricing, making for even more merriment.

The next night, we participated in Disney Trivia at The Pint. Having had dinner at Chronic Tacos beforehand (I adore their Al Pastor Burrito), I was looking to get my drink on and that came in the form of a trio of pitchers, including two of the Whistler Chestnut Ale. The pitchers were on special at $16 each, but were only 50-ounce pours, rather than the traditional 60 ounces. As for the trivia, we didn’t fare so well, but it was still a fun evening.

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We wrapped the work week by visiting the New West Christmas Market. What was nice about this market is that there was no entry fee and it was largely housed under an overpass, keeping folks dry in the case of rain. That said, it got really busy by the time I arrived to join Mrs. Sip and the live band was loud, so chatting was difficult. We left a short time later, after downing a selection from Steel & Oak Brewing, which Mrs. Sip tells me she thinks was their Dark Lager.

The next night, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a group of friends for a classic turkey dinner. This was the first time we’d ever cooked a turkey on our own and I have to say the experience was mostly positive, save for a few rookie mistakes and a lot of Google searches. It also gave us a whole new respect for the work our families have done when preparing dinners in the past. For the party, we shared our latest Storm fills, as well as the Whistler Winter Dunkel four-pack I picked up. This is the first time I’ve seen the scrumptious beer that tastes like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in any format other than a bomber-sized bottle.

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We closed the weekend with a visit to Township 7 Winery in Langley for their Member Open House. I spent most of the time chasing Baby Sip throughout the tasting room, but did note the event provided a very generous serving of snacks and wines for the members.

The Sip Advisor is now on holiday break and there will be much mischief to get up to, as we have a Canucks game this weekend and then all the fun that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day usually offer up. It’s gonna get boozy!

Beer of the Week #16 – Whistler Function Junction Northwest Pale Ale

While on a recent beer shopping expedition, looking for new and interesting products, I picked up a tall can of this Whistler Brewing release. The latest from the brewery piqued my interest with its lightness and typically enticing artwork.

The Function Junction Northwest Pale Ale was a solid drink, featuring seven different hop varieties, as well as four different malts. The 4.8% ABV (a number I’ve come across a few times lately), 38 IBUs beverage was fairly balanced and certainly refreshing.

Whistler Function Junction Northwest Pale Ale

Available exclusively at BC Liquor Stores in 500ml tall can form, the beer is priced at only $1.99 (before tax and deposit), for a limited time. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to have a few of, without losing your senses, this would be an ideal choice.

Function Junction is the area of Whistler that is home to the company’s brewery and tasting room. Whistler was recently joined by Coast Mountain Brewing in the neighbourhood, which suggests that a crawl should be organized shortly.

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BC Beer Baron #343 – Whistler Valley Trail Chestnut Ale

Nothing says Christmas like the smell of roasted chestnuts. While the Sip Advisor is not a fan of eating the holiday treat, I certainly don’t mind drinking a concoction based on it. Thankfully, Whistler Brewing came along with this seasonal specialty.

The Valley Trail Chestnut Ale is of the dark amber variety and features flavours of vanilla, nuts, caramel and spice. The 5% ABV beverage is lightly hopped and uses stone-milled chestnut flour from roasted and unroasted chestnuts, alike.

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While I see the beer as a dessert option, the brewery suggests pairing it with roasted chicken, Asian noodle dishes, and braised pork and beef. I will have to give those options a try and see how things come together.

First released in 2011, the brew is available from October to April in six-packs, bombers, and as part of the brewery’s Winter Party Pack. Either way, the Chestnut Ale has become a welcoming sign of the changing seasons.

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BC Beer Baron #313 – Whistler Whiskey Jack Ale

While recently competing in a Disney Trivia event at The Pint, in Vancouver, the Sip Advisor was able to reacquaint himself with an old friend from Whistler Brewing… a pal I wasn’t sure even existed anymore.

The Whiskey Jack Ale is described as either a pale or amber ale, but the beverage reminds me of a Scotch ale, with its dark copper appearance and flavour profile. I would have preferred some even stronger tastes and smells, typical of that variety of beer.

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The brew comes in at 5% ABV and is light on hops, making it very easy to drink. Some more complexity would have been welcomed, but it’s still a solid beer. The ale is available in six-packs at BC Liquor Stores.

A whiskey jack, for those who don’t know, is a bird belonging to the crow and jay family. As the brewery writes: “Like our winged friends on the mountain, this ale is full of personality, with just the right amount of hop!”

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BC Beer Baron #252 – Whistler Peak to Pier Summer Wit

Prior to our recent weekend away, camping in the Cultus Lake area, the Sip Advisor did some serious liquor shopping. One of the bottles I procured was this release from Whistler Brewing, which I knew would be perfect for the occasion.

The Peak to Pier Summer Wit is a very good beer, featuring flavours of cranberry and peach to go along with the more typical tastes of a wit variety product (wheat, citrus, and spice). The 5% ABV, 15 IBUs beverage is light and incredibly refreshing.

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An exclusive collaboration with Tap & Barrel, the brew can be found at their three Vancouver-based locations for the duration of summer. The restaurant touts the beer as ideal for days drinking outdoors during what can often be too brief of a patio season.

The Peak to Pier Summer Wit is also available in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores, as well as private establishments. Get it before it’s gone!

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BC Beer Baron #226 – Whistler Grapefruit Ale

While attending a recent Vancouver Canadians game at Nat Bailey Stadium, Mrs. Sip and I took advantage of the ballpark’s Craft Corner. There, we each picked up a serving of this Whistler Brewing beverage.

The Grapefruit Ale is light and refreshing, everything one would want in a beer enjoyed under the hot summer sun. The grapefruit comes across in the finish of the brew, giving drinkers a nice sweet and sour mix. The Sip Advisor even detected some caramel notes and a light spice.

Whistler Grapefruit Ale

I did think the 5% ABV, 14 IBUs beer was better at its peak of coldness and my enjoyment decreased when it grew warmer. This can be said of almost all drinks, though, with the only difference being how noticeable the gap was here.

Formerly known as the Paradise Valley Grapefruit Ale, this summer seasonal is available in six-packs at BC Liquor Stores. The BCL description suggests pairing the brew (which debuted in 2011) with pancakes or a light dessert.

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BC Beer Baron #195 – Whistler Cheakamus Chai Maple 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 so many brewery options out there, a game of one-upmanship sometimes occurs and from that, the world is treated to some very unique experimental releases.

Not content to let their classic lineup be all that is available to BC drinkers, Whistler Brewing continues to experiment with new releases, including this tasty treat.

The Cheakamus Chai Maple Ale is made by using real maple syrup during the mash process, before chai tea is added to the recipe during filtration. This results in a complex and spicy beverage. As the brewery puts it: “One taste, and a simple truth is clear: complexity can be a very beautiful thing.”

Whistler Cheakamus Chai Maple Ale

A spring seasonal to Whistler’s brewing arsenal, the 5% ABV beer is available in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores and other purveyors of fine liquor. The Chai Maple Ale gets its name from the nearby Cheakamus River.

Whistler is not alone on the BC brewing landscape in their playing around with chai. Storm Brewing have also released a Chocolate Chai Ale, which I’ve sampled and enjoyed.

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BC Beer Baron #96 – Whistler Bear Paw Honey Lager

One of my beverage selections as we recently ate at EXP Restaurant + Bar was this Whistler Brewing release.

The Bear Paw Honey Lager was a decent beverage, but a little on the sweet end of the spectrum, thanks to being fermented with 100% organic BC honey. The brewery writes: “Whistler really is bear country and it’s quite common to meet a hungry bear on the Whistler Valley Trail. Which is fine, unless you happen to be carrying a Whistler Bear Paw Honey Lager; ‘cause we all know bears love real honey, right???”

Whistler Bear Paw Honey Lager

Speaking of carrying the beer, it’s available in six-packs of bottles and will soon be joined with canned six-packs. “Just make sure you don’t walk home via the Whistler Valley Trail,” Whistler Brewing warns. Suggested food pairings (honey bears don’t give a damn about pairings!), include turkey, pizza, lasagne, steak, and calamari.

Featuring a logo with a bear chowing down on honey, how can you not fall in love with this brew. Sure, traditionalists will tell you that it’s all about the beer and not the package, but I’m a softy!

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BC Beer Baron #65 – Whistler Lost Lake IPA

I have enjoyed this Whistler Brewing beer since I first tried it at The Keg last summer. When I saw that it was include in the brewery’s Winter Party Pack, I had to have it, even carrying it home first from a BC Liquor Store and then from a friend’s place, on a 30-plus minute arduous expedition. The sacrifices we make, am I right!?

The Lost Lake IPA didn’t disappoint on my second serving of the beer. It is unique in that it is unfiltered or as Lost Lake folk like to say, “au natural”. With stats of 6.8% ABV and 75 IBUs, it’s a strong and hoppy beer, featuring flavours of grapefruit and passion fruit.

Whistler Lost Lake IPA

Suggested pairings for the IPA include barbecue lamb, bison burgers, and roasted red peppers. The beer is available in the aforementioned Winter Party Pack, as well as in 650ml bomber form.

Lost Lake is located in the resort community of Whistler and the brewery writes: “Like the waters of Lost Lake, our Unfiltered India Pale Ale is refreshing and with a real bite.” I suppose that can really only be quantified by anyone dumb enough to actually go for a dip in the frigid water. Maybe summer provides a different experience, though, as the lake’s beach was formally a hot spot for nude sunbathing!

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BC Beer Baron #29 – Whistler Black Tusk 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. For the opening month of this project, I wanted to look at some of the flagship and original offerings from breweries around the province.

Whistler Brewing has been around for over 25 years, established in 1989. For a time, the beers weren’t even produced in Whistler, but that changed for good in 2009 when the company opened a new facility. Located in the Function Junction area of the resort destination, Mrs. Sip and I visited the brewery a few years back and had a fantastic time.

One of the funnier getting sick from drinking stories I’ve witnessed came from that visit, as one of our fellow travelers fell in love with today’s feature beer a little too much, resulting in a not-so-happy ending to the evening for him.

Whistler Black Tusk Ale

Speaking of that beer, the Black Tusk Ale recipe has existed since the brewery first launched all those years ago. The dark, English-style mild ale is slightly bitter with flavours you’d expect from darker brews, such as chocolate and coffee.

The name of the beer is derived from a Whistler tourist attraction, the core of an extinct volcano that makes up the mountainous town. The brewery describes the experience of drinking their beers as “More flavor. More Character. More to Experience.” That statement pans out with this product.

We still haven’t had a chance to attend the Whistler Beer Festival (a Whistler Brewing initiative, which takes over the village every September), as we’ve been out of town the last couple years around that time, but it’s among the top of our list for festivals to experience.

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