Sip Trips #169: Summer of Sips

We’re now in the thick of summer, which means ample opportunities to drink, whether they be in pools, on patios, at parks, or wherever else you might find yourself with a beverage in hand. Here’s what the Sip Advisor has been doing to start the season:

The Sip Family spent most of the Canada Day long weekend poolside at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. There, I enjoyed the Parallel 49 Brews Brothers Vol. 5 case, another one of my favourite annual collaborative beer packs. The eight tall can collection is always music themed, with this year’s brews named after boy band songs. I particularly enjoyed the Faded Habanero Peach Gose (brewed with Field House Brewing), among others in the set. Our group had a good time reminiscing about our younger years, as we played whatever song matched the beer I was drinking.

boy bands.png

Last weekend, we ventured to the recently opened The Bakery Brewing (the fifth brewery to operate along Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row). Mrs. Sip and I split two flights, allowing us to try each of The Bakery’s eight offerings. Their initial lineup is comprised of mostly sour beers, with my favourite of the bunch being the Carrot-Mango-Lime Sour. Wine and guest taps are also on the brewery’s menu, as well as some food items. At this time, The Bakery has three of their beers available to be purchased in bottles, including the aforementioned Carrot-Mango-Lime. I would have never thought of carrot being a good beer ingredient, but it works here.

En route home from The Bakery, we popped into ABC Brewing to use up more of my original patron gift card. Along with some of our previously enjoyed favourites, we picked up the newly canned Acronyms DIPA. We will be back shortly to also try the debuting Dual Citizen Saison.

acronyms

On Tuesday, we picked up Big Star Sandwich and enjoyed the meal in the Westminster Pier Park for New West’s Music by the River Festival, which sees twice-weekly concerts by various artists. The draw for us was that the park is licensed, serving one beer each from Steel & Oak and ABC, available for purchase at the concession. Sadly, rain put a damper on the concert, featuring sitarist Mohamed Assani.

Upcoming, we hope to check out Fridays on Front in New West, as well as having a number of kid’s birthdays to attend over the next two weekends. This will provide many more great opportunities to visit breweries around the Lower Mainland, as well as catch up with friends over libations!

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Sip Trips #168: Alphabet Games

The past couple weeks have been filled with events and adventures, so let’s get right to the thick of things. Here’s what the Sip Family has been up to, of late:

To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we gathered for dinner at Bauhaus Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver. My order of Weiner Schnitzel was very good and the massive serving (with cucumber potato salad) justified the $36 price tag. The Schnitzel was accompanied by cranberry sauce, which I never thought of using on veal, but complimented the dish very well. Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed a trio of Brassneck Passive Aggressive Pale Ale servings to accompany my meal.

To celebrate my second Father’s Day, Mrs. Sip and I visited the newly-opened Another Beer Company (ABC Brewing), where we are original patron members. We were away on vacation while they hosted their special opening for members only, so it was great to finally get there and pick up my original patron package, which included a gift card and hoodie.

greatest dad

With plans to pick up a few beers to go when we were ready to leave, we concentrated on the options that were only available on tap for our time at the brewery. We ordered the Bright Temperament Belgian Saison, Salted Kviek Farmhouse Ale and Keep Your Pants On Indian Pale Kolsch, a style I have never seen before. The tall cans we bought prior to heading home included the Engine Head American Rye Ale, Poolside Hefe Bavarian Hefeweizen, You’ve Changed Pale Ale, Livin’ By The River Hazy IPA, and Young Wild & Hazy Hazy IPA.

We actually returned a few days later with Cousin Sip and her husband and picked the couple items (Good Alternative Altbier and Eli’s Stash Belgian Tripel) we had yet to try or purchase. I haven’t had a bad beer yet from the upstart brewery and I look forward to many more visits in the future. We like the loft seating area there, as well as the bucket of toys they had available for young children who are brought to the venue. With Father’s Day in mind, you may be asking how awesome of a father I am? Well, with our visit to ABC, Baby Sip has now been to 69 breweries across a handful of countries in her 20 months of existence. Father of the Year honours are surely on the way!

One final note about ABC, is they are operating with a different business plan than I’ve seen from other breweries. They aren’t offering growler fills, opting to sell tall cans which are packaged on a weekly basis and restocked daily. The cans are meant to be drank within two weeks of the packaging date. It will be interesting to see if this scheme evolves over time or not.

growler

Prior to our second visit to ABC, we had been attending the Vancouver Canucks Summer Summit with the Sedins. Upon entering, we were presented with vouchers for one entrée and two drinks, similar to the Summer Showcase prospects game last year. I used my food ticket on a Triple Os Bacon & Cheddar Burger, while my drink coupons once again went towards Budweisers (it always hurts to write that, but you can’t complain when they’re free!). There were many more drink stands available to attendees this year, so perhaps they listened to my suggestions following the previous event.

This past weekend, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends for a crawl along Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. We began the day with Twin Sails Brewing, which was hosting a First Day of Summer Party. I enjoyed my El Cacto Tequila Farmhouse Ale with Lime Zest, as well as Mrs. Sip’s Two Straws Milkshake IPA with Blackberry.

Next up was Yellow Dog Brewing, where we snagged a seat in their backyard area, one of my favourite drinking spots amongst the Lower Mainland craft beer scene. I went with their Squirrel Chaser Hazy Pale Ale, as I had never tried the beer before, while I order the Hi Ten Double Hazy IPA for Mrs. Sip, as she has been getting into that style more and more recently.

spritual quest

Moody Ales was stop number three. I was able to try a taste of Bakery Brewing’s Dark Rye Saison (on guest tap), before getting a pint of the Moody Ales/Gibsons Collab Rauchbock, which was deliciously smoky. Mrs. Sip went with the Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Stout, another fine choice.

Backtracking, our last stop of the day was Parkside Brewing, where we decided to pick up some road beers, rather than fight for a seat and table at the very busy place (all the Row was hopping throughout the day). I grabbed a tall can four-pack of their Motel Pale Ale, which were enjoyed as we walked the nearby trails to a playground for Baby Sip to finally get some playtime.

Upcoming is the Canada Day long weekend, which always presents some fantastic drinking opportunities. All we need is for the weather to turn around, so we can relax poolside and fireside with beverages in hand!

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.

 

Sip Trips #166: The Last Frontier

The Sip Family is back from our Alaskan cruise and what a time it was. We managed to visit eight breweries, two distilleries and three saloons (a goal I had outlined prior to the trip). With so much to cover, let’s get right to it:

Our journey started in Anchorage, where after settling into our hotel, we walked to the nearby Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, an eatery suggested to me by Ma and Pa Sip. There, I ordered a pint of King Street Hefeweizen to go with my delicious Crabby Patty Melt. The restaurant has over 50 beers on tap and is known for their halibut fish and chips meal, but I was intrigued by the Crabby Patty, partly because of my fondness for SpongeBob SquarePants.

krabby patty

After dinner and not quite ready to pack it in for the night (and with the sun nowhere near ready to set), we popped into Midnight Sun Brewing, which seemed appropriate. Our pints included the I’ll Have Another Belgian Wheat (with Alaskan blueberries) for me, while Mrs. Sip went with the Panty Peeler Belgian Tripel (with orange peel and coriander). We also split an order of their Soft Pretzel Sticks and were provided a sample serving of the Sockeye Red IPA from the very nice server.

Our last stop before returning to the hotel was Brown Jug Downtown Wine & Spirits. Interestingly, at this liquor store, your ID is checked both at the door and when making your purchase. I bought a bomber of Kassik Brewing’s Morning Wood IPA for a night cap beverage. The beer’s tagline is “Never let a Morning Wood go to waste!” Amen to that!

Speaking of mornings, upon waking up, we went for breakfast across the street at the Glacier Brewhouse. My Biscuits and Gravy were very good and quite filling. We also ordered a flight of beers, consisting of the Bavarian Hefeweizen, Passion Fruit Wheat, Imperial Coconut Ale, Pomegranate IPA, and Blood Orange Double IPA, to go along with our meal.

biscuits-and-gravy.png

Afterwards, we walked to 49th State Brewing, enjoying a seat on their patio, which overlooks the water. Here, we split another flight of beers, including the Fallen Comrade Red Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Vagabond Saison, Moose Joose IPA, and Kingslayer Braggot. The brewery’s Smoked Marzen Glazed Popcorn was actually good, according to this anti-popcorn curmudgeon.

After travelling from Anchorage to Whittier – which included a close call, where a driver going the opposite direction crossed into our lane and around our vehicle at a decent speed, driving through the road shoulder to our right before returning to their own lane – we finally boarded our cruise. We came packing, bringing aboard three bottles of wine, a handful of mini liqueur bottles and a bottle of Lemon Hart Blackpool Spiced Rum, which was so very tasty. I used the rum in the cruise-offered lemonade and hot chocolate, as well as with mixers I bought during port stops.

Proving that miracles do occur, the Sip Advisor only purchased one cocktail onboard the ship through the entire cruise. It was a good drink, but my original choice was denied because they were doing a menu that could only be ordered at select times. I had narrowly missed the window and the bartender wasn’t willing to help a brother out. My paid for beverage was the Mint Divine (gin, ginger beer, mint, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup), which reminded me of a Mojito and Gin Buck rolled into one.

mojito smoothie

Our first port stop was Skagway, where I had outlined two breweries to visit, as well as the infamous Red Onion Saloon. As we explored, we also learned about a new distillery in the town, so added that to our itinerary. Up first was Klondike Brewing, where a flight of their five beers set you back a whopping $17. This is also where we first learned Alaskan law allows folks to only purchase 36oz of beer per person, per day at locations. At distilleries, the limit is 3oz of spirits. Up next was Skagway Brewing, where we order a 4oz sample of each of their 10 beers on tap for $2 apiece. The Spruce Tip Blonde was particularly good and is a style that must be tried in Alaska.

Moving on, we walked what seemed to be the length of the town to end up at Skagway Spirits. After sampling their vodka and gin, we ordered some finely-crafted cocktails in their Rhubarb Collins, Rosemary & Grapefruit, Fireweed Cosmopolitan and Bloody Mary. I typically don’t like Bloody Mary’s, preferring the Canadian Caesar, but this was a good rendition of the Caesar’s American cousin. Our last stop was the Red Onion Saloon, a former bordello that was built in 1897. Along with a shared plates of Nachos with Chicken, I enjoyed a pint of Alaskan Icy Bay IPA, while propositioning the gorgeous Mrs. Sip.

The next port was Juneau, where we began our day at the Alaska Fish & Chips Company for pints, as the bartender was very helpful with directing us to some attractions around the city. While Mrs. Sip drank an Alaskan Blonde Ale, I had the Alaskan Hazy Bay IPA (only available on draft). We never made it to the Alaskan Brewing Tasting Room, as it cost $25 each (including guided tasting) to take the shuttle there and back, with Baby Sip being charged full fare.

expensive poor

Instead, we stuck to touring downtown Juneau, popping into Devil’s Club Brewing. Mrs. Sip went with a three-beer flight (Mile 37 Belgian Tripel, Silt Milk Stout, Tangerine Dream), while I ordered a 12oz serving of Princess Peach Milkshake IPA. The server also provided us with a taste of their Summer Lights Cucumber Berlinerweisse Sour Ale, which was light and refreshing.

After that, we moved on to the Amalga Distillery. Following samples of their gin, we got their Sixth & Seward (gin, lilac, lemon, simple syrup) and Rosemary Collins (gin, rosemary, lemon, simple syrup, soda water) cocktails. A gentleman at the bar, who owned a distillery in Indiana, ordered a specially made drink, comprised of rhubarb, mint and other ingredients, which he shared with us.

Our crawl continued with the Red Dog Saloon, the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. Here, I enjoyed the Alaskan Husky IPA, completing my trifecta of the company’s IPAs. Mrs. Sip had a glass of wine, which seemed a little out of place given the setting, but she’s a classy broad.

classy

We then returned to Barnaby Brewing, which we had stumbled upon earlier in the day when it was closed. I had The Goods from the Woods Spruce Tip Pale, which was satisfying. On the way back to the ship, we briefly stopped at the Pier 49 beer garden for a can of Kenai River Brewing Spruce Tip Double IPA. This was recommended to us back at Alaska Fish & Chips Company and was a very good beer.

Our final port was Ketchikan, where we visited Bawden Street Brewing to begin the day. I had a 16oz serving of their Hooktender Saison, while Mrs. Sip went with a 12oz serving of Berliner Weisse. After some touring of the town, including the scandalous Creek Street, we wrapped the day at the First City Saloon, enjoying a Single Engine Red and Twister Creek IPA, both from Denali Brewing.

Finally, the last day of our cruise was upon us, which typically means finishing off whatever bottles still remain. We began our activities with the Pub Lunch, where Fish & Chips were combined with a bottle of Piraat Belgian Ale. Next up was a wine tasting, featuring a champagne, one white, two reds, and a dessert wine. I was largely dealing with Baby Sip during the tasting, so didn’t get to spend much time savouring the vino.

wine tasting

In the evening, we used the new cruise ship app to order a couple free cocktails. I went with a Manhattan, which was disappointing in both taste and presentation, while Mrs. Sip had a Mai Tai, which wasn’t drank until we had Baby Sip in bed, so had become watered down by that point. My Duty Free bottle purchases for this vacation were the Edward Gunpowder England Spiced Rum and Anchorage Distilleries Ghost Pepper Vodka. I look forward to using both in future recipes.

In closing, I would recommend cruising Alaska to anyone interested. It was great to get off the ship in each port and not have to travel too far to explore the area. People were very friendly and helpful and enjoyed talking to visitors to their state. Mrs. Sip and I are looking forward to returning one day and doing some of the sites we didn’t get to this time around, but feel we made a pretty good dent into the last frontier.

Sip Trips #165: European Escape (Part 2)

After stops in London and Sicily to start our European vacation, we made our way to Malta for the final leg of the getaway. Promptly upon arriving in the country, we collected our rental vehicles and drove to the ferry, transporting ourselves to the sub-island of Gozo. After boarding the ferry, Mrs. Sip retrieved a can of Hopleaf Pale Ale for me, as I waited with a sleeping Baby Sip.

For dinner that evening, we went to the Zebbug Rovers Bar & Grill. Here, I enjoyed the Zebbug Rovers Special pizza (topped with chicken, bacon, ground beef, pepperoni, sausage and BBQ sauce drizzle) with a large serving of Paulaner Weissbier.

The next day, after checking out some of the sites around Gozo, we stopped for lunch at the seaside Churchill Restaurant. For our meal, I enjoyed a Grilled Angus Burger, along with a glass of House Rose. Afterwards, upon being challenged, I performed a near-perfect cannonball into the adjacent Xlendi Bay!

cannonball

Our big stop the following afternoon was a visit to Lord Chambray Brewery. Thanks to a group effort, we all got to try everything they had on tap, with my pint selection being the Sun Blas English IPA. Other favourites included the Fungus Rock Stout and Blue Lagoon Belgian Wheat.

That evening, we managed to finally get our hands on the final two episodes of Game of Thrones – as well as a TV we could view them on – and sat back to enjoy the spectacle. My enjoyment was enhanced by the addition of beers such as the 8.6 Original Intense Blonde Beer, which I became a big fan of during the Maltese portion of our trip.

The next day, we were off to the main island of Malta, staying in the marina area. On our first night, we had a late dinner at the nearby Mamma Mia, known for their Chicken Dippers meal, which was very, very good and really hit the spot after another long day of driving and sightseeing. A pitcher of Cisk Lager was a nice, if not underwhelming, accompaniment to the feast.

pitcher longer

Our next attraction was the walled city of Mdina, where we had lunch at the Palazzo de Piro Café. My Clubhouse Sandwich was unique in that it included boiled egg, but that didn’t detract from the meal. We also split a bottle of Medina Sauvignon Blanc to wash down our food.

Next up, was a visit to Meridiana Winery, where for 12 Euros, we received a four-glass tasting, including the vineyard’s Isis Chardonnay, Fenici Rose, Nexus Merlot, Melqart Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. With a bottle of the rose coming home with us, we can recreate the serene experience anytime we want.

To celebrate the return of our rental cars and no longer having to drive, we had another late dinner at Uncle Matt’s Kitchen. There, I had another meaty pizza with the Chicken Farm option. A tall can of Blue Label Amber Ale and glass of house rose completed the feast.

car rental.jpg

We next explored Valletta, the capital of Malta. Our day of exploring ended with drinks at the 200-year-old Caffe Cordina, where I drank a bottle of Farsons Double Red Ale. Baby Sip liked the stop, as she got to chase birds in the small square, as well as receive numerous packs of cookies from the servers.

On our last day, we bought tickets for Malta’s hop-on, hop-off bus. Our main stop was the Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, where we explored and dined at Carrubia, along the waterfront. Mrs. Sip and I weren’t very hungry, but shared a really good breaded cod and chips plate. The restaurant also offered free bruschetta for the table. A bottle of Green Label Delicata made the picturesque spot a perfect ending to the journey.

As mentioned earlier, Alaska is up next, a cruise I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I’m hoping to get some breweries in while there and the typical cruise ship shenanigans are bound to occur. I’ve made it my goal to hit at least one saloon in each port, so that should make things interesting!

Sip Trips #164: European Escape (Part 1)

The Sip Family has wrapped our seemingly annual trek to Europe and have a few days to recover and repack for our next adventure aboard an Alaskan cruise. With so little time at hand, let’s get right to the wrap-up of our most recent crossing of the pond. Part one, will look at our stops in London and Sicily:

Our group of three couples, three babies and two grandmas began our travels in London. On our first evening, weary from the journey, we ventured to The Spencer Pub, located near our Airbnb. Despite the rest of the group each ordering Fish & Chips, I was craving a beef burger. It was delicious and a good choice, although no one was complaining about their meal. To pair with the dinner, I ordered a pint of Watney’s Sarcasm Citrus Pale Ale, which was tasty.

proper pub

After a night’s rest, we visited Windsor Castle. Following a self-guided tour of the grounds, we popped into the Tower Tea Room at the Harte and Garter Hotel & Spa, as the ladies wanted to enjoy an afternoon tea. Being the only guy in the group, I didn’t have much choice, but made the best of the situation, ordering a bottle of Windsor & Eton Guardsman Best Bitter.

With all our group finally amassed, including friends living in London, our next endeavour took us to Hampton Court. The day began with a meal at The Bishop Pub, where I enjoyed a Buttermilk Chicken Burger and pint of Meantime London Pale Ale. I always marvel at how low the alcohol percentage is on beers in London with it being rare to see something surpass 5%. Certainly not what I’m used to at home.

With babies in tow and the girls wanting to see a theatre production, the guys spent a night in on the Saturday, while we would get our turn out on Sunday (on Mother’s Day of all days). We took full advantage of our evening though, stocking up on beers to be enjoyed. My brews included Camden Hells Lager, Gipsy Hill & Yeastie Boys Bogan Bogan Double IPA, Drygate Disco Fork Lift Truck Mango Pale Ale, Drygate Gladeye IPA and Vocation Pride & Joy Pale Ale.

babysitting.jpg

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we convened at Ting in the infamous Shard building for their Shangri-La Royal High Tea. To start, Mrs. Sip and I ordered one of each of their cocktails, which included the Little Miss Royal (vodka, ratafia, isake classic and egg white) and The Little Prince (gin, blue curacao, pineapple, lemon and pastis glacial mint). These drinks were very boozy, which turned some of our group off, but that’s just the way I like my libations.

Then, it was time for the guys to take off and watch the end of the English Premier League season. My two comrades are Liverpool supporters and picked The Comedy Pub to watch the games amongst fellow fans. There, we drank quite a bit, remaining at the bar well after the crowds cleared. Over the session, I tried pints of the Camden Pale Ale and Doombar Amber Ale.

Our next stop was Waxy O’Connors, which is a very cool place with multiple levels and nooks buried underneath the city. After a few more rounds, we decided some food was in order and stopped at the nearest Pizza Hut (cause we’re classy like that) for a couple pies and, you guessed it, even more beers!

pizza hut

The next day, we were off to Sicily, Italy for the second leg of our journey. After a day of travel and some settling in to our place, we went for a late dinner at Ristorante Borgo dell’Etna. There, I enjoyed a serving of their Pasta al Ragu, while a few of us split an 8-Euro litre of house white wine. Gotta love Italian vino pricing!

On day two, we visited the city of Taormina. Unfortunately, it rained pretty heavily that day (as it did nearly every day of our Italy stay, despite our friend’s guidebook saying it rarely rained in Sicily), so we took refuge at La Cisterna del Moro. With a great view, I dined on a scrumptious Calzone Saporito (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichoke), paired with a half-litre Moretti Rossa beer.

Day three in Sicily finally brought mostly good weather, so we partook in wine tastings at both Firriato Winery and Gambino Vini. Both places had their own charms and we very much enjoyed this day, which offered some easier road circumstances for us drivers. Baby Sip also liked running around the ground, collecting corks and pinecones.

wine more room.jpg

On our final day in Sicily, we booked a Godfather Tour, as a number of scenes from the trilogy were filmed around the island. Getting off to a rough start, due to more inclement weather and traffic gridlock, a portion of our tour was altered from an outdoor wine tasting to a meal at Il Padrino Restaurant. There, we were served about 15 different seafood dishes, with my favourites being shrimp in thousand island dressing and breaded mussels. The desserts were also nice, accompanied by homemade Limoncello, Grappa and Amaro, which you could pour as much as you wanted for yourself. The tour wrapped with a stop in the village of Savoca, where we enjoyed a couple beers to end the day.

Taking advantage of our beautiful Airbnb property, we did a few meals in, enjoying a number of Italian beers and wines to unwind after each busy day of sightseeing. My selection included: Cavaliers Birra Speciale Rossa Artigianale; Arcana Golden Ale, Red Ale and White Ale; Patronus Weissbier; Birotti Weissbier; and Briere De Haute Fermentation La Blonde De Ch’nord, which was my favourite of the bunch.

Upon leaving Italy for Malta (part two of this Sip Trips review), I bought a bottle of Fuoco dell’Etna at the airport, lured in by the bottle’s design which looks like a volcano has erupted (complete with a rocky texture), as well as the liqueur’s 50% alcohol percentage. The booze is supposed to include flavours such as strawberry, citrus and Sicilian herbs, so I’m looking forward to experimenting.

Sip Trips #163: Sudsy Events

The past week in Sip AdvisorLand started with a bang as we attended our much-anticipated Mucha Lucha beer pairing dinner at El Santo in New Westminster. Working with Steel & Oak and Four Winds breweries, El Santo’s chef concocted a delicious six-course meal, featuring grilled rhubarb; chocolate-crusted elk; flaked salmon; bison flank; charred cinnamon ling cod; and lemon cheesecake for dessert. These were paired, respectively, with Four Winds Pequeno Cabo; Steel & Oak Hideaway IPA; Four Winds La Maison Saison; Steel & Oak Marzen; Four Winds IPA; and Steel & Oak Kviek Ale.

I started the evening with the restaurant’s La Condesa cocktail (orange peel-infused Pisco, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, epazote syrup, cascabel chili-sugar rim), which was beautifully presented and quite refreshing. Tickets were $75 (with partial proceeds going to the Canucks Autism Network) and while each beer was only tasting-sized, we left very full and satisfied.

beer pairing

The very next day, we participated in the Craft Cask Clash at One20 Public House in North Delta. For the price of one 12oz serving ticket ($4), participants got a 5oz sample of each cask from six breweries. Vying for a tap line at the bar, the companies brought some interesting casks, including: Russell Lemon Meringue Sour; Fuggles & Warlock Pineapple Destiny IPA; Big Ridge Oatmeal Stout; Old Yale Mango Wheat (with orange peel, lemon, lime, coriander and rum); Parkside Pineapple Jalapeno Pale Ale; and Red Racer Mango Passionfruit ISA.

This event was extremely good value and for all the festivities we attend where we shell out large sums of money, I felt this was one where we leveled that plane out a little bit. Following our beers, we stuck around for dinner at the One20 Public House. I enjoyed a serving of Chicken Strips, while Mrs. Sip went with the Stuffed Yorkies. This was the first time One20 had done an event like this and I hope to see them do similar activities in the future.

beer tap

Over the weekend, I came up with a new concept for my drinking enjoyment. When it comes to BC craft beer cases, I’ve virtually had them all. So, to mix things up, I’m going to do exactly that and create my own mashups. My first attempt came by combining Stanley Park Brewing’s Trail Hopper IPA and Sunsetter Peach Wheat Ale to create what I’m calling the Sunset Hopper. The hybrid was very good, with the bitterness one would expect from an IPA softened by the peach flavours of the wheat ale. I will report on my other developments in the future.

Things will probably be pretty light this coming week, as the Sip Family concentrates on preparing for our vacation to Europe. That said, Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and my collection of various tequilas are itching for some attention. We’ll see if anything occurs that needs to be documented!