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!

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Sip Trips #158: Chicken Tender Tenacity

Since returning from our Puerto Vallarta vacation, things haven’t been quiet, but they also haven’t been crazy. I’ll enjoy the relative lull, knowing things always pick up for the Sip Family, especially as the weather improves. Here’s what we’ve got up to recently:

Last week, I was graced with a midday visit from Mrs. Sip at work, so we decided to do lunch at the nearby The Taphouse: Guildford. While we didn’t indulge in any beverages, we very much enjoyed our food selections, with me ordering the Chicken Tenders (with FOUR dipping sauces) and Mrs. Sip going with the Avocado Toast. We liked the look and feel of the place, and look forward to returning to try some other menu items.

dipping sauce

This weekend, I was joining a couple friends for the Vancouver Whitecaps season opener and we decided to start the day with drinks at the Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smokehouse. At the Howe Sound Brewing-affiliated tasting room, I enjoyed pints of the Wee Beastie Scotch Ale and Hazy Daze NE IPA. These were a good setup for the football match ahead, where I also picked up a serving of Stanley Park Trail Hopper IPA, once the stadium’s credit/debit payment system came back online at half-time.

The next day, we were back in Downtown Vancouver for our Vancouver Canucks Road Game Viewing Party. We selected this perk among five options given to season ticket members and had a great time, despite the game itself not being very good. Hosted at Rogers Arena’s SportsBar Live, we were each treated to one free entrée (options including Burger, Chicken Tenders, Half Nachos, Thai Coconut Chicken Curry, and Rigatoni Bolognese) and drink (beer, white wine, red wine, pop). For food, Mrs. Sip picked the Half Nachos, while I went with yet another serving of Chicken Tenders. Both were selected with sharing with Baby Sip, in mind. After our original drinks, we also ordered pints of 33 Acres of Sunshine and Steamworks Flagship IPA.

healthy food.gif

Up next was the Canucks game we’ve been waiting all season for, versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. We had planned to use much (if not all) of our membership gift cards at this contest. The night began with beers, with Mrs. Sip selecting a large serving of Hoegaarden and yours truly picking Postmark Juicy Pale Ale. As we lined up for Mrs. Sip to grab a hotdog, we noticed the stall also had Hoyne Dark Matter on tap, which confirmed what our next beverages would be. Best of all, the Canucks came from behind to win the game 3-2 in overtime!

Mrs. Sip is off to Vegas with the girls this weekend, so I’ll be left to my own devices with Baby Sip. I don’t anticipate a ton of activity in the coming days, but once Mrs. Sip returns, the calendar is loaded with four hockey games and two concerts over the next month, among other events.

Sip Trips #157: Puerto Vallarta Paradise

The Sip Family is back from our week-long all-inclusive vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’re well-rested, slightly tanned and ready to hit the ground running at home. Before we can do that, though, it’s time to put a bow on this getaway. Here’s what we got up to in what I like to call “Yarta”:

We stayed at the Crown Paradise Club, which was a very nice resort, full of friendly and helpful staff, lots of stuff for kids to do and good food and drinks for the adults. We enjoyed each of the resort’s three restaurants, featuring French, Italian and Asian food, as well as the four bars scattered across the property. My go-to drinks included Cuba Libres, Palomas, servings of Dos Equis Ambar, and Johnnie Walker Red nightcaps.

drinks for everyone

In the middle of our trip, we ventured into town to visit the two craft breweries I had researched. Starting at Monzon Brewing, we enjoyed a flight of Peachy Gringo American Wheat with Peach, Verano Sin Fin Saison, Animo American Amber, Hermanita Session IPA, and A-Sacala Azacca Hopped IPA, paired with happy hour food specials Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken and Chorizo Tacos. Their happy hour goes from 3-5pm, setting patrons up perfectly for nearby Los Muertos Brewing, who run their 35-Peso per beer happy hour from 4-6pm. At Los Muertos, we ordered pints of the Anillo De Fuego Chili Ale for me, El Jefeweizen Summer Wheat for Mrs. Sip and Agave Maria Amber Ale to split. The place also had some intriguing food deals, such as 30-Peso slices of pizza.

The next day, we walked to the nearby Walmart to grab some pool toys for Baby Sip. There, I grabbed some unique canned products in Kraken & Cola and Jose Cuervo Paloma. The drinks were quite tasty and perfectly refreshing for walks in the hot sun.

Returning to town on our last day of vacation, we stopped for lunch at Señor Frog’s, trying to balance my desire for McDonald’s and Mrs. Sip’s want for something more local, with something familiar, but also not available at home for us. We both ordered one of their famous beverages, with Mrs. Sip opting for the Frog’s Buster (vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, cranberry juice, simple syrup, lime) and myself choosing the Big Watermelons (tequila, watermelon and strawberry liqueur, lime juice, guava, grenadine). For food, we shared the Queso Dip and some Pork Tacos, which were both delicious meals and very filling.

senor frogs queen

Right before leaving the resort, we wrapped things up with the time-tested tradition of tequila, salt and lime! We will definitely be back, as we found Puerto Vallarta to be a very clean, manageable and friendly destination. Cab rides were reasonable, the sights were beautiful and the temperatures were ideal.

Upon returning to cold, snowy Canada, we spent Family Day walking the Quayside Boardwalk in New West, eventually landing at Steel & Oak Brewing. There, we split three flights, comprised of each of the 12 beers they had on tap. My favourites from the collection were the Roselle Wheat Ale and Kataja Juniper Ale.

Next up, we’re hosting an Oscars viewing party, where I’ve selected and adapted some interesting cocktail recipes. We also have a few highly-anticipated Vancouver Canucks events to attend on the horizon, such as our SportsBar Live! viewing party and contest versus the hated Toronto Maple Leafs!

Sip Trips #156: Whiskey Worship

These past couple weeks was highlighted by a whiskey tasting event attended by the male members of the Sip Syndicate. With five glasses of whiskey to be enjoyed, we knew we were in for a hell of a night, one that will most certainly make my ‘best of’ list for 2019.

Prior to the whiskey tasting, we agreed it would be beneficial to have full stomachs. Our pre-game meal was held at Craft Beer Market, where I enjoyed an order of their BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, paired with a serving of Yellow Dog Smash It! Orange Chocolate Pastry Stout. The beer was tasty and best of all, $1 from my purchase went to the Canucks Autism Network. I love drinking for the benefit of charities!

tasting throwing

As for the whiskey tasting, we had a fantastic time, as expected. The private event’s theme was whiskeys that were new to British Columbia and featured: Highland Park Full Volume, Glenlivet Code, Macallan Edition No. 4, Glenfiddich Winter Storm, and Octomore 9.1. The guy who selects these bottles is very knowledgeable and I look forward to returning next year for more debauchery.

Through the night, our crew also enjoyed a couple other whiskeys (Nikka and Oban) from the bar, as well as beers (Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale and 33 Acres of Life California Common, for myself). My goal for the night was to never not have two drinks in my hand, usually a beer and whiskey serving. That’s double fisting in style, my little sippers!

With more drinking at home occurring during this current cold snap, I should also highlight some of my recent purchases. First, I picked up a tall can four-pack of Old Yale Brewing’s Bloom Tulip Ale. Although this beer was released last spring, it had not come across my radar. Brewed using 2,000 fresh cut tulips from the Abbotsford Bloom Tulip Festival, the beer is advertised to be blue in colour, but is actually more of a purple. Still, it’s a neat drink and the floral flavours are interesting.

tulips dog

I also popped into Central City Brewing last week to see what was available in their fridges. I came away with a tall can of Lucky Pig Tangerine Ale with Ginger (brewed to celebrate Chinese New Year), a regular can of Treeline Campfire Juniper Smoked Farmhouse Ale (from the Central City/Parallel 49 Alpine Adventure Pack 2018 advent calendar) and a tall can four-pack of After Hours Old Fashioned Pale Ale, which combines the breweries own whiskey with orange peels and cherries, to create an Old Fashioned cocktail/pale ale beer hybrid.

Up next for the Sip Family is a week-long all-inclusive stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. With unlimited food and drinks and a couple craft breweries and a tequila museum to visit, you better believe the Sip Advisor is looking forward to this vacay!

Sip Trips #155: Beer Birthday

The past couple weekends have been loaded with commitments. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

On a recent stop at Steel & Oak Brewing, we picked up a tall can four-pack of their recently released Blush Rosé Saison. The limited edition brew looks beautiful and is quite tasty, utilizing Merlot and Cab Franc grape skins from the brewery’s neighbour, Pacific Breeze Winery. Partial proceeds are going to the Camp Kerry Society and their efforts towards bereavement care. I’ve noticed more wine and bubbly concepts becoming intertwined with the beer industry lately, with Brut IPAs becoming a very popular variety.

bubbly orange

Last weekend, prior to our matinee Vancouver Canucks game, we visited the new Brewhall (formerly Steel Toad Brewing) in the Olympic Village area. I like what the Tap & Barrel folks have done with this place, with the video games and picnic bench seating. Their lineup of beers is also quite impressive, stocked with many of their own releases and collaborations with other BC breweries. While devouring my Crispy Chicken Burger with Dirty Cheesy Fries, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed pints of the Hoyne & Brewhall German Amber Wheat Ale and Brewhall Polar Beer White Stout. Had we not had the game to attend, I could have drank a few more beers and enjoyed the afternoon there.

This past weekend was Mrs. Sip’s birthday, so a massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY needs to be shouted from all corners of the globe to my muse. Mrs. Sip shares her birthday with one of our good friends, who was celebrating the big 4-0. His wife decided to throw him a surprise party at Mariner Brewing, which was a great location for our large group. Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed pints of their Glow Holiday Spiced Ale and Horizon Winter Pale Ale, along with a taster glass of their Northeast IPA. While I didn’t have any food myself, dishes that came out, including pizzas, hotdogs and popcorn, all looked good.

Upcoming, we have a member’s only event at Township 7 Winery and some kind of vacation around the Family Day long weekend… so long as we can figure out a place to go!

Sip Trips #154: Year In, Year Out

Welcome to 2019! It’s been a busy start to the year for the Sip Advisor and company, so let’s get right to it with a look at the last couple weeks:

First things first, a final update on the Storm Brewing 12 Fills of Christmas Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed throughout the month of December. The final eight beers included a Plumageddon Lambic, Christmas Morning Cup of Joe Nut Brown Ale, Salted Chocolate Stout, Merlot Glacial Gnarwhal, Candy Cane Pilsner, Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout, Lightning Wit, and Butter Rum Ale. Also, while stopping by for some of the brews, we were able to try samples of the Almond Roca Ale and Cranberry Black Pepper IPA. These guys and gals will never cease to amaze me!

Prior to a recent Vancouver Canucks game, Mrs. Sip and I met with friends at the Red Racer Taphouse (formerly the Central City Brewpub). I ordered their Teriyaki Rice Bowl, which was a satisfying meal on this wet, rainy day. For drinks, I typically give the Mystery Tap a shot, with the beer being the Doan’s Crystal Weise this time around. I also drank a pint of Parallel 49 Toques of Hazard White IPA.

beer relationship.jpg

On New Year’s Day, we met friends for brunch at The Hub in New West. I really enjoyed my order of the Yankee Burger and Baby Sip seemed to like the pieces of meat and fries I shared with her. What about New Year’s Eve, you ask? Well, it was a quiet affair, with Mrs. Sip and I celebrating at home with Baby Sip. After years of always having elaborate plans for the occasion, we decided to take one off and relax.

This past weekend, the Sip Advisor was out in Langley, so I popped into B’s Craft Beer Lounge, which I hadn’t visited before. The place may be small, but it has an impressive lineup of beers, mostly in bottle and can form, but also with some unique options on tap. My flight was very interesting, consisting of the Storm Eggnog Latte Stout, Old Yale Vanilla Cardamom Imperial Red Ale, Twin Sails/Merit Cool Cool Cool Neapolitan Stout, and Field House Zinfandel Ale with Vanilla and Oak, which was my favourite of the set.

The next day, the Sip Family converged on the Vancouver Aquarium, where Baby Sip and her cousins encountered all the sea creatures on display. Following the Aquarium, we had a late lunch at the nearby Prospect Point Bar & Grill, where I enjoyed their On Point Burger. Our service here was excellent, given our big group and energetic youngsters.

aquarium

We wrapped this edition of Sip Trips with a visit to the Cineplex VIP Theatre at Marine Gateway. While enthralled by Bohemian Rhapsody, I sipped a Red Rum Spiced Red Ale from Dead Frog Brewing. If you’re even a casual fan of Queen, you should see this movie.

Coming up over the next couple weeks are a couple more Canucks games, Mrs. Sip’s birthday, a night of whiskey tasting, and much more. 2019 is rolling along pretty well, so let’s keep it that way!

Best of 2018

Weddings, birthdays, travel, moves and babies. These are some of the themes that make up the Sip Advisor’s annual look back at the best nights from the year that was. Without further ado, here is the Sip Advisor’s top 18 of 2018:

Winter Wedding

The year started off with a bang, as we spent an early January weekend celebrating the wedding of very close friends. With Mrs. Sip a bridesmaid and yours truly delivering a speech, we were busy, but also made ample use of the reception’s open bar. This was Baby Sip’s first wedding and she took in the craziness with her usual charm.

Down Mexico Way

San Diego has an amazing craft beer scene and that has spread across the border to Tijuana, Mexico. While we were staying in nearby Escondido, we booked a tour that would take us across the border for the day, visit a few breweries and then return us stateside in the evening. Our guide was very good and I recommend checking out places on both sides of the boundary.

Riding High

Baby Sip and I joined Mrs. Sip at the tail end of her annual girls trip to Las Vegas and one definite highlight was riding the High Roller, while inside one of the attraction’s Happy Half Hour (Open Bar in the Sky) cabins. For 30 minutes, we enjoyed the sights of the strip, while consuming as much booze as our bodies could handle in such a short time.

open bar

Mamma Mia

To celebrate Mrs. Sip’s first Mother’s Day, we flew to London. Okay, the trip was already planned with saluting Mrs. Sip’s efforts being a happy coincidence. To mark the occasion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea, complete with bottomless bubbly. We finished the day with a stop at the East London Liquor Company for a couple craft cocktails.

French Kissing

While in Lyon, France, our group enjoyed the Les Fleurs du Malt craft beer bar; a Beaujolais wine region tour; drinking in a park along the Rhone River; and an epic feast of McDonald’s goodies, paired with French craft beer. That’s my kind of culture!

Portuguese Pleasing

Next up was Porto, Portugal, memorable for the Food & Wine Tour Mrs. Sip found. After our afternoon of indulging, we explored the city, visiting the Calem Port Museum and Sandeman Cellars for Port tastings and cocktails. Lisbon and Sintra were also neat cities.

Satisfying Two Food Groups

In Brussels, Belgium, the Chocolate & Beer Tour we booked was absolutely decadent. Following a few stops at some of the finest chocolatiers in the city, it was time to get our drink on and enjoy a seemingly endless lineup of brews. After the tour wrapped, we ventured to the Delirium Café for even more beverages.

chocolate and beer

On the Battlefield

The only thing better than a good craft beer event is one that comes with free entry. Scratch that, Mrs. Sip and I were practically paid to attend Cask Wars at the Portside Pub, as entry included one free beer. Sure, once inside you paid for tasting tickets, but even that was at a very reasonable price. The competition saw 11 breweries work to drain their cask the quickest and earn a tap at the bar.

Wedded Bliss

What happens when you pack an entire wedding into a four-hour cocktail reception? A fury of fun… and drinking. Best of all, the rest of the day before and after the nuptials is yours to enjoy. When at the wedding, you can be solely focused on the party and that’s exactly how this went down, with Mrs. Sip calling it a night once we got home.

Maritimes Marriage

With friends tying the knot in their native Nova Scotia, Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) made the cross-country trek to Halifax for a weekend of fun. While touring the city’s craft beer joints and devouring as much Atlantic seafood as we could get our hands on, we also took in some east coast culture in the form of a food tour and visiting some museum exhibits.

Adios Apartment

With just days remaining before we had to be out of our Downtown Vancouver apartment, Mrs. Sip and I decided to throw a final bash at the ol’ place, collecting our finest drinking buddies, with the hopes of depleting our liquor collection and having less bottles to pack and transport. Everyone brought their A-game to the festivity and we ended up retiring numerous bottles.

moving out

Return to the Battlefield

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, enjoying a rare (my very first) night away from Baby Sip to attend the Battle of the Brews event in Surrey. The rain couldn’t dampen our merriment – or inebriation – and we ate and drank our way through as many tents as we could.

Cruise Control

Even with Baby Sip in tow, Mrs. Sip and I managed to live up to our cruise reputation as we travelled from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Giant margaritas, wine tasting and cocktail hours were enjoyed throughout the voyage, along with all the fine dining one stomach can handle.

Day in Disneyland

While I prefer longer visits to the Disneyland Resort, with only one day to spend at the happiest place in the world, we did pretty well with our stay. There to get Baby Sip her first taste of Disneyland and attend Mickey’s Halloween Party, we began with a trio of beers in the California Adventure park, launching us into the second half of our day, trick-or-treating with Mickey and the gang.

Brew Birthday

The Sip Advisor’s birthday, which should be a national holiday, celebrated across Canada, was at least celebrated in style by a select few of us, attending Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event. We honoured my German heritage with an impressive drinking exhibition and continued the party at our new home with friends and family.

birthday-beer.jpg

Bash for Baby Sip

While I didn’t drink as much as expected for this momentous occasion (I mean, I did create a small menu of cocktail delights to serve to guests), it is still a highlight of the year. First, the day meant we somehow managed to keep a kid alive for a full year and second, watching the sheer joy in Baby Sip’s eyes as everyone focused their attention and love on her, is something I won’t soon forget.

Open House

To show off our new abode, we hosted an open house wine and cheese party that stretched from midday to the early hours of the next morning. We had dozens of bottles on hand, as well as more food than has ever been in our fridge before or since. Guests flowed in and out through the day and at the end, we were just happy it went off without a hitch.

Christmas Day

The moment the Sip Family arrived at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for Christmas dinner, the drinking began. I can’t recall how many Dark N’ Stormy beverages I had over the stay, but my precious bottle of ginger beer was drained. At the end of the night, I passed out to Christmas episodes of my favourite animated comedies… a merry Christmas, indeed!

That wraps up another trip around the sun. I’m not entirely sure what 2019 has in store for this site, but I hope to bring back the Cocktail Corner and Love & Hate segments to this site. I’m also working hard to put together a much bigger project for 2020, so stay tuned!