Sip Trips #178: Aloha Hawaii

Last week, the Sip Family enjoyed some rest and relaxation in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t just laze poolside or at the beach, though. Here’s what we got up to while on the island:

Upon arriving at our hotel late last Sunday, I ran across the street to pick up a six-pack of Waikiki Hana Hou Hefe. Then I poured a couple back on our balcony, enjoying the late night humidity and wondering what time Toddler Sip would have us up in the morning, affected by the three-hour time change, including the daylight savings time adjustment from that morning. The answer: six-freaking-a.m. We all managed to survive, though, and it could have been worse.

During Toddler Sip’s first nap of the vacation, I spent my free time at Yard House for their excellent happy hour, which includes $2 off draft beers and half price appies, among other deals. My brews for this occasion were the Koholo Red Sand and Kona Koko Brown. Both were paired with a serving of Korean Boneless Wings, which were tremendous. The only thing that sucks whenever I’m at a place that has a large tap list (Yard House, Craft Beer Market, etc.) and I finally decide and order something, they’re always out of my first choice and I have to scramble to make a second pick. Also, drinking on your own when the urge to pee hits can cause some tough decisions.

cute cats

That evening, we walked down to Waikiki Brewing, where I satisfied my thirst for a spicy beer with their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. I really liked this brew, as it featured more spice and flavour than some similar beers I’ve tried. For eats, we ordered their Prime Sliders and Giant Pretzel, which was impressively big. The meal was very good and set us up for the long walk to the nearest Walmart for some grocery shopping.

The next day, we returned to Yard House for happy hour again, this time with Mrs. Sip and a napping Toddler Sip tagging along. On this visit, I drank the Aloha Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale, completing a trifecta of good beers served up at the restaurant. Our appies were the Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Nachos, which we managed to complete right before Toddler Sip woke up and threw her one and only massive tantrum of the vacay. That’s the last time Mrs. Sip offers her water after a nap!

Finally, it was time to do some booze shopping for our room after some serious price comparison work throughout the area. On the cheap, I picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to use with Cherry Coke and later Tonic Water as mixers. Spiced Rum has become my favourite go-to elixir when travelling, thanks to its versatility with a number of drinks, from sodas to hot chocolate.

captain morgan

Day three happy hour was spent at The Street Food Hall within the International Market Place. I began at Beer & Be Merry, capitalizing on their $2 Kirin all day deal with a pair of servings. Before leaving the place, I also popped over to The Myna Bird Tiki Bar for a cocktail, ordering the El Diablo (mezcal, creme de cassis, lime, ginger, soda).

With Toddler and Mrs. Sip up from their naps, we ventured over to the O Bar, where my beverage of choice was the Karai Thai (tequila, pineapple, guava, Thai chili pepper syrup, lime). While the drink was very refreshing, it was not as spicy as I would have liked. We also tried to feed Toddler Sip dinner here, but she was too interested in the fish tanks and live music.

The next day, we returned to The Street Food Hall as a family to share some pepperoni pizza from Nana Lu Pizzeria. I also went back to the Beer & Be Merry bar for a pint of Aloha Red Zeppelin, which had caught my eye the previous day. When you bought a craft beer from this bar, the serving size was bigger than the $2 Kirins, while the price was cheaper than other locations, even while not a special deal.

cheap beer

Up next, was a visit to Maui Brewing, where I put together a flight of beer, including Pineapple Mana Wheat, Anada Hemp Brown Ale, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Imperial Dolce Porter (w/ Caramel and Salt). Once again, a place was out of my top choice beer, in this case, the Fully Pitted Habanero Milkshake IPA. For food, we shared a Pork Belly Bao, which we both liked. To wrap the stay, I ordered the Street Fighter (tequila, watermelon, sour mix, Hawaiian chili salt rim) cocktail, which packed the heat I was looking for.

Following this stop, we walked a little further to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant. Sitting in their lounge area for happy hour, I had the Kona Winds (tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, mole bitters) cocktail. To restock my beers, I grabbed a six-pack of Kona Wailua Wheat from a nearby store, before we returned to our room for our evening tradition of Netflix and falling asleep with Toddler Sip. No more Netflix and chill for us!

On Friday, we enjoyed happy hour at our hotel’s Splash Bar (at the Sheraton PK), ordering a round of Kalua Pork Nachos, as well as their Homemade Potato Chips to scoop up all the nacho toppings. I finally ordered a Mai Tai for the occasion, as well as a pint of Kona Castaway IPA. With Toddler Sip napping, we were able to pull out the Sushi Go cards and play a few rounds following the meal.

mai tai.jpg

For dinner, we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, sharing some Roadside Sliders and a slice of the spectacular Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. To quench my thirst, I had the Kona Gold Cliff IPA, which complimented the food nicely.

Saturday saw us do another long walk to the Ala Moana Center mall, then over to Dave & Busters for dinner and some arcade games. Our server here was nice enough, but did not provide the usual service we get when at the chain (didn’t explain how things work with the games, etc. and never asked if we wanted dessert, just brought the bill). Another complaint from me is that their drink menu doesn’t include prices… Cheesecake Factory does the same and I’ve decided I will no longer enjoy a beverage at places that hide the cost. What we did enjoy was our food, including Pretzel Dogs, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. It was also neat to see Toddler Sip play some of the games, as her last visit to D&Bs occurred when she was only four months old.

Sadly, all great vacations must come to an end. After a morning swim, I took care of my liquor buying business by grabbing bottles of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and Kula Toasted Coconut Rum. I also picked up a couple massive cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the day because I just can’t help myself when it comes to PBR!

choose fun.jpg

Our final meal of the trip was enjoyed at Duke’s Waikiki, where we enjoyed an epic feast. My fish entrée was prepared in a mouthwatering Spicy Gochujang-Ginger Roasted sauce, while I sipped away at a Hawaiian Time (strawberry basil lemonade with Absolut Mandarin and Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu) cocktail. For dessert, we shared the Specialty Hula Pie (Oreo crust, peanut butter cup ice cream), which was truly decadent and we all overate prior to our redeye flight home.

We hope to return to Hawaii soon and wish our stay there was longer than a week. For now, it’s back to cold weather, but at least the Christmas season is ramping up and that will provide much festive joy!

Sip Trips #177: Feast Fantastic

Another Sip Trips cycle is in the books and I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by. We’re already into November and much like every store out there, Christmas is coming on in a hurry. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last couple weeks:

Fresh off a visit to Boston Pizza just the week before, we decided to dine at the restaurant again, this time at the Queensborough Landing location. For this meal, I tried the Mad Mac Pizza, which features McDonald’s Big Mac ingredients (think the famous jingle) in pizza form. The pizza was good, but I think I preferred my Royal Hawaiian from the previous meal. Toddler Sip had a kid’s meal, which included a main, side, drink and dessert for a very reasonable price. The generous serving of ice cream sundae was also enjoyed by mommy and daddy.

Sundae School

On Saturday, Mrs. Sip and I finally used the Cirque du Soleil: Luzia tickets I bought for Mrs. Sip for Mother’s Day. Turning the evening into a full-on date night, we began with dinner at Coast, part of the Glowbal network of restaurants. We split quite the meal, taking advantage of happy hour. Along with my pair of East Van IPAs, we ordered dishes of Lobster Poutine, Crispy Calamari, Fish & Chip Cone, as well as a three-course dinner, comprised of New England Chowder, Atlantic Lobster and Crème Brûlée for dessert. I even added a single oyster to the feast, in order to keep my aphrodisiac level high.

As for the show itself, it was very good. The first half included some acts that even seasoned Cirque veterans such as Mrs. Sip and myself have never seen before and we left quite entertained. We noticed a new feature they were trying out at the event was an all-inclusive lounge to enjoy drinks and snacks before the show and at intermission for $50 per person. Given a single can of beer is $12, we hope this option will be available the next time the big top comes to town.

Cirque Tryouts

Earlier this week, Pa Sip and I took in the Vancouver Canucks game versus the Florida Panthers. The 7-2 victory was a great end to the night, with our meal at Brown’s Social House (at Queen Elizabeth Theatre) providing a fantastic start. Again, capitalizing on happy hour, or in this case, social hour, I enjoyed a pair of Social IPAs with orders of Howlin Hot Fried Chicken & Pickles and Parmesan Garlic Fries. There were other items on the menu that stood out to me, so I hope to return soon for another feast.

This weekend, the Sip Family leaves for Honolulu, Hawaii for a week. I can’t wait to try some breweries there, as well as eat and drink to my heart’s content. You’ll hear all about it in the next installment of Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #176: Oktoberfesting

The month of October should be spent celebrating the harvest with good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing and the yield has been quite bountiful. Here’s what the crew has been up to over the last few weeks:

The Sip Family recently attended Another Brewing Company’s (ABC Brewing) Oktoberfest event and what a time it was. ABC put together a collection of 11 German-style beers – four of their own, with others coming from brewery friends – for guests to enjoy. I paid about $50 for a limited edition stein and fill (24oz), as well as five additional tokens for 12oz pours or to be used on culinary items. Free tickets were also available to those who just wanted to attend and perhaps buy a few tokens for food and drink.

oktoberfest-driver

My stein fill was used on Sundown Brewing Hefeweizen, which was a fantastic start to the day. I then moved on to ABC Brewing Altbier, before going the experimental route with Ravens Brewing Lingonberry Lime Gose. A-Frame Brewing Kolsch was up next, followed by Main Street Brewing Dunkel. I also tried some of Chuckanut Brewing Altbier, from Bellingham, Washington.

The only shade I can throw the event’s way was the pretzel I spent a token on was cold. This was probably due to the pretzels arriving late and the ABC folks trying to get them out as quickly as possible, to satiate the many guests who had been inquiring as to their whereabouts. I also overheard some complain about a lack of salt on the pretzels and I agree with this criticism.

To celebrate a recent family birthday, we gathered for dinner at Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale. My beverage of choice at the German-themed restaurant was a pint of Krombacher Dark, while my meal was the Schnitzel Four Season, featuring vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms. The combo was very good and filling.

schnitzel

Prior to our Vancouver Canucks game last Saturday, we ate at the nearby Boston Pizza, which has a number of new specialty pizzas on their menu, making my choice quite difficult. I settled on the Royal Hawaiian, attracted by the sweet Thai honey garlic sauce, smoked prosciutto, bacon, and grilled pineapple. I’d also love to try the Mad Mac, which sounds like a pizza version of the McDonald’s Big Mac. Since individual pizzas seem to be getting smaller and smaller every time I eat at the restaurant, we still had room for a slice of Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake, which was simply decadent. Add in a pint of Stella Artois to wash it all down and we walked away ready for some hockey action.

Wrapping up this Sip Trips cycle, yesterday, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at White Spot, to celebrate the first anniversary of them providing Toddler Sip (formerly Baby Sip) with childcare. There, I ordered my usual Legendary Burger with side Caesar Salad (gotta go healthy on some occasions), joined by a pint of Granville Island Oktoberfest Lager. Thank you again to Ma and Pa Sip for their hard work and amazing dedication.

We now move into Halloween season with parties and other festive gatherings on the horizon. All should make for an interesting couple of weeks and you’ll hear about soon; same bat time, same bat channel!

Sip Trips #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

second child

My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

tired disneyland

Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!

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!

Sip Trips #173: Annual Activities

This past week was incredibly busy for the Sip Advisor. Two of my favourite yearly events sandwiched my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding anniversary, which is always highlighted by some unique activity. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it:

The week began with a trip across the line to Washington State. We decided to pop into Bellingham’s Aslan Brewing for dinner, where I enjoyed a pint of their Ginger Rye Ale, paired with a host of food items, including Mac Bites, Bacon Bison Burger with Waffle Fries Poutine and Pepper Chicken Taco. The beer was tasty, with a nice spice to it and each culinary item was downright delicious. Even Baby Sip was into much of the meal, chomping down on the mac n’ cheese balls and beef from the burger.

On Saturday, we attended the Battle of the Brews in Surrey for the second straight year. I love this event, as our $40 early bird ticket allows unlimited beer and food over the four-hour runtime. Over 20 breweries and a handful of restaurants participated. While each brewery offered some great variety, Russell Brewing brought a spectacular and unique lineup, with three fruit-flavoured beers: Cucumber Sour, Triple Berry Milkshake IPA and Strawberry Hibiscus Milkshake IPA. As for the food, everything I had from Pulled Pork Sliders from Benny’s Texas BBQ to Double Chocolate Brownies from Brown’s Social House hit the spot.

cat bbq

Not content to end the day after the event, we ventured to ABC Brewing, where they were hosting a pop-up patio party. Here, I tried their Bradburied Australian Pale Ale and I continue to be impressed with the company’s releases and experimentation with different styles, many of which you don’t come across very often.

Sunday marked seven happy years of marriage for me and Mrs. Sip. To celebrate the occasion, I booked us a surprise Taste Vancouver Food Tours route, wandering through the Gastown neighbourhood of the city. I felt the $90 fee was reasonable, as we learned a lot of history for the area, while stuffing our faces with a number of savoury and sweet selections: Chicken Kara-Age at Guu Izakaya, Tortellini at Brioche Urban Eatery, Fish & Chips at 131 Water Kitchen & Bar, Pulled Pork Sandwich at Peckinpah, Ice Cream at Soft Peaks, Cheesecake at Trees Organic Coffee, and Chocolate at Rogers’ Chocolates. The tour also included a sample of Summer Ale from Steamworks Brewing and taste of wine at Brioche.

After a day of rest, I was back in Vancouver to attend Caskapalooza 2019 at Craft Beer Market. This was my third time taking in this event ($25 for 12 tokens), featuring the wares of over 30 breweries. The experimentation for this year’s Caskapalooza was amazing, highlighted by ingredients such as yellow watermelon, caramelized cinnamon and pequin peppers, among many others. With so much variety, it’s hard narrowing down my favourite beer of the day, but it may have been R&B Brewing’s Tart Strawberry Rhubarb IPA. This year’s Caskapalooza included no food, which may have been for the best as it was usually a frenzy anytime a tray came out of the kitchen. Better to not offer and therefore not disappoint, than leave people upset that they missed out.

disappointed cat

After using up all our tokens, we travelled to the nearby Brewhall for dinner and further drinks. My Korean Chicken Burger with Curly Fries was tremendous. The burger included a sumptuous gochujang sesame sauce and any place that offers Curly Fries will also be tops in my books. To wash the meal down, I enjoyed pints of Brewhall/Dageraad Citriplicate Belgian Blonde Ale and Brewhall Neon Lights Pale Ale, both of which were very much in my wheelhouse.

Next up, is the Labour Day long weekend, which I’ve taken an extra day off for, to help offset how busy we’ll be. We have 1st birthday parties and family barbecues to attend, as well as take Baby Sip to the Vancouver Aquarium and check out the newly-opened Stanley Park Brewing location.

Sip Trips #172: Brewery Brawling

This summer has been flying by and another couple of weeks are in the books with events attended and road trips taken. Here’s all the shenanigans the Sip Advisor and associates have been up to in that time:

A couple weeks back, a buddy and I attended Parallel 49’s Brawl at the Brewery, combining two of my favourite worlds: professional wrestling and craft beer. Hosted at the brewery’s outdoor beer garden, what started out as a dreary looking day turned into a decent one, as the rain subsided long enough for the wrestling to start. As we watched the first ever P49 Champion be crowned with a 20-person battle royal, among other matches, I enjoyed a number of servings of the Jerkface 9000 Northwest Wheat Ale. Not knowing what to expect from the event and our $20 general admission tickets, we came away quite happy. If this event becomes a yearly tradition, we would likely spring for the $35 front row tickets next time around, so we can have a seat for all the action.

wrestling belts

Following the wrestling, we weren’t ready to wrap the night up yet, so delved further into the Yeast Van area. Our first stop came at Odd Society Spirits, where we ordered the Rye Thai and Fat Panda cocktails. Both drinks were interesting, featuring infused spirits and a classy presentation. Our second and final stop was Powell Street Brewing, where we managed a couple quick beers before the place shutdown for the night. My servings were the Ode to Citra Pale Ale, which has always been a preferred brew of mine.

This past weekend, we joined friends at their family cabin in Birch Bay, Washington. For my drinking enjoyment over the weekend, I picked up a case from Seattle’s Redhook Brewing, which included the Mothers of the Sun Raspberry Saison, Tangelic Halo Tangerine IPA, El Sonido Mexican Lager and Bicoastal IPA. I really liked this case, particularly the flavours offered by the Raspberry Saison and Tangerine IPA. We also popped into Bellingham’s Elizabeth Station beer store, where I grabbed a can of Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale for nightcap purposes.

This upcoming weekend will be a busy one, as Mrs. Sip and I are set to attend the 2019 Battle of the Brews in Surrey, as well as celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary with a surprise outing I have planned. I can’t wait for it all to arrive!