Sip Trips #119 – Feelin’ Festive

After a week filled with three Vancouver Canucks games to start the month, Mrs. Sip and I got a bit of a respite to recharge the hockey batteries (seriously, my voice was shot after yelling at every Toronto player and fan I could) with the team on a brief road trip. With the gap between games, we focused our attention on holiday activities around the Lower Mainland. Here’s what we got up to:

On Friday night, we had a few errands to run in South Vancouver, so decided to mix a little pleasure into the business. Popping into Dogwood Brewing for the first time, we enjoyed a flight of their brews, including the IPA, Barrel-Aged Stout, London Fog, and Winter Spice. The space was nice and cozy and well-decorated for Christmas. This was Baby Sip’s second craft brewery visit and she even woke up long enough to see the place this time around.

Errands

The next day, we ventured to Langley for the Glow Christmas Light Gardens and Market. With food trucks outside and a fantastic visual set-up inside the facility’s greenhouse, we spent over two hours at the attraction. Best of all, beer, wine and a couple cocktails could be had as you explored the winter wonderland. I had servings of Trading Post Brewing’s Smugglers Trail Rye Amber Ale and Three Bears Breakfast Stout, which were both available for only $5. Mrs. Sip started with a glass of white wine and later had a Baileys Irish Cream hot chocolate.

Tickets to Glow start at $20 for adults if ordered online ($25 at the door) and I would definitely recommend the earliest timeslot possible, as the parking lot and facility fill up quickly, causing long lines to get in later in the evening. Mrs. Sip still argues that any true European-based Christmas Market doesn’t cost money to get into, but that logic doesn’t seem to apply in this area of the world.

Following work on Monday, Mrs. Sip and I met at the Vancouver Christmas Market. As I’ve written before, if we didn’t get free tickets each year, thanks to Mrs. Sip’s theatre subscription, I’m not sure I would make the effort to attend. That said, we had a pretty good time, joined by another couple for some of our visit. The move from outside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to Jack Poole Plaze has definitely opened up the place, but going on a weeknight helped too with a lighter crowd.

Santa's Lap

As is the norm for the Market, it didn’t take long to blow through the $50 we had taken out in cash for the event. For drinks, Mrs. Sip had a couple cups of Mulled Wine, while I had glasses of Erdinger Wheat and Dunkel brews. As for food, we split a Cheese Pretzel and Parmesan and Garlic Hurricane Potatoes which were both delicious. A highlight for us was chatting with the Persephone Brewing team, who were offering samples of five different beers (Black Lager, Pale Ale, IPA, Pilsner, and Golden Ale). Joining them was Wild Goose Winery and Okanagan Spirits, where I tasted their Bourbon, Gin, and Pear Brandy.

This weekend, it’s back to the rink for a couple NHL games, while also fitting in as much yuletide cheer as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat!

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Sip Trips #118: Pucks and Parties

This week has been a busy one as the Christmas season ramps up and Mrs. Sip and I have three Vancouver Canucks games on the schedule to attend. Thank god for our grandparent babysitters! Let’s get right to the action:

Late last week, with Ma and Pa Sip over, we grabbed dinner at the new Johnny Rockets location in Downtown Vancouver. I had their Original burger, which was pretty good. What I liked best was their half fries/half rings, allowing eaters to enjoy both side dishes. More restaurants need to adopt this concept. While we didn’t order them, the chain also offers a number of tasty milkshake options. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

Close Enough Cat.jpg

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I had our first Christmas party of the season, through her office. The meal took place at Piva Modern Italian Restaurant, where we tried a number of great menu items. For appies, I particularly liked the Polenta Fries, while my main course of Duck & Fig Pizza was terrific. The meal provided a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and while Mrs. Sip’s Prosciutto Pizza was good, we were both raving about my selection.  For beverages, I enjoyed the Terra Saison and Red Pilsner, both from Steel & Oak Brewing, and for dessert, I tried the Bagpipes in my Ferrari (Glenmorangie, Disaronno, smoke and oak bitters), which was a solid nightcap.

The next day, we had our first Canucks game of the week and this is one we’ve had circled for some time. With the dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs in town, I swapped some of our other half-season tickets in order to attend this game. With a 2-1 victory for the home side, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Shock Top Wheat Ale and Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout the game, which helped with the intensity and anxiety of the matchup.

The weekend wrapped with our annual family visit to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Christmas Train. This was Baby Sip’s first time riding the Christmas Train, although we did take her on the Halloween Train when she was only just over a month old. As is tradition, we followed the park visit with dinner at the nearby White Spot location. Here, Cousin Sip, her husband, Sis-in-Law Sip and I split a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale, while I ordered my usual Legendary Burger. The two pair quite nicely with each other and made for a delicious meal.

Man Sized Mug

Lastly, on Tuesday, we celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday at The Keg. I, once again, selected the Prime Rib Sliders with side of fries for my meal, which was very good. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sip and I had to eat fast to get to another Canucks game, as food took a while to be served thanks to the kitchen being backed up by a private party. My Sliders were only $13 during happy hour, down from their usual $18 price tag. For dessert, Ma Sip saved her slice of wonderful Billy Miner Pie for Mrs. Sip and I, which we consumed in quick order following yet another Canucks triumph.

The weekend is full of scheduled activities and doesn’t let up at all. ‘Tis the season, after all!

Sip Trips #117: Support and Remembrance

The Remembrance Day long weekend started with a trip to the Delta Lion Pub in North Delta. For Sip Advisor trivia buffs out there, here’s a little nugget: This was the first bar the Sip Advisor ever enjoyed a drink in, visiting on my 19th birthday for a couple rounds of wobbly pops. It’s also where Mrs. Sip and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day 2010, hours after viewing the apartment that would become our first home together.

Unfortunately, our reason for stopping here this time wasn’t as joyous, as we were attending a fundraiser for a friend who is battling cancer. Mrs. Sip and I both grew up in North Delta, so the night was spent catching up with old friends and acquaintances. It’s funny that it often takes events like this to get everyone together in one place. The fundraiser was your typical burger-and-beer affair, but I must say the burger was delicious and the homemade-style potato chips were spectacular. The great turnout forced us to move away from the crowded private room and to the bar area, where I enjoyed a pint of the Steamworks Salted Chocolate Porter, while listening to the live band.

Burger and Beer.jpg

If anyone out there is interested in giving to the family and learning their story, please visit their GoFundMe page.

On Saturday, we enjoyed dinner at The Keg with some Sip Syndicate members. As I’m still looking for a menu item to replace my beloved Prime Rib Burger, I decided to try the restaurant’s Prime Rib Sliders. Well, my little sippers, I may have finally found that replacement. I really enjoyed the flavours of the horseradish Dijon and red wine herb jus. Plus, you can never go wrong with a healthy dose of crispy onion straws. My only complaint is that the charge to add a side fries to my meal was $5. That seems a little high to me, especially given the side serving size, but what can you do. For my drink, I went with a Keg Size (double) Bourbon Blackberry Smash, which was very tasty, albeit a quick-to-finish and costly cocktail.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I visited Dageraad Brewing in Burnaby, while out for a drive in the area. This was Baby Sip’s first ever trip to a craft brewery with many more to come. The tasting room staff was great, providing us with a coaster and stickers for her baby scrapbook. As for drinks, we decided to split a flight of beers, which included their Lekkers, Blonde IPA, Brune, and 8-Degrees offerings. On our way out, I purchased a bottle of their very limited edition Entropy No. 5 Gin Barrel-Aged Blonde IPA. The product was released over the weekend and I picked up one of the last remaining bottles of 19 cases. Look out for a review of this brew in the next Beer of the Week article.

Limited Edition.jpg

The rest of the long weekend was spent putting up Christmas decorations and enjoying some family time together and, of course, partaking in a few beverages. To compensate for the return to work, I picked up Central City’s newest holiday release, the Smores Stout. Available at BC Liquor Stores, as well as other private locations, I’m really looking forward to trying this intriguing beverage.

Another busy week is on the horizon for the Sip Advisor crew. As we speak, my liver is going through demanding preparation and training for the holiday season… this is what all the year’s work has been leading up to and the payoff is just around the bend!

Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

Sip Trips #115: New Beginnings

(This article was meant to be posted on September 22, but things became a little hectic for Mrs. Sip and I… read to the end of this post to learn why!)

Well, after a relatively quiet weekend prior, the busy came back with a vengeance last week and into the most recent break from work. Here’s the latest Sip Advisor activity, for your viewing pleasure:

Last Tuesday, we attended the Gentlemen Hecklers show at the Rio Theatre. Prior to the guys’ skewering of the 1996 classic Anaconda, we ended up at the Storm Crow Tavern for a bite to eat. The place is a nerd haven, with round the clock sci-fi and fantasy shows on their TV screens, a mammoth collection of board and card games to play, and one of the most creative menus I have ever come across. You can order a number of items, including burgers and shots, based on rolling the 20-sided dice that role playing fans will be familiar with. As for our meal, we split a round of Teenage Mutant Deep Fried Pickles, with my main being their Klingon Chicken Strips of Prey (with fries), paired with a pint of Red Truck Brew of Cthulhu Lager. We will definitely be back soon. As for our show, it was very funny, and a great reminder of just how bad of a movie Anaconda was. I think I mean bad in a good way, though, as it’s the perfect film to be lampooned by the trio of comedians.

20-Sided Dice.jpg

The rest of the week was used to rest and relax, as the weekend featured a close friend’s stag and what was sure to be a wild day out. We began with paintball at Panther Paintball in Langley. I’m not the biggest paintball fan, but this outdoor location was fun and provided a good starting activity for our group. The poor bachelor had to run through a gauntlet of his friends firing shots at him, but took it like a champion. Hopefully his wounds heal quickly.

Next up was a Vancouver Whitecaps game, where we would be enjoying the luxury of a stadium suite. This was not cheap and when food and drink orders were accounted for the bill was quite high. Our order included the equivalent of a case of beer, bottles of Crown Royal Whiskey and Smirnoff Vodka, trays of chicken wings, dry ribs and hotdogs, potato chips and popcorn, and even a plate of veggies. While the alcohol was all consumed, we handed out what remaining food there was to some needy street folk, doing our civic duty.

Following the game, we journeyed to the Irish Heather for more boozing. I started with their Black and Tan beer cocktail, which combined Guinness and Russell Brewing’s Peaks and Valleys Extra Pale Ale. I also enjoyed a pint of Russell Punch Bowl IPA and joined some of the guys for a round of Japanese whiskey, which was smooth and delicious.

Whiskey Age

The next day, we were off to watch the Vancouver Canucks vs. Vegas Golden Knights in preseason action. I’ve followed the new Vegas franchise since its inception and upon learning their first ever contest would be against my Vancouver Canucks, I knew I had to be at the game. Mrs. Sip translated this desire into getting me and her half-season tickets… I like her thinking. As for the game, the Canucks got torched pretty bad 9-4.

On Tuesday, we attended a free screening of the second season premiere of Kim’s Convenience at the Vogue Theatre. For those unfamiliar with the show, it is centered on a Korean family who own and operate a convenience store in Toronto. The show is hilarious and the event included appearances from the main cast members, as well as airing the first two episodes of season two. The price was certainly right.

This past weekend was to be another busy one, as we had plans to celebrate the Sip Advisor’s 34th birthday in style. On the docket were trips to the VIP Theatre, a Caskival at Yaletown Brewing, another Vancouver Whitecaps game with the guys, and family dinners at EXP and White Spot. Fate intervened however, when Mrs. Sip went into labour on my birthday (September 22) with our daughter, Leela Audrey Giselle Wilson arriving early the next morning! We are thrilled she is finally here and both baby and mom and doing very well!

Sip Trips #114: All the Hits

Well, another busy week is in the books (I’m starting to sound like a broken record), with Mrs. Sip and I finding time to have as much fun as possible, while getting things as ready as possible for the arrival of our daughter, sometime in the next few weeks. Here’s what we got up to:

The week began with the Sip Alliance’s long-awaited return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. Before arriving there, though, we had to first travel to Coquitlam’s Mariner Brewing, which had only opened days before and is the first of its kind in the city. With four beers on tap, I tried their Northeast IPA, which I found to be pretty tasty. The brewery promises much more to come in the future and their space and constellation theming are really good starts.

Brewery Water

Next up was Brewer’s Row, with stops at Yellow Dog, Twin Sails and Parkside breweries, where I had pints of their High Five Hazy IPA, Street Legal IPA and Motel Five-Hop Pale Ale, respectively. Sadly, we didn’t manage to get to Moody Ales before closing time, so we owe them a visit in the future. I love this area of four breweries packed within a five-minute walk of each other and the new Evergreen SkyTrain line makes heading out that way so much easier. We will be back again soon.

On Friday, we finally got around to hitting one of our favourite annual summer traditions: the Twilight Drive-In Theatre in Aldergrove. While no drinking was involved, it was a great start to the Labour Day long weekend, as the lineup included Cars 3, followed by Despicable Me 3. We only stayed for those first two movies, but in celebration of the drive-in’s 12th anniversary, they were playing four movies on both Friday and Saturday night. While we love our trips out there for movies outdoors and you can’t beat the price of $12.50 per person for the entire evening, this was the first line-up this summer that actually appealed to us. Perhaps bad movies in general are to blame.

The next day, we started with some relaxing pool time at Ma and Pa Sip’s place before returning to Vancouver to move some furniture. Following the move, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at The Parlour in Yaletown, which had come highly recommended to me. We were not disappointed, as the place has a good happy hour to go along with great service. Our pizzas (The Dirty and Roasted varieties) were very good and were enough for a group of four to be happily fed.

Fitness Whole Pizza

After dinner, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Rio Theatre for their presentation of Dysfunctional Disney Cabaret. The goal here, according to our host, was to completely f*ck up our childhood memories with Disney-themed burlesque acts. It was quite the entertaining show and I have to commend the Rio for having a jug of water available to patrons on this hot, hot day. One server even steered me away from buying bottled water, in favour of the cooler, which I did not know about.

Sunday began with another round of furniture buying and baby laundry loads, but the reward came with hitting Jimmy’s Taphouse for happy hour. This has always been one of my favourite happy hours in the city with a number of half priced menu items and cheap drink options. We enjoyed their poutine with chipotle drizzle and an order of hot wings, which really hit the spot. The spicy combo was washed down with the Phillips Solaris White Peach Ale and a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Why was I getting my shot game on? Because we had received complimentary ticket to the Lionel Richie-Mariah Carey All the Hits concert, as part of Mrs. Sip’s recent anniversary gift to me of Vancouver Canucks half-season tickets. This was the first time either of us had ever sat in the exclusive 500-level Club seats, which provided a bar and bathrooms to about 50 people. As for the show, Mariah Carey didn’t do Fantasy or Honey, which if I know them, must have been hits. That’s okay, though, as Lionel Richie was extremely entertaining. His Dancing on the Ceiling with all the lights and video effects was the highlight of the night.

Lionel Richie Hello

We wrapped the long weekend by celebrating Pa Sip’s birthday at The Keg. Sitting atop the restaurant’s rooftop patio was very relaxing and the service was top notch. I ordered their Keg Burger, which pales in comparison to their former Prime Rib Burger, which I mourn the loss of to this day. As for beverages, I imbibed with a Keg Size Watermelon Mojito and Keg Caesar, perfect accompaniments to my still decent entree. A slice of Billy Miner Pie to finish the meal was the perfect bow on an incredible weekend!

But the family celebrations weren’t done there. On Tuesday, after Pa Sip helped me move some more furniture, we had another dinner in his honour at the Old Spaghetti Factory in New West. I tried their Pot-Pourri Spaghetti with meat, mushroom and clam sauce options. Best of all, the meals come with bread, salad or soup and ice cream for dessert, so we left quite stuffed. My beverage of choice was the Cobblestone Lager, developed for the restaurant by Granville Island Brewing.

The coming week doesn’t have much on the schedule, so I may grasp the opportunity for some rest and relaxation. Following that, the Sip Advisor has a bachelor party, Vancouver Canucks pre-season opener, Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday and much more on the docket… not to mention who knows when the baby will decide to arrive!

Sip Trips #113: Highs and Lows

You’d think with a baby on the way, Mrs. Sip and I would be scaling back on the social activities and moving into that nesting phase we’ve been told about. Think again! It seems we’re trying to squeeze every last bit out of our carefree lifestyle before that all changes. Here’s a look at the week that was:

The week started with the event I had been dreading all summer: Dîner en Blanc. Perhaps a more suitable name would be Dîner avec des Règles (Dinner with Rules – thanks Google Translator). After all, you had to dress a particular way, had to have a table with certain measurements, couldn’t do this, had to do that, etc. Saddest of all, I used to laugh at all the idiots carrying their tables and chairs around downtown Vancouver, dressed like members of some ridiculous cult… I mean, I still did this year, but now I was one of those idiots!

Diner en Blanc.jpg

The dinner itself, I will say, was enjoyable. Sadly, everything surrounding it was straight up unnecessary. First, we had to walk over an hour from our group meeting spot to the eventual destination, carrying tables, chairs, food, drink, and accessories across Vancouver, while holding up traffic at intersections and clogging sidewalks. Why they had us meet in the middle of Downtown Vancouver, only to walk to the northern tip is beyond me. A number of SkyTrain stations were closer and would have provided an easier journey.

Once at the venue, things didn’t get any easier, as we stood in line for close to an hour to receive our pre-ordered wine. Had we also ordered food, that would have added another lengthy delay. By the time we sat down to eat, the sun was already setting and folks were getting ornery. At the end of the night, guess what you have to do? Pack up in the dark and do the arduous journey back home. Will I do the event next year, as Mrs. Sip assumes? Hell no… I’m one and done, homies! Next year, the guys have vowed to spend our precious time saluting the five Bs: babies, burgers, beers, bourbon, and bacon!

Okay, on to better times. The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, attending the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) for the first time since our first summer dating in 2002. There, we enjoyed walking around and gawking at all the crazy fair food options. We started the day with a Dole Whip with Strawberry Sauce and Macaroon Crumbs, which was very tasty. For lunch, we settled on a Double Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Dog, which we shared at the Plaza Beer Garden with a Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears for moi. The setting was nice and relaxed for the time of day and our meal was very filling and gluttonous. For dessert, we grabbed a serving of Cookie Dough on a Stick, which was a perfect treat to end our visit on.

Cookie Dough

Aside from the food, we enjoyed the Extreme Bugs and Toytopia exhibits, while also checking out the world famous Super Dogs do their thing. Probably my only complaint from the day was that there was too many cash only booths, especially for beer and wine. Come on people, we’re far more advanced than that now.

On our way back downtown, we stopped at Legacy Liquor Store, where Vibrant Vine was offering a tasting of a couple products. Their bottles are designed by the son of the owners and even come with 3-D glasses to fully appreciate the work. We grabbed a birthday bottle of their Pinot Grigio for a friend, while I snagged a bottle Tin Whistle Summertime Coconut Hopfenweise.

Next up was Big Rock Urban Eatery’s Summer Wrap Party, where the brewery welcomed guests of all ages (and fur babies) to drop by for food, drinks, games and music. Each attendee could get a free beer and either an artisan deli sandwich or gelato cookie sandwich. With Mrs. Sip’s tickets, I was the recipient of two Grasshopper Wheat Ales and one of each type of sandwich, including peanut butter and bacon gelato on our cookie sandwich. The anniversary was quite the contrast between overpriced fair fare and the free brewery party!

Free Beer

After a very brief rest, I was off to a tournament for my softball team. Our squad already drinks better than we play, so with the tournament having a beer garden, at least we were in our element. Over a four hour break between games, I polished off 10 Hearthstone Atlantic Pale Ales. Suffice to say, our team lost by mercy in our final showing of the day. Triple O’s was also on hand food truck style, with their burgers pairing very nicely with the brews.

Moving on from the ball field, a group of us ended up at Bao Down on Commercial Drive, which serves up Filipino baos, tacos and other Pan-Asian fusion foods. Not quite interested in food just yet, I ordered their Calamasita cocktail (tequila, sweet and sour shrub, Cointreau, egg whites, Calamansi limes, agave syrup), which was very good and refreshing. I’d love to return and try more of their food menu in the future.

Finally, we ended up watching the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight. I’m not a big boxing fan, but the spectacle of the fight was fun and when you’re with friends, pounding double Spiced Rum and Cokes, does it really matter what you’re watching!?

Next week sees many long weekend shenanigans, including our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row; a trip to the Twilight Drive-in Theatre in Aldergrove; the Dysfunctional Disney burlesque at the Rio Theatre; our Lionel Richie-Mariah Carey concert and much, much more. Don’t you dare miss out!