Sip Trips #126: San Diego Sipping (Part 2)

Part two of our month in San Diego County began with an outing to Belle Marie Winery, where Mrs. Sip enjoyed a tasting. As Mrs. Sip sampled a few wines, I changed a Baby Sip poopy diaper. Alas, this is life now! The other reason I didn’t join Mrs. Sip was because I’m still not a fan of the way tastings are done in the San Diego area. Whereas I’m accustomed to typically paying $5 for a tasting at home, which is waived if you buy a bottle, here the price was $10 and bottle purchases don’t lead to a free tasting. To be fair, this is one of the more decent tasting prices we’ve encountered in that region. Don’t even get me started on the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Following the winery, we visited Plan 9 Alehouse, taking advantage of their progressive keg pricing ($3 pint at 3pm, $4 at 4pm, $5 at 5pm). I selected The Lost Abbey Farmhouse Lager, which went well with our appies of Garlic Fries and Chips & Guac. En route back to our resort, I restocked our beer reserve with Kona Brewing’s Liquid Aloha Variety Pack. This case included the brewery’s Island IPA, Magic Sands Mango Saison and Wailua Wheat.

guacamole good fat

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we decided to spend the occasion doing a bit of a brewery crawl. The journey started at Mother Earth Tap House, where we built two flights of six 6oz beers, allowing us to try much of the tasting room’s extensive lineup. Our favourites were the Xtra Nuts and Cali Creamin’, which seemed to be very popular around the region.

Next up was the Belching Beaver 980 Pub, which we had been advised had fantastic Philly Cheesesteaks. That advice couldn’t have been more accurate. As we scarfed down the delicious sandwiches, I tried the Phantom Bride IPA, while stealing sips of Mrs. Sip’s PB&J Blonde, which was fantastic. We also tried samples of the Peanut Butter Stout, Horchata Imperial Stout, and Mexican Chocolate with Dark Cherries cask option. With good fortune on our side, as we finished our pints, they began stocking the “to go” fridge with a limited release beer, so I implored Mrs. Sip to go investigate. The Belching Beaver/Deftones Good Morning Beautiful Brown Ale (with Coconut, Coffee and Maple Syrup) was the prize and so we snagged a bottle for the road.

Our crawl wrapped with a quick stop at Iron Fist Brewing, where we split another flight, including their Renegade Blonde, Spice of Life, Seven-Seven, and Ken Schmidt’s Pillow Mint. The Pillow Mint was the highlight of the visit, reminding us of a liquefied After Eight chocolate.

After Eight Chocolate

The next day, we got together with friends of ours who live in the area, meeting at their local favourite: Booze Brothers Brewing. While Mrs. Sip ordered a flight made up of their Peachy Monkey, Blackberry Cruiser, Easy Rider Brown, and Honey Bloom, I enjoyed a pint of their Green Eyed Amber, which I had read online was a very popular choice. The place was very neat, with lots of comfy seating and food trucks on hand for munchies.

Following the brewery, we had dinner at Tekila Cocina Mexicana, where Mrs. Sip and I split their Queso Fundido and Carnitas Quesadilla. To quench my thirst, I ordered a Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita, which had a decent level of heat and interesting flavour blend with the addition of Cilantro. Mrs. Sip tried their “Build Your Own Magarita” option, selecting Hibiscus Liqueur and 1800 Reposado Tequila.

No visit to San Diego is complete without seeing the San Diego Zoo. Best of all, folks can drink craft beers throughout the park, with different options on tap at locations spread around the attraction. I started with the Stone Tangerangutan Express IPA and later added the Mike Hess African Leopard IPA. Other animal-themed brews included the Ballast Point Koala Kolsch (which Mrs. Sip tried) and Karl Strauss African Penguin Pale Ale.

lions-at-zoo.jpg

After our day at the Zoo ended, we went for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Here, I paired the Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA with an order of Spaghetti Vesuvius. The IPA worked well to cool the heat from the spicy sauce of my main dish.

Part three of our travels includes journeys to Temecula and Carlsbad, for beer, wine and other shenanigans!

Advertisements

Sip Trips #125: San Diego Sipping (Part 1)

Mrs. Sip, Baby Sip and I spent most of the month of February in San Diego County, which meant a lot of craft breweries, a few wineries and other adventures. Here’s part one of our experiences:

Upon arriving, we did some grocery shopping to stock up on supplies. While deciding on a case of beer, Mrs. Sip came across the New Belgium Blend Like A Brewer Variety Pack. This set has an amazing concept with a recipe guide that allows drinkers to blend the six beers (Black Lager, Sour Ale, Belgian White, Tangerine IPA, Belgian Dubbel, and Belgian Trippel) that comprise the case to make some very good mixes. Our favourite was the Monk’s Pajamas, which combined the Belgian Dubbel and Black Lager. I would get this pack again, just to do my own experimenting.

Abs Craft Beer

The resort we were staying at offered a weekly craft beer tasting, followed by pub trivia. We attended the tasting once, which allowed for a sampling of six different beers for $12. The brews offered were Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale, Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale, Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA, Novo Brazil The Mango Beer, Ballast Point Mocha Marlin Porter, and Belching Beaver Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Stout. This was a great introduction to the San Diego craft beer scene, some breweries which I was familiar with and others I was not.

Following the tasting, we won the pub trivia, earning us a prize pack that included a bomber of one of the beers we had just tasted. We selected the Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale. The next two weeks, we would also come out on top at trivia, earning us bottles of AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Ale and Coronado Orange Ave Wit.

pub-trivia.png

A few days later, we travelled across the US-Mexico border into Tijuana for the craft beer tour we had arranged with Border Tours. Once we made it to downtown Tijuana, we hit four different breweries, getting to enjoy a flight or pint at each. The breweries included Norte, Border Psycho, Teorema/Ludica, and Mamut. We also stopped for delicious goat meat street tacos in the middle of the tour, which made sure we didn’t end up too blitzed. The tour cost us $108 each, after getting a special discount through the vendor. A Groupon for the tour also exists. Mrs. Sip and I both recommend the company, who provided us with a knowledgeable guide and was always quick to respond to any questions we had.

At this point, our vacation was just ramping up. In part two of our travels, we continue to explore San Diego County, including a self-guided craft beer tour for Valentine’s Day and a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo!

Baby Beverages #3: Future Fan

Last week, Mrs. Sip and I took Baby Sip to her first Vancouver Canucks NHL game. I went into the occasion with some apprehension, worried she would get fussy and cause a disturbance to the fans seated around us – and by she, I mean Mrs. Sip! *rimshot*

My biggest concern going in was that the goal horn would blast (unfortunately, a relative rarity during this Canucks season) and the little one would freak out and force an early end to the evening. I had seen this play out earlier in the team’s campaign, as a family sat in front of me. Before I could ask how old their baby was, a goal was scored; mom, dad and baby left their seats… and never returned.

Hockey Fans

We arrived a little late to the contest, thanks to a last minute poopy diaper and issues with our baby carrier, so as we checked in our stroller with guest services, the Canucks already tallied a goal. This was a good first test to see how Baby Sip would react and while she definitely noticed the horn and accompanying cheers, her little headphones helped in blocking out enough noise that she didn’t react much at all.

As we waited for a break in action to take our seats, the Canucks scored again. This time we were closer to the action and still, Baby Sip seemed mostly unfazed. Six minutes into the game, the team added yet another tally and this was the true test, as fans celebrated all around us. Well, Baby Sip is a cool cucumber and while her eyes lit up, she never fussed once over the volume. In fact, she seemed to be taking in the whole experience, dazzled by the lights and probably wondering why sounds were muffled.

Of course, we always had a bottle at the ready if she started to squirm. Mrs. Sip finished the bottle we brought with us during the first period and I took over with a new bottle in the second frame. Then, Baby Sip fell asleep and stayed that way on me for the final half of the game, including through the Canucks sixth goal and eventual victory. All in all, a pretty uneventful first visit to Rogers Arena, from a baby perspective.

Life Bottles.jpg

For others thinking of taking their baby to a Canucks game, there are a couple things you need to do: At any guest services kiosk, you can pick up a first game pin and certificate as keepsakes. I’m sure other teams have similar programs, so make sure you pick up whatever is available. It should also be noted that every staff member we encountered was very helpful and happy to see a baby attending their first event.

We have no concerns anymore with taking Baby Sip to future games. Of course, she could act completely different for round two, but as with the Canucks this season, we’ll take the wins when they come!

Sip Trips #124: Laying Low

With an upcoming vacation, Mrs. Sip and I have been laying low recently, saving our pennies for travelling south. That doesn’t mean we’ve become recluses, though. Here’s what we’ve been up to in recent times.

To celebrate Mrs. Sip’s birthday earlier this month, we visited Sushi Mori in Langley. The restaurant was very busy, but we were served our food quickly and it was all quite good. I ordered their Fried California Roll (a Sip Advisor favourite when diving into the world of sushi) and signature Rock’n Roll, which were both good. I also got to sample a piece of the Crazy Boy Roll, courtesy of Mrs. Sip, which was tasty. In the future, I would stick to the Fried California Roll and Crazy Boy Roll, as although good, the Rock’n Roll was expensive at $12.95.

redneck-sushi

This weekend, with Baby Sip (her sixth craft brewery) and Sis-in-Law Sip in tow, we attended the grand opening of East Van Brewing’s tasting room. We had waited to get in for about half an hour when staff inside spotted Baby Sip’s stroller and moved us up the line to get a spot quicker. The event offered $5 flights and pints and once seated, we split two flights, allowing us to sample eight of the brewery’s 10 beers. This included their Kickstart Pale Ale, Wheelbite IPA, Jive House Ale, Humble Hive Honey Brown, Unholy One Stout, When it Rains it Porters, Twin Destroyer Double IPA, and Nordic Saison. The only two beers we didn’t try were the Community Lager and Session Amber, with our collective favourite being the Honey Brown. We also made use of the El Cartel food truck outside, scarfing down an order of their delicious Parmesan Truffle Fries.

This week, the Sip Advisor finishes up work before eight and a half months of parental leave. You better believe there will be many adventures during my sabbatical, as I work to get Baby Sip to the most breweries a youngster has ever visited before the age of one! That fun starts this weekend, as we travel to Escondido, California, for most of February. What a way to beat the winter blues!

 

Sip Trips #123: Wedded Bliss

Last week was a very busy one for myself and Mrs. Sip. We were members of a friend’s wedding party and there were a number of events to attend and breweries and restaurants to visit during our stay in the North Vancouver area.

Our first stop was the Tap & Barrel Shipyards location, which served host to the rehearsal dinner. There, I ordered the PB&J Burger, which was fantastic. I’ve had the burger on other occasions, but this was hands down the best version of it I have experienced. As for drinks, I chose pints of Mount Arrowsmith Comfortably Chum Hef and Hearthstone Magodes White IPA. I had also wanted to try the 33 Acres of Cashmere Red Ale, but it was tapped out.

Rehearsal Dinner.png

The next day, we visited Boston Pizza for a drink after I finished work. I picked the Whiskey BBQ Bacon Caesar, which had a really interesting smoky barbecue flavour to go with the usual Caesar blend. Following that beverage, we hit the nearby BC Liquor Store to pick up some supplies for the room. We snagged the Doan’s Brewing Happy Pack, which is comprised of two tall cans each of their Rye IPA, Kolsch, Stout, and seasonal Crystal Weiss.

After a brief respite in our room, we journeyed to Beere Brewing Company, where I had a serving of their recently released Cherry Willis Imperial Stout. The brew was very nice, featuring flavours of cherry and cacao. The night wrapped with one more brewery stop, as I showed an out-of-town friend the North Van scene, popping into Green Leaf Brewing for a pint of their Azacca Cadabra ISA.

Saturday was the wedding, and with an open bar on the docket, a lot of drinking was done. I visited the bar so many times that I had a good relationship going with the bartender, who complimented my alcohol tolerance, as well as the cuteness of Baby Sip, who was enjoying her first wedding and was very well-behaved throughout.

Open Bar.jpg

Following a couple days off to recharge the batteries after the wedding, we were back at it Tuesday night, first stopping at Earl’s Kitchen + Bar for a happy hour beverage. I chose their Rhino Pale Ale, which is served in a massive, intimidating glass. Our evening entertainment was supplied by Relish The Pub and their weekly trivia night. One difference with Relish’s trivia, compared to other local options, is that each table pays a $5 entry, with that money going towards the BC Cancer Foundation. While we have yet to win anything during our few visits to Relish, the prizes are quite good (gift cards and pitchers of beer), so we will have to try our luck again in the future.

Mrs. Sip’s birthday is this weekend, so it will be another busy “break”. The Sip Advisor will be slinging drinks at a joint birthday party for Mrs. Sip and a friend, as the hosts are moving out at the end of the month and are looking to get rid of some liquor bottles. Should be a lot of fun!

Love & Hate #1: Airports

The Sip Advisor is full of a lot of hate… but with that, also comes love. This new feature to the website will look at a certain subject and dissect three items I love and three items I hate within the topic. Up first, airports from around the world. Here are the ones the Sip Advisor doesn’t mind spending time in:

London, United Kingdom

The amount of times I’ve been day drunk in London-Heathrow Airport is quite impressive. On one trip in particular, Mrs. Sip and I were served – for free – full Gimlet and Vesper cocktails, as Duty Free locations were showing off gin and vodka products. There are also usually a few Whiskeys or Scotches available to sample and you can attain quite a buzz between flights. Heathrow is also a great place to get souvenirs, such as British chocolate bars.

Vancouver, Canada

At times, I have had an odd love-hate relationship with my hometown airport. I didn’t like going because it often meant sending Mrs. Sip off on her next great adventure. In the same breath, the site was nothing but joy when she would return from her journeys. It has also been the location of my own trips abroad… but every time you return, the airport is home to the celebration. Vancouver International is also a beautiful facility with transportation directly to Downtown Vancouver.

Airport Bars.png

Las Vegas, USA

Slot machines inside an airport… what isn’t there to love about this place! With all the times I have been through Las Vegas’ McCarran International, I have never had a bad experience. There’s an energy in this airport that simply can’t be recreated elsewhere. Not to mention, the commute from airport to Las Vegas Strip is incredibly short and keeps the good vibes rolling and party potential optimized.

Narrowly missing my love list were Edmonton (great place to do an airport pub crawl), Amsterdam (seriously, the place has not one but two McDonalds), and Taipei (where hours can be spent checking out each of their themed boarding areas). Now let’s move onto the worst of the worst:

Toronto, Canada

First, it’s not easily connected to Toronto’s downtown core. Second, it has one of the most confusing layouts I have ever encountered, with poor signage and even worse service from those who are supposed to be guiding you. It seems every time I land in Toronto for a connecting flight, I’m left with little time to get through customs, collect my luggage, go through security all over again, and make it to my gate. And if you’re final destination is Toronto, then things are even worse!

Airport Logic

Los Angeles, USA

While I love landing at LAX because it means Mickey Mouse and all his pals are only about an hour drive away, leaving from the same airport is often a disheartening task. The place is in need of some serious updating, which is slowly happening in some parts. Often, we would be on our way home, which is already disappointing enough, and then we’d be in a terminal that had zero to offer as far as food or beverage went. With a couple hours to kill, there really wasn’t anything to do but be cranky and miserable.

Casablanca, Morocco

This disgusting hellhole still gives me nightmares. Most notably, we have photos of no smoking signs throughout their food court, while every single person is lighting up and filling the place with disgusting smoke. Also, they only accept cash at stores and eateries, but when you’re (thankfully) leaving a country, you’ve often done everything you can to rid yourself of that country’s currency, leaving you completely out of luck.

Love & Hate #1: The Aviation

The Aviation.JPG

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 0.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Lemon Zest

Which airports out there do you either love or hate? Disagree with my assessments? Let me know in the comments!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
I can’t believe it took me so long to make this classic cocktail. It is a boozy one, but the flavours are so nice and work well together to provide the beverage balance. I recommend this to sippers of all walks. You will not be disappointed!

Sip Trips #122: Endings and Beginnings

The final week of 2017 offered extra time with family and friends and that led the Sip Family to doing what we do best: eat and drink and be merry! Here what we got up to while closing out the year:

After getting out of work early on Friday, I met the Sip Syndicate fellas for some celebratory drinks at The Railway Stage & Beer Café (a Vancouver landmark that has recently reopened under Donnelly Group ownership). I had never visited the original Railway Club, so can’t compare the two. I had a really good time during this drinking session, featuring six different craft beers available during happy hour for only $3. I had originally thought of drinking one of each, but opted to stick with what I liked. This included the Phillips 6IX IPA, Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and Parallel 49 Wobbly Pop Pale Ale. Outside the happy hour menu, I also selected the Postmark Winter Warmer, which I had wanted to try since gifting it as part of a Secret Santa package. To finish the outing, we ended up with a glass of Scotch, before venturing out into the Vancouver rain again.

Scotch Whisper.jpg

The next night, we made our way to Coquitlam to visit a friend who had recently bought a place out there. After checking out her new abode, we went for dinner at Boston Pizza. There, I ordered the Southwest Flatbread (BBQ Chicken, Mozzarella, Bacon, Red Onions, Ranch Drizzle), which was delicious. It had been a while since we had a meal at BP, so it was nice to give it a go again.

We followed dinner with a trip to Mariner Brewing (brewery #5 for Baby Sip!). When I first visited their location in the summer, it was only a few days old and their beer lineup has grown impressively. Mrs. Sip and I split a flight of brews, which included their Berliner Weisse, Margarita Ale, Tropical Milkshake IPA, and Night Sky Mocha Stout. The latter three were all new to me, with the IPA being particularly tasty.

For New Year’s Eve, we were set to host a bigger party at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, but a number of people bailed on the plan, which seems to be a New Year’s tradition for some. I find the night to be very anticlimactic, with so many plans falling through and people being flaky. We still made it memorable, as it was Baby Sip’s first and stuck to our ‘Treat Yo Self’ theme by consuming massive quantities of food and liquor. To ring in 2018, Mrs. Sip and I brought our bottle of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur (the orange one) to mix with bubbly, which ended up tasting like a Bellini. We also split a bottle of Unibroue’s 25th Anniversary limited edition release, which tasted like a Black Forest Cake. It was so very good and what made it special was it was the last bottle available at the liquor store when Mrs. Sip spotted it.

Treat Yo Self.jpg

The week wrapped with celebrating Cousin Sip’s birthday at Galini Greek Restaurant in Langley. I ordered their very tasty Chicken Souvlaki, complete with scrumptious Greek Salad. Our service here was exceptional, especially considering the larger group.

The Sip Advisor is spending the next month doing ‘No Junk Food January’ to aid in getting back in shape after a too long hiatus from the gym, following Baby Sip’s birth. It will not be easy, but I’ll be helped along by keeping booze part of my life. With a friend’s wedding approaching and a beer advent calendar to work through, there’s no way I could completely abandon my old friend!