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!

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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!

Sip Trips 153: Market Madness

Christmas is rapidly approaching and the Sip Family has been busy. From Vancouver to New West to Langley, we’ve been all over the place in recent times, taking in as much of the holiday season as we can. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

We’re now a couple weeks into Storm Brewing’s 12 Fills of Christmas and the lineup thus far has been delicious and diverse. Week one combined the Must Be Christmas Grape Lambic and Christmas Tree Pilsner, followed by the Dark! The Herald Angel’s Sing CDA and Santa’s Christmas Spiced Ale for week two. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month has in store. On one of my visits to get my fills, I also sampled their Eggnog Latte Stout, which was quite interesting.

lolcat_eggnog

As for events, a couple weeks back we attended the Vancouver Christmas Market, where I enjoyed some liqueur tastings from Okanagan Spirits. I wasn’t really into the market this year, with us no longer living nearby. We get free tickets annually, so still checked it out, but I don’t know if that will be enough to draw me back next year.

What I enjoyed more, was our visit to Mahony & Sons prior to the Christmas Market. There, I ordered a couple pints of Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale – a wonderful beer for those who haven’t tried it yet – along with the pub’s very tasty Poutine. Everything was on happy hour pricing, making for even more merriment.

The next night, we participated in Disney Trivia at The Pint. Having had dinner at Chronic Tacos beforehand (I adore their Al Pastor Burrito), I was looking to get my drink on and that came in the form of a trio of pitchers, including two of the Whistler Chestnut Ale. The pitchers were on special at $16 each, but were only 50-ounce pours, rather than the traditional 60 ounces. As for the trivia, we didn’t fare so well, but it was still a fun evening.

take-a-pitcher.png

We wrapped the work week by visiting the New West Christmas Market. What was nice about this market is that there was no entry fee and it was largely housed under an overpass, keeping folks dry in the case of rain. That said, it got really busy by the time I arrived to join Mrs. Sip and the live band was loud, so chatting was difficult. We left a short time later, after downing a selection from Steel & Oak Brewing, which Mrs. Sip tells me she thinks was their Dark Lager.

The next night, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a group of friends for a classic turkey dinner. This was the first time we’d ever cooked a turkey on our own and I have to say the experience was mostly positive, save for a few rookie mistakes and a lot of Google searches. It also gave us a whole new respect for the work our families have done when preparing dinners in the past. For the party, we shared our latest Storm fills, as well as the Whistler Winter Dunkel four-pack I picked up. This is the first time I’ve seen the scrumptious beer that tastes like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in any format other than a bomber-sized bottle.

Chocolate-Orange.jpg

We closed the weekend with a visit to Township 7 Winery in Langley for their Member Open House. I spent most of the time chasing Baby Sip throughout the tasting room, but did note the event provided a very generous serving of snacks and wines for the members.

The Sip Advisor is now on holiday break and there will be much mischief to get up to, as we have a Canucks game this weekend and then all the fun that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day usually offer up. It’s gonna get boozy!

Sip Trips #152: Scary Sipping

Mrs. Sip and I have been pretty busy lately, thus why I haven’t been able to document our adventures in recent weeks. Here’s what we’ve been up to since the last time I checked in:

A couple weeks back, we celebrated a friend’s birthday in the Port Moody Brewers Row area. We started with dinner at the nearby Taps and Tacos, where Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed their Smoked Rosemary Clover Club (black moon smoked rosemary gin, raspberry, lemon, egg white) and Chibolero (pisco, ancho reyes, lemon, blood orange, clingstone peach bitters, egg white) cocktails, respectively. Our meal was comprised of the restaurant’s Queso Fundido, along with a variety of tacos. I really enjoyed the Korean Pork variation, while Mrs. Sip’s favourite was the Moroccan Chicken.

people tacos

Following dinner, our first stop along Brewers Row was Moody Ales, making good on our promise to hit the brewery first on our next visit, following two journeys where we neglected the place. Here, I ordered pints of their Daylight Savings White IPA and Who Turned Off The Lights Black IPA, both of which I liked. In a great marketing idea, the pair are sold together in four-pack tall can sets (two of each), for those looking to try the counter-balanced beers. Mrs. Sip drank the Rauchbock (a collaboration with Gibsons Tapworks), which had a nice smoke to it, as well as the Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

Moving on, we next popped into Parkside Brewing where I sipped on their Motel Pale Ale, which is actually classified as an IPA. With Baby Sip getting tired and a bit of a trip ahead of us to get home, we packed things in after this stop and ventured back to New West.

We were back at it the next day, visiting the newly-opened Dark Manor Inn, touted as Vancouver’s haunted whiskey bar. The cocktail joint comes from the minds behind The Shameful Tiki Room, so there is a good pedigree behind the concept. Our group was sat at the master table and went through much of the cocktail menu during our stay. Among my selections were the Pills, Potions & Quack Nostrums (house malt whiskey blend, cinnamon, ginger, lime); Visions of Apparitions (house made whiskey cream and cola, cherry, dash of soda); and Don’t Go In The Attic (butter-washed cognac, calvados, sherry, lemon, spices). Mrs. Sip selected other beverages than me, so we got to sample a large portion of their cocktail list – or Libations and Palliatives, as they call them. We also each tried their Beef Pie and were impressed with the meal, especially given its $12 price tag.

can't sleep

With cocktails ranging from $11-$14, the night was not cheap, but the experience was worth the cost. The Dark Manor Inn is really done up well, with great theming, decorations, lighting effects and music. Reservations are a must and on busy nights, you may be restricted to a two-hour sitting. There’s not a ton of food on their menu, so picky eaters may want to dine prior to their session. We all agreed Vancouver needs more themed drinking locales. Best of luck to them as they get this new expedition off the ground and we will be back to try one of their bowls, which we unavailable on this occasion.

The following weekend, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a small gathering, where each guest was tasked with collecting beers to share, which were honoured with 2018 BC Beer Awards medals. We ended up amassing quite the collection and the night was filled with sampling as much as we could from the assortment. We even had a brew slipped in from the World Beer Awards and it was quite welcomed by the Sip Advisor.

Later that week, we dropped into the Sapperton District Taphouse for their weekly trivia. The theme was Netflix programming and I’m not ashamed to say our crew does a fair bit of binge watching, so once again, we finished in first place. Our reward was a pitcher of beer, which Mrs. Sip and I ended up drinking together, abandoned by our teammates. Our selection of the Vancouver Island Hermannator Ice Bock may not have been the best choice, given its strong 9.5% alcohol content and no one to help us with the serving. This was on top of my pint of Russell Angry Scotch Ale and Great Sapper sandwich, which was very good, but would have been better on a bun, instead of Texas toast.

Netflix

The most recent weekend began with Mrs. Sip and I visiting Storm Brewing, as we both took last Friday off from work. We were a little sad to see samples are no longer available by donation and now cost $7 for six tasters, but we understand the need to make money from the operation. We tried the brewery’s Vanilla Whiskey Stout, Gingerbread Ale, Jalapeno-Lime Pilsner, Mango Lassi Pilsner, Lavender Vanilla Ale, and Raspberry Orange Blossom Pilsner. Mrs. Sip also surprised me with the fact she signed us up for their 12 Fills of Christmas, where over the month of December, we will get 12 one-litre Boston fills of unique small-batch brews, not made available to the public. Should make for an interesting holiday season!

The weekend wrapped with a visit to Dead Frog Brewing in Langley. We just had to try their recently concocted Party Paddle, which provides at least two drinkers with a flight of 16 taster glasses, comprised of everything on tap at the brewery. Among my favourites were the Moscow Mule Lime Ginger White Ale, Blueberry Blast Kettle Sour, Nutty Uncle Peanut Butter Stout and Winter Beeracle Winter Ale.

Another series of Sip Trips adventures are in the books and the Christmas push is just beginning. The next update will feature Christmas parties, a look at my first fills from Storm Brewing and likely a couple outings that weren’t even on our radar. Stay tuned!

Sip Trips #151: Winter Resting

It’s been a while since the Sip Advisor provided an update on our adventures and that’s because there hasn’t been a whole lot of them. With the change in seasons and still settling into our new place, we’ve found ourselves sticking closer to home more often than not. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

On a recent date night for Mrs. Sip and I, we visited an old favourite in Patron Tacos & Cantina in Downtown Vancouver. There, we ordered our usual Queso Fundido and platter of Tacos, combining the two dishes for one incredible meal. I also downed a pair of Patron Lagers, which were on special for $5.50. The restaurant has always had good food and friendly staff, but on this visit, both of those factors seemed to have been improved even more so.

With a move to staying indoors a little more often, I’ve put together a wish list of winter beers to enjoy this season, working my way through a few of them. This has included: Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale, Whistler Black Tusk Chocolate Milk Ale, Dead Frog Red Rum Spiced Red Ale and Granville Island Tropical Stout. Still to be sampled from my “to do” list is the Old Yale Himalayan Salted Caramel Porter and Vancouver Island Misthorn Winter IPA. They will be mine… oh yes, they will be mine!

Frozen Beer.jpg

Last night, we finally emerged from our event hibernation to attend Craft Beer Market’s Cheers to 5 Years Anniversary Party. We have been frequent guests of the restaurant over our years living in Vancouver, celebrating birthdays and New Year’s Eves, so it was only fitting to join the festivities. Tickets were only $5 (plus tax), with proceeds going to the St. Vincent de Paul charity drive, which provides holiday hampers to 10 families in Vancouver. With entry, you received one ticket for a full-sized beer and access to unlimited beer and wine samples from those in attendance. Beer vendors in included: Moody Ales, Stanley Park, Steel & Oak, Granville Island, Strathcona, Steamworks, Longwood, Torchlight, Spectrum, Collective Arts, and Phantom. There were also appies floating around, but it wasn’t always easy to get your hands on them. With Baby Sip in tow, we took a seat in the restaurant area and ordered Chicken Wings and the Gaucho Chicken Flatbread for eats. The night ended with a tasty birthday cake and scrumptious ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Another fantastic event from the folks at Craft. I can’t wait for the next one!

While we haven’t been at our usual level of busy lately, the Christmas season is upon us and that means the schedule is filling quickly with lots of fun events. Tune in next week for another installment of Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #150: Return to Work

Now that Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) are getting settled into our new home in New West, the exploring has begun again. This week’s wrap-up, features a number of new eateries we’ve enjoyed over recent times:

A couple weeks back, I joined Mrs. Sip following one of her theatre shows for a meal at Bin 4 Burger Lounge in Vancouver. I had heard great things about this restaurant and they did not disappoint. I had trouble choosing from their extensive lineup of burgers, finally settling on the Dirty Bourbon Burger, which was absolutely delicious. I love most places that offer potato chips as a side, but what made Bin 4 special was you also get one free dipping sauce to go with your meal. They also have some neat cocktails, which Mrs. Sip indulged in with the Harvey Specter. I had a quick sip and enjoyed the drink, as well.

Burger Salad

Back at home, I’ve had a huge craving for ginger beer drinks lately, so grabbed a two-litre bottle and decided to put together a Buck/Mule Family Tasting Experience, comprised of the Gin Buck, Moscow Mule, Dark N’ Stormy and Mayan Mule. Each drink is similar (ginger beer and lime juice), with only the spirit being different: gin, vodka, dark rum and tequila, respectively. While I liked each of the family members, my favourite was certainly the Dark N’ Stormy. Mrs. Sip picked the Moscow Mule as her top choice.

My last week of parental leave was quite fun, as Mrs. Sip joined me for it. Among taking Baby Sip to Queen’s Park and other walks, we travelled to our nearest pub, the Royal Crown Castle. This place is very recognizable as you drive down Columbia Street, as it looks like a castle, but is actually the former gatehouse for the BC Penitentiary, which used to be on the site. To go with a pair of Radeberger Pilsner pints, which were on special, I had the Classic Beef Burger, while Mrs. Sip went with one of their daily specials, a Grilled Ham & Cheese with Turkey Chowder Soup. Our meal was very good and we will certainly be back, traversing the city’s many hills to get there.

Later in the week, we attended Harvest Glow in Langley. This is a fantastic place to bring young children, complete with a train ride, mini golf, playgrounds, pony rides, a corn maze, pumpkin patch, live music, and so much more. We marvelled at how much fun Baby Sip was having at only one-year-old. Best of all, you can enjoy your kid’s enjoyment with a drink in hand, as they offer beer, wine, and even cocktails. The set-up was different than last year’s Christmas Glow and I hope they are taking notes for this year’s yuletide version. We enjoyed the experience so much, we returned for another evening of entertainment.

Skittles Harvest

My final week on leave ended with a big bang, as we hosted a wine and cheese open house at our new place. With 40 guests expected, we stocked up on a dozen bottles of wine for guests to sample, along with copious amounts of cheese, meats and crackers. The event was a lot of fun and the culmination of all our hard work getting the home ready and liveable.

Now that I’m back to the daily grind of work, we’re still trying to mix in some fun here and there. On Tuesday, we picked up food from Big Star Sandwich in New West for the first time. It will certainly not be the last time, though, as we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. As much as I like Subway sandwiches, this was like Subway on steroids! My favourite part of their menu is that you can put hickory sticks on any sandwich, adding a nice crunch to your hoagie.

The coming weekend is loaded with events, as the Halloween season picks up. Check back soon for another Sip Trips update on all our adventures!