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.

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Sip Trips #171: Taking it to the Streets

The summer finally heated up the past couple weeks and with that came a bevvy of functions to attend, places to explore and activities to indulge in. Here’s what the Sip Family has been up to lately:

A couple weeks back we returned with friends to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. Stop number one was Yellow Dog Brewing, a preferred stop for the Sip Advisor thanks to their massive backyard area. I enjoyed a pint of their Squirrel Chaser Hazy Pale Ale, as Baby Sip napped in the shade nearby. When you get those precious breaks, you have to make the most of them.

naptime

Up next, was The Bakery Brewing, whose menu featured quite a bit of turnover from my inaugural visit. Here, I had a serving of the Oaked Hefe, which I liked very much. Sours still dominated The Bakery’s tap list, but there seemed to be more variance this time around.

The last stop for this crawl down Murray Street was Moody Ales, where we picked up some treats for the road. My collection included a crowler of Sublime Pineapple Hefeweizen, as well as tall cans of Boss Juice Hazy Double IPA and Affable IPA.

Between weekends (a fancy way of saying “during the week”), I purchased a bottle of Captain Morgan Watermelon Smash (the bottle even smells like watermelon), which I planned to debut at a family Mexican Fiesta over the long weekend. The cocktail I created combined tequila, this watermelon liqueur, watermelon-lemonade soda and lime juice. I called it the Watermelon Rocket and it seemed to go over well with my eager tasters.

cat-watermelon.jpg

Going into the BC Day long weekend, Baby Sip and I joined Mrs. Sip for another edition of Fridays on Front in New West. We were drawn there by guest brewery Boombox Brewing, which was offering up their Arcade Glow Pale Ale. I quickly consumed two servings of this delicious beer, while watching Baby Sip get up to her usual brand of mischief at the play area for youngsters.

On Saturday, we met visiting friends from Toronto at The Royal Crown Castle pub in Sapperton. I really enjoyed their Cashew Chilli Chicken appetizer, paired with a pint of Parallel 49 Trash Panda IPA, which worked well to quell the heat from my meal. A really good combo, if I don’t say so myself. Our service here also deserves highlighting, as Baby Sip was given a bubble wand to play with and was taken very good care of.

cat bubbles

Following lunch, we popped into Another Brewing Co. (ABC) for half servings of “I’m a Vienna You Idiot” Vienna Lager and Dual Citizen Saison, both of which were new to us. I’m not much of a lager fan, but I thought this release was very good. Before leaving, I purchased a few tall cans, including the Poolside Hefe, Intolerant Milkshake IPA (which I was advised is a good dessert beer) and Dunder Beist Kviek Farmhouse IPA.

This weekend, I’ll be checking out Parallel 49’s Brawl at the Brewery, featuring professional wrestling and craft beer, an amalgamation of two worlds I’ve long been a follower of. Should make for an interesting afternoon!

Sip Trips #169: Summer of Sips

We’re now in the thick of summer, which means ample opportunities to drink, whether they be in pools, on patios, at parks, or wherever else you might find yourself with a beverage in hand. Here’s what the Sip Advisor has been doing to start the season:

The Sip Family spent most of the Canada Day long weekend poolside at Ma and Pa Sip’s home. There, I enjoyed the Parallel 49 Brews Brothers Vol. 5 case, another one of my favourite annual collaborative beer packs. The eight tall can collection is always music themed, with this year’s brews named after boy band songs. I particularly enjoyed the Faded Habanero Peach Gose (brewed with Field House Brewing), among others in the set. Our group had a good time reminiscing about our younger years, as we played whatever song matched the beer I was drinking.

boy bands.png

Last weekend, we ventured to the recently opened The Bakery Brewing (the fifth brewery to operate along Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row). Mrs. Sip and I split two flights, allowing us to try each of The Bakery’s eight offerings. Their initial lineup is comprised of mostly sour beers, with my favourite of the bunch being the Carrot-Mango-Lime Sour. Wine and guest taps are also on the brewery’s menu, as well as some food items. At this time, The Bakery has three of their beers available to be purchased in bottles, including the aforementioned Carrot-Mango-Lime. I would have never thought of carrot being a good beer ingredient, but it works here.

En route home from The Bakery, we popped into ABC Brewing to use up more of my original patron gift card. Along with some of our previously enjoyed favourites, we picked up the newly canned Acronyms DIPA. We will be back shortly to also try the debuting Dual Citizen Saison.

acronyms

On Tuesday, we picked up Big Star Sandwich and enjoyed the meal in the Westminster Pier Park for New West’s Music by the River Festival, which sees twice-weekly concerts by various artists. The draw for us was that the park is licensed, serving one beer each from Steel & Oak and ABC, available for purchase at the concession. Sadly, rain put a damper on the concert, featuring sitarist Mohamed Assani.

Upcoming, we hope to check out Fridays on Front in New West, as well as having a number of kid’s birthdays to attend over the next two weekends. This will provide many more great opportunities to visit breweries around the Lower Mainland, as well as catch up with friends over libations!

Sip Trips #168: Alphabet Games

The past couple weeks have been filled with events and adventures, so let’s get right to the thick of things. Here’s what the Sip Family has been up to, of late:

To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we gathered for dinner at Bauhaus Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver. My order of Weiner Schnitzel was very good and the massive serving (with cucumber potato salad) justified the $36 price tag. The Schnitzel was accompanied by cranberry sauce, which I never thought of using on veal, but complimented the dish very well. Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed a trio of Brassneck Passive Aggressive Pale Ale servings to accompany my meal.

To celebrate my second Father’s Day, Mrs. Sip and I visited the newly-opened Another Beer Company (ABC Brewing), where we are original patron members. We were away on vacation while they hosted their special opening for members only, so it was great to finally get there and pick up my original patron package, which included a gift card and hoodie.

greatest dad

With plans to pick up a few beers to go when we were ready to leave, we concentrated on the options that were only available on tap for our time at the brewery. We ordered the Bright Temperament Belgian Saison, Salted Kviek Farmhouse Ale and Keep Your Pants On Indian Pale Kolsch, a style I have never seen before. The tall cans we bought prior to heading home included the Engine Head American Rye Ale, Poolside Hefe Bavarian Hefeweizen, You’ve Changed Pale Ale, Livin’ By The River Hazy IPA, and Young Wild & Hazy Hazy IPA.

We actually returned a few days later with Cousin Sip and her husband and picked the couple items (Good Alternative Altbier and Eli’s Stash Belgian Tripel) we had yet to try or purchase. I haven’t had a bad beer yet from the upstart brewery and I look forward to many more visits in the future. We like the loft seating area there, as well as the bucket of toys they had available for young children who are brought to the venue. With Father’s Day in mind, you may be asking how awesome of a father I am? Well, with our visit to ABC, Baby Sip has now been to 69 breweries across a handful of countries in her 20 months of existence. Father of the Year honours are surely on the way!

One final note about ABC, is they are operating with a different business plan than I’ve seen from other breweries. They aren’t offering growler fills, opting to sell tall cans which are packaged on a weekly basis and restocked daily. The cans are meant to be drank within two weeks of the packaging date. It will be interesting to see if this scheme evolves over time or not.

growler

Prior to our second visit to ABC, we had been attending the Vancouver Canucks Summer Summit with the Sedins. Upon entering, we were presented with vouchers for one entrée and two drinks, similar to the Summer Showcase prospects game last year. I used my food ticket on a Triple Os Bacon & Cheddar Burger, while my drink coupons once again went towards Budweisers (it always hurts to write that, but you can’t complain when they’re free!). There were many more drink stands available to attendees this year, so perhaps they listened to my suggestions following the previous event.

This past weekend, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends for a crawl along Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. We began the day with Twin Sails Brewing, which was hosting a First Day of Summer Party. I enjoyed my El Cacto Tequila Farmhouse Ale with Lime Zest, as well as Mrs. Sip’s Two Straws Milkshake IPA with Blackberry.

Next up was Yellow Dog Brewing, where we snagged a seat in their backyard area, one of my favourite drinking spots amongst the Lower Mainland craft beer scene. I went with their Squirrel Chaser Hazy Pale Ale, as I had never tried the beer before, while I order the Hi Ten Double Hazy IPA for Mrs. Sip, as she has been getting into that style more and more recently.

spritual quest

Moody Ales was stop number three. I was able to try a taste of Bakery Brewing’s Dark Rye Saison (on guest tap), before getting a pint of the Moody Ales/Gibsons Collab Rauchbock, which was deliciously smoky. Mrs. Sip went with the Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Stout, another fine choice.

Backtracking, our last stop of the day was Parkside Brewing, where we decided to pick up some road beers, rather than fight for a seat and table at the very busy place (all the Row was hopping throughout the day). I grabbed a tall can four-pack of their Motel Pale Ale, which were enjoyed as we walked the nearby trails to a playground for Baby Sip to finally get some playtime.

Upcoming is the Canada Day long weekend, which always presents some fantastic drinking opportunities. All we need is for the weather to turn around, so we can relax poolside and fireside with beverages in hand!

Sip Trips #167 – Festival Follies

One day removed from returning from our Alaskan cruise, Mrs. Sip and I attended the 10th annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (VCBW) Festival last weekend. While we enjoyed ourselves, I think my festival days may be done.

Permit me to go on a bit of a rant here: I used to love beer festivals, but view them with such disdain now. When they pop up in my email or on social media, I quickly review the details then often yell at my phone “Ha, I’m not paying that much for so little.” Yeah, I’m THAT guy on public transit!

festival 1

My issue with most festivals stems from how much it costs to get in and how little you get up front. For the VCBW Festival, most people paid $39 for basic entry (VIP tickets were also available) and received absolutely nothing with this price. Tokens were $2 each on top of admission.

To be fair (“to be faaaaaaaaiiiiirrrr” for all the Letterkenny fans out there), I know there are costs associated with renting a venue, licensing, facilities, staff, etc., but throw people a bone here. You don’t have to give them the world, but a few tokens is nice. Or have an all-inclusive wristband option available for purchase.

So why did we go, given those specs? Well, if I’m being frank, we only did this festival because we were one of the first people to buy tickets and because it was the event’s 10th anniversary, we got ours for a smoking deal of only $10 each, plus transaction fee. In that case, you can justify then having to pay another chunk of money on beer sample tokens.

festival 2

By comparison, we will be attending – for the second straight year – the Battle of the Brews in August. For the same price it cost to get into the VCBW Festival, we will be treated to all-inclusive beers and food. For my money (and it literally is), I’d rather not worry about additional costs once I get to the venue. No, my little sippers, I’ve become an all-inclusive guy and I’m too stubborn to change my ways.

Also, transport to Surrey City Hall trumps that which is available to the PNE grounds. Not to go off on a rant within a rant, but how does such a major attraction not have a better transit set up? Every time we go to an event at the PNE (Coliseum or otherwise), we get screwed over with the return trip home.

As I said above, I enjoyed the festival, but that was partly based on not feeling cheated pricewise. What I liked about the event was there were so many breweries on hand and each company brought staples and unique beers to share. Every time we explored one area of the venue, I pointed out to Mrs. Sip that we still had others to venture to. I also liked that you could buy tokens before entering, cutting down on wait times at the event’s commencement.

festival 3

My advice for those who still want to go to the festival despite – or in spite of – my rant, is to go on the Sunday of the weekend-long event. According to a number of the breweries, the crowds on day two were much lighter and we only waited in line for beers once all day and that was for the uber-popular House of Funk Brewing.

Moving on, upon returning home from Alaska, I purchased the Red Racer Across the Nation beer case, which features a collaboration beer with a brewery in each province/territory (except Nunavit). By buying directly from the brewery, rather than a BC Liquor Store, I saved a few dollars, so I’d recommend going that route to anyone who is near Central City’s Surrey location. The case has a number of interesting brews, with my favourites so far being the Kermode Kiwi Saison and Narcisse Smoked Amber Saison. I will probably buy the case a second time, as I’ve shared much of it and the variety is very alluring to me.

This weekend, the Sip Family celebrates my second Father’s Day, where we’re hoping to finally pop into the recently-opened Another Brewing Company (ABC Brewing), as well as visits the acclaimed Bauhaus Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver for a friend’s birthday.