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.

 

Sip Trips #157: Puerto Vallarta Paradise

The Sip Family is back from our week-long all-inclusive vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’re well-rested, slightly tanned and ready to hit the ground running at home. Before we can do that, though, it’s time to put a bow on this getaway. Here’s what we got up to in what I like to call “Yarta”:

We stayed at the Crown Paradise Club, which was a very nice resort, full of friendly and helpful staff, lots of stuff for kids to do and good food and drinks for the adults. We enjoyed each of the resort’s three restaurants, featuring French, Italian and Asian food, as well as the four bars scattered across the property. My go-to drinks included Cuba Libres, Palomas, servings of Dos Equis Ambar, and Johnnie Walker Red nightcaps.

drinks for everyone

In the middle of our trip, we ventured into town to visit the two craft breweries I had researched. Starting at Monzon Brewing, we enjoyed a flight of Peachy Gringo American Wheat with Peach, Verano Sin Fin Saison, Animo American Amber, Hermanita Session IPA, and A-Sacala Azacca Hopped IPA, paired with happy hour food specials Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken and Chorizo Tacos. Their happy hour goes from 3-5pm, setting patrons up perfectly for nearby Los Muertos Brewing, who run their 35-Peso per beer happy hour from 4-6pm. At Los Muertos, we ordered pints of the Anillo De Fuego Chili Ale for me, El Jefeweizen Summer Wheat for Mrs. Sip and Agave Maria Amber Ale to split. The place also had some intriguing food deals, such as 30-Peso slices of pizza.

The next day, we walked to the nearby Walmart to grab some pool toys for Baby Sip. There, I grabbed some unique canned products in Kraken & Cola and Jose Cuervo Paloma. The drinks were quite tasty and perfectly refreshing for walks in the hot sun.

Returning to town on our last day of vacation, we stopped for lunch at Señor Frog’s, trying to balance my desire for McDonald’s and Mrs. Sip’s want for something more local, with something familiar, but also not available at home for us. We both ordered one of their famous beverages, with Mrs. Sip opting for the Frog’s Buster (vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, cranberry juice, simple syrup, lime) and myself choosing the Big Watermelons (tequila, watermelon and strawberry liqueur, lime juice, guava, grenadine). For food, we shared the Queso Dip and some Pork Tacos, which were both delicious meals and very filling.

senor frogs queen

Right before leaving the resort, we wrapped things up with the time-tested tradition of tequila, salt and lime! We will definitely be back, as we found Puerto Vallarta to be a very clean, manageable and friendly destination. Cab rides were reasonable, the sights were beautiful and the temperatures were ideal.

Upon returning to cold, snowy Canada, we spent Family Day walking the Quayside Boardwalk in New West, eventually landing at Steel & Oak Brewing. There, we split three flights, comprised of each of the 12 beers they had on tap. My favourites from the collection were the Roselle Wheat Ale and Kataja Juniper Ale.

Next up, we’re hosting an Oscars viewing party, where I’ve selected and adapted some interesting cocktail recipes. We also have a few highly-anticipated Vancouver Canucks events to attend on the horizon, such as our SportsBar Live! viewing party and contest versus the hated Toronto Maple Leafs!

January 20 – Melon Margarita

Tequilas

Well friends and fellow sippers, I’m back from Mexico, with a ton of new booze, so that seems like the perfect opportunity to launch into Tequila Week. Each day I’ll feature a different tequila-based cocktail and together we’ll all get a little loco!

Also, before I left for our holiday I sent a kindly-worded letter to my liver advising it (I seem to do a lot of advising) of the upcoming situation. When I returned home, this was waiting for me. My liver must have mailed it or something (doesn’t your liver mail you stuff?):

Rebuttal from my Liver

Check Liver Light

Dear Sip Advisor,

So, let me get this straight… first you drag me to Mexico – kicking and screaming as only a poor liver can – for a tortuous week at an all-inclusive resort, and just when I think I’ll finally get some rest, you have the audacity to announce that today is the start of Tequila Week!

At the resort, you decided, in your infinite wisdom, to do your own all-inclusive challenge and try to have one of every single drink on their pool bar menus. There were 72 drink mixes on that menu, what the firetruck were you thinking!? The only thing that steered you away from this (after you were already halfway through the list, mind you) was when you grew tired of the sugary mixes the bartenders were using. But naturally that’s about the time when you discovered the anejo dark rum… thanks a lot buddy [sigh].

How did you like the 24-hour flu I e-mailed your way? That was supposed to stop you, or at the very least, slow you down. Instead you took one day off and then made up for the missed action when you’d recovered.

I would, hereby, like to announce my secession from your body… if only I could find a way out.

Your long-suffering frenemy,

Liver

Hmmm… tough love, but my liver does have a point. Sugary pre-made mixes are generally a big no-no for all my little sippers out there. When you can, try to make all or the majority of your drink from scratch, or at the very least, use higher quality fresh juices or mixer. Your liver (and your friends) will thank you for it!

Without further ado, here is the first tequila drink, starting with a slight spin on an old classic:

Drink #20: Melon Margarita

Melon Margarita

  • Rim glass with lemon or lime juice, followed by salt
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Margarita Mix (optional)
  • Garnish with lime or watermelon wedge

I hope the rest of Tequila Week is as delicious as today was. Have a great tequila recipe that you’d like to see featured here on Sip Advisor? Just let my liver and me know!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I’m a big Margarita fan (providing it’s on the rocks and not frozen) and I also have a massive appreciation for melon liqueur. Put the two together and you should have one fine cocktail and here, you do.

January 12 – Have You Cinned?

Super Saturday Shot Day #2 – Open Letter to My Liver

Liver Joke

Dear Liver,

I am writing to inform you that I will soon be away at an all-inclusive resort. For me, this means a mixed week of relaxing and partying. For you, this means a long, arduous week of filtering toxins.

I know you have been working long hours recently, what with the holiday season just having passed and I know your regular work week is nothing to laugh about. I ask you to hold on and keep working through this busy time. You are a valued member of our team and your contributions to the success of our business have not gone unnoticed.

Remember, you’re not just any liver… you’re my liver. A well-conditioned athlete, who can achieve feats mere mortals can’t even comprehend.

You are a legend… an icon… the voice of your generation.

Now here’s a shot to get you all warmed up for the week to come!

Drink #12: Have You Cinned?

Have You Cinned Shot

  • Rim glass with cinnamon/sugar mix
  • 1.5 oz Tequila
  • Garnish with orange wedge

Felling better, friend? That’s my boy!

Sincerely,

Daniel

P.S.: I love you!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I liked the Cinnamon-Sugar rim, which combined with the Orange Wedge, made for a unique drink, in contrast with your typical Tequila shot. From this day forward, this will be my preferred way of shooting the spirit.