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!

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Sip Trips #148: The Next Chapter

As Mrs. Sip and I wrap up our moving out from Downtown Vancouver, things have been insane around the Sip Advisor Headquarters, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Still, we managed to squeeze some fun into the chaos, especially with the celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary. Here’s what we got up to in our last couple weeks living in Vancouver:

For the second year in a row, we attended Caskapalooza at Craft Beer Market and it was a very, very good event. Like last year, tickets were $25 (plus taxes and fees) and included 12 tokens. Between myself, Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip, we tried nearly every beer of the 36 available. My favourites included a Smoked Apiary Dunkelweizen from Foamers’ Folly, Mariner’s Cuban Night Sky, and a Ginger-Cinnamon Rye Amber Ale from Trading Post. There were so many good and unique beers here that we are definitely planning on attending the 2019 Caskapalooza. The only minor tweak I’d like to see, if possible, is for the Caskport document, which allows drinkers to jot down what each brewery is offering, to already be filled out. This would a) advise folks of what is available and b) eliminate people stopping at the front of a lineup to write in the available information.

Keg Safety First

Following the event, we stuck around for a drink and some food. Mrs. Sip and I split the delicious BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, while my beverage was the Electric Bicycle Frosty Mugs Brown Ale. This was the second time I’ve been able to try a brew from Electric Bicycle and both have been unique and quite tasty. I have to try to visit their tasting room soon.

Last Friday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a moving out party of sorts, where our goal was to finish and get rid of all our mostly consumed liquor bottles. We ended up with about 25 bottles that had minimal liquid left and throughout the night, we all did our best to put those bottles out of their misery. I had a great time playing bartender and coming up with unique, but simple cocktails for the crowd to enjoy. Over our last week in the place, I managed to finish each and every bottle we were hoping to go through. Mission accomplished!

To celebrate our previously mentioned sixth wedding anniversary, we attended the Battle of the Brews competition in Surrey. The event started a little rough for us because as we arrived at our Skytrain station, I spotted the beer tents and it dawned on me that this was an outdoor event, on the one day in recent memory it rained. Things quickly turned around; however, as the organizers had planned for such a scenario and had ponchos ready for any guest that wanted one. The Battle offered a great selection of beers from a number of breweries, as well as awesome food from Brown’s Social House, Cactus Club, Dublin Crossing, Milestones, and many more. My favourite beer was Parkside’s Human’s – An IPA for the People, while my top food choice was Cactus Club’s Mini Crispy Chicken Sandwich. With all that going on, I thought the $50 we paid per ticket was very much worth it. My only complaint here was they need more on-site bathrooms, as five porta-potties is not enough when hundreds of people are drinking all afternoon. At least the long lines could be avoided if you learned about the washrooms in the adjacent Surrey City Hall.

Porta-Potties.jpg

We wrapped up our Vancouver life with one final meal on the rooftop patio at The Keg’s Yaletown location. I order the Prime Rib Sliders at their $13 happy hour price (with side of fries) along with a Keg Caesar, also on special. Our group also split a bottle of Danzante Pinot Grigio and to top off the meal, we were given a slice of Billy Miner Pie for dessert, on the house because we were celebrating our anniversary.

I will certainly miss living in Vancouver, as my years running this site have documented all the great experiences we’ve been able to partake in. That said, we’re on to another exciting chapter in our lives and only time will tell what that has in store for us!