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.


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!


Sip Trips #88: Taste Test

On Saturday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted the Sip Syndicate at our place. Earlier that day, I had ventured out to grab some beers for the evening and lucked upon some individual bottles from broken up from the Central CityParallel 49 Seasons Greetings advent calendar. I think this is a great idea, as it gives people who didn’t buy the advent calendar a chance to see how diverse the lineup is, as well as try some of the products for themselves.

I grabbed six bottles, comprised of: Central City’s Southern Cross Kiwi Kettle Sour and Three Peaks Belgian Tripel, along with Parallel 49’s Anger Management Angry IPA, Gong Show Belgian Spiced Quad, Salty Scot Maple Scotch Ale, and Beerserker Scandinavian Strong Ale. We then presented the six in a tasting-style event with our friends. My favourite from the bunch was probably the Gong Show.


After our mini tasting, we were off to the VIP theatre at Marine Gateway to catch the new Star Wars: Rogue One. I’m not a Star Wars or sci-fi devotee, but I thought the movie was good. My meal of a pulled pork sandwich and fries was even better, which was a nice surprise, given some of the theatre food is only okay. Add a pitcher of Shocktop, split between Mrs. Sip and I, and the evening was well-rounded.

Following the film, we popped into the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub, below the theatre for another beverage. Here, I ordered a pint of Hearthstone McCools Hazelnut Porter, which was profiled in my Beer of the Week feature yesterday. It looks like we’ll be dining there again tonight, to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s birthday with a group of friends from our sports team.

The results of that meal, as well as the other festivities currently planned for Mrs. Sip’s big day will all be brought to you next week in another edition of Sip Trips!

July 24 – California Root Beer

Brewski Tours

I love going on brewery tours, but as far as I’m concerned, the tour portion of the stopover are all largely the same. Once you’ve seen one vat of fermenting hops, you’ve seen them all. Therefore, I will largely base my brewery experience on the intangibles (tastings, other exhibits, etc.) of our visits. Without further ado then, here are some of my favourite breweries that I’ve been able to get to:

Heineken – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dubbed ‘The Heineken Experience’, this brewery tour is so much more than a quick walk through the brewing and bottling plant. They have everything from a station you can record a video at and send to your family and friends, to instruments made out of Heineken supplies, and, of course, a bar with multiple tastings to enjoy. We even made friends with an Aussie traveling on his own, enjoyed some brews together, and ended up all going to dinner at the nearby Hard Rock Café.

heineken experience

Whistler – Whistler, Canada

I liked the Whistler micro-brewery set up. Once the tour was done, you had all the company’s beer to choose from in a bar like setting, complete with board games, good food, and good company. My only note of advice is that the place is a little outside of Whistler Village, so you’ll either need a designated driver to get your crew there or luck out and have your hotel offer a shuttle to and from the outlet.

Holsten – Hamburg, Germany

What could be more fun than a brewery tour? How about one in a language you don’t understand! Ma Sip knows some German, so she was able to fill in any blanks, if necessary, but we were largely there to see, not hear… and eventually taste. When we were trying to book the tour, we were told that only groups were allowed. Ma Sip replied that we were a ‘group of four’ and our visit was on! I’ll always fondly remember the beer and pretzels we were given in the tasting portion of the attraction.

Granville Island – Vancouver, Canada

One of my favourite local micro-breweries, it’s always fun popping into the Granville Island Brewery, which has a great little area for taste tests, a stocked gift shop, and their tour isn’t too bad either… because it’s relatively short! They know people are mostly there for the samples. Granville Island itself is a funky little place to explore. It’s kind of the artsy area of Vancouver with improve shows, good restaurants, and watersports options.


Guinness – Dublin, Ireland

This one haunts me a little because we never actually got inside the palace of stout (Guinness PR people, you can thank me for that one later with a lifetime supply of suds). Our group took transit to the brewery on Friday and even got a picture outside one of the gates. When we were told the wait was two hours to get inside – it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend after all – we elected to save our visit for Monday, as we had to check-in to our hostel shortly. Due to unforeseen god-awful, weather, we had to leave Ireland very early that Monday morning and the Guinness Brewery was not to be enjoyed.

Steam Whistle – Toronto, Canada

I did the tour when Ma and Pa Sip visited me while living in ‘The Big Smoke’ and returned later for free beers (sans tour) with Mrs. Sip, prior to a Toronto Blue Jays game. When you’d enter, you’d get a couple tickets for free beer samples and the generous pours were enough to have you walking wobbly by the time you left the facility, en route to the game for really expensive and lacking-in-quality drinks.


Alexander Keith’s – Halifax, Canada

No visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia would be complete without a stop at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Here, you are guided through the history of the beer by period-dressed guides, learning about their trademark brewing practices. Finally, you come to the really good part: beer samples and games to play while boozing. Ma and Pa Sip aren’t fans of suds, so Mrs. Sip and I were the lucky recipients of bonus brews and we left the place with a good buzz and a couple “liberated” Keith’s mugs!

Carlsberg – Copenhagen, Denmark

Our most recent brewery visit was a lot of fun, despite being exhausted from travel and sleepless night. That’s what’s awesome about your fabled Sip Advisor, he knows when to man up for the sake of liquor. The Carlsberg Brewery has a stable of Jutland horses, had a neat exhibit on bottles of beer from around the world, and tons of history on the Carlsberg legacy and brewing techniques.

Drink #205: California Root Beer

California Rootbeer Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Galliano
  • Top with half Cola and half Beer (I used GIB Lager)
  • Garnish with Lemon Wedge

Later this summer, Mrs. Sip, myself and members of the Sip Alliance have a tour booked that will stop at a handful of local breweries that we’re all looking very forward to visiting. I better make my post early that day because by the time I get back home, I’ll probably be too blasted to work a computer!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This beer cocktail is simply delicious. You get hints of Galliano and Kahlua to go along with the Cola and Beer flavours. I heavily adapted this recipe to suit my needs and I’m glad I did so!