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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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 #149: September Insanity

Well, my little sippers, it’s been too long since I was last able to provide an update on the Sip Advisor’s adventures, thanks in part to our big move from Vancouver to New West. I’ve finally got some time to put fingers to keys, so here’s what we’ve been up to over the month of September:

As we enjoyed the calm between two storms – moving out and moving in – Mrs. Sip and I met up with some baseball teammates at the Sapperton District Taphouse for their weekly Tuesday Trivia. Over the course of the night, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Howe Sound You’re My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat Ale (on special), Steel & Oak Rhubarbarum Rhubarb Pale Ale and a Dageraad selection that was described to us as a double dark wheat ale. To go with our beverages, I ordered the Whiskey Barrel Burger, while Mrs. Sip once again had the Slow & Low Sliders. Best of all, our team won the trivia and got tickets to a comedy show, a t-shirt and, most importantly, a pitcher of beer for our efforts.

The next day, friends from out of town were visiting, so we took them to the Britannia Brew Pub in Steveston. As we did on our first visit, Mrs. Sip and I shared their Chowder and Fish & Chips for food, which I paired with their seasonal Tropical ISA. The beer was just what I was looking for to pair with seafood.

redneck-seafood.jpg

A few days later, we were back in the Richmond area, so decided to drop into Fuggles & Warlock Brewing. Although I’d had a sip of the beer at the Battle of the Brews event a couple weeks earlier, I wanted a full glass of the Gin & Lime Pilsner, which I enjoyed more in the larger serving. Mrs. Sip went with her usual The Last Strawberry Wit, which has always been a fantastic and flavourful drink.

Next up was our cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with Princess Cruises. As is our tradition, we brought aboard four bottles of wine, as well as mini bottles of rums, vodkas and schnapps, which kept us well-lubricated throughout the voyage. This was helped along by various drinks aboard the ship, highlighted by multiple servings of Mayan Mules (subbing in tequila for vodka); a super-sized Chocolate & Chili Margarita (enough for both Mrs. Sip and me); and attending the Maitre D’Hotel Wine Club, including six samples of wine from around the world.

When our cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, we journeyed to Anaheim for one day at Disneyland, Baby Sip’s introduction to the place where her parent’s met as fresh-faced teenagers and began their long relationship. We decided to attend the Mickey’s Halloween Party, giving us access to the park starting at 3pm and lasting until 11pm. Mrs. Sip realized if we went this route, we’d pay only slightly more than the price for a one-day, one-park ticket (which would see us booted out for the Halloween Party at 6pm), while gaining access to both parks, extended hours, and the perks that come with the Halloween ticket.

Halloween in September.png

Prior to heading to the Disneyland Resort, we went for lunch at the nearby Tony Roma’s location, drawn in by their happy hour commencing at 11am. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a pint of Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, to go with our Chicken Tender Platter and Mrs. Sip’s cup of Baked Potato Soup. This is one of my favourite chicken strip platters of all-time, so it was very nice to have it again on this vacation.

Following lunch, we entered Disney’s California Adventure, home to (at this time) the only place among the parks where you can purchase alcohol. We went straight for the Karl Strauss Beer Truck, where we noted that brew prices have gone up since our last visit in December 2016. Despite the increase, I ordered their Aurora Hoppyalis, while Mrs. Sip went with the seasonal Oktoberfest.

After riding the revamped Incredicoaster, we rejoined our family near the Animation Building, stopping along the way to try a couple beverages only available during the Halloween season. Mrs. Sip had the Elsyian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Ale, while I selected the Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA. Both beers were very good, with the Elysian having the best pumpkin flavour I’ve experienced in a beer.

pumpkin beer.jpg

Following taking Baby Sip on her very first Disneyland ride ever – The Little Mermaid – we made one more suds stop at the Sonoma Terrace beer and wine garden. I was happy to see the site now has beers on tap, instead of only bottles. With that in mind, I picked the Refuge Grapefruit IPA, but neglected to note which libation Mrs. Sip settled on.

Next, we were off to the Halloween Party, which was a lot of fun. It was neat to experience a park we’re so familiar with in a whole new way. The trick-or-treat stations handed out a variety of quality treats and the fireworks show was top notch. Our only complaint would be that one of the churros stands ran out of the pumpkin spice variety that we’d read about online, which seems like very poor planning to occur, not only during the Halloween season, but particularly during a special event such as Mickey’s Halloween Party.

Before flying back home to Vancouver, most of our group had lunch at the Golden Road Brewing tasting room within LAX Airport. This was a welcome surprise given how much we used to despise the airport and how we just had a beer from the company the day before at Tony Roma’s. I went with the Wolf Among Weeds IPA, paired with a Banh Mi Sandwich, while Mrs. Sip ordered the Mango Cart Wheat Ale to go with a Pub Pretzel.

out-of-pretzels.jpg

Back at home, we were running out of days to reach my goal of taking Baby Sip to 52 breweries in her first year of life, so made a trip to Vancouver for stops at R&B Brewing and Electric Bicycle Brewing. At R&B, we shared one of their spectacular pizzas, the Prosciutto & Arugula variety, along with pints of So Fresh and So Green, Green IPA for me and the Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale for Mrs. Sip. At Electric Bicycle, we shared a flight, comprised of Kaedama Ramen Noodle Alt, Spatialized Pale Ale, Floridian Holiday Pink Peppercorn IPA, and Das Cocoloco Imperial Wit. It was a perfect way to achieve my and Baby Sip’s goal with some outstanding beers at both locations.

To celebrate my birthday the next day, we bought tickets to Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event, where they were joined by Field House Brewing and Steel & Oak Brewing. I tried beers from each vendor, including the Trading Post Hoppy Bock, Field House Festbier, Field House Dutch Pale Ale, and Steel & Oak Roselle Wheat Ale. We also ordered some of the fantastic food available, such as the Vienna Schnitzel, Laugenbrezel, and Parm Fries. The event was a lot of fun and to boot, we even got an opportunity to drink out of a boot!

As with any birthday for me, a number of liquor products were gifted my way, including bottles of Tanqueray Malacca Gin, Sons of Vancouver Chili Vodka, Fernie Ghostrider Pumpkin Brown Ale and Bad Tattoo Brewing’s Flash Pack case. Last, but not least, I also received a BC Liquor Store gift card, as well as cash, which will likely go towards boozy purchases.

money for birthday

Finally, to wrap up what is often our second busiest month of the year – only topped by December and all its Christmas events – thanks to a myriad of family and friend birthdays, we celebrated Baby Sip turning one-year-old. For the occasion, I created three cocktails, featuring colourful liqueurs that went with our Dr. Seuss ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’ theme. The recipes included Rum–Blue Curacao–Pineapple Juice, Vodka–Banana Liqueur–Club Soda, and Gin–Violet Liqueur–Lemon-Lime Soda. The unique yet basic recipes were a hit with our guests and added a nice enhancement to the party.

October looks to be a little less insane, but the calendar is already filling up with Halloween parties and other commitments. Bring it on, October!

Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

Sip Trips #75: Celebrations Abound

After a relatively quiet midweek for the Sip Advisor, the weekend picked up in pace, as it usually does. With a friend’s birthday on Saturday, we started at the Salt Tasting Room in Gastown, which has a neat concept in that you order three meats/cheeses and three condiments to create your own charcuterie plate. This platter can be paired with wines selected by the staff, if you choose, but a couple cocktails and beer from 33 Acres Brewing is also available. This was my first time ever entering the area’s infamous Blood Alley and I’d like to return for more exploration.

After conquering our SmartyPantz escape room, our evening wrapped up with a trip to the TAPshack in Coal Harbour. Coincidentally, Mrs. Sip and I passed this place the week before, while out for a walk and wanted to return to check it out. While there, we enjoyed a couple beers from their menu of 20 taps (one beer each from 20 different breweries), while I tried their Maui Wowie Hawaiian pizza and Mrs. Sip ordered a serving of their duck fat popcorn and avocado toast with poached egg for a main course.

hawaiian-pizza-funny

The next day was Cousin Sip’s 12-year wedding anniversary, which she was celebrating solo, as her husband is currently working out-of-town. Therefore, Mrs. Sip and I joined her for a dinner at The Keg in Yaletown, sitting on their rooftop patio and enjoying what’s left of gorgeous summer weather.

While we had a nice meal, it’s time for a little Sip Advisor rant: To this day, I’m still saddened by the restaurant’s decision to nix their prime rib burger from the menu, in favour of their current offering. The prime rib burger provided a near orgasmic experience, while this rendition is just a run-of-the-mill product. To boot, when I first starting ordering the prime rib burger, it could be had for about $12, which was an amazing deal. Even before it was phased out, the price had only risen to about $14. This new, lackluster burger sets you back $18. I’ve even talked to servers at the chain, who have recognized the new burger just doesn’t measure up to the old one. The prime rib burger is still sold in grocery stores, so why not bring it back to the restaurant!?

rant-logic-reason

Okay, rant over. This weekend, we will be enjoying a one-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver to celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday. So long as it ends better than our last overnight cruise, where members of the Sip Alliance had to be quarantined, I think it will be a good way to spend the occasion… but the tale may not reach the same heights of infamy!

Sip Trips #3 – Celebration Central

After a slow start to January – drinking wise – this last week was full of revelry, as we celebrated Mrs. Sip’s birthday and a couple other events.

We had social events on both Friday and Saturday that involved some serious drinking into the wee hours of the morning. On Sunday, we hit The Distillery for brunch. The Distillery is attached to the Yaletown Brewery site, where the company also produces their own vodka and gin. Inside the restaurant, you can get a $5 cucumber- or jalapeno-infused Caesar or bottomless Mimosas for only $10. These go great with the joint’s $10 breakfast menu options.

Day Drinking Brunch

For Mrs. Sip’s actual birthday, on Monday, we met at Joe Fortes, for some of the best seafood the city has to offer. After a couple happy hour cocktails and appies, we sat down for the restaurant’s cold seafood tier, which was loaded with lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, clams, tuna sashimi, and oyster ceviche. With dinner, I ordered the Whistler Brewing Unfiltered IPA, which I didn’t even know the company produced.

Following dinner, we decided to visit the UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar for night cap cocktails. Despite living just down the street from the lounge for close to five years – and Mrs. Sip often saying we should try the place – we finally walked through its doors and were immediately impressed by the place. The cocktails aren’t cheap, but they’re hand-crafted and perfected before they reach your lips. Sitting at the bar, I was impressed to see the mixologists discussing recipes and ingredients, looking to improve elements at their disposal.

In conjunction with Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival, UVA currently has a couple chocolate-based cocktails on their menu, which is the main reason we finally pulled the trigger and tried the place out. Mrs. Sip enjoyed the Black Widow (El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Cacao and Coffee Red Bush Tea, Averna Amaro Cherry Liqueur, and Plum and Root Beer Bitters), while yours truly ordered the Chartreuse Milkshake, complete with Citadelle Gin, Green Chartreuse, Cacao, Lime and Orange Juices, Chocolate Bitters, and Egg Whites. It was the first chance I’ve ever had to try Chartreuse and I will certainly have it again. Green or Yellow, it doesn’t really matter!

Hot Chocolate

Other beers I enjoyed over the week that was, included Red Truck Amber Ale, Ninkasi Total Domination, Persephone Wee Heavy, Granville Island Swing Span, Four Winds Pale Ale, Lighthouse 3 Weeds, and Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

It’s been a crazy busy week, but the celebrating has been a lot of fun and it’s always great to catch up with friends and family over awesome food and drinks!

January 19 – On the Cusp

Birthday Bumps

On the Cusp double shots

It’s my wife’s birthday and after everything she does for me (and you readers – she is, after all, responsible for most of the photos that grace this site, as well as being my muse, my editor and sometimes my censor), I owe her a great deal of gratitude. Therefore, I decided to invent a shot to celebrate her big day (as if the brand new Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks jersey and other surprises weren’t enough!), mixing a couple of her favourites together in this week’s shot.

I started with a thin layer of chocolate syrup that will make for a nice chaser to go with the rest of the recipe. Remember rule #1: girls love chocolate. Also, chocolate can represent the “earth” element of Capricorn or how Capricorns are supposed to be all grounded and practical or other such nonsense. Next up, when I first met my wife nearly 11 years ago, she was a massive coconut fan and still is. I believe one of the first hard alcohols she ever got into – as is the case with many 18-year-old girls – was Malibu Rum, so that was definitely going to be part of the shot. I followed that with  some Chocolate Whipped Vodka because, once again, rule #1: girls love chocolate. Seriously, I have never met a woman that doesn’t love the sweet stuff. Even if a girl is allergic to chocolate, they will eat it to the point of needing an EpiPen. Finally we finish the concoction with Blue Curacao for no other reason than I think of the colour blue when I hear the word ‘Aquarius’. Decorate it all up a little with coconut shavings and there you have it, a beautiful birthday shot that you can say is homemade and earn extra brownie points to be cashed in when you’ve bestowed a handful or so of these onto the pretty lady!

And to think, I was originally thinking of making her a macaroni self-portrait… her loss!

Drink #19: On the Cusp

On the Cusp Shooter

  • Rim glass with coconut shavings
  • Pour a thin layer of chocolate syrup into the shot glass
  • 0.5 oz Malibu Rum
  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Whipped Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Blue Curacao
  • Sprinkle some coconut shavings into the shot

If you would like me to create a shot for you or your partner, drop me a line, let me know what you or they like and I’ll do my best to come up with something.

P.S.: Tequila week starts tomorrow, so I better see everyone doing The Worm!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (5 Sips out of 5):
This shot, a completely original recipe, might I add, was absolutely amazing. From the Coconut Rim, all the way through the spirits to the thin layer of Chocolate Syrup, the whole shebang was wonderful. Of course, I save only my best for Mrs. Sip!