Sip Trips #79: California Screamin’

Fresh off of our trip to Ireland (seriously, Mrs. Sip returned Wednesday night and we were off again Saturday morning), the Sip Alliance took advantage of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday with a super quick jaunt down to California where a few days at Disneyland was just a warm up to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights!

Upon entering Disneyland’s California Adventure Saturday morning, the Sip Advisor made a bee line to Flo’s Café for a serving of Bear Republic’s Grand-Am Pale Ale. This is my favourite beer in the park and was a perfect way to start the short and sweet vacation. Mrs. Sip and I typically pair the breakfast brew with a cheddar garlic bagel twist, which is as fine and gluttonous as a morning meal can be. We also tried their pumpkin twist dessert for some additional excess.

breakfast-beer

Even before we could hit a single attraction, we were onto our second beers of the morning, visiting the Karl Strauss Beer Truck. Here, I tried one of the newer beers (at least new to me) available in the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, which I found to be quite good and deserving of its awesome name. Mrs. Sip went with their seasonal Oktoberfest beverage, which was also a solid choice.

Finally, we rode a ride, but our thirst was not fully quenched. This resulted in a stop at the Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden, where Mrs. Sip selected the Brother Thelonious Belgian Ale from North Coast Brewing, while the Sip Advisor went with a serving of Bootlegger’s Rustic Rye IPA. My only complaint about the beer garden is that all servings are bottles, so you don’t get the same amount as the draft options and often pay more. That said, the available options are often boozier than their contemporaries.

For a late lunch, we made a reservation at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. With the park typically busy for a Saturday and unseasonably warm for October, we ducked into the Carthay Lounge a little early and enjoyed a round of drinks with Mrs. Sip’s favourite appy, the Queso Fundido dip. I ordered a glass of Anchor Mango Wheat because the server said it was a maple mango beer. While that wasn’t correct, it was still a decent brew. Anchor Brewing does have a Maple Autumn Red, which may have caused the confusion. Our three-course lunch was fantastic as usual, enjoyed with a bottle of chardonnay.

wine-as-fruit

Eating at the Carthay Circle Restaurant gave us a special seating area for the World of Color show that night and the Sip Alliance always comes prepared. While Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip double fisted glasses of bubbly, the Sip Advisor and Cousin Sip’s husband were among the last served at the Beer Garden. My bevvy of choice was the Hopageddon Imperial IPA from Napa Smith Brewing. We wrapped the day with a late visit to McDonald’s, which I brought back to our hotel room to pair with a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. There was also a serving of Karl Strauss Mosaic Session IPA in the late evening, which deserves mention for being a good brew.

Sunday featured our main reason for doing this frenzied trip to California. Two years ago, Mrs. Sip and I attended Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and had a fantastic time. Part of the festivities, includes drinking our faces off prior to entering the spooky resort. As we did previously, we began our imbibing at the Karl Strauss Brewing location in the City Walk area outside the park. There, amongst a host of shared plates (pretzel bites, pork schnitzel sliders, cheese fondue, etc.), I enjoyed another serving of the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, followed by the Tower 10 IPA. Mrs. Sip got a pair of Windansea Wheat glasses, which were also delicious.

Our last ditch effort to get a suitable buzz before being swarmed by zombies, maniac killers and all other forms of terrifying beings, came courtesy of the Saddle Ranch. Mrs. Sip and I went with double tequila shots, while I also pounded back a double rum and coke. To say I was ready to have the daylights scared out of me would be an understatement. Once inside, our favourite houses were Freddy vs. Jason, American Horror Story (thanks to following the series), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Our front-of-the-line passes helped us get through the park with ease and we completed all attractions within a few hours.

haunted-house

After a quick sleep, we were back at Disneyland for one more half day of fun. It was breakfast time, so you know what that meant: one more Grand Am Pale Ale for the road and a cheddar garlic bagel twist. We were always under the impression that beer wasn’t served until 10-10:30am, but learned at Flo’s, they are served all day, from 9am on. What a wonderful world we live in!

For lunch, we popped into the Cove Bar, which is situated at the entrance to the Paradise Pier area of the park. There, I had one of their secret menu cocktails, the Earthquake (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite, blue curacao and a float of 151 rum), while Mrs. Sip had the Black Pearl (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite and Chambord). Our crew shared a plate of Lobster Nachos over our drinks. Shortly thereafter, it was sadly time to head to the airport.

Normally, my Sip Trips involving vacations to California end there. LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to for guest amenities, but on this occasion, we ended up in a fantastic wing of the airport, which had a bar and a few other neat looking restaurants. We had dinner at Barney’s Beanery, where I was able to get a buffalo chicken sandwich and a couple pints of Strand 24th Street Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip was in the mood for Mexican, so she had a quesadilla and taco, as well as a serving of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, which was a fantastic drink.

While we don’t have any travel plans for this weekend, we will be attending the BC Beer Awards for the first time, so that should provide some good stories for the next edition of Sip Trips!

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Sip Trips #2 – Best of 2014

Well, Mrs. Sip and I didn’t get up to too much this last week in the booze realm, including a rare well-behaved weekend. We did make time to enjoy a couple craft beers, including Unibroue’s La Resolution and Wychwood’s Bah Humbug. This does give me the opportunity to finally publish my Best of 2014 Drinking Nights article. Some of the memories are fuzzy, but they made for an amazing year. Since all drinking days/nights are wonderful, I will not be ranking these… they will merely be listed in order of occurrence!

#1: Dominican Republic

Sadly, I got sick a couple days after arriving in the Dominican, but the first two nights of all-inclusive partying for Mrs. Sip’s 30th birthday were tropical bliss!

#2: New York

Bourbon followed by as true a cab ride as you can have in New York. Our buzz was killed a little by a snafu with picking up our City Pass tickets, but that was merely a bump in the road on an otherwise awesome first visit to the Big Apple.

#3: Portland Beer & Wine Fest

One of the best booze events I’ve ever attended and we were even the happy recipients of a pile of free tokens. When we returned to our hotel, I ended up triple fisting a few drinks to take advantage of the complimentary happy hour and the party just kept going. Late at night, I was the sole survivor, heading out to pick the family up some Voodoo Doughnuts for the morning!

Portland Guide

#4: Edmonton Airport

One would normally think that being stuck in Edmonton for six hours would be tragic. But the city’s airport – or at least their International Terminal – has one of best selection of bars I’ve ever seen. We made a point of turning our layover into a pub crawl, which certainly helped with falling asleep on the plane from Edmonton to Reykjavik, Iceland!

#5: Hamburg Garden Party

While visiting Hamburg, Germany, a garden party provided the setting for a family reunion. The craft beers Mrs. Sip and I brought with us from Vancouver helped loosen everybody up and the well-stocked party (highlighted by a bottle of Jack Daniels that I made sweet love to) kept the festivities rocking through the night. A torrential downpour of rain couldn’t stop our revelry!

#6: Self-Guided Vancouver Brewery Tour Weekend

Ever the adventurers, Mrs. Sip and I decided to take ourselves on a tour of Vancouver’s best bars and breweries, with stops at the Alibi Room, Postmark Brewery/Urban Winery, Brandywine Bartending School, 33 Acres Brewery, and Brassneck Brewery. Our typical good fortune was emphasized when we arrived at 33 Acres Brewery just in time for their first anniversary party!

#7: Made with Love

While I have some reservations about liquor events, I have nothing but love for Made with Love. Mrs. Sip and I bought tickets to this all-inclusive craft cocktail competition, in part because it fell on our 2nd wedding anniversary and seemed like a wonderful way to celebrate the occasion… oh, how right we were!

Bartender Juice

#8: Las Vegas Strip Drinking

Given that entire trips to Las Vegas are booze-fueled, it’s hard to narrow down any one day to highlight, but this one does stick out in my memory. It all started with an innocent game of Battle Shots at the PBR Rock Bar and then featured Hyde Lounge, gambling wins, Cirque du Soleil: Zumanity, dueling pianos at New York, New York, and a host of things I probably can’t remember.

#9: Surprise Birthday

Imagine my surprise when we showed up for what was supposed to be a friend’s birthday brunch and it turned out that the whole thing was meant for little ol’ me! I wish someone had captured the look on my face when the realization set in. Mrs. Sip always seems to find a way to outdo herself!

#10: Birthday Cruise Embarkation

Before the ship even set sail, we were all pretty loose (the bucket of beers, bottle of wine, and cocktails may have helped with that!), which made for a very fun muster drill. I can say with complete conviction that I’ve had worse! 😉

#11: Dave & Busters

I absolutely love this place, having visited three different locations (Honolulu, New York, Anaheim) in the last year and a half. It’s so much fun to play all the games while having a full-service bar at your disposal. Of course, the day started with Disneyland drinking, before we moved on to the fun and games at D&B’s.

GIFSec.com

#12: Bellingham Visit

All I can say is thank god we had a driver (Pa Sip), because I was pretty fuzzy after our tasting at Boundary Bay Brewery and it certainly made for some interesting shopping.

#13: Canucks game in Anaheim

When your day begins with an upscale bar (Disneyland’s Carthay Lounge) and ends with a fun sports bar in JT Schmid’s, everything else in the middle must be pretty good. In between, was a day of drinking at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” including California beers, wine tasting, thrill rides, and even animation tutorials!

#14: Hawaii

To celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday, we began at the Kona Brewery for tour and tasters. Next up, was Huggo’s on the Beach, where happy hour was in full swing and we were only too happy to join!

Some honourable mentions include an earlier trip to Portland for some beer tourism; traversing the Hamburg Reeperbahn; and surviving the wild Marrakesh market square. After all, it’s always fun drinking in a country that discourages alcohol consumption and I make it a point of every voyage to foreign lands!