Sip Trips #86: Best of 2016

Each year, the Sip Advisor fondly looks back at the best drinking nights (in order of occurrence) of the previous calendar… at least what he can remember of them. Join us as we take a moment to dissect and celebrate 2016:

Libational Learning

When a night ends with the Sip Advisor passing out on the couch, sans clothing, you know it’s been a good one! The Science of Cocktails extravaganza was a fascinating and booze-fueled evening. We wanted to return this year, but Mrs. Sip has a trial starting the next day, so that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. #Responsibilities

Family Day Festivities

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Alliance explored both the Fraser Valley and North Vancouver craft beer regions, hitting more than a dozen locations. Many of these, were first time stops for our group and it opened our eyes to all the wonders that exist outside of Vancouver.

family-time

Crawling Around

Just one day after the Portland Beer & Wine Festival, we were back at it, hitting the streets of the City of Roses and searching out some of its most popular breweries. Over the course of the day, we worked our way through a half dozen tasting rooms. Eventually, we ended the journey with an Easter-themed burlesque show and Voodoo Doughnuts… because why the hell not!?

Lion City Leisure

With three nights in Singapore to start our five-week Asian adventure, we decided to spend one of those nights at the swanky Marina Bay Sands. Our hotel package included their evening happy hour, which in true Mr. and Mrs. Sip fashion, we rocked until they kindly asked us to leave. We followed this with swimming in the resort’s rooftop pool, 63 floors above the city.

The Happiest of Valleys

The fun didn’t stop there, as our cruise made a two-day stop in the vibrant city that is Hong Kong. This allowed us the chance to enjoy some nightlife, helped along by Mrs. Sip having a few friends living in the city. Coincidentally, it was also Wednesday race night at the Happy Valley Racetrack. Over a couple pitchers of beer, the Sip Advisor even picked a winning horse and took home a small prize.

horse-racing-for-rich-people

So Many Options

Arriving in Tokyo, Japan, we chose to stay near the Golden Gai district of the city. For those unfamiliar with the area, it is home to approximately 300 little bars, within a six-block radius. Our exploration led us into a few uniquely-themed watering holes, such as the one centered around horror movie and metal music cultures.

Drinking Sky High

Our fun in Tokyo didn’t stop there. The moment Mrs. Sip discovered that this attraction existed, we knew it would be a highlight of our stay in the city. At the Park Hyatt, their Peak Bar offered visitors the chance to drink all-inclusive during sunset hours, while looking down at the bustling city below, from the 41st floor. We ended up sitting next to a couple from Australia and spent the night drinking with them, as I challenged the bartender to make me her best drink with each different alcohol available.

Tipping N’ Tasting

Among my favourite annual beer festivals is the Tip N’ Taste event in Langley. It provides a chance to sample brews from companies based more in the Fraser Valley region of BC, as well as other entries from around the province. This year, we stayed overnight at the Convention Centre Hotel, which hosted the event. That meant the after party quickly moved to our room!

beer-crisper

Island Wedding

While on Prince Edward Island for a friend’s wedding, Mrs. Sip and I were introduced to a number of great people, who we partied away the weekend with. Following a meet-and-greet barbecue on the eve of the wedding, we accompanied our new associates back into Charlottetown for an impromptu night on the town, which ended much later than we had anticipated.

All You Need is Love

The Made with Love cocktail competition has become an annual tradition (three years running) for Mrs. Sip and I. It’s always a fun night out, trying the drinks of some of Vancouver’s most popular bartenders. Best of all, we get to play a role in picking the winning entry, although none of our personal favourites ever seem to come out on top.

Cruise Credits

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday, we booked a one-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. Over the course of the evening, the Sip Advisor took in parts of four bottles of wine, a half-dozen beers, a couple cocktails, and a bottle of bubbly to boot, won through a ‘Finish the Song Lyrics’ quiz.

cruise-captain-morgan

Irish Blessings

Over the last couple years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have celebrated my birthday in Hawaii, aboard a cruise ship, in Southern Africa, and now Ireland – although it was a couple days after the actual date. The Sip Syndicate was along for this ride and we celebrated in true Irish style with shots of Jameson Whiskey and pints of Guinness.

Fear and Loathing

Our trips to Disneyland nowadays typically include enjoying the sights and sounds (and lines) of the park with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand. In October, we were also primed for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, which involves getting a good buzz going, prior to entering. Once that was accomplished, all we had to deal with was psycho killer clowns, a rogue’s gallery of baddies and even some Jabbawockeez!

Award Season

My first year attending one of BC’s best craft beer shindigs proved why I had missed out in previous years. Unable to attend because of vacations and other commitments, we finally made it to the BC Beer Awards, where the Sip Advisor was able to sample about 20 different beers from the wonderful breweries that make up the province’s craft industry.

awards-season

Diamond Celebration

To commemorate Ma Sip’s 60th birthday, the entire family ventured to Disneyland, which also recently celebrated the same milestone. Mrs. Sip’s aunt also had her 50th birthday on that weekend, so there was much to revel in. That included a fair bit of drinking at the park and in our hotel rooms, as we made the change from day to night wear.

Traditional Tidings

To celebrate Christmas this year, the Sip Family stayed in Leavenworth, Washington, which is famous for being a little slice of Bavaria, hidden in the mountains. The town is a haven for Christmas lovers, and it’s here that we explored the many wine tasting rooms, a couple breweries and exuded as much festive spirit as one is allowed to, by law.

2016 was an amazing year… at least drinking wise. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has to offer, even though it has quite a bit to live up to!

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Sip Trips #71: Ça S’arrose!

With a friend’s wedding on the docket in Charlottetown, PEI, Mrs. Sip and I set out east with a pioneer’s spirit and a thirst for Quebec craft beers… well, more the latter. After a brief layover in Toronto, we were off to St. Adele, Quebec, to spend a handful of nights at the family cottage of another friend.

Over time spent swimming, canoeing, rock hopping, and most importantly relaxing, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a number of brewery products. Our first case was from Les Brasseurs RJ and included their Robe Noire Stout, Death Valley IPA, Cheval Blanc Double Blanche, D’Achouffe Blonde, Sainte Paix (grapefruit and orange ale), and Coup de Grisou (spicy buckwheat ale). We also snagged a six-pack of the Blanche du Paradis (spiced wheat ale) from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel.

Once that was consumed, we wrapped the cottage stay with a 15-piece case from Belle Gueule. The set included the brewery’s Originale, Blonde, Pilsner, Rousse (red ale), Houblon (hop beer), and Hefeweizen products. Quebec beer prices are way cheaper than BC and even Ontario, so it was easy to try a bunch of new stuff and not ruin our budget for the remainder of the holiday.

Summer Vacation Money

Sandwiched between all the time spent on the water, we journeyed to Mont Tremblant, the highest peak of the Laurentian Mountain range. There, in a village that was incredibly reminiscent of Whistler, BC, we had a meal and a couple drinks at La Diable Microbrasserie. I ordered their Blizzard Blanche Wheat Ale, while Mrs. Sip tried the Extreme Onction Trappist Style Strong Ale. Our quartet also split a pitcher of La Diable’s seasonal raspberry beer.

On our way back to the cottage, we also popped into Saint Arnould Microbrasserie. Mrs. Sip and I sampled eight of their available brews and our group grabbed a few 500ml bottles for the road, highlighted by the company’s Marie Framboise. Clearly we were really into the raspberry ales.

After departing the cottage, Mrs. Sip and I rented a car in Montreal and made the trek to Quebec City. There, we enjoyed a self-guided craft beer crawl, hitting three stops along the route. First up, was Le Projet Microbrasserie, where we split a serving of poutine (after all, the Canadian specialty was invented in the province) with a hef for Mrs. Sip and an IPA for the Sip Advisor.

Poutine Drinking

Next, we were off on a short walk to La Korrigane, where our orders were very similar. I had the Kraken IPA, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed the Mary Morgan Blanche Belge Witbier. After scanning their brew lineup, we decided we also had to try the Korrigane Pale Ale Rousse, so we asked for a six-ounce serving to split.

Our little expedition finished with a visit to La Barberie, one of Quebec’s oldest brewing establishments. They have a really neat eight-beer carousel, which included a Lime and Raspberry Pale Ale, Porter, Blackberry Blanche, Apricot Berliner Weisse, Blonde, English Red, Farmhouse Ale and India Pale Lager.

Finally, we arrived in Charlottetown… or at least the Sip Advisor did, while Mrs. Sip – who often flies standby – had some difficulties and showed up hours after. To kill time before I was able to check into our hotel, I spent some time at Gahan House, enjoying a couple beers: the Reanimator Dopplebock (an 8.1% seasonal) and Harvest Gold Pale Ale (only available at the brewpub).

Beer Snob

The next day, with Mrs. Sip now in tow, we returned for lunch. She had a pint of Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale (named after Canada’s first Prime Minister), while I went with a flight of Gahan’s Island Red Amber Ale, Sydney Street Premium Stout, 1772 IPA, and Blueberry Ale. Blueberry beers/spirits seem to be big out east, as Mrs. Sip had one in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Prior to heading to the wedding, a group of us met at Upstreet Brewing, but Mrs. Sip and I were running late, so didn’t have time to order anything. Thankfully, one of our cohorts had a full serving he didn’t want to get through, so I was the lucky recipient of a White Noize White IPA. I never got around to trying their Rhuby Social Strawberry Rhubarb Witbier, though.

The fine folks of PEI seem to be very seasoned drinkers, making Mrs. Sip and I look like lightweights in comparison, even if we were part of a crew that shut down two places the first night and were among the last to leave the wedding the next day. On that first night, I had a delicious Scotch Ale from New Brunswick’s Pump House Brewing, that may have been my favourite of the entire journey. Now, Mrs. Sip and I are home for a rest… we were gone for a week, drunk since we left!