Sip Trips #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

second child

My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

tired disneyland

Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!

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Sip Trips #172: Brewery Brawling

This summer has been flying by and another couple of weeks are in the books with events attended and road trips taken. Here’s all the shenanigans the Sip Advisor and associates have been up to in that time:

A couple weeks back, a buddy and I attended Parallel 49’s Brawl at the Brewery, combining two of my favourite worlds: professional wrestling and craft beer. Hosted at the brewery’s outdoor beer garden, what started out as a dreary looking day turned into a decent one, as the rain subsided long enough for the wrestling to start. As we watched the first ever P49 Champion be crowned with a 20-person battle royal, among other matches, I enjoyed a number of servings of the Jerkface 9000 Northwest Wheat Ale. Not knowing what to expect from the event and our $20 general admission tickets, we came away quite happy. If this event becomes a yearly tradition, we would likely spring for the $35 front row tickets next time around, so we can have a seat for all the action.

wrestling belts

Following the wrestling, we weren’t ready to wrap the night up yet, so delved further into the Yeast Van area. Our first stop came at Odd Society Spirits, where we ordered the Rye Thai and Fat Panda cocktails. Both drinks were interesting, featuring infused spirits and a classy presentation. Our second and final stop was Powell Street Brewing, where we managed a couple quick beers before the place shutdown for the night. My servings were the Ode to Citra Pale Ale, which has always been a preferred brew of mine.

This past weekend, we joined friends at their family cabin in Birch Bay, Washington. For my drinking enjoyment over the weekend, I picked up a case from Seattle’s Redhook Brewing, which included the Mothers of the Sun Raspberry Saison, Tangelic Halo Tangerine IPA, El Sonido Mexican Lager and Bicoastal IPA. I really liked this case, particularly the flavours offered by the Raspberry Saison and Tangerine IPA. We also popped into Bellingham’s Elizabeth Station beer store, where I grabbed a can of Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale for nightcap purposes.

This upcoming weekend will be a busy one, as Mrs. Sip and I are set to attend the 2019 Battle of the Brews in Surrey, as well as celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary with a surprise outing I have planned. I can’t wait for it all to arrive!

Sip Trips #171: Taking it to the Streets

The summer finally heated up the past couple weeks and with that came a bevvy of functions to attend, places to explore and activities to indulge in. Here’s what the Sip Family has been up to lately:

A couple weeks back we returned with friends to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row. Stop number one was Yellow Dog Brewing, a preferred stop for the Sip Advisor thanks to their massive backyard area. I enjoyed a pint of their Squirrel Chaser Hazy Pale Ale, as Baby Sip napped in the shade nearby. When you get those precious breaks, you have to make the most of them.

naptime

Up next, was The Bakery Brewing, whose menu featured quite a bit of turnover from my inaugural visit. Here, I had a serving of the Oaked Hefe, which I liked very much. Sours still dominated The Bakery’s tap list, but there seemed to be more variance this time around.

The last stop for this crawl down Murray Street was Moody Ales, where we picked up some treats for the road. My collection included a crowler of Sublime Pineapple Hefeweizen, as well as tall cans of Boss Juice Hazy Double IPA and Affable IPA.

Between weekends (a fancy way of saying “during the week”), I purchased a bottle of Captain Morgan Watermelon Smash (the bottle even smells like watermelon), which I planned to debut at a family Mexican Fiesta over the long weekend. The cocktail I created combined tequila, this watermelon liqueur, watermelon-lemonade soda and lime juice. I called it the Watermelon Rocket and it seemed to go over well with my eager tasters.

cat-watermelon.jpg

Going into the BC Day long weekend, Baby Sip and I joined Mrs. Sip for another edition of Fridays on Front in New West. We were drawn there by guest brewery Boombox Brewing, which was offering up their Arcade Glow Pale Ale. I quickly consumed two servings of this delicious beer, while watching Baby Sip get up to her usual brand of mischief at the play area for youngsters.

On Saturday, we met visiting friends from Toronto at The Royal Crown Castle pub in Sapperton. I really enjoyed their Cashew Chilli Chicken appetizer, paired with a pint of Parallel 49 Trash Panda IPA, which worked well to quell the heat from my meal. A really good combo, if I don’t say so myself. Our service here also deserves highlighting, as Baby Sip was given a bubble wand to play with and was taken very good care of.

cat bubbles

Following lunch, we popped into Another Brewing Co. (ABC) for half servings of “I’m a Vienna You Idiot” Vienna Lager and Dual Citizen Saison, both of which were new to us. I’m not much of a lager fan, but I thought this release was very good. Before leaving, I purchased a few tall cans, including the Poolside Hefe, Intolerant Milkshake IPA (which I was advised is a good dessert beer) and Dunder Beist Kviek Farmhouse IPA.

This weekend, I’ll be checking out Parallel 49’s Brawl at the Brewery, featuring professional wrestling and craft beer, an amalgamation of two worlds I’ve long been a follower of. Should make for an interesting afternoon!

Sip Trips #163: Sudsy Events

The past week in Sip AdvisorLand started with a bang as we attended our much-anticipated Mucha Lucha beer pairing dinner at El Santo in New Westminster. Working with Steel & Oak and Four Winds breweries, El Santo’s chef concocted a delicious six-course meal, featuring grilled rhubarb; chocolate-crusted elk; flaked salmon; bison flank; charred cinnamon ling cod; and lemon cheesecake for dessert. These were paired, respectively, with Four Winds Pequeno Cabo; Steel & Oak Hideaway IPA; Four Winds La Maison Saison; Steel & Oak Marzen; Four Winds IPA; and Steel & Oak Kviek Ale.

I started the evening with the restaurant’s La Condesa cocktail (orange peel-infused Pisco, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, epazote syrup, cascabel chili-sugar rim), which was beautifully presented and quite refreshing. Tickets were $75 (with partial proceeds going to the Canucks Autism Network) and while each beer was only tasting-sized, we left very full and satisfied.

beer pairing

The very next day, we participated in the Craft Cask Clash at One20 Public House in North Delta. For the price of one 12oz serving ticket ($4), participants got a 5oz sample of each cask from six breweries. Vying for a tap line at the bar, the companies brought some interesting casks, including: Russell Lemon Meringue Sour; Fuggles & Warlock Pineapple Destiny IPA; Big Ridge Oatmeal Stout; Old Yale Mango Wheat (with orange peel, lemon, lime, coriander and rum); Parkside Pineapple Jalapeno Pale Ale; and Red Racer Mango Passionfruit ISA.

This event was extremely good value and for all the festivities we attend where we shell out large sums of money, I felt this was one where we leveled that plane out a little bit. Following our beers, we stuck around for dinner at the One20 Public House. I enjoyed a serving of Chicken Strips, while Mrs. Sip went with the Stuffed Yorkies. This was the first time One20 had done an event like this and I hope to see them do similar activities in the future.

beer tap

Over the weekend, I came up with a new concept for my drinking enjoyment. When it comes to BC craft beer cases, I’ve virtually had them all. So, to mix things up, I’m going to do exactly that and create my own mashups. My first attempt came by combining Stanley Park Brewing’s Trail Hopper IPA and Sunsetter Peach Wheat Ale to create what I’m calling the Sunset Hopper. The hybrid was very good, with the bitterness one would expect from an IPA softened by the peach flavours of the wheat ale. I will report on my other developments in the future.

Things will probably be pretty light this coming week, as the Sip Family concentrates on preparing for our vacation to Europe. That said, Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and my collection of various tequilas are itching for some attention. We’ll see if anything occurs that needs to be documented!

Sip Trips #162: Seattle Story

For the Easter long weekend, the Sip Family travelled to Seattle for a few days of good eating and drinking, while also taking in some of the city’s top attractions. Here’s a look back at how we celebrated the break:

Leaving Friday morning, we stopped at Railroad Pub & Pizza in Burlington for lunch. There, Ma Sip and I shared the Reuben Pizza, while I enjoyed a pint of Triplehorn Folkvang Irish Red Ale. I’m really into red ales at the moment, as you’ll see again later and this was one very fine brew. I liked that the restaurant served beer samples in condiment cups, which was a unique twist to the concept.

personal pizza.jpeg

After our meal, Mrs. Sip and I briefly popped into Farmstrong Brewing, where we tried samples of a couple of their beers and purchased a bottle of their Steer You Right Imperial Stout for the road. We have yet to crack the drink open, but look forward to doing so soon.

Next up, was a visit to Walmart to stock up on Easter goodies and other supplies for the hotel. I found a bottle of Caliber Spiced Rum (only $6!!!), which when paired with a case of Dr. Pepper, meant I was drinking all weekend for about $10.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Tukwila and I can’t say enough good stuff about the staff at this hotel, particularly the weekend bartender, who immediately made a connection with us and memorized our favourite drinks. What we love most about the Embassy Suites chain is their amazing manager’s reception happy hour (it’s actually two hours), which allows guests to enjoy free drinks and snacks. The breakfast each morning is also very good and an impressive spread to say the least. Between the two, you don’t really need to eat a whole lot when out and about. During the happy hours, I didn’t want to look like a total lush (although I was capable of this), so I paced myself to four drinks each night, or one per half hour. After all, the Sip Advisor is a man of moderation.

moderation cat

As long time readers know, the Sip Advisor is a potato chip connoisseur and I brought along a few recent finds to be enjoyed on this vacation. Walmart in Canada has released a line of chips that are inspired by countries around the world, including India (Tandoori BBQ), Korea (Red Chili BBQ), Thailand (Red Curry) and Portugal (Charcoal Roasted Chicken). My favourites were definitely the Thai and Portuguese varieties, with the former having a butter chicken flavour and the latter just being straight up delicious.

One of the main reasons for the journey to Seattle was to check out the Woodland Park Zoo, which has some fun Easter events for kids and adults alike. Throughout the day, animals around the park are given Easter treats in the form of snacks they enjoy, while there are also egg hunts for various ages. Baby Sip loved running around and collecting the plastic eggs just about as much as she liked seeing all the animals.

Following the zoo, we grabbed a late lunch at Red Mill Burgers where I had the Red Mill Deluxe, while we shared orders of their fries and onion rings. Mrs. Sip also got a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Milkshake, which was thick and tasty.

cats-with-milkshake

On Sunday, we ventured to Pike Market and the Seattle Waterfront. One of our first stops was Cloudburst Brewing, which had some neat beers, but we weren’t able to stay long, as they don’t allow minors into the tasting room. This is something we have found to be unique to Washington, although it may be an issue in other parts we haven’t visited yet. We did partake in a quick 7oz serving each, with Mrs. Sip ordering the Grandma Take Me Home Coconut Imperial Oatmeal Brown, while I selected the Burst Ultra Pure Platinum Hoppy Session American Wheat. Both were quite good.

Along the Waterfront, we rode the Great Wheel, which we were told did three full revolutions, but we got five. The attraction gives you quite the view of the harbour and other landmarks and provided a safe pod for Baby Sip to roam around in.

For lunch, we visited the iconic Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant, sitting in their lounge, which allowed us Waterfront seating with happy hour prices. Here, we had a fantastic meal, with Mrs. Sip and I sharing the Two-Piece Fish & Chips, as well as the Chowder Sampler. We also ordered a serving of their Bruschetta, which is probably one of the best versions of this appetizer I’ve ever tried. To drink, I had a pint of Silver City Ridgetop Red Ale and it paired really well with the seafood meal.

seafood bad

Sadly, all great trips have to come to an end at some point. On our way home, we stopped at BevMo, which allowed me to pick up a couple treats. I grabbed bottles of Beefeater Pink Strawberry Gin – a product I’d searched for last year in London after seeing ads for it – and Crown Royal Texas Mesquite Whiskey. I love when I can only find Canadian goods in the U.S.

With Easter in the rear view mirror, we make our final push towards returning to Europe in early May. Mrs. Sip and I, along with Sis-in-Law Sip, will be attending a six-course beer pairing dinner tomorrow at El Santo in New Westminster. The brewers on hand will be Steel & Oak and Four Winds and we are greatly looking forward to the occasion.

Sip Trips #161: Crashing and Banging

Last weekend was a busy one, as we had a number of items on the schedule. Without further ado, here’s what we got up to in another tightly-packed set of days:

First up, was the Iron Assassin’s Demolition Derby at the Abbotsford Centre. I have been a big fan of demolition derbies for some time, dating back to when they were a regular attraction at the annual Pacific National Exhibition. If they were doing four shows per day, I would try to catch all four. We enjoyed this event, bringing Baby Sip along, but found it to be a little disorganized. First, after arriving a few minutes late for the noon start time, we found them still setting up the arena. Next, the event simply ran too long. We left after three hours at the place and they still had a handful of events to go. I will always kick myself for missing the minivan derby, but there’s only so much vehicle exhaust and noise (in an indoor setting) I can take before I’m done. While there, we snacked on some very tasty Chicken Strips and Fries, paired with a Sleeman’s beer.

demolition derby

That evening, we attended a friend’s birthday party at the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano. The place was offering karaoke, so Mrs. Sip and I delivered our thought-provoking version of “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace. We hadn’t performed the song in about 10 years and it showed! Quick note: if you choose to do karaoke, it’s probably best to pick a song where you know ALL the lyrics, and not just the chorus. At least the beer was well-priced and I enjoyed a few pints of Vancouver Island Piper’s Pale Ale over the course of the evening.

On Sunday, we gathered to watch the eagerly-anticipated Game of Thrones season premiere. For the occasion, I concocted a collection of themed cocktails, including: White Walker (Candy Cane Vodka, Hawaiian Punch Berry Blue Blast), King Slayer (PermaFrost Schnapps, Goldschlager, Tabasco), Red Priestess (Fireball Whiskey, Cranberry-Lemonade Juice, Lemon Juice), Mother of Dragons (Orient Apple Vodka, Lychee Liqueur, Club Soda). My favourite was the White Walker, which had this really interesting blend of mint and berry, exactly as I had envisioned it would.

game-of-thrones.jpg

While prepping for the Game of Thrones return, I visited a BC Liquor Store to pick up some beers for guests. My purchase was the Stanley Park Concession Stand Summer Mix Pack, featuring their SunSetter Peach Wheat Ale, Trail Hopper IPA, DayTrip West Coast Lager and small batch Summer Hefeweizen. I also spotted a couple interesting products in Crown Royal Peach and a 99-Can Pabst Blue Ribbon pack, which screams beer pong tournament or century club challenge.

Upcoming, the Sip Family is off to Seattle for the Easter extra-long weekend. There, we’ll explore a few of the breweries and get up to other shenanigans. We’re also hoping to stop in Bellingham at some point to enjoy their 2019 Beer Week. Should be a fantastic time!

Sip Trips #160: Weezer & Wagyu

It’s been a steady few weeks for the Sip Family, full of celebrations and events to attend. Here’s what the crew has been up to since I was last able to put fingers to keyboard:

Mrs. Sip and I celebrated the 17th anniversary of our first date a couple weeks back and boy how times have changed. With Baby Sip now in tow, we like to spend the first portion of the day doing a family activity, leaving our evening to just the two of us. Our day started with checking out the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove. Baby Sip loved seeing all the animals and running around the park. I liked that you could bring your own bike or rollerblades or even rent one of those two-seater carriage bikes to get around the attraction. My only complaint for the place, is unlike our experience at the San Diego Zoo, you couldn’t explore with a beer or other adult libation in hand.

lions-at-zoo

Following the zoo, while Baby Sip napped, we took care of the beverage absence by visiting Old Abbey Ales. Last time we tried to go here, the door was locked following a change in ownership. This time went a lot smoother. We were very impressed by the brewery’s eclectic beer board, deciding we each needed a flight to cover off all the brews we were interested in trying. We sampled the Beets by Steve, Sippy Chai Aye, Call of Ktulu Squid Ink Stout, Gose Cuervo, Jolly Brewer Watermelon Light Lager, Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Quila Grapefruit, and Fizzical Contradiction Brut IPA.

To finish off the busy day, we had a Vancouver Canucks game to attend. To use up the last of our season ticket membership gift cards, I bought a tall serving of Hoyne Dark Matter, which was a nice sipper through the first period. We also tried to go to Devil’s Elbow after the contest, but wouldn’t be able to be seated for about 25 minutes, so elected to return home and relieve our babysitters. We remedied this with a quick stop there a few nights later prior to our last game of the season, each enjoying a serving of the Howe Sound Wee Beastie Scotch Ale.

As an anniversary gift, Mrs. Sip signed us up to be ‘original patrons’ of Another Beer Company (ABC), which should be opening soon in the Sapperton area. Our $250 investment in the brewery is returned to us with a gift card in that amount, as well as other perks such as merchandise and invites to special events. I was already excited for another brewery (no pun intended) to open so close to our home, but now I’m super amped to see this operation take off.

anniversary flaws

This previous weekend, we joined friends to attend the Weezer/Pixies concert at Rogers Arena. Prior to the show, we had dinner at Wildebeest, enjoying their Omakase (Japanese for “trust the chef” or “let us order for you”) menu, which lets diners set a menu price per person and then sit back and enjoy whatever concoctions the kitchen can come up with. Our meal was orgasmic, highlighted by their delicious Bone Marrow (we even did luge shots of sherry out of the used bone), Wagyu Tartare and main event of more Wagyu beef, this time in strip form. As for drinks, I imbibed with their Uppercut cocktail (Calvados, vermouth, Maraschino, orange bitters, peated Scotch), and a pair of Parkside Pale Ales at $5 happy hour pricing.

As for the concert, we had a fantastic time, although we missed the opening act as we wrapped up our meal. The Pixies and Weezer both put on a great show. At the arena, I had a couple Millstreet Tankhouse Ales and when we were invited to join a friend in his private box, a couple more bevvies were enjoyed. All in all, a spectacular way to spend a Sunday night!

Upcoming for the Sip Family is the Iron Assassin’s Demolition Derby in Abbotsford on Saturday and the long-awaited return of Game of Thrones the following day. We are also gearing up for the Easter long weekend, where we’ll be travelling with Ma and Pa Sip to Seattle for what should be a gluttonous holiday!