Sip Trips #185: Back to the Breweries

The last month or so, since the Sip Advisor last checked in, has been full of brewery visits and orders, as we look to celebrate the summer. Baby Sip is already up to six breweries visited and while I may not get him to his sister’s 54 different locations within her first year of life, we’ll try make a decent dent in that number. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

We have put through a few orders with Granville Island Brewing, with our first one being the most noteworthy. We asked for a bottle each of the Amethyst Purple Sour with Guava, Hop Diffuser IPA and wanted Fumigator Smoked Doppelbock, but they accidentally sent us the Granvillator Doppelbock, which hadn’t even been released yet. To make up for it, they not only sent us the Smoked Doppelbock, but also a second bottle of the Granvillator Doppelbock. Doppelbocks are among Mrs. Sip’s favourite styles of beer, so she was very happy with how everything played out.

Bank Error

A couple weeks back, on a whim, we decided to visit Dageraad Brewing, in Burnaby. This was Toddler Sip’s very first brewery visit and with her sleeping over with Ma and Pa Sip, we decided to repeat the feat with Baby Sip. While there, we had glasses of their Rainshine for me and the Blonde for Mrs. Sip.

We arrived with time for only one drink, so when Dageraad closed, we noticed some of the Port Coquitlam breweries were opened an hour extra. Off we went to Taylight Brewing to share a sleeve of their Pina Colada Ale, followed by nearby Tinhouse Brewing, where we squeezed in a serving of their Hitchhikers Rye to the Galaxy Rye IPA. We hope to return to the area for a couple more first-time visits soon.

The next week, while recovering from my vasectomy (Cousin Sip now calls me the Snip Advisor!), we ventured out to the Delta breweries, stopping first at Four Winds Brewing. We really enjoyed their outdoor patio space and could only imagine what they would have done had their plans for an eatery been approved. Mrs. Sip had a can of their Velo Pale Ale, while I grabbed a four-pack of the Melange Tart Farmhouse Ale, opening one for the stay.

Beer Smiles

Next up, was our first time to Barnside Brewing, which has a wonderful outdoor area, perfect for these crazy coronavirus times. Mrs. Sip and I split two flights, allowing us to try almost the entire lineup offered by the brewery. The beers included: Honey Comb Pale Ale, Cranberry Tart Ale, Summer Days Farmhouse Saison, Ladner Clay IPA, Foggy Fields ISA, Crescent Island Brown, Oatmeal Stout (nitro), and Barrel Aged Oaked Brown.

This past weekend, we were out in Langley, so popped into Camp Brewing, again sharing two flights to try all they had available. The flights were comprised of: Lager, Pilsner, Copa Da Floresta Kiwi & Passionfruit Sour, Upstream Pale Ale, Mile Marker Foggy Pale Ale (loved this beer), Redwood Amber IPA, Dark Lager, and Mother Earth Oatmeal Brown Ale. To go, we also grabbed a four-pack of their Olde Camp Malt Liquor, which they tried to fashion after Olde English.

That wraps up a busy few weeks out and about. I hope all the dads out there had a fantastic Father’s Day. We celebrated by doing a beer tasting, with guests to Ma and Pa Sip’s place each bringing something to share with the group. It was a lot of fun and I was spoiled by Mrs. Sip and Ma and Pa Sip with treats to last quite some time!

Minnesota – The Bootleg

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Today, Minnesota welcomes the Sip Advisor. The Land of 10,000 Lakes actually has many more, so at least they’re humble folk. Let’s see what the North Star State has going on:

Motto: “The star of the North” – Canada may have some objections to that…

Food: Hotdish is a Minnesota classic. These casseroles come in a variety of forms, but typically combine a starch, a meat, and vegetables, mixed with canned soup. A popular version uses tater tots, ground beef and cream of mushroom soup. Hotdish can even come served on a stick, with the soup used as a side dipping sauce.

Drink: Craft beer is big in Minnesota, with brewing in general having a long and storied history in the state. Companies such as Surly, Summit, and Schell’s are among the best today, with Schell’s being the second oldest family-owned brewery in the U.S., founded in 1860.

Hotdish

Site to See: For those who love to shop, a mecca of mall madness can be found in Bloomington. The Mall of America is the largest mall in the U.S., home to such attractions as the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience and FlyOver America. Opened in 1992, the mall contains 520 stores and restaurants.

Street: Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, is notable for being the longest street of Victorian homes in America. National Historic Landmarks along the route, include the James J. Hill House, F. Scott Fitzgerald House and Frank B. Kellogg House. However, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald both disliked the area.

TV Show: Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson as Minnesota State University football coach, Hayden Fox, ran for nine seasons and exactly 200 episodes. The final two seasons were set in Florida, with Fox becoming the coach of an expansion NFL team, but it was revealed in the series finale, Fox retired and returned to Minnesota.

Movie: I’m a huge Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon fan, so among some tough competition, I have to go with Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men for this category. Set in Wabasha, feuding neighbours, Max Goldman and John Gustafson Jr., trade insults and pranks, while their respective son and daughter enter into a relationship together. The sequel sees everyone happily ever after, so perhaps the movie titles don’t fit.

Grumpy Old Men

Book/Author: It is generally accepted the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, is set in Minnesota. After all, Schulz was born in Minneapolis and some mentions during the comics run place memorable characters, such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy, there. Schulz retired on January 3, 2000, dying a month later of colon cancer.

Fictional Character: Minnesota is a hockey mad state; therefore, hockey legends with fill this category. First, the rough and tumble Hanson Brothers, from the classic film Slap Shot, are Minnesota-bred. Next, we have the Mighty Ducks minor hockey team, led by coach Gordon Bombay. Can you just imagine if these great players all united to form an all-state squad!?

Fictional City: Frostbite Falls is the hometown of Rocky J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose. Based on the real-life International Falls (nicknamed the Icebox of the Nation due to its extremely cold temperatures), Frostbite Falls is where antagonists Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are often trying to capture “Moose and Squirrel,” perhaps to make a hotdish.

Actor/Actress: Funnymen Chris Pratt and Vince Vaugh were born in Virginia and Minneapolis, respectively. Coincidentally, both have had roles in Jurassic Park films. Other notable stars from the state, include Judy Garland, Jessica Biel, Jessica Lange, Winona Ryder (born in Winona), and Seann William Scott.

Hanson Brothers

Song: Skyway, by the Replacements, is an ode to the Minneapolis Skyway System, a network of pedestrian footbridges, which allow folks to remain inside and safe from the elements for 11 miles and 80 city blocks (the longest continuous system in the world). The Minnesotan band’s song is about two lovers, one on the street and one within the Skyway System, who are unable to connect.

Band/Musician: Two icons of the music industry were born in Minnesota. Bob Dylan has been recognized as one of the most influential artists of all-time, earning such accolades as a Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and induction into various Hall of Fames. Fellow Minnesotan, Prince, also enjoyed a very successful career, sadly passing away of an accidental fentanyl overdose, in 2016.

People: The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, were born in St. Louis Park and are among some of the most successful filmmakers in the industry. Their most notable movies include Fargo (set and filmed in Minnesota), No Country for Old Men and True Grit, all of which were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, with No Country for Old Men taking home the prize.

Animal: Not only was a dog (Duke) elected mayor of small town Cormorant Village, but the canine was re-elected three more times, serving for a total of four years, before retiring. Duke’s human deputy mayor, said the canine “hangs out at the local pub and makes sure everything is running.”

Duke the Mayor

Invention: Frank C. Mars founded Mars Inc., in 1911, in Minneapolis. His famous chocolate bar creations included the Milky Way, Snickers and Three Musketeers. His son, Forrest Mars Sr., later developed the Mars bar and M&M’s candies, while estranged from his father. He returned to the fold, when he inherited Mars Inc. and merged it with his own company.

Crime: I had this article all written up and ready to go… then the murder of George Floyd occurred and a rewrite was needed. Floyd’s death, at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues, has resulted in Black Lives Matter protests across the country and abroad, seeking reforms on policing and highlighting racial inequalities. Floyd was 46 and is survived by five children.

Law: In Minnesota, nursing homes and senior care facilities may only stage games of bingo twice per week. Yeah, that will keep the residents in line!

Sports Team: Minnesota has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues. Minneapolis is home to three of those clubs, the Vikings (NFL), Twins (MLB) and Timberwolves (NBA), while the Wild (NHL) play in St. Paul. The defunct North Stars (NHL), had played in Bloomington from 1967 to 1993, but were relocated to Dallas, Texas.

Bingo

Athlete: Minnesota has long been a breeding ground for professional wrestlers. Such notable stars from the past, include Verne Gagne (whose American Wrestling Association was based in Minneapolis), Bob Backlund, Bronko Nagurski, Curt Hennig (aka Mr. Perfect), the Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Barry Darsow, Rick Rude, Jesse Ventura (former governor of Minnesota), and Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac).

Famous Home: The Glensheen Historic Estate, in Duluth, is an expansive property, operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Famous for its architectural design, the mansion was the site of a grizzly double murder of owner Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, at the hands of Congdon’s adopted daughter’s husband. Tours of the estate are available, but questions about the murders can only be asked afterwards.

Urban Legend: Although there’s a drunken prankster, Ola Värmlänning, among Minnesota folklore, I can’t find much info about the character, so we’ll go with the Kensington Runestone in this category. The Runestone, which details the experiences of 14th century Scandinavian explorers, has been the subject of much debate over its authenticity. Most scholars have debunked the artifact as a hoax, but it remains on display at the Runestone Museum, in Alexandria.

Museum: Spam, the canned pork product, was invented in Minnesota. Therefore, the state is home to the Spam Museum, located in Austin. Visitors are offered spamples from spambassadors, with a highlight of the museum documenting Spam’s importance during World War II. Austin also celebrated Spamarama annually, from 1978 to 2007, with the event returning in 2019. The festival featured a Spam cook-off competition.

Spam

Firsts: The University of Minnesota has been responsible for many major medical developments. These include the first open heart surgery, as well as the first bone marrow, kidney and pancreas transplants in the U.S. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic is also a Minnesota institution, known for its treatment of patients and research programs, leading to many medical innovations.

Company: General Mills, makers of popular cereals such as Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Golden Grahams, is headquartered in Golden Valley. Other General Mills brands include Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Hamburger Helper, and Old El Paso. Two more notable companies based in Minnesota are retailer giants Target and Best Buy.

Events: The Miracle on Ice, which saw the U.S. defeat the powerhouse Soviet Union (and later capture the hockey gold medal) at the 1980 Winter Olympics, was accomplished by a team loaded with University of Minnesota players and led by the program’s coach, Herb Brooks. The victory was iconic during the Cold War era and made all the more memorable by commentator Al Michaels call: “Do you believe in miracles?!”

Miscellaneous: Minnesotans must enjoy their leisure time, having invented a number of objects for fun on your own and with friends. These items include snowmobiles, water skis, rollerblades, the game Twister, Nerf balls, and Tonka Trucks.

The Bootleg

The Bootleg

  • 1.5 oz Vodka, Gin or Rum
  • 3 oz Bootleg Mix (recipe below)
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Garnish with Mint

The Bootleg Batch

  • Bootleg Mix (Combined in Blender)
  • 1 Can Frozen Lemonade
  • 1 Can Frozen Limeade
  • 1/2 Cup Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Simple Syrup

The Bootleg is a country club favourite in Minnesota. Some say the recipe first appeared during prohibition, used to mask the taste of alcohol. This drink was very good, which I mixed up for friends and family to enjoy poolside on a warm day. Anything is better than the alternative Minnesota cocktail of choice, the Beertini/Midwest Martini, which combines lager beer with green olives and brine.

Sip Trips #184: Getting Back to Normal

We’re slowly returning to normal here and around the world, as awkward as things still are. The Sip Family hit the ground running this past weekend, with a variety of activities, but first, here’s how we survived the latter portion of self-isolation during the pandemic:

Trips to breweries, wineries and liquor stores helped with getting out of the house and gathering supplies for all the time spent cooped up. Among the items we picked up was the All Together IPA from ABC Brewing (a beer that was made around the world, in support of hospitality professionals); a couple bottles of pink Pinot Gris from Chaberton Winery; and Rosés from Monster Vineyards and Dirty Laundry Vineyards, found at BC Liquor Stores. We also joined ABC Brewing for a round of online trivia one night, which tested our brain functions and also made us feel part of a community again.

Pub Trivia

As some of the orders we’ve been living by were set to be lifted, Mrs. Sip visited 33 Acres Brewing, where she picked up packs of their Sunshine French Blanche and Fluffy Cloud IPA. A later stop into a BC Liquor Store by me, netted tall can four-packs of Cannery Okanagan Daze Apricot & Pinot Gris Wheat Ale and Russell Peach & Apricot Hefeweizen. So, to put it lightly, we’ve been well set for most of this very interesting time in our lives.

Last Friday, we emerged from our cocoon, enjoying our first date night since Baby Sip 2.0 was born, by attending Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy in New West, with feature comic, Dino Archie. We were offered free tickets to the show, thanks to being members of the venue’s mailing list, with the place operating at 25 per cent of its normal seating capacity. We really enjoyed the performance, although it felt taboo to be out and about with strangers. We also noticed interactions between comedians and the audience were more awkward than usual, as if people forgot how to converse with each other. While there, Mrs. Sip had a Cucumber Mint Mojito and I had the Sick Burn (El Tequileno Reposado, St. George Green Chili Vodka, Lime Juice, Agave Syrup), which was very good. We also split an order of their Mac & Cheese Bites.

The next day, we had a reservation for Backyard Vineyards in Langley, which was practicing social distancing outdoors, with picnic tables well spaced out. We ordered a couple bottles of wine, including their Rosé and Pinot Gris, accompanied by two charcuterie platters. It was a very nice setting, as Toddler Sip could play, while everyone else was able to relax a little.

Wine Kids

The weekend wrapped up with us meeting friends at Frankie G’s Pub in the Queensborough area. It was great to be at a bar again, the first for Baby Sip, at two months old. By comparison, the original (OG) Baby Sip was at a bar two weeks after her birth. My meal of the Frankie G’s Burger – which was delicious – was paired with a couple Bomber Park Life Passion Fruit Ales.

So, after our first weekend out in months, I would say it will take some time to feel at ease with attending events, dining out and getting together with friends. I think people that have really shut themselves off from the world will struggle quite a bit in getting back to their normal routines and having an understanding for those that are already there. Respect should be applied in all situations. If you’re ready, and based on the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, you should be able to do these things without feeling bad. Same goes for those that would rather not. So long as people aren’t trying to push their agendas on others, we can all get along.

Sip Trips #181: Tidings of Joy

The last few weeks of December have been filled with a bunch of events, usually geared around Christmas and family time together. Here’s what we’ve been up to during the marathon holiday season:

Earlier this month, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs contest, which may be the closest I ever come to a playoff atmosphere live. I had also circled this game on the calendar, as the perfect opportunity to use my member gift card, of which I used nearly all of the $50 total on two tasty 24oz Postmark Juicy Pale Ales and a BLT from the Bacon food stand, which really hit the spot. Sadly, this is the first time we’ve attended this rivalry meeting where the Canucks lost, but the night was still fun.

TML

A couple nights later, we were out at Glow: Abbotsford, which had the same food menu as the Vancouver location, but a better selection of beers. I went with a Parallel 49 Filthy Dirty IPA to pair with my Buffalo Chicken Fries and half Philly Cheesesteak (split with Ma Sip). The fries were a little too spicy for my liking, but the meal overall was good. We finished off with a bucket of Mini Donuts to compliment everything. My Fried Chicken Burger, enjoyed when we revisited Glow: Vancouver later in the month was tremendous.

That weekend, while in the area to do the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park Christmas Train, Mrs. Sip and I visited Stanley Park Brewing. My Fried Chicken and Waffles was perhaps the best serving I’ve ever had of this favoured dish. Meanwhile, my Big Jan IPA paired very well with the meal. Following the train, we enjoyed our annual family dinner at White Spot, where I enjoyed a few glasses of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale from a pitcher ordered for the table.

Christmas Day brought a number of liquor-themed gifts, including Cocktail Balls, Orgeat Syrup, a bomber of Steamworks Salted Chocolate Porter and mini bottle of Ole Smokey Moonshine Butter Pecan from Mrs. Sip. From the Sip-in-Laws, I also received a $50 gift card to Liquor Depot, which I can’t wait to use and look forward to a different selection than that of BC Liquor Stores, which I’ve become accustomed to.

TP.jpg

For our family’s Christmas dinner, I concocted a handful of cocktails to serve. These included the Jingle Juice (Gin, Club Soda, Cranberry-Lemonade Juice, Lemon Juice); Mele Kalikimaka (Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice); Yule Mule (Candy Cane Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice); Snowflake (Tarantula Azul Tequila, Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, Coconut Flakes); and Winter Comfort Shooter (Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack and Southern Comfort Gingerbread). Once again, the cocktails went over really well with the crew.

On Boxing Day, we met up with friends for a beer at the newly-opened Five Roads Brewing. I ordered the Christmas Staycation Red IPA (collab with Farm Country and Camp), to go along with a Margherita Pizza shared with Mrs. Sip. This was Baby Sip’s 80th brewery visited, a stat which I’m very proud of!

What a way to end the year and the decade, as well. Our New Year’s Eve will be spent with a quiet night in and we greatly look forward to what 2020 has to offer including a calendar that is quickly filling up and a baby boy on the way!

Sip Trips #180: Liquid Leavenworth

Last week, the Sip Family celebrated Ma Sip’s birthday with a getaway to Leavenworth, Washington. The adorable Bavarian-themed town was the perfect site for a weekend away, as we enjoyed their annual Christmas Lighting Festival, as well as other activities the area has to offer. Here’s what we got up to over a busy few days:

As we approached Leavenworth, we stopped for lunch at the ’59er Diner, where I ordered a Dirty Face Amber Ale from Icicle Brewing, to go along with my BLT and Curly Fries. This is one of my all-time favourite diner meals and an easy choice whenever I spot it on a menu.

Curly Fries

After checking into our accommodation at the Icicle Village Resort, we hit the local Safeway to stock up on provisions for the stay. I had a tough choice for my weekend beers, as every mixed case was very IPA heavy. I felt for those who don’t like hoppy beers, as nearly every set was comprised of four different IPA variations. I settled on the Red Hook Hoppy Hook Pack (Wintershook Hoppy Brown Ale, Big Ballard Imperial IPA, Atomic Robot IPA, Bicoastal IPA) because it included a brown ale, so at least there was some style variety. I also snagged bottles of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (to be enjoyed there) and Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum (to be brought home). Lastly, I picked up a bottle of Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, which was a new mixer find for me.

On Friday, we visited the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where we had a fantastic experience learning about and meeting the reindeer. Following the farm, we stopped into Blue Spirits Distilling, where I enjoyed the All Bets Are Off cocktail (lime tequila, grapefruit juice, margarita mix, triple sec, cola syrup, smoked). Pa Sip even had the honour of smoking my cocktail for me!

After returning Mrs. and Toddler Sip to the Icicle Inn for naps, Ma and Pa Sip and I journeyed back to the town hub for drinks at the Rhein Haus. Here, I had half liter fills of the Ninkasi Sleigh’R Winter Ale and Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. Ma Sip and I also shared an order of Currywurst und Fries and the entire visit was great with very fast service. I love drinking outdoors, warmed by fire and you can’t beat a setting like the Rhein Haus offers.

beer meals

Saturday morning was spent at Icicle Brewing, again taking advantage of an outdoor table. As I was split between two beer options, Mrs. Sip suggested I order both and avoid having to lineup again on what would surely be a busy day for the brewery, given the tour buses coming into town for the lighting ceremony. My two choices were the Dark Persuasion Stout (German-cake flavoured) and the German-Style Hefeweizen, which was a limited release. Over the course of our beverages, we also indulged in two Beer Pretzels that really hit the spot.

On our way home, we stopped at Walmart for some more shopping. I bought a bottle of Tarantula Azul Tequila. The interesting blue liquor will make a great addition to my collection and allow me the opportunity to create blue tequila-based cocktails without the use of Blue Curacao.

We’re now back home for the sprint towards Christmas. I’ll never forget (hopefully!) Toddler Sip’s first experience in snow and the joy she shared with us as we pulled her around in a sled. It was a wonderful time away in a very unique and special place.

Sip Trips #179: November Rain

Now that we’ve truly entered the chaos of the Christmas season, I thought it best to wrap up the end of November for the Sip Family. Here what we got up to upon returning from our Hawaiian getaway:

We spent a fair portion of November staying at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, so treated them to dinner at White Spot one evening. I ordered my usual Legendary Burger and paired it with a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, my first winter ale of the season. Hopefully, there will be many more in December.

snowman beer

A couple weekends back, a friend and I converged on Port Moody’s Brewers Row for an afternoon of drinking. We hit all five breweries (Moody Ales, The Bakery, Parkside, Yellow Dog and Twin Sails) along Murray Street, the first time I’ve done the entire strip since a fifth location was added earlier this year. The highlights for me was a neat flight at The Bakery (Marzen Kellerbier, Irish Whiskey Barrel Stout, South African IPA, Raspberry Stout) and the Lights Out Imperial Stout with Coconut at Twin Sails, which came in at a whopping 15.1% ABV. I can attest, it did actually knock my lights out!

Following Mrs. Sip’s most recent midwife appointment, and prior to taking Toddler Sip to her first Disney on Ice spectacle, we ate dinner at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. The place had a great $5 beer special, so I selected the Strange Fellows Talisman West Coast Pale Ale. The brew paired nicely with our Bacon & Potato Pizza and Cheesy Flatbread, as well as our Irish Crème Cheesecake for dessert.

Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party was held this past Friday at El Santo in New West. The set menu included tortilla chips and trio of salsas and guacamole, ceviche, grilled salad, a soft tacos dish with mushrooms and almond mole, and main courses of salmon and steak. There were also churros for dessert. As for drinks, I began with a serving of Strange Fellows Krampus Belgian Abbey Dubbel, before moving onto their expansive cocktail menu. I had servings of the El Campechano (Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, watermelon, mint, lime, soda) and Suenos de Coco (Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Mezcal, pineapple, toasted coconut syrup, nutmeg), while also trying sip of other people’s beverages. It was a good night out with the work crew.

aftermath-office-christmas-party

To finish the weekend, we attended Glow: Vancouver, which we found to be a great place for Toddler Sip. While Glow: Langley had more drink options, I did have a Spiced Rum and Coke on this occasion, but will probably not order drinks on future visits with our “year pass”. There was only one beer to choose from and it wasn’t even on tap. We did have a nice slice of Peanut Butter Cream Pie at the food area, another drastic change from the convoy of food trucks that served their wares in Langley. The Glow team is doing a good job with their available space in Vancouver, but I still curse whoever made an issue of the event being in Langley.

This weekend, we’re off to celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday in Leavenworth, Washington. I can’t wait to return to this winter wonderland and watch Toddler Sip experience it (and snow) for the very first time!

Sip Trips #178: Aloha Hawaii

Last week, the Sip Family enjoyed some rest and relaxation in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t just laze poolside or at the beach, though. Here’s what we got up to while on the island:

Upon arriving at our hotel late last Sunday, I ran across the street to pick up a six-pack of Waikiki Hana Hou Hefe. Then I poured a couple back on our balcony, enjoying the late night humidity and wondering what time Toddler Sip would have us up in the morning, affected by the three-hour time change, including the daylight savings time adjustment from that morning. The answer: six-freaking-a.m. We all managed to survive, though, and it could have been worse.

During Toddler Sip’s first nap of the vacation, I spent my free time at Yard House for their excellent happy hour, which includes $2 off draft beers and half price appies, among other deals. My brews for this occasion were the Koholo Red Sand and Kona Koko Brown. Both were paired with a serving of Korean Boneless Wings, which were tremendous. The only thing that sucks whenever I’m at a place that has a large tap list (Yard House, Craft Beer Market, etc.) and I finally decide and order something, they’re always out of my first choice and I have to scramble to make a second pick. Also, drinking on your own when the urge to pee hits can cause some tough decisions.

cute cats

That evening, we walked down to Waikiki Brewing, where I satisfied my thirst for a spicy beer with their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. I really liked this brew, as it featured more spice and flavour than some similar beers I’ve tried. For eats, we ordered their Prime Sliders and Giant Pretzel, which was impressively big. The meal was very good and set us up for the long walk to the nearest Walmart for some grocery shopping.

The next day, we returned to Yard House for happy hour again, this time with Mrs. Sip and a napping Toddler Sip tagging along. On this visit, I drank the Aloha Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale, completing a trifecta of good beers served up at the restaurant. Our appies were the Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Nachos, which we managed to complete right before Toddler Sip woke up and threw her one and only massive tantrum of the vacay. That’s the last time Mrs. Sip offers her water after a nap!

Finally, it was time to do some booze shopping for our room after some serious price comparison work throughout the area. On the cheap, I picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to use with Cherry Coke and later Tonic Water as mixers. Spiced Rum has become my favourite go-to elixir when travelling, thanks to its versatility with a number of drinks, from sodas to hot chocolate.

captain morgan

Day three happy hour was spent at The Street Food Hall within the International Market Place. I began at Beer & Be Merry, capitalizing on their $2 Kirin all day deal with a pair of servings. Before leaving the place, I also popped over to The Myna Bird Tiki Bar for a cocktail, ordering the El Diablo (mezcal, creme de cassis, lime, ginger, soda).

With Toddler and Mrs. Sip up from their naps, we ventured over to the O Bar, where my beverage of choice was the Karai Thai (tequila, pineapple, guava, Thai chili pepper syrup, lime). While the drink was very refreshing, it was not as spicy as I would have liked. We also tried to feed Toddler Sip dinner here, but she was too interested in the fish tanks and live music.

The next day, we returned to The Street Food Hall as a family to share some pepperoni pizza from Nana Lu Pizzeria. I also went back to the Beer & Be Merry bar for a pint of Aloha Red Zeppelin, which had caught my eye the previous day. When you bought a craft beer from this bar, the serving size was bigger than the $2 Kirins, while the price was cheaper than other locations, even while not a special deal.

cheap beer

Up next, was a visit to Maui Brewing, where I put together a flight of beer, including Pineapple Mana Wheat, Anada Hemp Brown Ale, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Imperial Dolce Porter (w/ Caramel and Salt). Once again, a place was out of my top choice beer, in this case, the Fully Pitted Habanero Milkshake IPA. For food, we shared a Pork Belly Bao, which we both liked. To wrap the stay, I ordered the Street Fighter (tequila, watermelon, sour mix, Hawaiian chili salt rim) cocktail, which packed the heat I was looking for.

Following this stop, we walked a little further to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant. Sitting in their lounge area for happy hour, I had the Kona Winds (tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, mole bitters) cocktail. To restock my beers, I grabbed a six-pack of Kona Wailua Wheat from a nearby store, before we returned to our room for our evening tradition of Netflix and falling asleep with Toddler Sip. No more Netflix and chill for us!

On Friday, we enjoyed happy hour at our hotel’s Splash Bar (at the Sheraton PK), ordering a round of Kalua Pork Nachos, as well as their Homemade Potato Chips to scoop up all the nacho toppings. I finally ordered a Mai Tai for the occasion, as well as a pint of Kona Castaway IPA. With Toddler Sip napping, we were able to pull out the Sushi Go cards and play a few rounds following the meal.

mai tai.jpg

For dinner, we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, sharing some Roadside Sliders and a slice of the spectacular Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. To quench my thirst, I had the Kona Gold Cliff IPA, which complimented the food nicely.

Saturday saw us do another long walk to the Ala Moana Center mall, then over to Dave & Busters for dinner and some arcade games. Our server here was nice enough, but did not provide the usual service we get when at the chain (didn’t explain how things work with the games, etc. and never asked if we wanted dessert, just brought the bill). Another complaint from me is that their drink menu doesn’t include prices… Cheesecake Factory does the same and I’ve decided I will no longer enjoy a beverage at places that hide the cost. What we did enjoy was our food, including Pretzel Dogs, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. It was also neat to see Toddler Sip play some of the games, as her last visit to D&Bs occurred when she was only four months old.

Sadly, all great vacations must come to an end. After a morning swim, I took care of my liquor buying business by grabbing bottles of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and Kula Toasted Coconut Rum. I also picked up a couple massive cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the day because I just can’t help myself when it comes to PBR!

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Our final meal of the trip was enjoyed at Duke’s Waikiki, where we enjoyed an epic feast. My fish entrée was prepared in a mouthwatering Spicy Gochujang-Ginger Roasted sauce, while I sipped away at a Hawaiian Time (strawberry basil lemonade with Absolut Mandarin and Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu) cocktail. For dessert, we shared the Specialty Hula Pie (Oreo crust, peanut butter cup ice cream), which was truly decadent and we all overate prior to our redeye flight home.

We hope to return to Hawaii soon and wish our stay there was longer than a week. For now, it’s back to cold weather, but at least the Christmas season is ramping up and that will provide much festive joy!

Sip Trips #177: Feast Fantastic

Another Sip Trips cycle is in the books and I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by. We’re already into November and much like every store out there, Christmas is coming on in a hurry. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last couple weeks:

Fresh off a visit to Boston Pizza just the week before, we decided to dine at the restaurant again, this time at the Queensborough Landing location. For this meal, I tried the Mad Mac Pizza, which features McDonald’s Big Mac ingredients (think the famous jingle) in pizza form. The pizza was good, but I think I preferred my Royal Hawaiian from the previous meal. Toddler Sip had a kid’s meal, which included a main, side, drink and dessert for a very reasonable price. The generous serving of ice cream sundae was also enjoyed by mommy and daddy.

Sundae School

On Saturday, Mrs. Sip and I finally used the Cirque du Soleil: Luzia tickets I bought for Mrs. Sip for Mother’s Day. Turning the evening into a full-on date night, we began with dinner at Coast, part of the Glowbal network of restaurants. We split quite the meal, taking advantage of happy hour. Along with my pair of East Van IPAs, we ordered dishes of Lobster Poutine, Crispy Calamari, Fish & Chip Cone, as well as a three-course dinner, comprised of New England Chowder, Atlantic Lobster and Crème Brûlée for dessert. I even added a single oyster to the feast, in order to keep my aphrodisiac level high.

As for the show itself, it was very good. The first half included some acts that even seasoned Cirque veterans such as Mrs. Sip and myself have never seen before and we left quite entertained. We noticed a new feature they were trying out at the event was an all-inclusive lounge to enjoy drinks and snacks before the show and at intermission for $50 per person. Given a single can of beer is $12, we hope this option will be available the next time the big top comes to town.

Cirque Tryouts

Earlier this week, Pa Sip and I took in the Vancouver Canucks game versus the Florida Panthers. The 7-2 victory was a great end to the night, with our meal at Brown’s Social House (at Queen Elizabeth Theatre) providing a fantastic start. Again, capitalizing on happy hour, or in this case, social hour, I enjoyed a pair of Social IPAs with orders of Howlin Hot Fried Chicken & Pickles and Parmesan Garlic Fries. There were other items on the menu that stood out to me, so I hope to return soon for another feast.

This weekend, the Sip Family leaves for Honolulu, Hawaii for a week. I can’t wait to try some breweries there, as well as eat and drink to my heart’s content. You’ll hear all about it in the next installment of Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #176: Oktoberfesting

The month of October should be spent celebrating the harvest with good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing and the yield has been quite bountiful. Here’s what the crew has been up to over the last few weeks:

The Sip Family recently attended Another Brewing Company’s (ABC Brewing) Oktoberfest event and what a time it was. ABC put together a collection of 11 German-style beers – four of their own, with others coming from brewery friends – for guests to enjoy. I paid about $50 for a limited edition stein and fill (24oz), as well as five additional tokens for 12oz pours or to be used on culinary items. Free tickets were also available to those who just wanted to attend and perhaps buy a few tokens for food and drink.

oktoberfest-driver

My stein fill was used on Sundown Brewing Hefeweizen, which was a fantastic start to the day. I then moved on to ABC Brewing Altbier, before going the experimental route with Ravens Brewing Lingonberry Lime Gose. A-Frame Brewing Kolsch was up next, followed by Main Street Brewing Dunkel. I also tried some of Chuckanut Brewing Altbier, from Bellingham, Washington.

The only shade I can throw the event’s way was the pretzel I spent a token on was cold. This was probably due to the pretzels arriving late and the ABC folks trying to get them out as quickly as possible, to satiate the many guests who had been inquiring as to their whereabouts. I also overheard some complain about a lack of salt on the pretzels and I agree with this criticism.

To celebrate a recent family birthday, we gathered for dinner at Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale. My beverage of choice at the German-themed restaurant was a pint of Krombacher Dark, while my meal was the Schnitzel Four Season, featuring vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms. The combo was very good and filling.

schnitzel

Prior to our Vancouver Canucks game last Saturday, we ate at the nearby Boston Pizza, which has a number of new specialty pizzas on their menu, making my choice quite difficult. I settled on the Royal Hawaiian, attracted by the sweet Thai honey garlic sauce, smoked prosciutto, bacon, and grilled pineapple. I’d also love to try the Mad Mac, which sounds like a pizza version of the McDonald’s Big Mac. Since individual pizzas seem to be getting smaller and smaller every time I eat at the restaurant, we still had room for a slice of Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake, which was simply decadent. Add in a pint of Stella Artois to wash it all down and we walked away ready for some hockey action.

Wrapping up this Sip Trips cycle, yesterday, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at White Spot, to celebrate the first anniversary of them providing Toddler Sip (formerly Baby Sip) with childcare. There, I ordered my usual Legendary Burger with side Caesar Salad (gotta go healthy on some occasions), joined by a pint of Granville Island Oktoberfest Lager. Thank you again to Ma and Pa Sip for their hard work and amazing dedication.

We now move into Halloween season with parties and other festive gatherings on the horizon. All should make for an interesting couple of weeks and you’ll hear about soon; same bat time, same bat channel!

Sip Trips #174: Island Exploring

While the last couple of weeks have been quieter, coinciding with the end of summer, the Sip Family has still kept up a fairly busy schedule of events and activities. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

Following the Labour Day long weekend, Mrs. Sip and I both took an extra day off work to take Baby Sip to the Vancouver Aquarium. While in that neck of the woods, we visited the new Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub. They have set up quite a facility there and we wish our visit wasn’t so brief. I ordered a pint of the Grapefruit & Juniper Red ISA, which was already on tap, despite being on their “Up Next” menu. I’m so glad it was because it paired quite well with the Pretzel Mrs. Sip asked for, accompanied by a very tasty mustard sauce. I’d say the only drawback is that a trip to Stanley Park takes us quite a bit out of the way nowadays, so popping into the brewpub will likely be a rare treat.

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Later that week, to celebrate Pa Sip’s birthday, we had dinner at the Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant in White Rock. While splitting a platter of delicious Fish & Chips, I enjoyed a pint of Steamworks Lager. In my opinion, you just can’t have fish and chips without a frosty beverage and although the restaurant only had this one craft option, I’m thankful they at least had that.

This past weekend, we travelled to Victoria to visit family. While on the island, I was able to hit a couple of the many craft breweries our capital city has to offer. We began our limited crawl at Phillips Brewing, which has expanded greatly since my last visit a handful of years ago. I went with a flight of beers, selecting their Fresa Fresca Strawberry Cream Wit, The Ramanga Blood Orange Witbier, Au Currant Black Currant Wheat Ale, and Death Metal Norwegian Black IPA. I also picked up a bomber of Villager Hazy Kolsch, the official beer of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, for the road.

Up next was Vancouver Island Brewing, where I put together another flight, consisting of their Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Magic Hour Grapefruit Gose, Faller Northwest Pale Ale and Just Desserts Porter. If it wasn’t so expensive to take a vehicle round trip via BC Ferries, we would probably be able to explore Victoria even more. There are many locations over there that I’d love to stop at in the future.

ferries

We wrapped our most recent adventures by trying Burger Heaven in New West. The burgers here don’t come cheap, with the basic option starting at $15 and fancier items closer to $20 or more, but they are very good quality. I went with the Teriyaki, Mozzarella, Bacon & Mushroom Burger and it was fantastic. Our meal ended on a bit of a sour note, though, as we were charged for extra drinks we didn’t order and it wasn’t realized until after we paid. We were refunded for the drinks, but our tip was based on an incorrectly inflated charge. Not to mention, while this could have been an accident, you’re always left wondering whether the server was hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

Coming up for the Sip Advisor is the September birthday blitz, which sees myself, Baby Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and a couple friends all celebrate another year on this earth within a week of each other. Should make for quite a bit of fun!