Sip Trips #129: In Transition

As the Sip Advisor began my first official week of parental leave, there was plenty of action… and we’re not even counting taking care of a baby full-time! Here’s what we got up to:

The Vancouver Whitecaps season opener took place on the first Sunday of March and the Sip Advisor was in attendance. The outing began with a stop at the beer garden outside BC Place stadium, where I bought a can of Stanley Park Day Trip Lager. This snapped my five-day dry streak, as I was hoping to lower my tolerance level for our upcoming Las Vegas getaway. Once inside the stadium, I picked up a 24oz serving of Postmark West Coast Pale Ale, which lasted me most of the contest.

A couple days later, I met Ma Sip for lunch at Mahony & Sons along the Downtown Vancouver waterfront. I really enjoyed my Fish & Chips meal, paired with a pint of Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale. With ordering this drink, I was entered into a draw for a trip to Ireland. This was a nice little bonus from the visit.

Fish & Chips Deal

Later that day, the Sip Alliance attended the Craft Beer Launch at Craft Beer Market. Tickets were only $5 (plus taxes) and featured 18 new menu items available to be sampled. All proceeds went to the YMCA Annual Campaign and I felt the event was well worth it, despite a couple hiccups.

The beers were mostly comprised of IPAs and sours, so if you weren’t into those two styles of beer, you were kind of out of luck. Among the brews, my favourites were the Boneyard Incredible Pulp, Ninkasi Juicy IPA, Beau’s Fulltime IPA, and Gigantic Imperial IPA. A cider, red wine and even gin could also be tried.

Aside from the beverages, a number of Craft’s appies were served, including BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, Proscuitto Arugula Flatbreads, Wings, and Veggie Platters. Our group arrived close to the start of the event and staked out a spot near what became the food table. This was very fortunate, as whenever items were served, they didn’t last very long with the buzzards circling. Also, there was about an hour gap at one point where no food arrived.

Buzzard Loyalty

The biggest issue was that some of the company reps ran out of supplies before the three-hour event was halfway through. That left me wondering: “If these were the new products available at the restaurant, how could they possibly run out?” We were impressed to learn that the Whistler Brewing rep went across the street to Legacy Liquor Store to buy more beer when her stock dried up, while other servers gave out half glasses from the start, to make sure their wares lasted throughout. The woman running the Copper & Theory table was hands down the MVP of the night, serving brews right up to the end, which meant she was incredibly busy as the other tables closed up shop early.

The week ended with some shopping and new product discoveries. Ma Sip informed me of Mott’s Clamato Verde being in stores. I’m assuming the green mixer is available for St. Patrick’s Day Caesars, but can’t confirm as there’s no mention of the drink on the Mott’s website. The drink is tasty and interesting, reminding me of a green salsa-based beverage. I also came across Crown Royal Salted Caramel Whiskey, while perusing a BC Liquor Store. Given the release is of the limited edition variety and there was only one box left, I felt things were meant to be and I had to buy the treat for myself. I can’t wait to do some mixing with it when the opportunity arises.

Next up, Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) will be in Las Vegas. You can expect at least a two-part Sip Trips upon our return home!


Sip Trips #128: San Diego Sipping (Part 4)

Our three weeks in San Diego wrapped up with us moving from Escondido to the downtown area. After arriving at our hotel, we journeyed to Liberty Public Market, home to Stone Brewing’s Liberty Station location. There, we took part in the brewery’s Cookies on Tap cross promotion with the Girl Scouts. For $15, we received a flight of four beers (5oz pours), each paired with a Girl Guide cookie. Our favourites of the set were the White Ghost Berliner Weisse with Savannah Smiles and Exalted IPA with Samoas combos.

The next day was largely spent exploring Balboa Park, prior to visiting Modern Times Brewing. After a brief wait to get into the popular site, Mrs. Sip and I shared their OG Edition Flight, containing the Lomaland Saison, Black House Stout, Fortunate Islands Wheat, and Blazing World Amber. This was a pretty good deal for $8.

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For dinner, we returned to Liberty Public Market and the Corvette Diner. For beverages, I got the Mike Hess Corvette Grazias, while Mrs. Sip went with a very tasty Chocolate-Peanut Butter Milkshake. As for food, we both went with burgers, with my selection being the Brenda variety and Mrs. Sip choosing the Breakfast at Tiffany’s option. We also received a free appetizer (Ginormous Chicken Fingers), thanks to signing up online through the Cohn Restaurant Group. The diner was a lot of fun with video games and other entertainment going on throughout our meal.

The next day, we tried to stop at Ballast Point Brewing in the Little Italy area of San Diego, but had trouble finding parking and also noticed the place was quite busy. When we finally found a spot for our vehicle, I wasn’t willing to pay $15 to park and then wait to be seated when all we wanted was a drink, so we abandoned the visit. We will have to try again another time.

Instead, we made our way to Coronado Island, home to Coronado Brewing. Although we were told getting a seat would take half an hour, we were seated almost immediately. We decided to split a flight of their brews, picking the Coco Chaos IPA, Large Barge Weizenbock, Mean Tajin Mango IPA, R&D Blonde Stout (Nitro), and R&D Peach IPA. We also added a taster of Barrel-Aged German Chocolate Cake on the side. Our favourites were the Coco Chaos, Large Barge and Blonde Stout.

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After walking around the Coronado Island marina for a bit, we played a bit of craft brewery roulette with Mrs. Sip selecting Little Miss Brewing, simply because of the name and having Baby Sip in tow. What a random choice this was, as we ended up at funky little joint, with a neat vibe. Here, we split another flight, including the Kilroy Irish Red, Riveter American Wheat, Havoc American IPA, Indie Coconut Porter, and Ida Belgian Tripel. The Irish Red was the best of the bunch for both of us.

On our last day, prior to heading to the airport, we ventured to San Diego’s Old Town. Our first stop was Cafe Coyote for lunch, which is a must-hit eatery. Mrs. Sip ordered their Sangria, while I went with an El Burro (tequila, ginger beer, lime) cocktail. For food, we split the Tres Coyote Taco meal (shredded beef, shredded chicken, carnitas), as well as a Cheese Quesadilla, which we received for free, thanks to a coupon from our hotel.

At the airport, we enjoyed a pre-flight beverage at Stone Brewing. Mrs. Sip went with a guest tap of Refuge Brewing Blood Orange Wit, while I went with Stone’s Mammoberries Golden Stout. I had previously seen this brew at the Liberty Station location, but neglected to order it. Thankfully, I remedied that glaring error here, as it was a tremendous ale, with flavours of coffee and raspberry. This was a nice liquid bow on our February in San Diego County and the start of my eight months of parental leave!

Sip Trips #127: San Diego Sipping (Part 3)

Part three of our time spent in San Diego County began with a trip to Temecula. Our first stop of the day was Walmart, where I grabbed the Trouble Brewing A Pack of Trouble Variety Pack. I learned after the fact that this is actually a Walmart brand that has encountered some controversy over whether or not it’s actually craft beer. The case contained the Cats Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, ‘Round Midnight Belgian White, and Red Flag Amber Ale, all of which I thought were decent brews.

Next up was Garage Brewing for lunch. We tried visiting here the last time we were in San Diego, before tragically discovering the place is closed on Mondays. Redemption is sweet, my little sippers, and this place is so good that we returned for a second meal later in our vacation. They have a fantastic fast-fired pizza idea, where you can build your own pie, similar to a Subway sandwich. On both stopovers, I ordered a pint of Hatch Chile IPA. Mrs. Sip tried tasters of their Mango Hefeweizen, Belgian Triple, Cherry Chocolate Stout, Marshmallow Milk Stout (Nitro), Spiced Coconut Porter, Apple Pie Pale Ale, and Holidation over both occasions. We also bought a bomber of Apricot Wit for the road. As for the pizzas, they were all amazing, with their Red Hot Mustang Pizza being particularly delicious.

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The day wrapped with a quick jaunt into Temecula Valley Wine Country, popping into Wilson Creek Winery, which was recommended to us by a friend, who called the place the Disneyland of wineries. Of particular note were their flavoured champagnes, including Almond and Peach Bellini. Upon leaving, we bought a bottle of Rose Champagne, which nicely priced at only $10.

Our next day trip was to Carlsbad, beginning with a Sip Family favourite: Dave & Busters. With our lunch of Pretzel Dogs and Pepperoni Pretzel Pull-Apart, I enjoyed an upsized pint of Belching Beaver Mango IPA. Mrs. Sip went with the Belching Beaver Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, adding a little dessert to her meal. As we played some of their games, I drank a Firestone Walker 805 Pale Ale to Mrs. Sip’s standard go-to Blue Moon.

Before returning to the resort, we also managed to stop at the Pizza Port chain’s Carlsbad location. Here, I tried their Hakunama Tatas IPA, which came in a colour I never expected. The beer was very good, although it took a bit to reconcile the thought of drinking a pink brew (thanks to the addition of pomegranate juice) with an ABV of 8.5%. We also ordered a serving of their Garlic Beer Buddies, which were quite tasty.

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Our final stop with Mrs. Sip’s parents was BK Cellars, which we bought Groupons for prior to leaving home. Each Groupon included a tasting for two (five wines each) and bottle of either Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, of which we got one of apiece. My favourites among their offerings were the Fume Blanc and Syrah, which was especially memorable.

Part four will look at the last leg of our journey, as Mrs. Sip and I settle into downtown San Diego to explore the city’s vast and booming craft beer scene, as well as a few local landmarks.


Sip Trips #126: San Diego Sipping (Part 2)

Part two of our month in San Diego County began with an outing to Belle Marie Winery, where Mrs. Sip enjoyed a tasting. As Mrs. Sip sampled a few wines, I changed a Baby Sip poopy diaper. Alas, this is life now! The other reason I didn’t join Mrs. Sip was because I’m still not a fan of the way tastings are done in the San Diego area. Whereas I’m accustomed to typically paying $5 for a tasting at home, which is waived if you buy a bottle, here the price was $10 and bottle purchases don’t lead to a free tasting. To be fair, this is one of the more decent tasting prices we’ve encountered in that region. Don’t even get me started on the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Following the winery, we visited Plan 9 Alehouse, taking advantage of their progressive keg pricing ($3 pint at 3pm, $4 at 4pm, $5 at 5pm). I selected The Lost Abbey Farmhouse Lager, which went well with our appies of Garlic Fries and Chips & Guac. En route back to our resort, I restocked our beer reserve with Kona Brewing’s Liquid Aloha Variety Pack. This case included the brewery’s Island IPA, Magic Sands Mango Saison and Wailua Wheat.

guacamole good fat

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we decided to spend the occasion doing a bit of a brewery crawl. The journey started at Mother Earth Tap House, where we built two flights of six 6oz beers, allowing us to try much of the tasting room’s extensive lineup. Our favourites were the Xtra Nuts and Cali Creamin’, which seemed to be very popular around the region.

Next up was the Belching Beaver 980 Pub, which we had been advised had fantastic Philly Cheesesteaks. That advice couldn’t have been more accurate. As we scarfed down the delicious sandwiches, I tried the Phantom Bride IPA, while stealing sips of Mrs. Sip’s PB&J Blonde, which was fantastic. We also tried samples of the Peanut Butter Stout, Horchata Imperial Stout, and Mexican Chocolate with Dark Cherries cask option. With good fortune on our side, as we finished our pints, they began stocking the “to go” fridge with a limited release beer, so I implored Mrs. Sip to go investigate. The Belching Beaver/Deftones Good Morning Beautiful Brown Ale (with Coconut, Coffee and Maple Syrup) was the prize and so we snagged a bottle for the road.

Our crawl wrapped with a quick stop at Iron Fist Brewing, where we split another flight, including their Renegade Blonde, Spice of Life, Seven-Seven, and Ken Schmidt’s Pillow Mint. The Pillow Mint was the highlight of the visit, reminding us of a liquefied After Eight chocolate.

After Eight Chocolate

The next day, we got together with friends of ours who live in the area, meeting at their local favourite: Booze Brothers Brewing. While Mrs. Sip ordered a flight made up of their Peachy Monkey, Blackberry Cruiser, Easy Rider Brown, and Honey Bloom, I enjoyed a pint of their Green Eyed Amber, which I had read online was a very popular choice. The place was very neat, with lots of comfy seating and food trucks on hand for munchies.

Following the brewery, we had dinner at Tekila Cocina Mexicana, where Mrs. Sip and I split their Queso Fundido and Carnitas Quesadilla. To quench my thirst, I ordered a Jalapeno Cilantro Margarita, which had a decent level of heat and interesting flavour blend with the addition of Cilantro. Mrs. Sip tried their “Build Your Own Magarita” option, selecting Hibiscus Liqueur and 1800 Reposado Tequila.

No visit to San Diego is complete without seeing the San Diego Zoo. Best of all, folks can drink craft beers throughout the park, with different options on tap at locations spread around the attraction. I started with the Stone Tangerangutan Express IPA and later added the Mike Hess African Leopard IPA. Other animal-themed brews included the Ballast Point Koala Kolsch (which Mrs. Sip tried) and Karl Strauss African Penguin Pale Ale.


After our day at the Zoo ended, we went for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Here, I paired the Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA with an order of Spaghetti Vesuvius. The IPA worked well to cool the heat from the spicy sauce of my main dish.

Part three of our travels includes journeys to Temecula and Carlsbad, for beer, wine and other shenanigans!


Sip Trips #125: San Diego Sipping (Part 1)

Mrs. Sip, Baby Sip and I spent most of the month of February in San Diego County, which meant a lot of craft breweries, a few wineries and other adventures. Here’s part one of our experiences:

Upon arriving, we did some grocery shopping to stock up on supplies. While deciding on a case of beer, Mrs. Sip came across the New Belgium Blend Like A Brewer Variety Pack. This set has an amazing concept with a recipe guide that allows drinkers to blend the six beers (Black Lager, Sour Ale, Belgian White, Tangerine IPA, Belgian Dubbel, and Belgian Trippel) that comprise the case to make some very good mixes. Our favourite was the Monk’s Pajamas, which combined the Belgian Dubbel and Black Lager. I would get this pack again, just to do my own experimenting.

Abs Craft Beer

The resort we were staying at offered a weekly craft beer tasting, followed by pub trivia. We attended the tasting once, which allowed for a sampling of six different beers for $12. The brews offered were Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale, Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale, Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA, Novo Brazil The Mango Beer, Ballast Point Mocha Marlin Porter, and Belching Beaver Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Stout. This was a great introduction to the San Diego craft beer scene, some breweries which I was familiar with and others I was not.

Following the tasting, we won the pub trivia, earning us a prize pack that included a bomber of one of the beers we had just tasted. We selected the Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale. The next two weeks, we would also come out on top at trivia, earning us bottles of AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Ale and Coronado Orange Ave Wit.


A few days later, we travelled across the US-Mexico border into Tijuana for the craft beer tour we had arranged with Border Tours. Once we made it to downtown Tijuana, we hit four different breweries, getting to enjoy a flight or pint at each. The breweries included Norte, Border Psycho, Teorema/Ludica, and Mamut. We also stopped for delicious goat meat street tacos in the middle of the tour, which made sure we didn’t end up too blitzed. The tour cost us $108 each, after getting a special discount through the vendor. A Groupon for the tour also exists. Mrs. Sip and I both recommend the company, who provided us with a knowledgeable guide and was always quick to respond to any questions we had.

At this point, our vacation was just ramping up. In part two of our travels, we continue to explore San Diego County, including a self-guided craft beer tour for Valentine’s Day and a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo!


Sip Trips #123: Wedded Bliss

Last week was a very busy one for myself and Mrs. Sip. We were members of a friend’s wedding party and there were a number of events to attend and breweries and restaurants to visit during our stay in the North Vancouver area.

Our first stop was the Tap & Barrel Shipyards location, which served host to the rehearsal dinner. There, I ordered the PB&J Burger, which was fantastic. I’ve had the burger on other occasions, but this was hands down the best version of it I have experienced. As for drinks, I chose pints of Mount Arrowsmith Comfortably Chum Hef and Hearthstone Magodes White IPA. I had also wanted to try the 33 Acres of Cashmere Red Ale, but it was tapped out.

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The next day, we visited Boston Pizza for a drink after I finished work. I picked the Whiskey BBQ Bacon Caesar, which had a really interesting smoky barbecue flavour to go with the usual Caesar blend. Following that beverage, we hit the nearby BC Liquor Store to pick up some supplies for the room. We snagged the Doan’s Brewing Happy Pack, which is comprised of two tall cans each of their Rye IPA, Kolsch, Stout, and seasonal Crystal Weiss.

After a brief respite in our room, we journeyed to Beere Brewing Company, where I had a serving of their recently released Cherry Willis Imperial Stout. The brew was very nice, featuring flavours of cherry and cacao. The night wrapped with one more brewery stop, as I showed an out-of-town friend the North Van scene, popping into Green Leaf Brewing for a pint of their Azacca Cadabra ISA.

Saturday was the wedding, and with an open bar on the docket, a lot of drinking was done. I visited the bar so many times that I had a good relationship going with the bartender, who complimented my alcohol tolerance, as well as the cuteness of Baby Sip, who was enjoying her first wedding and was very well-behaved throughout.

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Following a couple days off to recharge the batteries after the wedding, we were back at it Tuesday night, first stopping at Earl’s Kitchen + Bar for a happy hour beverage. I chose their Rhino Pale Ale, which is served in a massive, intimidating glass. Our evening entertainment was supplied by Relish The Pub and their weekly trivia night. One difference with Relish’s trivia, compared to other local options, is that each table pays a $5 entry, with that money going towards the BC Cancer Foundation. While we have yet to win anything during our few visits to Relish, the prizes are quite good (gift cards and pitchers of beer), so we will have to try our luck again in the future.

Mrs. Sip’s birthday is this weekend, so it will be another busy “break”. The Sip Advisor will be slinging drinks at a joint birthday party for Mrs. Sip and a friend, as the hosts are moving out at the end of the month and are looking to get rid of some liquor bottles. Should be a lot of fun!


Sip Trips #122: Endings and Beginnings

The final week of 2017 offered extra time with family and friends and that led the Sip Family to doing what we do best: eat and drink and be merry! Here what we got up to while closing out the year:

After getting out of work early on Friday, I met the Sip Syndicate fellas for some celebratory drinks at The Railway Stage & Beer Café (a Vancouver landmark that has recently reopened under Donnelly Group ownership). I had never visited the original Railway Club, so can’t compare the two. I had a really good time during this drinking session, featuring six different craft beers available during happy hour for only $3. I had originally thought of drinking one of each, but opted to stick with what I liked. This included the Phillips 6IX IPA, Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and Parallel 49 Wobbly Pop Pale Ale. Outside the happy hour menu, I also selected the Postmark Winter Warmer, which I had wanted to try since gifting it as part of a Secret Santa package. To finish the outing, we ended up with a glass of Scotch, before venturing out into the Vancouver rain again.

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The next night, we made our way to Coquitlam to visit a friend who had recently bought a place out there. After checking out her new abode, we went for dinner at Boston Pizza. There, I ordered the Southwest Flatbread (BBQ Chicken, Mozzarella, Bacon, Red Onions, Ranch Drizzle), which was delicious. It had been a while since we had a meal at BP, so it was nice to give it a go again.

We followed dinner with a trip to Mariner Brewing (brewery #5 for Baby Sip!). When I first visited their location in the summer, it was only a few days old and their beer lineup has grown impressively. Mrs. Sip and I split a flight of brews, which included their Berliner Weisse, Margarita Ale, Tropical Milkshake IPA, and Night Sky Mocha Stout. The latter three were all new to me, with the IPA being particularly tasty.

For New Year’s Eve, we were set to host a bigger party at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, but a number of people bailed on the plan, which seems to be a New Year’s tradition for some. I find the night to be very anticlimactic, with so many plans falling through and people being flaky. We still made it memorable, as it was Baby Sip’s first and stuck to our ‘Treat Yo Self’ theme by consuming massive quantities of food and liquor. To ring in 2018, Mrs. Sip and I brought our bottle of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur (the orange one) to mix with bubbly, which ended up tasting like a Bellini. We also split a bottle of Unibroue’s 25th Anniversary limited edition release, which tasted like a Black Forest Cake. It was so very good and what made it special was it was the last bottle available at the liquor store when Mrs. Sip spotted it.

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The week wrapped with celebrating Cousin Sip’s birthday at Galini Greek Restaurant in Langley. I ordered their very tasty Chicken Souvlaki, complete with scrumptious Greek Salad. Our service here was exceptional, especially considering the larger group.

The Sip Advisor is spending the next month doing ‘No Junk Food January’ to aid in getting back in shape after a too long hiatus from the gym, following Baby Sip’s birth. It will not be easy, but I’ll be helped along by keeping booze part of my life. With a friend’s wedding approaching and a beer advent calendar to work through, there’s no way I could completely abandon my old friend!