Sip Trips #83: ‘Tis the Season

This past week saw nearly the entire Sip Family clan celebrating the Christmas season in Disneyland, where we also rang in the 60th birthday of Ma Sip and the 50th birthday of Aunt-in-Law Sip. Here’s all the shenanigans the Sip Advisor was able to get into, while at and around the parks.

Most notably, the California Adventure portion of the resort was hosting their Festival of Holidays, featuring 14 food and drink stands, offering yuletide treats. My most frequest stop, of course, was at the Brews & Bites stall, where I was able to get my hands on a number of California craft beers that the park typically doesn’t have on hand. This included: Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale, Saint Archer White Ale, Bottle Logic Tattered Prince (Spiced Saison), Karl Strauss Seven Sharks A-Circling Smoked Porter, and 21st Amendment Fireside Chat (Spiced Ale).

wonderful-time-for-a-beer

While the new beverage options provided a lot of fun (as well as expense), the food available was disappointing. This wasn’t due to quality, but the pricing structure. Most servings were appetizer size, but came with a main dish price. For example, I enjoyed the Reuben Potato Smash, but paying $7 for two little potato balls seemed extreme. This made me question my list of the handful of items I had hoped to try. It seemed desserts (highlighted by the $4.25 Eggnog Cheesecake) were more reasonably priced, but only by comparison. Every dish could have been knocked down by a few dollars, allowing for more experimentation.

I also have to go on a little rant about how stupid the park’s policy is regarding Canadian visitors having to use their passports as ID, instead of their driver’s licenses. With the great number of folks from British Columbia (as well as the rest of the Great White North) coming to California to vacation, they should be more than familiar with our licenses. They also seems to be no consistency with their own policy, as sometimes my license was good enough and other times it wasn’t. I also note that only the festival booths were insisting on passports at any point, which is a pain because I had grown accustomed to not needing my passport on me in my early thirties.

Okay, back to the good. Other beers I enjoyed around the park included the usual smattering of Karl Strauss selections (Aurora Hoppyalis, Tower 10 IPA, Red Trolley Ale, Mosaic Session IPA, etc.), as well as the Grand-Am Pale Ale from Bear Republic Brewing. This brew has become my breakfast must-have beverage upon entering the park and lining up for the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

drink-and-drive-kid

A highlight of our celebrations was our meal at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. Here, our crew was given our own private dining room, although we joked it was more to do with keeping us from disrupting other guests. With my three-course meal, I enjoyed the Ernest Daiquiri, which for some reason the rest of our group viewed as a girly drink… pssh, amateurs. This experience also provided us with a special seating zone for the World of Color show that evening. Our server was spectacular, as was the staff assisting her. The only downside was the restaurant’s inability to split the bill more than into two, which made settling up a little difficult for a group of 13.

Mrs. Sip and I also managed to spend an evening at Dave & Buster’s where we had dinner and played some of their games over late night happy hour. This provided us half price cocktails (the mai tais and margaritas were flowing) and other drink deals, such as a very generously poured Jack & Coke for $3. Our appy of choice has always been the pretzel dogs, which even has Mrs. Sip using the honey mustard dipping sauce.

With Disneyland in the rear-view mirror, it’s onto the Christmas party season and we have a whack of them booked already. Should make for a very fun month!

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Sip Trips #6 – Disney Drinking

Well, Mrs. Sip and I completed another successful trip to the Happiest Place on Earth this past week, taking advantage of B.C.’s Family Day holiday. In recent years, the park has become a completely different experience for us, thanks to California Adventure’s beer, wine, and spirit offerings. Here’s a wrap-up from our recent extra-long weekend:

Pier Beers

The first stop we usually hit after getting to the park is the Pacific Wharf, where Karl Strauss beer can be had. While the $8 price point isn’t ideal and lines can be pretty long, there are a variety of styles worth trying and Karl Strauss has become a favoured brewer for Mrs. Sip and me. On this visit, we enjoyed both the Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale and the Tower 10 IPA.

Wine with a View

Then, we were off to the Alfresco Tasting Terrace, so Mrs. Sip, along with Ma and Pa Sip, could get their wine on. While my drinking partners enjoyed their vino, I grabbed the Brother Thelonius Abbey Ale, which came in at a whopping 9.4%. As you can imagine, we were all flying pretty high by the time we were lining up for attractions!

wine-tasting olympics

Downtown Dining

The next day finished with a meal at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. It was here that I finally got to try Shock Top’s Shockolate, which mixes chocolate and their traditional wheat beer. The blend was very nice and I enjoyed the mix of cocoa and hefeweizen colliding. I don’t think I’d drink a six pack in one shot, but a couple per drinking evening would make a good beer nightcap.

Also, while there, I had an absolutely epic Smokehouse Burger, complete with three-pepper bacon, tangy barbecue sauce, crispy onion straws, and I even broke my own rules, throwing some cheese on the massive sandwich!

Classy Cocktails

After a busy trip, we were all in need of a little downtime, while still getting to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park. In this case, there is no better stop than the Carthay Circle Lounge, home to spectacular hand-crafted cocktails and the finest beers and wines the resort has to offer. As for food, Mrs. Sip and I always order the Queso Fundido dish, which blends melted Monterey Jack cheese with Ranchero Sauce and tortilla chips for dipping. It is a perfect complement to the high-end alcohol options.

Sis-in-Law Sip decided to go off the board and order a tasting flight of tequilas, consisting of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Don Julio Reposado Tequila, and Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Extra Anejo Tequila (damn, that’s a mouthful!). Each was great for sipping and had such unique scents, that it made for an incredibly different experience. Despite all my boozing, I’ve never done spirit flights like that.

tequila escalation

Games and Goodies

We ended the vacation with a visit to Dave & Buster’s, a place that has quickly become a favourite for Mrs. Sip and me, giving us a chance to harness our inner-child, playing video games, while downing fun food and great drinks. My Strawberry-Watermelon Margarita, for example, came with strawberry-flavoured ice cubes, which were creative and delicious. After 10pm, the joint goes into happy hour, where deals on cocktails, beer, and other items can be had.

On this visit, we got into a good video trivia battle, playing multiple rounds with a couple locals. The Sip Advisor, whose greatest attribute is having a head full of useless information, won a bunch of these matches, earning oodles of prize tickets that will surely eventually be used on candy and stuffed toys!

Do you have any suggestions for our next jaunt down to Disneyland and the surrounding area?