Sip Trips #89: Birthday Bonanza

Mrs. Sip’s birthday weekend was full of events, including an Irish pub dinner, beer tasting, whiskey tasting and all-you-can-eat sushi lunch. By the end of it all, I was totally ready for a day-long water tasting festival!

On Thursday, Mrs. Sip turned 33. We had the opening game of our Urban Rec season to attend, so we gathered with our team members at the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub for dinner and drinks. There, I enjoyed their Spicy Chicken Burger (available on the eatery’s daily specials menu), along with pints of Bomber Pale Ale, Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, and Hearthstone Hazelnut Porter. The meal was a lot of fun and much better than playing the ridiculous sport of handball… or as I like to call it ‘can’t do anything ball’.

irish-pub-kegs

The next night, I surprised Mrs. Sip with tickets to the Tapped Vancouver event at the Yaletown Roundhouse. The Groupon deal put the price of two tickets at $40 – an improvement on the original cost of $25 per person – making the festival much more palatable. While we definitely enjoyed ourselves, the 15 advertised vendors was far from that, as by my count, there was six breweries, one cidery and one wine vendor, carrying three different wineries products. Even the most generous mathematician could only credit the event with a maximum of 10 vendors attending.

Of those who were there, I was most impressed with Howe Sound and Fuggles & Warlock, who each brought with them a varied collection of beverages. Driftwood also arrived with multiple options, but very quickly were reduced to only having their Fat Tug IPA left to serve. Other breweries in attendance were Goose Island, Whistler, and Steamworks, as well as Lone Tree Cider.

Hard Cider Morning Apple Juice.jpg

The next night, I was invited to a private whiskey tasting, with the theme being that the products couldn’t be aged more than 10 years. While accompanied by pints of Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale to cleanse the palate, I really enjoyed the Lagavulin 8 Year, followed by the Ledaig 10 Year. I’ve always been a fan of smoky, peaty whiskeys, and these two hit the mark. The evening also provided my first opportunity to eat haggis and I have to say it wasn’t bad.

The rest of the week has been spent resting up from our warrior weekend, but we’ll be right back at it soon enough!

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Sip Trips #88: Taste Test

On Saturday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted the Sip Syndicate at our place. Earlier that day, I had ventured out to grab some beers for the evening and lucked upon some individual bottles from broken up from the Central CityParallel 49 Seasons Greetings advent calendar. I think this is a great idea, as it gives people who didn’t buy the advent calendar a chance to see how diverse the lineup is, as well as try some of the products for themselves.

I grabbed six bottles, comprised of: Central City’s Southern Cross Kiwi Kettle Sour and Three Peaks Belgian Tripel, along with Parallel 49’s Anger Management Angry IPA, Gong Show Belgian Spiced Quad, Salty Scot Maple Scotch Ale, and Beerserker Scandinavian Strong Ale. We then presented the six in a tasting-style event with our friends. My favourite from the bunch was probably the Gong Show.

drink-every-night

After our mini tasting, we were off to the VIP theatre at Marine Gateway to catch the new Star Wars: Rogue One. I’m not a Star Wars or sci-fi devotee, but I thought the movie was good. My meal of a pulled pork sandwich and fries was even better, which was a nice surprise, given some of the theatre food is only okay. Add a pitcher of Shocktop, split between Mrs. Sip and I, and the evening was well-rounded.

Following the film, we popped into the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub, below the theatre for another beverage. Here, I ordered a pint of Hearthstone McCools Hazelnut Porter, which was profiled in my Beer of the Week feature yesterday. It looks like we’ll be dining there again tonight, to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s birthday with a group of friends from our sports team.

The results of that meal, as well as the other festivities currently planned for Mrs. Sip’s big day will all be brought to you next week in another edition of Sip Trips!

Beer of the Week #3 – Hearthstone McCools Hazelnut Porter

After catching a movie at the VIP theatre at the Marine Gateway complex in Vancouver, we made our way to the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub below to grab a nightcap. There, I ordered a pint of this delicious Hearthstone Brewing release.

The McCools Hazelnut Porter was perfect to enjoy in an Irish Pub, with live music blasting and our table conveniently placed near a roaring fire. The 5% ABV, 18 IBUs beverage had great flavours of coffee, roasted malts, and, of course, hazelnut on the finish.

Hearthstone McCools Hazelnut Porter.png

The core brand beer is available in four-pack tall cans at private liquor stores. The brewery states the drink is “perfect for that bright yet blustery fall afternoon.” I thought it was also ideal for freezing cold winter nights when you wish you were bundled up at home.

Cousin Sip and I have remarked that we need to visit Hearthstone’s new facility in North Vancouver. Last time we toured the region, their Tap & Forno tasting room and eatery wasn’t open yet, so I think a return trip is in order.

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #69: Tasting Tipsy

One of my favourite events of the summer, Langley’s Tip N’ Taste, took place last Friday and it was another very fun time with family, friends, and random strangers. Mrs. Sip and I first attended the annual beer fest in 2008 and while we haven’t returned every year, it’s definitely an occasion I look forward to each July.

While I won’t go into reviewing the brews I tasted, saving that for the BC Beer Baron project, I will say that I managed to score over a dozen tastings from breweries, including Be Right Back, Trading Post, Phillips, Mission Springs, Old Yale, Cannery, Howe Sound, Hathi, Kwantlen Brewing Program, Dead Frog, Lighthouse, and Old Abbey.

Drinking Friends Assemble

In past years, event attendees received five drink tickets and five food tickets. This year, the food was all-inclusive, which came with some ups and downs. On the plus side, there was great little meals from Dublin Crossing Irish Pub (mini Yorkshire puddings); Sammy J’s (short rib tacos); Brown’s Socialhouse (cauliflower mac n’ cheese, chicken rice bowls, and even chocolate brownies for dessert); and Original Joe’s (pulled pork sliders). Some food vendors even passed out gift cards or discount vouchers.

On the flip side, unfortunately, the meatballs from Rendezvous Pub ran out within the first hour, even though they brought 300 meatballs. That said, they handed out two to each person (perhaps a rookie mistake) and the ravenous crowd demolished their provisions. The group was long gone by the time I got to that side of the Convention Centre. I remember Original Joe’s, in their first year, generously giving two pulled pork sliders to each person before stock ran low, resulting in one slider for each person, until the restaurant was cleaned out.

And while they didn’t necessarily run out of supplies, it was very tough to get any pizza from Me-N-Ed’s Pizza Parlor. Massive lines would form anytime their pies were soon to arrive (they have a chain located near Langley’s Cascades Casino) and would be gone before most could get their hands on a slice.

Personal Pizza

Another disappointment was White Rock Beach Brewing and Russell Brewing not showing up. I was looking forward to trying the wares particularly offered by White Rock Beach and while I don’t know the circumstances of their absence, they missed a prime opportunity to share their beverages with a wide, thirsty audience.

One last con was there wasn’t as much available for wine drinkers as there has been in past years, which narrowed the options for Ma and Pa Sip. I realize that Tip N’ Taste is predominantly a beer tasting event, but it’s nice to have a bit of a mix for those who steer towards grapes.

Okay, enough of the griping and onto some positives. First, the breweries that did attend brought some really neat stuff with them and most companies had an array of products for sampling. Second, the organizers were able to pull together quite an impressive field of breweries (spreading from across the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island), including a number of first-timers. Third, two folks from our extensive group won door prizes (which all looked pretty cool), so you can’t beat that.

prize or punch

A side note, Mrs. Sip and I had good chat with one of the Howe Sound reps about all the difficulties R&B Brewing is going through to set up their tasting room/restaurant. They were supposed to open on St. Patrick’s Day and are still in limbo thanks to the bureaucracy approving their license and launch. This has included being told to separate the growler station from the kitchen with a glass divide, then being told on a follow-up visit the glass had to be smoked, among other nitpicking. We hope things turn around for the project quickly.

To sum things up, tickets were $35 this year, which I believe is a $5 jump from 2015. That said, the event was fun with plenty of beer and food to go around. Sure, there are a few areas that could be improved, but all-in-all, Tip N’ Taste remains a favourite activity for the Sip Advisor!

Sip Trips #9 – Home Cooking

With Mrs. Sip out of town again this weekend – I know, I really have to rein that girl in! – the Sip Advisor spent his time out in the ‘burbs with the fam. While this article may not be as wild as a summary of Mrs. Sip’s trip to Las Vegas with the gals, I still made sure to get up to some fun!

It may not be booze related, per se, but I finally got around to trying the new McDonald’s CBO (Chicken, Bacon, Onion) on Friday and I have to say that I was impressed with the sandwich. I’ve really been into crispy onions – whether in ring or straw form – lately, and you can’t go wrong with bacon and chicken. I fully endorse the burger and advise anyone out there interested, to try this item before it’s gone.

McDonald's Classy

Saturday saw the Sip Advisor help Pa Sip with his construction of a new pool shed. My role was mixing the concrete and my experience behind the bar came in handy. We were basically throwing together one part concrete mix, with three parts navijack, topping with water, and garnishing with a trowel!

To reward me for my assistance, Ma Sip picked me up a pack of the Four Winds IPA, which was a nice treat for all my hard work. I also took the opportunity to open up my parent’s bottle of Rhubarb Tea Liqueur, for a future Flavour Revolution post.

On Sunday, we made our way to the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub in Cloverdale for a family event. Given the legend that I am, I decided to take advantage of their Sunday Caesar special (a double, of course!), as well as picking up a pint of their Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager. Dinner is always better with a few new friends!

Sober Decisions

Next up, Ma and Pa Sip decided to visit yours truly during the week, and we took our appetites to Jimmy’s Taphouse, which has long been one of the Sip Advisor’s favourite local watering holes. The poutine here is to die for and with great happy hour specials; it can be had for half price, every day of the week.

Over the course of dinner, I enjoyed both a pint of Phillip’s Blue Buck Ale and Hoyne’s Dark Matter. Talk about some serious great contributions from Victoria! Blue Buck is a solid beer, while the Dark Matter is a great starting point if you’re interested in getting into dark beers.

With Mrs. Sip’s return home, came the return of some duty free alcohol – like Christmas in… what month is it? Anyhoo, Mrs. Sip grabbed me bottles of Hendrick’s Gin and Appleton Rum, both of which are favourites in the Sip Advisor’s bar cabinet and were running low. Isn’t she so awesome!