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.

Rehearsal Dinner.png

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.

Open Bar.jpg

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!

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Sip Trips #84: Christmas Crunch

Well, my little sippers, the Christmas season is in full swing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy with various events with friends and family. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to:

On Sunday, we checked out the Stanley Park Christmas Train. While the ride was enjoyable as usual, Mrs. Sip was hoping there would be more of a theme, as there has been in past years. Still, the lights were beautiful and the music was festive, so I’ll give it a passing grade.

Following the train, we had our traditional family meal at White Spot. To pair with my typical Legendary Burger order, we selected a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale. There’s something about this beer on tap that takes it to a whole ‘nutha level!

chips-and-beer

The next evening, Mrs. Sip and I got a rare date night, visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market. The new location does provide more room, but some of the lineups need to be better organized, such as the beer booth’s queue bleeding into another nearby line and causing confusion and blockages. Mrs. Sip enjoyed her spiced rum mulled wine, while I downed a serving of Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel. The price for each beverage was $8, leaving little cash leftover for two folks who largely use cards for payment. It seems odd that many vendors selling merchandise were able to offer a charge card payment option, but most food and drink stalls could not. Oh well, that’s money saved from the expensive event that we really only attend because Mrs. Sip gets free tickets each year.

That saved money was quickly put to use as we popped into the Earl’s Kitchen + Bar in Yaletown. Their Man en Fuego cocktail (Mezcal, El Jimador Tequila, Mango juice, green Tabasco, lime juice) was on special and it’s a very good drink. So good, Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a second. For our meals, Mrs. Sip selected the Avocado Super Toast, while I went with the Hunan Kung Pao noodle dish. Both dinners were very good.

This weekend, we have even more on the schedule, so it will be another whirlwind. ‘Tis the season, am I right!?

Sip Trips #40

Coast Toasting

Mrs. Sip and I have finally returned to Vancouver from our epic travels to southern Africa and are getting settled back into the local drinking routine. I had to take some extra time this week, as we visited Legacy Liquor Store, to get acquainted with all the new releases that have hit the market while we were on vacation. A lot can change in a month, especially with the move from summer to fall, but it gives me some things to look forward to.

Speaking of things we were looking forward to, on Friday night, we attended the annual Toast to the Coast event at the Vancouver Aquarium. Mrs. Sip has wanted to go to this for a couple years, but previous engagements have always held us back from checking out the soiree, which sells out each season. A number of wineries, a couple breweries, and even reps from Russian Standard Vodka were on hand, as guests got to enjoy the various exhibits with a drink sample in their hand and an appetizer on their plate. My night began on the right note with a serving of Bomber Choqlette Porter, a delicious dark beer, with notes of chocolate and coffee. I also made sure to end my night with this brew.

cat aquarium

The night was frustrating at times, as the event was scheduled to go until 1am, but most vendors packed up their wares at 10pm, which I think blindsided some guests, myself included. Also, a number of the eats around the venue were in short supply. To begin the night, the sushi table was a free-for-all, but later featured such a diminished stock that a volunteer was handing out one piece at a time on napkins. There was also the Rocky Mountain Flatbread table, which couldn’t keep up with the demand, as each time they brought out one tray, it was gone and those in line, who hadn’t received a slice, had to wait for the next dish to cook up.

I also had to battle through one of my greatest festival pet peeves, where people either get a drink or food and just stand there, neglecting to move out of the way and let the next person be served. This especially occurs at the wine stations, as folks want to try each of the bottles available, before moving on. That is particularly why the Sip Advisor prefers to stick to beer vendors.

The worst part of the evening was getting home after the function concluded. Shuttles from the Aquarium to Waterfront Station downtown were supposed to be offered, with the last one leaving at 12:45am. We stood around from about 12:25am to 1:00am and didn’t see a single shuttle, which left tired and boozed up guests having to resort to calling cabs and then fighting for their reservation when the vehicle arrived.

legit taxi

Much of the food was good, particularly the various desserts, such as Rose’s Shortbread and Chocolatas chocolates. The worst food offering of the evening definitely had to go to Earl’s Kitchen & Bar, which was handing out cups of sea urchin ice cream. The dessert was absolutely awful and a total disappointment from the popular chain.

Tickets were $125 and I asked Mrs. Sip the next day (once she had a chance to recover!) whether she thought the cost was justified. She thought it was, explaining that given all we ate and drank, it would add up to $125 or more on the local market. My argument in opposition was equating the night to an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer and Marge go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and are kicked out at the end of the night before Homer has enjoyed all-he-could-eat. Our group ended up having drinks and pizza when we finally got home (the best meal of the night), which I didn’t think would be necessary after an all-inclusive drink and food fest. Perhaps we’re just that gluttonous!

My final thoughts on Toast to the Coast are a little mixed. I had a good time, but certainly had some qualms with the event, as well. The true decider is whether I would go again in the future and the answer to that is yes… but perhaps not next year. Also, if ticket prices went up without much substance being added, I would be very hesitant. That said, it was a charity event, so I guess we did our civil duty.

woman named charity

Saturday night was spent celebrating a friend’s birthday, beginning with pre-dinner drinks. Here, I was able to try the 33 Acres of Darkness, another new beer that I really liked. I also had a serving of Dead Frog Super Fearless IPA, which was quite enjoyable. I topped off the pre-party with Steel & Oak’s Satsuma Lager, another fine release from the New West brewery.

Our meal was at Minami Yaletown, which is an upper scale Japanese restaurant. Mrs. Sip tackled their Taste of Yaletown menu, including sake pairing. Each of the sakes utilized different ingredients and matched up nicely with their respective dishes. I ordered the Kaisen Soba Peperoncino bowl, while trying the restaurant’s Asian-themed Caesar, complete with wasabi pickles garnish and lemon-pepper rim. It wasn’t the best Caesar I’ve ever had, but was a decent cocktail.

The week was pretty quiet otherwise, but this weekend, Mrs. Sip and I are off to Bellingham, Washington to see what trouble we can get into across the border, working our way through the city’s Tap Trail and other locations. This is a belated birthday gift (we were out of the country) from Ma and Pa Sip and there will certainly be much to write about, so look forward to that in next week’s Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #28: Tipsy Taste

This week’s main event was Tip N’ Taste in Langley, which has become one of my favourite events on the drinking calendar. Mrs. Sip and I first attended the beer bash in 2008 and have enjoyed watching it evolve over the years.

The event cost $30, but with that, you got five drink tickets (which you can usually stretch into more samples) and five food tickets. This is a far better deal than some events I’ve seen recently where you’d pay a similar fee and that only covered your entry. While I’m not the biggest fan of tokens/tickets and prefer an all-inclusive vibe, I have to hand it to the organizers of Tip N’ Taste for at least giving attendees fair value.

Drink Ticket

Prior to Friday, I had mapped out a bit of a game plan going into the festival, including breweries that had beers I wanted to try and breweries that were new to me. As you’ll see below, I did pretty well for myself over the course of a couple hours.

My first stop of the evening was Coal Harbour Brewing, which was featuring a few beers that looked neat. I tried their Woodland Witbier, followed by their Smoke and Mirrors Smoked Ale, which I was particularly fond of and went back for later, although by then they were out.

Next up was one of my favourite visits of the night, where I had a long chat with the guys from Big River Brewing, while sampling each of their four available beers: Acid Trip Sour Wheat, Sidewheeler Blonde Ale, Belgium, and Red Bretty IPA. The Acid Trip was my favourite of the bunch.

Acid Trips

Finally moving on, I enjoyed a pair of wheat beers, first from Black Kettle Brewing and followed by Howe Sound Brewing, which was serving up a Blueberry Wheat I had marked on my ‘To Do’ list from my initial walk around the convention floor.

At this point in the evening, it was time to switch things up and go to some darker brews, in order to fend off palate fatigue. I started with the Old Yale Sasquatch Stout and followed that with the Cannery Blackberry Porter (which had always caught my eye in liquor stores, but I had never picked up). I wrapped up my visit to this section of the room with the Mt. Begbie Nasty Habit IPA, which was another good pick.

Earlier in the night, I had made note of the only spirit table at Tip N’ Taste, which was serving up De La Tierre Maple Liqueur Tequila. It was a very interesting blend, which went down easier than most other tequilas and would probably make for some fun cocktails.

tequila night

Going back to beer, I snagged a sample of Mission Springs Chinook ISA and then went to visit my alma mater, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which has recently launched a diploma program in Brewing and Brewery Operations. They were featuring a Golden Ale, one of the first releases to come from the new course.

I finished the evening with a couple quick hits, trying to get rid of my final drink tickets. I’ve enjoyed a few Russell Brewing products lately and made a stop by their table to try their Blood Alley Bitter, which I’d somehow never tried before, despite being a staple of their lineup. My last beverage was the Lighthouse Tasman Pale Ale, which was guzzled quickly as event organizers tried to clear the room of happy drinkers.

Happy Drunk Cat

As for food, there were some really good offerings at the event. Earl’s had a chicken taco, while Original Joe’s gave you a pair of pulled pork sliders, and Me N’ Ed’s came through with some delicious slices of pizza!

All in all, this was another successful Tip N’ Taste for the Sip Advisor. Next week, I’ll outline our weekend camping trip to Golden Ears Provincial Park, which is always preceded by a thorough liquor shopping trip!