Sip Trips #157: Puerto Vallarta Paradise

The Sip Family is back from our week-long all-inclusive vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’re well-rested, slightly tanned and ready to hit the ground running at home. Before we can do that, though, it’s time to put a bow on this getaway. Here’s what we got up to in what I like to call “Yarta”:

We stayed at the Crown Paradise Club, which was a very nice resort, full of friendly and helpful staff, lots of stuff for kids to do and good food and drinks for the adults. We enjoyed each of the resort’s three restaurants, featuring French, Italian and Asian food, as well as the four bars scattered across the property. My go-to drinks included Cuba Libres, Palomas, servings of Dos Equis Ambar, and Johnnie Walker Red nightcaps.

drinks for everyone

In the middle of our trip, we ventured into town to visit the two craft breweries I had researched. Starting at Monzon Brewing, we enjoyed a flight of Peachy Gringo American Wheat with Peach, Verano Sin Fin Saison, Animo American Amber, Hermanita Session IPA, and A-Sacala Azacca Hopped IPA, paired with happy hour food specials Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken and Chorizo Tacos. Their happy hour goes from 3-5pm, setting patrons up perfectly for nearby Los Muertos Brewing, who run their 35-Peso per beer happy hour from 4-6pm. At Los Muertos, we ordered pints of the Anillo De Fuego Chili Ale for me, El Jefeweizen Summer Wheat for Mrs. Sip and Agave Maria Amber Ale to split. The place also had some intriguing food deals, such as 30-Peso slices of pizza.

The next day, we walked to the nearby Walmart to grab some pool toys for Baby Sip. There, I grabbed some unique canned products in Kraken & Cola and Jose Cuervo Paloma. The drinks were quite tasty and perfectly refreshing for walks in the hot sun.

Returning to town on our last day of vacation, we stopped for lunch at Señor Frog’s, trying to balance my desire for McDonald’s and Mrs. Sip’s want for something more local, with something familiar, but also not available at home for us. We both ordered one of their famous beverages, with Mrs. Sip opting for the Frog’s Buster (vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, cranberry juice, simple syrup, lime) and myself choosing the Big Watermelons (tequila, watermelon and strawberry liqueur, lime juice, guava, grenadine). For food, we shared the Queso Dip and some Pork Tacos, which were both delicious meals and very filling.

senor frogs queen

Right before leaving the resort, we wrapped things up with the time-tested tradition of tequila, salt and lime! We will definitely be back, as we found Puerto Vallarta to be a very clean, manageable and friendly destination. Cab rides were reasonable, the sights were beautiful and the temperatures were ideal.

Upon returning to cold, snowy Canada, we spent Family Day walking the Quayside Boardwalk in New West, eventually landing at Steel & Oak Brewing. There, we split three flights, comprised of each of the 12 beers they had on tap. My favourites from the collection were the Roselle Wheat Ale and Kataja Juniper Ale.

Next up, we’re hosting an Oscars viewing party, where I’ve selected and adapted some interesting cocktail recipes. We also have a few highly-anticipated Vancouver Canucks events to attend on the horizon, such as our SportsBar Live! viewing party and contest versus the hated Toronto Maple Leafs!

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Sip Trips #156: Whiskey Worship

These past couple weeks was highlighted by a whiskey tasting event attended by the male members of the Sip Syndicate. With five glasses of whiskey to be enjoyed, we knew we were in for a hell of a night, one that will most certainly make my ‘best of’ list for 2019.

Prior to the whiskey tasting, we agreed it would be beneficial to have full stomachs. Our pre-game meal was held at Craft Beer Market, where I enjoyed an order of their BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, paired with a serving of Yellow Dog Smash It! Orange Chocolate Pastry Stout. The beer was tasty and best of all, $1 from my purchase went to the Canucks Autism Network. I love drinking for the benefit of charities!

tasting throwing

As for the whiskey tasting, we had a fantastic time, as expected. The private event’s theme was whiskeys that were new to British Columbia and featured: Highland Park Full Volume, Glenlivet Code, Macallan Edition No. 4, Glenfiddich Winter Storm, and Octomore 9.1. The guy who selects these bottles is very knowledgeable and I look forward to returning next year for more debauchery.

Through the night, our crew also enjoyed a couple other whiskeys (Nikka and Oban) from the bar, as well as beers (Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale and 33 Acres of Life California Common, for myself). My goal for the night was to never not have two drinks in my hand, usually a beer and whiskey serving. That’s double fisting in style, my little sippers!

With more drinking at home occurring during this current cold snap, I should also highlight some of my recent purchases. First, I picked up a tall can four-pack of Old Yale Brewing’s Bloom Tulip Ale. Although this beer was released last spring, it had not come across my radar. Brewed using 2,000 fresh cut tulips from the Abbotsford Bloom Tulip Festival, the beer is advertised to be blue in colour, but is actually more of a purple. Still, it’s a neat drink and the floral flavours are interesting.

tulips dog

I also popped into Central City Brewing last week to see what was available in their fridges. I came away with a tall can of Lucky Pig Tangerine Ale with Ginger (brewed to celebrate Chinese New Year), a regular can of Treeline Campfire Juniper Smoked Farmhouse Ale (from the Central City/Parallel 49 Alpine Adventure Pack 2018 advent calendar) and a tall can four-pack of After Hours Old Fashioned Pale Ale, which combines the breweries own whiskey with orange peels and cherries, to create an Old Fashioned cocktail/pale ale beer hybrid.

Up next for the Sip Family is a week-long all-inclusive stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. With unlimited food and drinks and a couple craft breweries and a tequila museum to visit, you better believe the Sip Advisor is looking forward to this vacay!

Sip Trips #155: Beer Birthday

The past couple weekends have been loaded with commitments. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

On a recent stop at Steel & Oak Brewing, we picked up a tall can four-pack of their recently released Blush Rosé Saison. The limited edition brew looks beautiful and is quite tasty, utilizing Merlot and Cab Franc grape skins from the brewery’s neighbour, Pacific Breeze Winery. Partial proceeds are going to the Camp Kerry Society and their efforts towards bereavement care. I’ve noticed more wine and bubbly concepts becoming intertwined with the beer industry lately, with Brut IPAs becoming a very popular variety.

bubbly orange

Last weekend, prior to our matinee Vancouver Canucks game, we visited the new Brewhall (formerly Steel Toad Brewing) in the Olympic Village area. I like what the Tap & Barrel folks have done with this place, with the video games and picnic bench seating. Their lineup of beers is also quite impressive, stocked with many of their own releases and collaborations with other BC breweries. While devouring my Crispy Chicken Burger with Dirty Cheesy Fries, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed pints of the Hoyne & Brewhall German Amber Wheat Ale and Brewhall Polar Beer White Stout. Had we not had the game to attend, I could have drank a few more beers and enjoyed the afternoon there.

This past weekend was Mrs. Sip’s birthday, so a massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY needs to be shouted from all corners of the globe to my muse. Mrs. Sip shares her birthday with one of our good friends, who was celebrating the big 4-0. His wife decided to throw him a surprise party at Mariner Brewing, which was a great location for our large group. Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed pints of their Glow Holiday Spiced Ale and Horizon Winter Pale Ale, along with a taster glass of their Northeast IPA. While I didn’t have any food myself, dishes that came out, including pizzas, hotdogs and popcorn, all looked good.

Upcoming, we have a member’s only event at Township 7 Winery and some kind of vacation around the Family Day long weekend… so long as we can figure out a place to go!

Sip Trips #154: Year In, Year Out

Welcome to 2019! It’s been a busy start to the year for the Sip Advisor and company, so let’s get right to it with a look at the last couple weeks:

First things first, a final update on the Storm Brewing 12 Fills of Christmas Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed throughout the month of December. The final eight beers included a Plumageddon Lambic, Christmas Morning Cup of Joe Nut Brown Ale, Salted Chocolate Stout, Merlot Glacial Gnarwhal, Candy Cane Pilsner, Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout, Lightning Wit, and Butter Rum Ale. Also, while stopping by for some of the brews, we were able to try samples of the Almond Roca Ale and Cranberry Black Pepper IPA. These guys and gals will never cease to amaze me!

Prior to a recent Vancouver Canucks game, Mrs. Sip and I met with friends at the Red Racer Taphouse (formerly the Central City Brewpub). I ordered their Teriyaki Rice Bowl, which was a satisfying meal on this wet, rainy day. For drinks, I typically give the Mystery Tap a shot, with the beer being the Doan’s Crystal Weise this time around. I also drank a pint of Parallel 49 Toques of Hazard White IPA.

beer relationship.jpg

On New Year’s Day, we met friends for brunch at The Hub in New West. I really enjoyed my order of the Yankee Burger and Baby Sip seemed to like the pieces of meat and fries I shared with her. What about New Year’s Eve, you ask? Well, it was a quiet affair, with Mrs. Sip and I celebrating at home with Baby Sip. After years of always having elaborate plans for the occasion, we decided to take one off and relax.

This past weekend, the Sip Advisor was out in Langley, so I popped into B’s Craft Beer Lounge, which I hadn’t visited before. The place may be small, but it has an impressive lineup of beers, mostly in bottle and can form, but also with some unique options on tap. My flight was very interesting, consisting of the Storm Eggnog Latte Stout, Old Yale Vanilla Cardamom Imperial Red Ale, Twin Sails/Merit Cool Cool Cool Neapolitan Stout, and Field House Zinfandel Ale with Vanilla and Oak, which was my favourite of the set.

The next day, the Sip Family converged on the Vancouver Aquarium, where Baby Sip and her cousins encountered all the sea creatures on display. Following the Aquarium, we had a late lunch at the nearby Prospect Point Bar & Grill, where I enjoyed their On Point Burger. Our service here was excellent, given our big group and energetic youngsters.

aquarium

We wrapped this edition of Sip Trips with a visit to the Cineplex VIP Theatre at Marine Gateway. While enthralled by Bohemian Rhapsody, I sipped a Red Rum Spiced Red Ale from Dead Frog Brewing. If you’re even a casual fan of Queen, you should see this movie.

Coming up over the next couple weeks are a couple more Canucks games, Mrs. Sip’s birthday, a night of whiskey tasting, and much more. 2019 is rolling along pretty well, so let’s keep it that way!

Sip Trips #150: Return to Work

Now that Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) are getting settled into our new home in New West, the exploring has begun again. This week’s wrap-up, features a number of new eateries we’ve enjoyed over recent times:

A couple weeks back, I joined Mrs. Sip following one of her theatre shows for a meal at Bin 4 Burger Lounge in Vancouver. I had heard great things about this restaurant and they did not disappoint. I had trouble choosing from their extensive lineup of burgers, finally settling on the Dirty Bourbon Burger, which was absolutely delicious. I love most places that offer potato chips as a side, but what made Bin 4 special was you also get one free dipping sauce to go with your meal. They also have some neat cocktails, which Mrs. Sip indulged in with the Harvey Specter. I had a quick sip and enjoyed the drink, as well.

Burger Salad

Back at home, I’ve had a huge craving for ginger beer drinks lately, so grabbed a two-litre bottle and decided to put together a Buck/Mule Family Tasting Experience, comprised of the Gin Buck, Moscow Mule, Dark N’ Stormy and Mayan Mule. Each drink is similar (ginger beer and lime juice), with only the spirit being different: gin, vodka, dark rum and tequila, respectively. While I liked each of the family members, my favourite was certainly the Dark N’ Stormy. Mrs. Sip picked the Moscow Mule as her top choice.

My last week of parental leave was quite fun, as Mrs. Sip joined me for it. Among taking Baby Sip to Queen’s Park and other walks, we travelled to our nearest pub, the Royal Crown Castle. This place is very recognizable as you drive down Columbia Street, as it looks like a castle, but is actually the former gatehouse for the BC Penitentiary, which used to be on the site. To go with a pair of Radeberger Pilsner pints, which were on special, I had the Classic Beef Burger, while Mrs. Sip went with one of their daily specials, a Grilled Ham & Cheese with Turkey Chowder Soup. Our meal was very good and we will certainly be back, traversing the city’s many hills to get there.

Later in the week, we attended Harvest Glow in Langley. This is a fantastic place to bring young children, complete with a train ride, mini golf, playgrounds, pony rides, a corn maze, pumpkin patch, live music, and so much more. We marvelled at how much fun Baby Sip was having at only one-year-old. Best of all, you can enjoy your kid’s enjoyment with a drink in hand, as they offer beer, wine, and even cocktails. The set-up was different than last year’s Christmas Glow and I hope they are taking notes for this year’s yuletide version. We enjoyed the experience so much, we returned for another evening of entertainment.

Skittles Harvest

My final week on leave ended with a big bang, as we hosted a wine and cheese open house at our new place. With 40 guests expected, we stocked up on a dozen bottles of wine for guests to sample, along with copious amounts of cheese, meats and crackers. The event was a lot of fun and the culmination of all our hard work getting the home ready and liveable.

Now that I’m back to the daily grind of work, we’re still trying to mix in some fun here and there. On Tuesday, we picked up food from Big Star Sandwich in New West for the first time. It will certainly not be the last time, though, as we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. As much as I like Subway sandwiches, this was like Subway on steroids! My favourite part of their menu is that you can put hickory sticks on any sandwich, adding a nice crunch to your hoagie.

The coming weekend is loaded with events, as the Halloween season picks up. Check back soon for another Sip Trips update on all our adventures!

Sip Trips #149: September Insanity

Well, my little sippers, it’s been too long since I was last able to provide an update on the Sip Advisor’s adventures, thanks in part to our big move from Vancouver to New West. I’ve finally got some time to put fingers to keys, so here’s what we’ve been up to over the month of September:

As we enjoyed the calm between two storms – moving out and moving in – Mrs. Sip and I met up with some baseball teammates at the Sapperton District Taphouse for their weekly Tuesday Trivia. Over the course of the night, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Howe Sound You’re My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat Ale (on special), Steel & Oak Rhubarbarum Rhubarb Pale Ale and a Dageraad selection that was described to us as a double dark wheat ale. To go with our beverages, I ordered the Whiskey Barrel Burger, while Mrs. Sip once again had the Slow & Low Sliders. Best of all, our team won the trivia and got tickets to a comedy show, a t-shirt and, most importantly, a pitcher of beer for our efforts.

The next day, friends from out of town were visiting, so we took them to the Britannia Brew Pub in Steveston. As we did on our first visit, Mrs. Sip and I shared their Chowder and Fish & Chips for food, which I paired with their seasonal Tropical ISA. The beer was just what I was looking for to pair with seafood.

redneck-seafood.jpg

A few days later, we were back in the Richmond area, so decided to drop into Fuggles & Warlock Brewing. Although I’d had a sip of the beer at the Battle of the Brews event a couple weeks earlier, I wanted a full glass of the Gin & Lime Pilsner, which I enjoyed more in the larger serving. Mrs. Sip went with her usual The Last Strawberry Wit, which has always been a fantastic and flavourful drink.

Next up was our cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with Princess Cruises. As is our tradition, we brought aboard four bottles of wine, as well as mini bottles of rums, vodkas and schnapps, which kept us well-lubricated throughout the voyage. This was helped along by various drinks aboard the ship, highlighted by multiple servings of Mayan Mules (subbing in tequila for vodka); a super-sized Chocolate & Chili Margarita (enough for both Mrs. Sip and me); and attending the Maitre D’Hotel Wine Club, including six samples of wine from around the world.

When our cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, we journeyed to Anaheim for one day at Disneyland, Baby Sip’s introduction to the place where her parent’s met as fresh-faced teenagers and began their long relationship. We decided to attend the Mickey’s Halloween Party, giving us access to the park starting at 3pm and lasting until 11pm. Mrs. Sip realized if we went this route, we’d pay only slightly more than the price for a one-day, one-park ticket (which would see us booted out for the Halloween Party at 6pm), while gaining access to both parks, extended hours, and the perks that come with the Halloween ticket.

Halloween in September.png

Prior to heading to the Disneyland Resort, we went for lunch at the nearby Tony Roma’s location, drawn in by their happy hour commencing at 11am. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a pint of Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, to go with our Chicken Tender Platter and Mrs. Sip’s cup of Baked Potato Soup. This is one of my favourite chicken strip platters of all-time, so it was very nice to have it again on this vacation.

Following lunch, we entered Disney’s California Adventure, home to (at this time) the only place among the parks where you can purchase alcohol. We went straight for the Karl Strauss Beer Truck, where we noted that brew prices have gone up since our last visit in December 2016. Despite the increase, I ordered their Aurora Hoppyalis, while Mrs. Sip went with the seasonal Oktoberfest.

After riding the revamped Incredicoaster, we rejoined our family near the Animation Building, stopping along the way to try a couple beverages only available during the Halloween season. Mrs. Sip had the Elsyian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Ale, while I selected the Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA. Both beers were very good, with the Elysian having the best pumpkin flavour I’ve experienced in a beer.

pumpkin beer.jpg

Following taking Baby Sip on her very first Disneyland ride ever – The Little Mermaid – we made one more suds stop at the Sonoma Terrace beer and wine garden. I was happy to see the site now has beers on tap, instead of only bottles. With that in mind, I picked the Refuge Grapefruit IPA, but neglected to note which libation Mrs. Sip settled on.

Next, we were off to the Halloween Party, which was a lot of fun. It was neat to experience a park we’re so familiar with in a whole new way. The trick-or-treat stations handed out a variety of quality treats and the fireworks show was top notch. Our only complaint would be that one of the churros stands ran out of the pumpkin spice variety that we’d read about online, which seems like very poor planning to occur, not only during the Halloween season, but particularly during a special event such as Mickey’s Halloween Party.

Before flying back home to Vancouver, most of our group had lunch at the Golden Road Brewing tasting room within LAX Airport. This was a welcome surprise given how much we used to despise the airport and how we just had a beer from the company the day before at Tony Roma’s. I went with the Wolf Among Weeds IPA, paired with a Banh Mi Sandwich, while Mrs. Sip ordered the Mango Cart Wheat Ale to go with a Pub Pretzel.

out-of-pretzels.jpg

Back at home, we were running out of days to reach my goal of taking Baby Sip to 52 breweries in her first year of life, so made a trip to Vancouver for stops at R&B Brewing and Electric Bicycle Brewing. At R&B, we shared one of their spectacular pizzas, the Prosciutto & Arugula variety, along with pints of So Fresh and So Green, Green IPA for me and the Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale for Mrs. Sip. At Electric Bicycle, we shared a flight, comprised of Kaedama Ramen Noodle Alt, Spatialized Pale Ale, Floridian Holiday Pink Peppercorn IPA, and Das Cocoloco Imperial Wit. It was a perfect way to achieve my and Baby Sip’s goal with some outstanding beers at both locations.

To celebrate my birthday the next day, we bought tickets to Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event, where they were joined by Field House Brewing and Steel & Oak Brewing. I tried beers from each vendor, including the Trading Post Hoppy Bock, Field House Festbier, Field House Dutch Pale Ale, and Steel & Oak Roselle Wheat Ale. We also ordered some of the fantastic food available, such as the Vienna Schnitzel, Laugenbrezel, and Parm Fries. The event was a lot of fun and to boot, we even got an opportunity to drink out of a boot!

As with any birthday for me, a number of liquor products were gifted my way, including bottles of Tanqueray Malacca Gin, Sons of Vancouver Chili Vodka, Fernie Ghostrider Pumpkin Brown Ale and Bad Tattoo Brewing’s Flash Pack case. Last, but not least, I also received a BC Liquor Store gift card, as well as cash, which will likely go towards boozy purchases.

money for birthday

Finally, to wrap up what is often our second busiest month of the year – only topped by December and all its Christmas events – thanks to a myriad of family and friend birthdays, we celebrated Baby Sip turning one-year-old. For the occasion, I created three cocktails, featuring colourful liqueurs that went with our Dr. Seuss ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’ theme. The recipes included Rum–Blue Curacao–Pineapple Juice, Vodka–Banana Liqueur–Club Soda, and Gin–Violet Liqueur–Lemon-Lime Soda. The unique yet basic recipes were a hit with our guests and added a nice enhancement to the party.

October looks to be a little less insane, but the calendar is already filling up with Halloween parties and other commitments. Bring it on, October!

Sip Trips #148: The Next Chapter

As Mrs. Sip and I wrap up our moving out from Downtown Vancouver, things have been insane around the Sip Advisor Headquarters, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Still, we managed to squeeze some fun into the chaos, especially with the celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary. Here’s what we got up to in our last couple weeks living in Vancouver:

For the second year in a row, we attended Caskapalooza at Craft Beer Market and it was a very, very good event. Like last year, tickets were $25 (plus taxes and fees) and included 12 tokens. Between myself, Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip, we tried nearly every beer of the 36 available. My favourites included a Smoked Apiary Dunkelweizen from Foamers’ Folly, Mariner’s Cuban Night Sky, and a Ginger-Cinnamon Rye Amber Ale from Trading Post. There were so many good and unique beers here that we are definitely planning on attending the 2019 Caskapalooza. The only minor tweak I’d like to see, if possible, is for the Caskport document, which allows drinkers to jot down what each brewery is offering, to already be filled out. This would a) advise folks of what is available and b) eliminate people stopping at the front of a lineup to write in the available information.

Keg Safety First

Following the event, we stuck around for a drink and some food. Mrs. Sip and I split the delicious BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, while my beverage was the Electric Bicycle Frosty Mugs Brown Ale. This was the second time I’ve been able to try a brew from Electric Bicycle and both have been unique and quite tasty. I have to try to visit their tasting room soon.

Last Friday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a moving out party of sorts, where our goal was to finish and get rid of all our mostly consumed liquor bottles. We ended up with about 25 bottles that had minimal liquid left and throughout the night, we all did our best to put those bottles out of their misery. I had a great time playing bartender and coming up with unique, but simple cocktails for the crowd to enjoy. Over our last week in the place, I managed to finish each and every bottle we were hoping to go through. Mission accomplished!

To celebrate our previously mentioned sixth wedding anniversary, we attended the Battle of the Brews competition in Surrey. The event started a little rough for us because as we arrived at our Skytrain station, I spotted the beer tents and it dawned on me that this was an outdoor event, on the one day in recent memory it rained. Things quickly turned around; however, as the organizers had planned for such a scenario and had ponchos ready for any guest that wanted one. The Battle offered a great selection of beers from a number of breweries, as well as awesome food from Brown’s Social House, Cactus Club, Dublin Crossing, Milestones, and many more. My favourite beer was Parkside’s Human’s – An IPA for the People, while my top food choice was Cactus Club’s Mini Crispy Chicken Sandwich. With all that going on, I thought the $50 we paid per ticket was very much worth it. My only complaint here was they need more on-site bathrooms, as five porta-potties is not enough when hundreds of people are drinking all afternoon. At least the long lines could be avoided if you learned about the washrooms in the adjacent Surrey City Hall.

Porta-Potties.jpg

We wrapped up our Vancouver life with one final meal on the rooftop patio at The Keg’s Yaletown location. I order the Prime Rib Sliders at their $13 happy hour price (with side of fries) along with a Keg Caesar, also on special. Our group also split a bottle of Danzante Pinot Grigio and to top off the meal, we were given a slice of Billy Miner Pie for dessert, on the house because we were celebrating our anniversary.

I will certainly miss living in Vancouver, as my years running this site have documented all the great experiences we’ve been able to partake in. That said, we’re on to another exciting chapter in our lives and only time will tell what that has in store for us!