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!

Advertisements

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!

Sip Trips #147: Maritimes Musings

This past week, the Sip Family was away in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a wedding. While on the other side of the country, we got up to our usual brand of mischief, touring the city and a number of fine attractions. Here’s what we got up to in the Maritimes:

Upon arriving late last Thursday, our first order of business was to invest in some beverages for the duration of our stay. With Baby Sip in tow, we were set to do a little more drinking at our AirBnB, rather than out and about, as minors can’t be in breweries or pubs past 9pm in the city. After settling in, we made our way to the nearby NSLC liquor store, where we grabbed a six-pack of Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale and a tall can of Nine Locks Watermelon Blonde. Both beers were good, with the Dark Cream Ale being a new style to me and the Watermelon Blonde being very refreshing in the Halifax heat and humidity.

liquor-store weekend.png

The next night, we also visited RockHead Wine & Beer Market to pick up more supplies, including J.D. Shore Spiced Rum from Halifax Distilling and a tall can of Tusket Falls Smoked Kiack Smoked Ale. The Spiced Rum went well with a bottle of Dr. Pepper we got the night before with our pizza order, while the Smoked Ale made its way home with us and will be cracked open in the near future.

Earlier on this day, we left our apartment en route to the city’s waterfront area. As we made the 20-minute journey, we stumbled across Propeller Brewing and despite only being five minutes into our walk, the stifling temperature forced us into the brewery for a dose of air conditioning and a flight of beers. Our set included the Stone Fruit Summer Ale, Lemon Pie Sour, Rye IPA and Porter. We had a great time here, chatting with staff and fellow patrons. I was even given bonus sips of the IPA and DIPA, so I could compare all three IPAs on tap.

Since our afternoon had turned into a bit of a brewery crawl, we decided to also pop into the nearby 2 Crows Brewing for another flight. Here, we sampled the Ramble Wild Table Witbier, Good Air Buckwheat Saison, Slam Jam Blueberry Brut IPA and Pollyanna Wild NE IPA. The price for a flight jumped up here compared to Propeller, but to a fare that was more common around the area. The Brut IPA was interesting and seemed to be a popular style in Halifax.

Nova Scotia

Finally reaching the harbour, next up was a late lunch/early dinner at Waterfront Warehouse. Mrs. Sip and I shared orders of the Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Fish & Chips, which paired very nicely with my pick of Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale. Our meal on the patio was very nice and Baby Sip even got her first taste of Atlantic lobster.

Saturday was highlighted by the wedding, with the ceremony taking place across the water in Dartmouth. Following the nuptials, we explored that city a little bit, first stopping at Ace Burger (also home to North Brewing). We split their Jughead Burger with Spicy Fries, followed by an spectacular Ice Cream Sundae for dessert. For drinks, I selected the North Perseid IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Off Track Wheat in the Knees. With a 15% discount at North Brewing, thanks to eating at Ace Burger, we took home a bottle of Midnight Strong Dark Belgian, which also made its way back to Vancouver with us. Mrs. Sip loves her Belgian strong beers, so hopefully this hits the mark once we crack it open.

Before returning to Halifax, we visited New Scotland Brewing, which only opened its doors a month ago. As a result, some of their concoctions were sold out, but we did manage to put together a flight comprised of their Bonnie Kolsch, Strawberry Peppercorn Mead, Beachcomber IPA and All the Fuss Gose. It was interesting to throw the mead in there and it turned out to be my favourite from the collection.

Mead

The wedding reception took place at the Waegwoltic Club, which offered an amazing setting to party the night away and celebrate the newlyweds. Among the open bar lineup was the Garrison Tall Ship East Coast Ale, which I indulged in a few times throughout the festivities.

The next day featured our Downtown Food Tour, through Local Tasting Tours. Mrs. Sip and I have grown to love doing organized food tours in the places we travel to and find them to be highlights of any city we visit. This circuit was no different, expertly hosted by our guide, Rachael. The itinerary included seven stops, each with its own special treat for us connoisseurs: Prince George Hotel (Poutine), Tempo (Banh Mi Slider), The Split Crow (Queen’s County Chowder), The Old Apothecary Bakery (Salted Caramel Brownie), World Tea House (Black Tea from Kenya), Snappy Tomato Pizza (Donair), Sugah/Rum Runners (Chocolates, Salt Water Taffy, Sponge Toffee, Rum Cakes). I liked that there was a mix of options, from food to dessert and even a tea break, which Mrs. Sip was really into. The value for this tour was also quite good, as for $50 each, we left comfortably full and with a new appreciation for places around the city.

After letting our stomachs settle and giving Baby Sip a chance to exert some energy and explore at a waterfront playground (she was such a good trooper throughout the food tour), we met with a friend at the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden, along the water. The beer garden has both full-service and self-service sections, with numerous picnic tables for folks to sit at. I started with a tall can of Garrison Jalapeno, which was a little disappointing, as despite a nice pepper taste, there was no heat to the brew. I switched to a Big Spruce Tim’s Dirty IPA for my next beverage, which was good. Mrs. Sip went back to the Propeller Stonefruit Summer Ale and we split a delicious Lobster Roll that was stuffed with meat from the crustacean.

lobster pick me

On Monday, we added some more culture to our vacation, with an afternoon spent at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum’s most popular collections include one about the Titanic, as Halifax played a large role in the recovery of bodies from the doomed vessel, and the Halifax Explosion, which killed thousands and injured many more. This was a fascinating stop amongst all our eating and drinking.

For dinner, we returned to Tempo, home to my favourite bite from our food tour, the Banh Mi Slider. With Mrs. Sip wanting to return to indulge in their Lobster Dinner special (only $29), it offered the opportunity for me to get a full serving of the dish. We also ordered a serving of their Calamari, which also won us over. For drinks, Mrs. Sip had a small jug of Sangria, while I went with Keith’s IPA from the happy hour menu. The beer really hit the spot, pairing well with my meal.

Following dinner, we travelled to Unfiltered Brewing, which doesn’t do flights, but offers any of their beers in a four-ounce serving. Therefore, we got tasters of the Daytimer Berliner Weisse, Exile on North Street IPA, Marcus Junius Brut IPA, Dementia DIPA and Warning Label Aged DIPA. Unfiltered is known for their IPAs and it showed with how good these options were, my favourite being the Exile on North Street.

water through brewery.png

Before calling it a night, we made it to Good Robot Brewing before their 9pm curfew for minors. We really enjoyed the brewery’s beautiful outdoor space and also liked that flights were served in muffin tins. Our selections here, included the 5th Chamber Fruit Gose, Sorry Coconut Coffee Blonde, El Espinazo Del Diablo Mexican Lager and Bingo Bronson Chocolate Porter. We also ordered a round of Butter Chicken Nachos to complete the visit.

On our final day, we rented a vehicle and travelled to Peggy’s Cove along with the couple that got married. They also hosted us for a fantastic lobster feast, with bowls full of claws, tails and legs. Mrs. Sip was in seafood heaven and our glasses of mimosas made the meal even more decadent.

lobster.jpg

Upon returning to Vancouver – following excruciating flight delays and lost luggage (nice try calling it “delayed” luggage Air Canada) – and getting a few hours of sleep, we crossed the border to the United States, so Mrs. Sip could do some shopping for a baby shower she’s hosting this weekend. Taking advantage of the trip to Bellingham, we had lunch at Kulshan Brewing, eating from the Hot Mess Food Truck, which was on-site. We both greatly enjoyed Philly Cheesesteaks, as well as our beverages, a German-Style Kolsch for Mrs. Sip and their Beer Prom IPA for moi.

That wrapped a very busy week for all of us and things heat up again this weekend. On the schedule thus far is a family gathering, the aforementioned baby shower, Caskapalooza 2018 at Craft Beer Market and probably a few events I can’t even remember!

Sip Trips #139: Exploring Europe (Part 4)

The final stop on our European expedition was Belgium, where we visited the cities of Brussels and Bruges, looking to get our fill of what the country is famous for: chocolate, beer, waffles and fries!

First up, was Brussels, where we began by eating at The Purple Rose. While we didn’t love the Croque Monsieur Mrs. Sip and I split, we did enjoy our Belgian Beer Tour of seven 4oz beers, served with a side of fries.

This was merely a warmup, as our big excursion of the day was a Beer & Chocolate Tour, which featured tons of chocolate and six beers. The 4.5-hour tour was very good value, costing 80-Euros per person. I liked being able to pick from a variety of chocolate combos, choosing my sweets based on ingredients I thought worked well in cocktails. Following the chocolate, we were treated to a walking tour of the city, prior to hitting three different bars for the beer portion of the outing.

Belgian Chocolate.jpg

Feeling quite jovial at the conclusion of the tour, we made our way to the Delirium Café for further beverages. I had hoped to drink from one of the bar’s massive fishbowl glasses (which you have to put down a 40-Euros deposit for), but they had sadly ran out of the goblets when we went to order. We still enjoyed a drink, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for.

The next day, we popped into Restaurant du MIM, located on the 10th floor of the Museum of Musical Instruments. There, I had a pint of Ramee Blanche, while we enjoyed the views from the outdoor seating section. I had the same beer at Café Georgette, famous for their fries, which can be eaten at the restaurant or as takeaway in a cone. We ordered our chips with Georgette Sauce, which completed the experience.

We then walked across town for drinks at the Brussels Beer Project, which had been recommended to us the day before by our Beer & Chocolate Tour guide. Mrs. Sip and I went with pints of the Delta IPA (Belgian IPA) and Jungle Joy (Mango and Passionfruit Blond). We had wanted to try the Grosse Bertha (Belgian Hefeweizen), but it was tapped out at the time. Mrs. Sip did get to try it when we had dinner across the street at Café Walvis. There, I paired some beef stew with fries and a bottle of Maredsous Bruin, as was recommended on the bistro’s menu.

belgian-beer

Before moving onto the Bruges portion of our vacation, I must mention that I really enjoyed the Grimbergen brand of beer, which we tried in Blond, Dubbel, and Tripel varieties. I found they worked particularly well with Belgian waffles, making for a fantastic breakfast and start to a day of exploring!

In Bruges (an awesome movie!), we began our activities by exploring the main square, while searching for a place to eat dinner. We landed at Huyze die Maene, where I selected from their 22-Euros set menu. My meal included another round of Flemish beef stew with fries, accompanied by a large serving of Kwak beer, which came in a very interesting glass that looked like something from a chemistry lab.

The next day, we toured the Brewery De Halve Maan, which finished with a glass of their Brugse Zot Blond. The tour cost 10-Euros per person, which may have been money better spent on just ordering a couple pints of beer. Mrs. Sip and I have grown tired of learning the process to make beer and really just want to sample the wares. At least we lucked upon a spot in the brewery’s courtyard to enjoy our beverages.

Missing Beer.jpg

While walking around the city, we stepped into one of the beer stores that Belgium is known for. These shops typically carry hundreds of different beers. Mrs. Sip wanted to try a couple from the Mongozo brand, including their coconut and banana-flavoured options. These brews were lighter on the alcohol percentage, but very tasty.

Before heading back to London and flying home the next day, we needed to return to Brussels to catch our Eurostar train. With time to kill, we walked to the nearby Cantillon Brewery, which specializes in sour beers. We ordered a glass of each of the four available brews, including the Gueuze, Kriek, Rose de Gambrinus, and Lambic.

That wraps our adventures from across the pond. Travelling such a long distance with Baby Sip went better than I expected, but it still had its fair share of hiccups, which I hope to delve into in a future Love & Hate article. Until then, at least we have the fuzzy memories!

Sip Trips #138: Exploring Europe (Part 3)

Our arrival in Porto, Portugal, unfortunately occurred on a Sunday afternoon, meaning all stores and most restaurants were closed. We didn’t let that deter us though, finding Bao’s Taiwanese Burger. I had the Pulled Pork Bao, while splitting an order of Fries 101 with Mrs. Sip. To drink, I had a bottle of Opo Gyroscope IPA and we both finished our meal with a Happy Ending Shot, made with Licor 43.

As we ate, our laundry was going through a wash cycle at a nearby laundromat. So, as we waited for the load to dry, we popped into Café Candelabro for a beverage. There, I had a bottle of Cristal Preta, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed a glass of wine and Baby Sip gnawed on a drink coaster!

Laundry.jpg

The next day, we went on an excellent Food & Wine Tour. The trek began with traditional egg tarts at Manteigaria, before cod cakes and veal pockets with a generous serving of wine at Imperio. Next, we were off to O Pretinho Do Japao for a charcuterie platter and more wine, followed by Port tasting (white, red and tawny) at Pouriga. The main event was a fantastic bifana em pao sandwich, paired with a Super Bock Lager at Conga. This sandwich, with meat marinated in a mix of beer and peri-peri sauce, was the highlight of the tour, as far as Mrs. Sip and I were concerned. McDonald’s actually has their own version, which I also tried, but obviously it was just not the same.

Following the tour, we made our way to the city’s riverside area, where we joined an English tour of the Calem Port Museum. The tour and five tastings cost us 27€ for me and Mrs. Sip. Unfortunately, Baby Sip was being really fussy during this tour, so we didn’t get to fully enjoy it, but the tastings kind of made the difficult experience a little more tolerable.

Looking to get back on track, we continued along the riverside, ending up at Sandeman Cellars outdoor patio area for some Port cocktails. Mrs. Sip had their Vau Nilla (Sandeman Branco Port, apple, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, bitters), while I went with the Club Ruby (Sandeman Ruby Port, red fruit puree, pepper, lemon juice, mint). The drinks were delicious and the setting spectacular.

Wine Flu

Sadly, our short stay in Porto was over and we were onto the capital city of Lisbon via train. Upon arriving, we ventured to LisBeer, home to a variety of Portuguese craft beers. En route, we passed a Napoleao wine and spirits shop, so decided to have a looksee. There, we found a bottle of Sharish Blue Magic Gin to bring home. While I have yet to use the liquor, it apparently turns pink when you add ice, tonic water or another mix to it. When we finally made it to LisBeer, we selected a pair of 8a Colina Brewing products in the Urraca Vendaval IPA and Ze’ Arnaldo Porter. This bar had a very relaxed atmosphere and we enjoyed our brief visit.

For dinner, we made our way to Lisbon’s Hard Rock Café. The busy restaurant provides priority seating for guests with babies and young children, which was a nice bonus. I ordered the Original Legendary Burger, with a pint of Sagres Bohemia Beer, while Mrs. Sip had the Tupelo Chicken Tenders and a bottle of Sagres Bohemia Wheat Beer. Our food was very good and the staff at the eatery were top notch in our books.

We wrapped the long day with some cherry liqueur tasting at Ginginha do Carmo. While I enjoyed the booze straight up, Mrs. Sip had hers out of a chocolate cup, adding a whole new element to the experience. While these venues are very small, patrons are able to enjoy their drink outside the establishment. Our next morning also began with cherry liqueur, this time from A Ginjinha Registada, the oldest of these hole-in-the-wall shops.

Pace Yourself

Our main tourist activity on this day was a two-hour walking tour of the city. Afterwards, we joined the guide and a few fellow tourists for a drink at Noobai Café. Upon entering the place, I spotted what looked like a beer tasting opportunity, so promptly ordered that menu item. My flight was comprised of four Super Bock Seleccao 1927 varieties, including a Munich Dunkel, Bavaria Weiss, Bengal Amber IPA, and Thames Porter.

We wrapped our second day by visiting a marketplace in the center of the town, sitting down to a plate of various sausages and glasses of red and white sangria. We also picked up a bottle of Rose Wine, which the vendor opened up for us right there, allowing us to walk the stalls of the market with glasses of vino.

Before travelling to Belgium, the final stop of our expedition, we visited Sintra, Portugal, a beautiful little town, highlighted by Pena Palace and a Moorish Castle. Given all the pushing of Baby Sip’s stroller I was doing up and down cobble stone streets, I enjoyed a couple Super Bock cans to reward my efforts.

Sip Trips #137: Exploring Europe (Part 2)

Lyon, France was the second stop on our European expedition. Upon arriving, our group of six (seven if you count Baby Sip… and you better!) settled into our Airbnb, before heading out to explore the city. As we wandered through the Old Town area, we stopped at Les Banana’s for some French cuisine. I went with a Napolitaine Crepe, which was very good and hit the spot, washing the meal down with a pair of Stella pints.

Our next stop was one of my favourites from the entire vacation: Les Fleurs du Malt. This bar, specializing in craft beer from around the world, had an amazing happy hour concept, where if you correctly guessed the flip of a coin, you got your choice of beer for half price. I guessed correctly twice (always opting for tails!) for my orders of Piggy Brewing Paradise Peppers and Coursendonk Rousse. The location had really funky art throughout and I really enjoyed our experience there.

Heads or Tails.jpg

The next day, our crew travelled to the Beaujolais wine region via a private tour provided by Tasty Lyon. The trek stopped at Chateau de Corcelles and Domaine de la Madone, where we sampled a total of about 10 wines. At our second stop, we bought bottles of Viogner and Domaine du Niagara, which we enjoyed at a park along the Rhone River later that afternoon.

Our dinner that evening was a McDonald’s feast of burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. To make the meal a little more French, I drank some of the craft beers I had picked up the day prior, including Licorne Blonde Bio and Ninkasi (the French company) Tripel and French IPA.

McNuggets Feast.jpg

On our last day, we returned to the old town for a long walk. We stopped at La Mouss’tache for lunch, where we just got our orders into the kitchen before their afternoon break. My Bacon Burger was quite good, paired with a pint of Paulaner Salvator Ambree. This place was neat, with beer taps at each table, but we never figured out how the system worked. We returned later that day to watch the FA Cup Final and enjoy 5-Euro per pint happy hour, where I drank servings of Paulaner Weissbier and La Chouffe.

That wrapped our stay in Lyon and next up we were off to Portugal. Our time there started in Porto and ended in Lisbon, but there was much fun to be had as we journeyed through the country for the first time.

Sip Trips #136: Exploring Europe (Part 1)

The Sip Family’s four-country, six-city European expedition has come and gone. Travelling with Baby Sip added a whole new element to traversing the continent and while she was very well-behaved, we were lucky to have a pit crew of friends helping us out along the way. Here’s part one of our journey:

Starting in London, where we have good friends living in the east end of the metropolis, our first full day happened to fall on Mrs. Sip’s inaugural Mother’s Day. With that event in mind, I worked with our friends to book an Afternoon Tea at the Hilton Hotel Park Lane. We opted for the bottomless prosecco option and enjoyed drinking for two and a half hours. As for tea, I went with the Black Currant and Hibiscus variety, while enjoying the collection of sandwiches and desserts before me. The service from staff at the Podium Restaurant & Bar was fantastic and made for a special celebration for Mrs. Sip.

To wrap up our excursion, we stopped into the East London Liquor Company for Baby Sip’s very first distillery visit. The cocktail I selected was the Black Garlic Matters, comprised of the company’s own Demerara Rum, along with maraschino, cold brew coffee, black garlic, cola, and orange. The drink was delicious and I savoured every sip.

modern-art

The next day, we took a long walk around London, visiting Tower Bridge and dropping into the Tate Modern. I hate this art gallery, but was bribed by Mrs. Sip’s promise of having a beer in their cafeteria, if I behaved myself. I didn’t, but she still let me have a drink anyway! The cafeteria provides a beautiful view of the city, which I enjoyed with a pint of Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA.

From there, we met our friends for dinner at Wagamama. I had a very good order of Chicken & Prawn Yaki Soba, paired with a pint of Asahi. For her beverage, Mrs. Sip ordered a can of Nix And Kix Mango & Ginger Soda (with a touch of Cayenne Pepper), which was very tasty and I tried to track down another can to bring home for the purpose of making a cocktail with it, but came up empty handed.

On our final night in London, we met for dinner at Bubble Dogs, which combines hotdogs with champagne. The concept seems odd, but kind of works. Over a couple bottles of Rose bubbly, I had their Fourth of July Hotdog (barbecue sauce, coleslaw, crispy bacon), while we also split a number of the restaurant’s side dishes, including sweet potato fries, Horny Devils (corn and jalapeño fritters) and tater tots.

Cat with Hotdogs

Having Baby Sip with us limited some of our drinking activities, as some bars were unable to accommodate a little one, sometimes due to their liquor licence and sometimes to do with available space and us using a stroller. For example, I really wanted to do the Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour, but we weren’t able to with Baby Sip in tow.

As for craft beer, London has a bit of a bizarre scene, where most locations are only open for a few hours… and that’s not per day, but each week. We wanted to do the Bermondsey Beer Mile (10 breweries within a mile-long stretch), but it’s only an option on Saturdays. Regardless, I did pick up a number of bottled beers to enjoy, including Sharp’s Doom Bar Amber Ale, Adnam’s Ghost Ship Pale Ale, Young’s Special London Ale, and St. Austell Proper Job Cornish IPA.

Next up, we were off to Lyon, France to meet up with another set of friends. Part two will look at that brief stay, which included a tour into the Beaujolais wine region.