Sip Trips #86: Best of 2016

Each year, the Sip Advisor fondly looks back at the best drinking nights (in order of occurrence) of the previous calendar… at least what he can remember of them. Join us as we take a moment to dissect and celebrate 2016:

Libational Learning

When a night ends with the Sip Advisor passing out on the couch, sans clothing, you know it’s been a good one! The Science of Cocktails extravaganza was a fascinating and booze-fueled evening. We wanted to return this year, but Mrs. Sip has a trial starting the next day, so that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. #Responsibilities

Family Day Festivities

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Alliance explored both the Fraser Valley and North Vancouver craft beer regions, hitting more than a dozen locations. Many of these, were first time stops for our group and it opened our eyes to all the wonders that exist outside of Vancouver.

family-time

Crawling Around

Just one day after the Portland Beer & Wine Festival, we were back at it, hitting the streets of the City of Roses and searching out some of its most popular breweries. Over the course of the day, we worked our way through a half dozen tasting rooms. Eventually, we ended the journey with an Easter-themed burlesque show and Voodoo Doughnuts… because why the hell not!?

Lion City Leisure

With three nights in Singapore to start our five-week Asian adventure, we decided to spend one of those nights at the swanky Marina Bay Sands. Our hotel package included their evening happy hour, which in true Mr. and Mrs. Sip fashion, we rocked until they kindly asked us to leave. We followed this with swimming in the resort’s rooftop pool, 63 floors above the city.

The Happiest of Valleys

The fun didn’t stop there, as our cruise made a two-day stop in the vibrant city that is Hong Kong. This allowed us the chance to enjoy some nightlife, helped along by Mrs. Sip having a few friends living in the city. Coincidentally, it was also Wednesday race night at the Happy Valley Racetrack. Over a couple pitchers of beer, the Sip Advisor even picked a winning horse and took home a small prize.

horse-racing-for-rich-people

So Many Options

Arriving in Tokyo, Japan, we chose to stay near the Golden Gai district of the city. For those unfamiliar with the area, it is home to approximately 300 little bars, within a six-block radius. Our exploration led us into a few uniquely-themed watering holes, such as the one centered around horror movie and metal music cultures.

Drinking Sky High

Our fun in Tokyo didn’t stop there. The moment Mrs. Sip discovered that this attraction existed, we knew it would be a highlight of our stay in the city. At the Park Hyatt, their Peak Bar offered visitors the chance to drink all-inclusive during sunset hours, while looking down at the bustling city below, from the 41st floor. We ended up sitting next to a couple from Australia and spent the night drinking with them, as I challenged the bartender to make me her best drink with each different alcohol available.

Tipping N’ Tasting

Among my favourite annual beer festivals is the Tip N’ Taste event in Langley. It provides a chance to sample brews from companies based more in the Fraser Valley region of BC, as well as other entries from around the province. This year, we stayed overnight at the Convention Centre Hotel, which hosted the event. That meant the after party quickly moved to our room!

beer-crisper

Island Wedding

While on Prince Edward Island for a friend’s wedding, Mrs. Sip and I were introduced to a number of great people, who we partied away the weekend with. Following a meet-and-greet barbecue on the eve of the wedding, we accompanied our new associates back into Charlottetown for an impromptu night on the town, which ended much later than we had anticipated.

All You Need is Love

The Made with Love cocktail competition has become an annual tradition (three years running) for Mrs. Sip and I. It’s always a fun night out, trying the drinks of some of Vancouver’s most popular bartenders. Best of all, we get to play a role in picking the winning entry, although none of our personal favourites ever seem to come out on top.

Cruise Credits

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s birthday, we booked a one-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. Over the course of the evening, the Sip Advisor took in parts of four bottles of wine, a half-dozen beers, a couple cocktails, and a bottle of bubbly to boot, won through a ‘Finish the Song Lyrics’ quiz.

cruise-captain-morgan

Irish Blessings

Over the last couple years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have celebrated my birthday in Hawaii, aboard a cruise ship, in Southern Africa, and now Ireland – although it was a couple days after the actual date. The Sip Syndicate was along for this ride and we celebrated in true Irish style with shots of Jameson Whiskey and pints of Guinness.

Fear and Loathing

Our trips to Disneyland nowadays typically include enjoying the sights and sounds (and lines) of the park with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand. In October, we were also primed for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, which involves getting a good buzz going, prior to entering. Once that was accomplished, all we had to deal with was psycho killer clowns, a rogue’s gallery of baddies and even some Jabbawockeez!

Award Season

My first year attending one of BC’s best craft beer shindigs proved why I had missed out in previous years. Unable to attend because of vacations and other commitments, we finally made it to the BC Beer Awards, where the Sip Advisor was able to sample about 20 different beers from the wonderful breweries that make up the province’s craft industry.

awards-season

Diamond Celebration

To commemorate Ma Sip’s 60th birthday, the entire family ventured to Disneyland, which also recently celebrated the same milestone. Mrs. Sip’s aunt also had her 50th birthday on that weekend, so there was much to revel in. That included a fair bit of drinking at the park and in our hotel rooms, as we made the change from day to night wear.

Traditional Tidings

To celebrate Christmas this year, the Sip Family stayed in Leavenworth, Washington, which is famous for being a little slice of Bavaria, hidden in the mountains. The town is a haven for Christmas lovers, and it’s here that we explored the many wine tasting rooms, a couple breweries and exuded as much festive spirit as one is allowed to, by law.

2016 was an amazing year… at least drinking wise. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has to offer, even though it has quite a bit to live up to!

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Sip Trips #79: California Screamin’

Fresh off of our trip to Ireland (seriously, Mrs. Sip returned Wednesday night and we were off again Saturday morning), the Sip Alliance took advantage of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday with a super quick jaunt down to California where a few days at Disneyland was just a warm up to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights!

Upon entering Disneyland’s California Adventure Saturday morning, the Sip Advisor made a bee line to Flo’s Café for a serving of Bear Republic’s Grand-Am Pale Ale. This is my favourite beer in the park and was a perfect way to start the short and sweet vacation. Mrs. Sip and I typically pair the breakfast brew with a cheddar garlic bagel twist, which is as fine and gluttonous as a morning meal can be. We also tried their pumpkin twist dessert for some additional excess.

breakfast-beer

Even before we could hit a single attraction, we were onto our second beers of the morning, visiting the Karl Strauss Beer Truck. Here, I tried one of the newer beers (at least new to me) available in the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, which I found to be quite good and deserving of its awesome name. Mrs. Sip went with their seasonal Oktoberfest beverage, which was also a solid choice.

Finally, we rode a ride, but our thirst was not fully quenched. This resulted in a stop at the Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden, where Mrs. Sip selected the Brother Thelonious Belgian Ale from North Coast Brewing, while the Sip Advisor went with a serving of Bootlegger’s Rustic Rye IPA. My only complaint about the beer garden is that all servings are bottles, so you don’t get the same amount as the draft options and often pay more. That said, the available options are often boozier than their contemporaries.

For a late lunch, we made a reservation at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. With the park typically busy for a Saturday and unseasonably warm for October, we ducked into the Carthay Lounge a little early and enjoyed a round of drinks with Mrs. Sip’s favourite appy, the Queso Fundido dip. I ordered a glass of Anchor Mango Wheat because the server said it was a maple mango beer. While that wasn’t correct, it was still a decent brew. Anchor Brewing does have a Maple Autumn Red, which may have caused the confusion. Our three-course lunch was fantastic as usual, enjoyed with a bottle of chardonnay.

wine-as-fruit

Eating at the Carthay Circle Restaurant gave us a special seating area for the World of Color show that night and the Sip Alliance always comes prepared. While Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip double fisted glasses of bubbly, the Sip Advisor and Cousin Sip’s husband were among the last served at the Beer Garden. My bevvy of choice was the Hopageddon Imperial IPA from Napa Smith Brewing. We wrapped the day with a late visit to McDonald’s, which I brought back to our hotel room to pair with a bottle of Samuel Adams Octoberfest. There was also a serving of Karl Strauss Mosaic Session IPA in the late evening, which deserves mention for being a good brew.

Sunday featured our main reason for doing this frenzied trip to California. Two years ago, Mrs. Sip and I attended Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and had a fantastic time. Part of the festivities, includes drinking our faces off prior to entering the spooky resort. As we did previously, we began our imbibing at the Karl Strauss Brewing location in the City Walk area outside the park. There, amongst a host of shared plates (pretzel bites, pork schnitzel sliders, cheese fondue, etc.), I enjoyed another serving of the Aurora Hoppyalis IPA, followed by the Tower 10 IPA. Mrs. Sip got a pair of Windansea Wheat glasses, which were also delicious.

Our last ditch effort to get a suitable buzz before being swarmed by zombies, maniac killers and all other forms of terrifying beings, came courtesy of the Saddle Ranch. Mrs. Sip and I went with double tequila shots, while I also pounded back a double rum and coke. To say I was ready to have the daylights scared out of me would be an understatement. Once inside, our favourite houses were Freddy vs. Jason, American Horror Story (thanks to following the series), and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Our front-of-the-line passes helped us get through the park with ease and we completed all attractions within a few hours.

haunted-house

After a quick sleep, we were back at Disneyland for one more half day of fun. It was breakfast time, so you know what that meant: one more Grand Am Pale Ale for the road and a cheddar garlic bagel twist. We were always under the impression that beer wasn’t served until 10-10:30am, but learned at Flo’s, they are served all day, from 9am on. What a wonderful world we live in!

For lunch, we popped into the Cove Bar, which is situated at the entrance to the Paradise Pier area of the park. There, I had one of their secret menu cocktails, the Earthquake (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite, blue curacao and a float of 151 rum), while Mrs. Sip had the Black Pearl (a Long Island Iced Tea with Sprite and Chambord). Our crew shared a plate of Lobster Nachos over our drinks. Shortly thereafter, it was sadly time to head to the airport.

Normally, my Sip Trips involving vacations to California end there. LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to for guest amenities, but on this occasion, we ended up in a fantastic wing of the airport, which had a bar and a few other neat looking restaurants. We had dinner at Barney’s Beanery, where I was able to get a buffalo chicken sandwich and a couple pints of Strand 24th Street Pale Ale. Mrs. Sip was in the mood for Mexican, so she had a quesadilla and taco, as well as a serving of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier, which was a fantastic drink.

While we don’t have any travel plans for this weekend, we will be attending the BC Beer Awards for the first time, so that should provide some good stories for the next edition of Sip Trips!