Sip Trips #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

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My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

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Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

BC Beer Baron #305 – Tin Whistle Black Widow English Dark Ale

Spider decorations are synonymous with Halloween, so why not partake in this Tin Whistle Brewing product on what’s supposed to be the scariest day of the year?

The Black Widow English Dark Ale is light, but flavourful, featuring tastes of roasted malts and a hint of chocolate. The 5% ABV beverage has a very low hop content, making it pretty accessible for all types of drinkers.

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The beer was formerly known as a Mild Ale, but I prefer the English Dark Ale designation better. It can be found in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores and other private locations around the province.

Mrs. Sip is deathly afraid of spiders, which has given the Sip Advisor ample opportunity to be her hero, stomping on and disposing of the eight-legged terrors. I simply hate walking into their sticky webs.

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BC Beer Baron #304 – Main Street Red Back Amber Ale

Perfect for the Halloween season and with today being Devil’s Night, why not review this Main Street Brewing product, which features a red-backed spider as part of its logo? After all, the red back arachnid is both poisonous and into sexual cannibalism.

The Red Back Amber Ale comes from the American Amber/Red Ale family and features four different hop varieties, which deliver a punch of tropical fruit flavours and bitterness. Like a spider’s web, Main Street warns that the brew “is easy to get ensnared in” and that’s one trap I’d be happy to have in my face.

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This 7% ABV, 60 IBUs seasonal release is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores, as well as on tap at Main Street, through the winter months. It first debuted in cask form in October 2014, before moving to bottles in January 2015.

The Red Back Amber Ale took home a silver medal from the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards in the Best American Style Amber/Red Ale category. I can’t think of a better beverage (aside from absinthe) to pair with my and Mrs. Sip’s feast, honouring James Patrick March from American Horror Story: Hotel.

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BC Beer Baron #286 – Phillips Toothless Pumpkin Sour Ale

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. The season of pumpkin-spiced everything is upon us… and things are no different in the craft beer world. Let’s see what BC has to offer for fans of the flavour.

This fall, the folks at Phillips Brewing have unleashed onto the craft beer world, not one, not two, but three different pumpkin releases. Picking one to review wasn’t easy, but this variation seemed to be the most unique.

The Toothless Pumpkin Sour Ale features an interesting blend of pumpkin and spices and a tart finish. At only 4.7% ABV, the beer is light on everything, including malts, hops, and colour. The Sip Advisor isn’t a big sour beer guy, but this was fun to sample.

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Along with the Sour Ale, Phillips also has the Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale and Crookeder Tooth Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Ale products available for the season. Each beer can be found in bomber-sized bottles at various vendors, throughout the province.

Not content to just have three brews perfect for Halloween drinking, the brewery has also produced the Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA. As is the norm, label designs for each piece of merchandise is top notch and eye-catching.

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BC Beer Baron #282 – Dead Frog Weeping Reaper Blood Orange Helles Bock

When the Sip Alliance recently visited Dead Frog Brewing’s Aldergrove tasting room, Mrs. Sip allowed me to take one souvenir home with me, for a later treat. After all, she knew the tantrum I would throw if not otherwise placated.

Among stiff competition, I grabbed the Weeping Reaper Blood Orange Helles Bock, which although technically out of season, was a selection I really wanted to try. The strong ale (7% ABV) had a light orange taste on the finish, which made for a decent lager-style beverage. The blood orange addition was selected to provide an option to all the pumpkin-flavoured beers currently on the market.

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Released every September, the beer was inspired by German bock brews and designed to transition drinkers from summer to winter… sometimes viewed as the death of a year’s seasonal cycle. The logo for this product features great artwork of Death, himself, and challenges customers to: “Prepare for the bittersweet embrace of the reaper.”

Food pairings include duck à l’orange, lechon, marmalade-glazed ham, and caramel flan. I’m not sure any of those really appeal to me, but not wanting to make the Grim Reaper cry, I’ll just drink the beer and make peace with the Deadman!

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BC Beer Baron #280 – Category 12 Zombie Repellant Ale

What do you get when you combine a brewery run by a mad scientist, a dislike of pumpkin-flavoured everything and the Halloween season? This clever release from Category 12 Brewing, which gives drinkers a different fall seasonal option.

The Zombie Repellant Ale is the world’s first ZRA (go ahead, prove me wrong), although it’s more in line with being classified as a Belgian Red Ale. At 6.9% ABV and 49 IBUs, the beverage is highlighted by notes of licorice and sweet orange.

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Category 12 also boasts that this release is the first anti-pumpkin brew, referring to fans of pumpkin-spiced treats (particularly beers) as zombies that need to be snapped out of their gourd-loving trance. The brewery warns: “Be vigilant, be prepared.”

If you are concerned about yourself or loved ones, as the pumpkin season continues, you can track down this product in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. I know I’ll be keeping a couple on hand… just in case.

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