Sip Trips #211: Tap Travels

June (or more accurately, Jun-uary) was a busy month, with a fair bit of travel on the schedule. We covered a lot of track, so let’s get right to it and see what the Sip Family got up to in the first month of summer:

We began June with a week-long all-inclusive vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. There, we stayed at the Riu Jalisco resort, which impressed me from the start with a liquor dispenser in every room. I’ve never experienced this perk before, but apparently, that’s a standard feature of the Riu chain. It’s all the more appreciated to have rum, vodka, gin and tequila at the ready, when you have young kids and can’t always escape the room to hit a bar for your beverage.

Mexico

My one liquor purchase of the trip was a bottle of Azul Mango Chamoy Tequila, which I still haven’t had a chance to experiment with yet. I can see the booze going good in Margaritas, Palomas and other tequila-based beverages.

Our one day leaving the resort and going into the town of Puerto Vallarta, was highlighted by stops at two craft breweries. We started with Monzon Brewing, where I enjoyed a serving of their Paloma Doble IPA (with grapefruit and serrano peppers). They didn’t have the Coconut Lime DIPA I wanted to try, but I really enjoyed the beer I settled for. We also shared an order of the Birria Fries, which was a delicious dish, especially with all the different salsas and chipotle sauce you could add.

Next up, was Granero Brewing, which is associated with Los Muertos Brewing. I ended up having the same beer I had when we visited Los Muertos’ original location back in 2019, the Anillo de Fuego (Chili Ale).

Salsa

Upon returning home, Mrs. Sip and I received our second VCBW Beer Boxes. This offered another cool assortment of beers with one regular bottle, one 500ml bottle, two regular cans and 20 tall cans, curated from brewery’s around the province. The second box improves on the first one, which was quite good in its own right.

Out on a date night, Mrs. Sip and I began our evening with happy hour at The Hub. I had pours of the Russell Peach Apricot Hefeweizen and Papaya Milkshake IPA, while we also split a Blueberry Lemon Mojito. For food, I went with a pair of tacos, including the Beef Brisket and Spicy BBQ Chicken options.

Our main event of the evening was trying out the Neverland Peter Pan-inspired pop-up bar at the Vancouver Alpen Club. Tickets were $45 each, plus fees, and included a welcome drink, plus two cocktails. The 90-minute immersive experience was fun, with an amazingly decorated setting, games to play to “earn” your drinks and fine work from the actors. The drinks were just okay in my books, but they tried to do something different with each, using a fizzy stick for one and butterfly pea colouring for the other. We ended up helping another couple finish the fishbowl they ordered and this led to us all heading to karaoke at Georgie’s Local Kitchen & Bar.

Peter Pan

To end the month, we travelled up to Kelowna for a few days. Our first meal was at Boston Pizza, as we had to use our last two free kid’s meals before the June 30th expiry date. The deal of getting five kid’s meals for $5 is a fantastic offer and one we will do again next year, if the chain offers it. My meal consisted of items from the new summer menu, including the Carnitas Pizza (BBQ sauce, mozzarella cheese, BBQ pulled pork, pineapple, red onions, feta cheese), paired with a Spicy Blue Margarita (tequila, blue curacao, lime, mango, jalapeño). The pizza was fantastic… the drink, not so much.

The next day, we visited Off the Grid Winery, where Mrs. Sip did a tasting and bought a couple bottles, while the kids and I checked out the animals and other sights the place offers. It was a nice stop, with the perfect temperature and a relaxing vibe.

On our way back into town, we stopped at Copper Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I shared orders of the Darla’s Red Ale, Peaches N’ Cream Wheat Ale, Raspberry Lemonade Pils and Nut Brown Ale. The brewery offers guests the chance to play video games on their Classic NES and SNES systems, which were enjoyed by the Sipplings, even if they had no clue what was going on. We also played the Guess Who board game with Girl Sip, as Boy Sip enjoyed his afternoon nap.

NES

For dinner that night, we walked over to Bin 4 Burger Lounge. Hitting the tail end of their happy hour, I ordered a pint of Phillips Citrus Lager, along with a Blackberry Vanilla Lemonade (vodka, blackberry simple syrup, vanilla syrup, basil, lemon juice). Mrs. Sip had a tasty Pineapple Strawberry Mojito. To eat, I selected the Big Spenny Burger with Curry Aioli for my scrumptious fries. Other sauces we enjoyed, as each dish comes with one free cup, included Bacon Aioli and Truffle Aioli.

Our final Kelowna destination was Barn Owl Brewing, where I had the Passionfruit Paradise IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with a flight consisting of the Genesis Raspberry Wheat Ale, A Whittle Orange Witbier, Headturner Hazy IPA and Escape – The Pina Colada Sour. The brewery had a really neat upstairs area and visitors can bring food in from outside, particularly from the bakery next door. Prior to leaving, Mrs. Sip also ordered a Night Owl Porter Float, while the kids played shuffleboard.

As the calendar turned over from June to July, we were relocating from Kelowna to Penticton, to continue our Okanagan getaway. That portion of the vacation and much more will be documented in the next Sip Trips.

BC Beer Baron #340 – Tree Puck Drop Pilsner

Tasked with picking up a case of beer for Ma and Pa Sip to offer guests over the holiday season, I picked up this winter-themed mixer from Tree Brewing. Would it live up to the brewery’s slogan: “The best things in life are Tree!”?

I’ve worked through some of the selections and chose to feature the Puck Drop Pilsner. After all, nothing say winter in Canada like hockey… and beer. At 5% ABV this “classic European style pilsner with a crisp finish” can be enjoyed by anyone.

tree-puck-drop-pilsner

The Season Pass pack also includes the Backcountry Nut Brown Ale, Yard Sale Pale Ale and Bluebird Lager. The brews that comprise this collection can only be found in this case and will be available through the winter. Game on, indeed.

I still remember fondly the Sip Syndicate’s visit to the Tree Brewing Beer Institute in Kelowna last summer. There, we enjoyed a few beverages in the perfectly located tasting room, while playing some of the games available.

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BC Beer Baron #283 – Prohibition Harvest Pumpkin Spiced 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.

I came across this beer from Prohibition Brewing a few months back, while stocking up on products for a weekend in Kelowna. After all, one has to cleanse the palate after days spent visiting Okanagan Valley wineries!

The beer has a decent amount of pumpkin flavour, but I was hoping for more notes of spice, expecting a pumpkin pie tasting experience. At 5.5% ABV and 9 IBUs, the brewery hoped to make a “refreshing fall brew that delivers the perfect blend of warmth and fall flavour without making every session feel like Halloween.”

prohibition-harvest-pumpkin-spiced-ale

The fall seasonal is available in bomber-sized bottles, if you can find it. Given the company hasn’t updated their website or Facebook and Twitter accounts since late 2014/early 2015, who knows how this brew came into my possession.

Prohibition used to have a tasting room located mere blocks away from the Sip Advisor headquarters, but unfortunately it was a slightly hidden spot and it closed a few years back. Mrs. Sip and I did visit on a couple occasions and enjoyed our tasting flights.

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BC Beer Baron #268 – Tree Cutthroat West Coast Ale

While the Sip Syndicate vacationed in Kelowna earlier this summer, we made a jaunt to Tree Brewing for some drinks. There, while playing a couple of the trivia games available at the tasting room and restaurant, I was able to enjoy a serving of this beer.

The Cutthroat West Coast Ale is very good, highlighted by flavours of toffee and just the right amount of hops to lend some citrus notes to the blend. The 5% ABV, 36 IBUs beverage took home a gold medal at the 2007 Canadian Brewing Awards in the English Style Pale Ale (Bitter) category.

tree-cutthroat-west-coast-ale

One of the breweries Tall Boys products, the ale is available year round in 500ml cans. Surprisingly, it is not part of Tree’s Season Pass mixed case. Suggested food pairings include pasta, shellfish/sushi, English cheeses, and meat pies.

The company has a couple new limited releases that the Sip Advisor would love to gets his paws on. This includes the Leap Beer Smoked Bock and Kim-Ach Touch Ale. Sounds like as good a reason as any to revisit the Tree Brewing Institute, ASAP!

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Sip Trips #68: Wicked Wine Weekend

Over the Canada Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate returned to the Okanagan Valley wine region, this time setting up shop in Kelowna. We covered a lot of ground over our three-day stay, so let’s get right to the good stuff!

We chose to celebrate our nation’s birthday by touring the many wineries that were walking distance from our Airbnb accommodation, with our first stop being Beaumont Winery. Here, we were able to sample eight different products, with my favourites being their Pinot Blanc, Chilled Red, Pinot Noir, and Heritage. Our hostess was very friendly and the setting was fun with some live music even being served up.

Next up, was Volcanic Hills Winery, where we could taste four wines, among the winery’s extensive lineup. Again, the wines were good, with my preferred samples being their Chardonnay and Rose. The only downside was that our hostess wasn’t nearly as friendly as our first stop and seemed annoyed with our group, just because we were all selecting different wines to match our desired styles.

wine enthusiast

A quick 400-meter walk (although it seems to take forever when you just want more wine) brought us to visit number three at Mt. Boucherie Winery. At the Bouche (a nickname they have yet to verify and endorse), I liked a number of their releases, including the Semillon, Rose, Summit, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.

Moving on, our crew literally travelled through the vines to reach Little Straw Vineyards. After a tasting that yielded a bunch of very good wines (Rose, Cuvee Noir, Southern Cross, and Marechal Foch), we had a fantastic meal at their Barrel Top Grill bistro. While splitting a trio of tapas dishes, our host entertained us with an energy you’d expect at the start of his day and not the end.

We wrapped up day one of our vacation by popping into Grizzli Winery. This massive new facility just opened that day and staff were still figuring things out. The operation only had two reds and three dessert wines available, with whites to come later, but offered a complimentary tasting of three of those options. Mrs. Sip and I picked up their Cabernet Sauvignon to go along with our upcoming steak dinner.

one more bottle of wine

The second day of our trip was largely spent watching a Euro 2016 match (Germany vs. Italy) at Friends Pub and hanging out at the beach. We did manage to visit the Tree Brewing Institute for dinner, where the gang enjoyed a few of their beers, including the West Coast Pale Ale, Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale and Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen. The setting, along downtown Kelowna’s waterfront, was wonderful and the place had board and card games that patrons can play while they eat and drink.

Sadly, every long weekend away has to come to an end, but we made sure to cram in a few more wineries before making the trek home. Our first stop was to The Hatch Winery, which was a funky, kid-friendly place. The label work on their wines is great, although some bottles are quite expensive. Mrs. Sip and I took home their Reserve Chardonnay after trying four tastings each.

Next up, was Quail’s Gate Winery, one of the bigger players in the area. They do offer three complimentary tastings, before charging $5 for four more samples. Unlike other places, though, they only waive their tasting fee after buying two bottles, as opposed to the typical one bottle. Of the wines offered, I liked their Pinot Gris, Reserve Chardonnay, and Rose.

wine-ritual

We followed that up with Mission Hill Winery, undoubtedly the region’s biggest estate (hell, Michael Bolton has two upcoming shows at the colossal operation). The place was busy, but definitely a gorgeous, picturesque stop. Tastings here will set you back $8 per person and is only waived with purchasing two bottles, so Mrs. Sip went ahead with the sampling only.

Looking to have a nice meal before hitting the highway, we ended up at 19 Okanagan Grill + Bar at the Two Eagles Golf Course. Here, we each had a fantastic lunch (I ordered the trio of pulled pork sliders and a Caesar salad and Mrs. Sip asked for their grilled cheese and tomato soup combo), while throwing back a couple beverages and enjoying the warm, sunny day. The service here was awesome, with Mrs. Sip being given a full nine-ounce replacement of wine after the wind knocked a menu over, thus spilling her carafe… which she’d already drank three quarters of.

Our final stop of the weekend was Off the Grid Winery. This is a newer operation, but the location is cool and the pygmy goats and other wildlife they have on the site are a unique feature. Of their wines, I enjoyed the Pinot Gris, which we grabbed a bottle of to enjoy at a later date and reminisce about a wonderful journey through the Kelowna scene.

BC Beer Baron #188 – Tree Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen

A highlight of the Sip Syndicate’s recent travels to Kelowna, BC was visiting Tree Brewing and their Beer Institute. There, Mrs. Sip and I both enjoyed this wonderful beverage.

The Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen is a delicious beer and that’s coming from someone that typically only likes pineapple on pizza. There’s a really nice balance with the drink, between the flavours of pineapple and traditional hef tastes, such as clove. The 5% ABV, 20 IBUs brew is available in bottled six packs in BC, Alberta and Manitoba.

Tree Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen

Speaking of pizza, suggested pairings include Hawaiian (or the preferable, Swineapple), as well as spicy Indian dishes, and even lemon meringue pie, for dessert. It should be noted the beer topped the Wheat Category at the 2014 Canadian Oyster Beer Pairing Competition, so shellfish seem to do the trick, as well.

The Beer Institute was a fun stop for our crew, where over beers, we sampled a bunch of their bar snacks (homemade potato chips, pretzels and beer-battered cheese curds), as well as ordered a few of their spent grain pizzas. For those with a sweet tooth, they also serve cider-glazed donuts.

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BC Beer Baron #129 – Tree Knox Mountain Brown Ale

It could have simply been the beautiful weather… or the buzz we’d already built enjoying drinks at a nearby location. Either way, when the Sip Advisor recently sat down to a flight of beers at Tap & Barrel in the Olympic Village, it seemed as if everything was going right and that included this Tree Brewing beverage.

The Knox Mountain Brown Ale was very good with a sweet, nutty taste and slight hoppy finish. It’s called a strong beer, but at 5.6% ABV, it’s not something that will knock you on your ass or anything.

Tree Knox Mountain Brown Ale

Part of Tree’s Raw Series of limited releases which are unfiltered and dry hopped, it sounds like I was lucky to get a taste of this brew, as while it can often be found in six-packs and bombers, according to Tree’s website, the product is currently sold out.

Mrs. Sip and I will be in the Kelowna area sometime this summer and I have designs on hitting as many of the breweries out that way as possible. That desire should make for some interesting travels!

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