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!

Advertisements

Sip Trips #67: On the Trail Again

Last weekend, the Sip Family returned to the scene of the crime and tackled the Bellingham Tap Trail, once again. This summer voyage meant patio seating, open garage doors, and walking around in the fresh air, rather than relying on vehicle transportation.

Our first stop, was at Boundary Bay Brewing, which has long been home to one of Mrs. Sip’s favourite pub meals in their Tapenade. While she selected the brewery’s Wonderland Belgian Strong Golden to go along with her lunch, the Sip Advisor ordered their tasting flight, which features six brews, including their Blonde Ale, ESB, Amber Ale, Scotch Ale, IPA, and Oatmeal Stout. Of that sextet, I enjoyed the Scotch Ale the best, while Ma Sip and I shared the best Reuben Sandwich I’ve ever had.

Reuben Rye

Next up, was a short walk to the Schweinhaus Biergarten. When we were here in November, it was obviously chilly and they weren’t even able to turn their heat lamps on. That was no problem this time around, as the sun was shining and the music was rocking. I tried the Fremont Brewing Summer Ale, which was just right for the moment. Of note, was the best wine pours I have ever seen, as our server filled Stella chalices right to the top for both Ma and Pa Sip. While we didn’t play a round, the place also has a bean bag toss set up. The only downside was the outdoor attraction only has outhouses available to customers for bathroom use.

Another brief walk and we arrived at Aslan Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I ordered their B’Ham Brown and Anniversary XIPA, respectively. For a little snack, we tried the brewery’s Gourmet Mac N’ Cheese, which included a bacon jam on top and broccoli within. We both enjoyed our pairings and had to fight each other to get the spoon back.

Our last stop of the day was our first visit to Structures Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a four ounce sample of each of their six offerings, including their Vivid IPA, Petronilo Coffee Stout, Destroyer of Light Black IPA, Recursion Simcoe Pale Ale, I See You Grapefruit-Hibiscus Saison, and Table Beer. To be honest, the whole lineup was pretty good.

Happy Liver Workout Day

Before Mrs. Sip and I made the journey back home on Sunday, we popped into one of the two Kulshan Brewing locations. Over a couple brews (Bastard Kat IPA for myself and Belgian Blonde for Mrs. Sip), we enjoyed their outdoor patio setting, which just doesn’t exist for the Vancouver craft beer scene. The brewery was hosting a run between their two sites, so live music was also featured, along with a couple food trucks.

This second trip to the Bellingham Tap Trail just confirmed how awesome the brewing scene there is. I’m looking forward to going back soon, perhaps starting a tradition of visiting every six months to sample the best of winter and the best of summer with each stay.

Sip Trips #41

Trail Tapping

Over the weekend, the Sip Family (Mrs., Ma, and Pa) spent the weekend across the line in Bellingham, Washington, exploring their Tap Trail, which features 16 different breweries and tap houses. Over that time, the Sip Advisor enjoyed trying about 40 different beers. Let’s see the results of another epic weekend!

Our adventure started at the Oxford Suites hotel bar, for their manager’s reception. The bar had four different local brews on tap, which I made my way through over our two-night stay. This included Aslan Bellingham Brown, Boundary Bay Scotch Ale, Kulshan Session IPA, and Chuckanut Kolsch. The Bellingham Brown was particularly good.

hotel mini bar

With a few drinks in us, Mrs. Sip wanted to go for a walk to Bellis Fair Mall, across the street. I figured: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then I got stuck in a Kohl’s store for about half an hour as she debated buying some items, followed by going to Target (our original intended destination) and trying to track her down as she roamed the store. At Target, I did find two of my favourite San Francisco treats (Rice-A-Roni be damned!) in 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and Francis Coppola Pinot Grigio.

The next morning, we were off on our Tap Trail explorations. We started at Kulshan, which has two different locations. After sharing two taster paddles, which included each of the brewery’s 13 available beers, it was very hard to narrow down our consensus favourites. Mrs. Sip liked their Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale and Kittens Mittens Winter Ale, while I leaned towards the Smoked Stout and Good Ol’ Boy Pale Ale. We did agree that the Trans Porter was quite good. One neat observance from Kulshan was that they didn’t have their own food available, but a food truck was outside that could bring eats into the brewery for those that ordered.

Next up, we headed over to Elizabeth Station, a beer store and tap house that was recommended to us by a friend. The store has a number of unique brews that you can purchase and even have opened by the staff to be served on site. I took advantage of this by purchasing a bomber of Justice Brewing Butterfinger Brown, which was brewed with Butterfinger candy pieces and was a fantastic beer. Mrs. Sip, on the other hand, tried a sample of Prairie Bomb from Tulsa, Oklahoma. At 14%, it packed a punch, but was also a very good drink.

The-Simpsons-butterfinger

We then made our way to Chuckanut where I was quick to order a serving of their Rauch. For those who are regularly readers, you know by now my affinity for smoky beers and cocktails. This brew did not disappoint. From there, our next stop was The Copper Hog, where we ordered samples of a couple interesting beers, including 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry Red Ale and Ninkasi R&D Mango IPA, as well as their Oktoberfest offering. The Toaster Pastry was the best among the bunch.

After that, it was a short jaunt to the Schweinhaus Biergarten, an outdoor beverage stop, which would be best enjoyed during the summer. Here, I tried a pint of Northwest Mango Hef because a German-style beer should be enjoyed at a German-themed location. The brew was decent, although Mrs. Sip’s actual selection from Germany was probably a better fit for the moment.

Another block walk landed us at Aslan, where we tried their Midnight Couloir, Pumpkin, Ginger Rye, and Cucumber Lager, all of which were good. This location was the busiest we experienced on the day, having to wait a short time for a spot, but that didn’t hinder our enjoyment.

cartman waiting

Things were getting kind of fuzzy by the time we hit our last brewery of the day, Wander. This place was actually suggested to us by the border guard we chatted with as we crossed into the U.S. Here, we enjoyed their Wanderale Blond, Global Mutt Porter, Belling-Hammer Wee Heavy, Together Belgian Dubbel, Plum Sour, and Boysenberry Fruit Puncheon. To be honest, I don’t even remember what logic went into me ordering like this, but I put a star next to the Porter, so I must have liked it the best! Mrs. Sip wanted to try their Pumpkin, but they had unfortunately sold out of that variety.

On Day 2 of our Tap Trail, we were a little tapped out, but we did manage to go to Kulshan’s second location, as they have a few beers only available there. We tried a set, with the Mountain Beaver Brown being our favourite. This last stop allowed us to get our eighth stamp for our Tap Trail passport. Completing half the map and returning it to a Bellingham tourism office allowed us to receive a Tap Trail Mason jar and bottle opener.

In closing, I have to thank Ma and Pa Sip for this belated birthday gift. Pa Sip deserves extra thanks for being our designated driver and putting up with us over the course of the tour, while Ma and Mrs. Sip should be commended for being awesome drinking partners!