Sip Trips #40

Coast Toasting

Mrs. Sip and I have finally returned to Vancouver from our epic travels to southern Africa and are getting settled back into the local drinking routine. I had to take some extra time this week, as we visited Legacy Liquor Store, to get acquainted with all the new releases that have hit the market while we were on vacation. A lot can change in a month, especially with the move from summer to fall, but it gives me some things to look forward to.

Speaking of things we were looking forward to, on Friday night, we attended the annual Toast to the Coast event at the Vancouver Aquarium. Mrs. Sip has wanted to go to this for a couple years, but previous engagements have always held us back from checking out the soiree, which sells out each season. A number of wineries, a couple breweries, and even reps from Russian Standard Vodka were on hand, as guests got to enjoy the various exhibits with a drink sample in their hand and an appetizer on their plate. My night began on the right note with a serving of Bomber Choqlette Porter, a delicious dark beer, with notes of chocolate and coffee. I also made sure to end my night with this brew.

cat aquarium

The night was frustrating at times, as the event was scheduled to go until 1am, but most vendors packed up their wares at 10pm, which I think blindsided some guests, myself included. Also, a number of the eats around the venue were in short supply. To begin the night, the sushi table was a free-for-all, but later featured such a diminished stock that a volunteer was handing out one piece at a time on napkins. There was also the Rocky Mountain Flatbread table, which couldn’t keep up with the demand, as each time they brought out one tray, it was gone and those in line, who hadn’t received a slice, had to wait for the next dish to cook up.

I also had to battle through one of my greatest festival pet peeves, where people either get a drink or food and just stand there, neglecting to move out of the way and let the next person be served. This especially occurs at the wine stations, as folks want to try each of the bottles available, before moving on. That is particularly why the Sip Advisor prefers to stick to beer vendors.

The worst part of the evening was getting home after the function concluded. Shuttles from the Aquarium to Waterfront Station downtown were supposed to be offered, with the last one leaving at 12:45am. We stood around from about 12:25am to 1:00am and didn’t see a single shuttle, which left tired and boozed up guests having to resort to calling cabs and then fighting for their reservation when the vehicle arrived.

legit taxi

Much of the food was good, particularly the various desserts, such as Rose’s Shortbread and Chocolatas chocolates. The worst food offering of the evening definitely had to go to Earl’s Kitchen & Bar, which was handing out cups of sea urchin ice cream. The dessert was absolutely awful and a total disappointment from the popular chain.

Tickets were $125 and I asked Mrs. Sip the next day (once she had a chance to recover!) whether she thought the cost was justified. She thought it was, explaining that given all we ate and drank, it would add up to $125 or more on the local market. My argument in opposition was equating the night to an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer and Marge go to an all-you-can-eat buffet and are kicked out at the end of the night before Homer has enjoyed all-he-could-eat. Our group ended up having drinks and pizza when we finally got home (the best meal of the night), which I didn’t think would be necessary after an all-inclusive drink and food fest. Perhaps we’re just that gluttonous!

My final thoughts on Toast to the Coast are a little mixed. I had a good time, but certainly had some qualms with the event, as well. The true decider is whether I would go again in the future and the answer to that is yes… but perhaps not next year. Also, if ticket prices went up without much substance being added, I would be very hesitant. That said, it was a charity event, so I guess we did our civil duty.

woman named charity

Saturday night was spent celebrating a friend’s birthday, beginning with pre-dinner drinks. Here, I was able to try the 33 Acres of Darkness, another new beer that I really liked. I also had a serving of Dead Frog Super Fearless IPA, which was quite enjoyable. I topped off the pre-party with Steel & Oak’s Satsuma Lager, another fine release from the New West brewery.

Our meal was at Minami Yaletown, which is an upper scale Japanese restaurant. Mrs. Sip tackled their Taste of Yaletown menu, including sake pairing. Each of the sakes utilized different ingredients and matched up nicely with their respective dishes. I ordered the Kaisen Soba Peperoncino bowl, while trying the restaurant’s Asian-themed Caesar, complete with wasabi pickles garnish and lemon-pepper rim. It wasn’t the best Caesar I’ve ever had, but was a decent cocktail.

The week was pretty quiet otherwise, but this weekend, Mrs. Sip and I are off to Bellingham, Washington to see what trouble we can get into across the border, working our way through the city’s Tap Trail and other locations. This is a belated birthday gift (we were out of the country) from Ma and Pa Sip and there will certainly be much to write about, so look forward to that in next week’s Sip Trips!

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Sip Trips #1 – Holiday Hops

We begin this new, exciting project at The Sip Advisor with a look at the holiday season. Let’s start with New Year’s Eve, where every year, people fret over their plans for the evening. Are they doing something epic enough? Who are they choosing to spend the big night with? Well, this year, the Sip Advisor and members of the Sip Syndicate took our partying to the Craft Beer Market for their Best of 2014 Brewmaster Dinner.

The event featured the best food and beer pairings from the restaurant’s Brewmaster Series of dinners, throughout 2014. This included Winter Onion Soup with Howe Sound Rail Nut Brown Ale; Korean Tacos with Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic IPA, Hop Glazed Pork Belly with Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale; and Chocolate Liege Waffles with Red Racer Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter, for dessert.

Beer for Dinner

The meal was very good overall, with the only blemish being that the soup came out lukewarm. The great staff at Craft quickly remedied this with a round of Burt Reynolds shots. The Sip Advisor also ordered a couple side beers in the Stanley Park Ice Breaker Winter Ale and the Steamworks Black Angel IPA. By the time 2014 turned into 2015, we were all about as glazed as the pork belly!

Rewinding a little, Christmas was also kind to the Sip Advisor with new additions to the collection. Sis-in-Law Sip gifted yours truly with a bottle of the new Bailey’s Irish Crème Chocolate Cherry, while Mrs. Sip was the recipient of a bottle of Centenario Tequila. Also under the tree this year was a couple new bar tools, as well as a new apron that proudly exclaims that “Sip Happens!” After all, real men aren’t afraid to wear an apron!

Mrs. Sip sure knows how to shop for me, picking up some neat Bitters Flavours that will be great for future experiments. For her, I picked up a great set of three sparkling wines (200 ml bottles) from around the world, which even came with a $5 gift card to Legacy Liquor Store. There was also a large plastic candy cane, filled with Pinnacle Vodka mini bottles, including Peach, Salted Caramel, Whipped, and Cinnabon flavours.

Christmas Liquor

Mrs. Sip, myself, and Sis-in-Law Sip also took some time to set up our own German beer tasting, featuring Maisel’s Weisse, Ayinger Brau-Weisse, and Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier. It was a nice way to try some great brews from the land of beer and chocolate.

In some liquor news, I was recently made aware of a new Crown Royal release: Crown Royal Regal Apple Whiskey, which I can’t wait to add to my cabinet. It still amazes me when a Canadian product (and a proud one at that) enters my conscious thanks to an American store’s e-mail, rather than happily stumbling upon it at any local store. At least the Canadian product will be in stores across the country, unlike many Yukon Jack offerings, which I’ve only been able to locate across the border.

That wraps up this first edition of Out and About with the Sip Advisor. Time will only tell what next week holds in store!