Sip Trips #204: December Dynamics

Well, the merriest month of the year has come and gone and as we settle into the melancholy that January can often bring, it’s time to look back on how the Sip Family enjoyed December. There’s a fair bit to cover, so let’s get right to it:

We began the month with a trip to ride the Stanley Park Christmas Train. En route, we dropped into Storm Brewing, as I had wanted to pick up their Christmas themed tall can four-pack, including one can each of Christmas Orange Ale, Eggnog Latte Stout, Turkey Dinner IPA and Xmas Tree Pilsner. While there, Mrs. Sip and I shared a series of samples, comprised of the brewery’s Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, Strawberry Shortcake Ale, Chocolate Strawberry Stout and Mrs. Claus Pilsner (brewed with winter spices). It was an enjoyable stop, highlighted by the most unique beers the local scene has to offer.

beer-christmas

Prior to our train ride, we had dinner at the Stanley Park Brewpub. There, I enjoyed a Red Rye Session IPA and Master Chicken Sandwich. We had great service for our large group and the food and drink were very good.

The next week, for a Christmas party with friends, I picked up the Red Racer Dozen Donuts Mix Pack, composed of three each of Honey Crueller Lager, Chocolate Dip Stout, Raspberry Jelly Sour and Boston Cream Ale. Among the set, my favourites were the Stout and Cream Ale.

Although we had a couple Canucks games scheduled for the month, only one contest ended up going ahead (thanks a bunch, COVID!). Prior to the match, we met with friends at the Hotel Georgia 1927 Lobby Lounge, where I had a liquid dinner of their Hotel Georgia cocktail (Botanist Gin, orgeat, lemon, orange blossom water, egg white and nutmeg dust). It was a very nice drink, but I found the lounge to generally be more expensive than I was planning for.

Expensive

At the game, I enjoyed servings of Hoyne Dark Matter, Parkside Dreamboat Hazy IPA and Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ale. This was the Canucks game where they were down 3-0 early, before storming back and scoring the winning goal with minutes left in the game, coming away with a 4-3 victory. If COVID keeps scuttling games for us, that memory will last a while.

A couple nights later, Mrs. Sip and I took the kids to the Surrey Holiday Lights display. The free event was very well done and offered some drink options for adults. While Mrs. Sip had a spiked hot chocolate and a glass of wine, I went with a can of the Stanley Park Shadow Play Dark Ale. Afterwards, we went for dinner at the nearby Boston Pizza, where I sipped a double Spiced Rum and Coke, along with the Sriracha Garlic Chicken Pizza. It was a good meal and even came with a free Toblerone bar, as it was part of the special seasonal menu.

Next up, was Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party, hosted at El Santo. Among a very filling set menu dinner, I ordered a number of cocktails, including the El Antijito (pulparindo-infused Cazadores blanco, Aperol, green apple, lime, guava, house-made chamoy and tajin rim); Grito de Delores (estancia raicilla, Cointreau, Green Chartreuse, verdita); El Bosque Nuboso (Avua cachaca, Bacardi 8, Sombra mezcal, Campari, pineapple, lime, passionfruit, Narrative fortified); and the El Padrino (Charred corn husk infused mezcal, Sons of Vancouver amaretto, house mole bitters) for dessert. I also had sips of Mrs. Sip’s Tepache Spritz (house-made tepache, cava, pineapple, cinnamon, soda).

Chips

Unfortunately, our Canucks vs. Leafs game (the reason we select the quarter season package we do) was cancelled due to Omicron concerns. To take advantage of the break in our schedule, Mrs. Sip and I decided to tackle our Christmas shopping, decorating and wrapping. To console ourselves, we began the day of errands with lunch at Milestones. My 1989 Burger was very good and I loved that the server suggested I do half fries and half Caesar Salad, when I struggled to decide on my side dish. More places should offer this option. To drink, I had a pint of the Twin Sails Dat Juice Pale Ale.

After our shopping was done, we dropped into Steel & Oak Brewing, where we shared a flight including B-Jamz Cherry Apricot Pale Ale, Nightcap Cranberry Orange Belgian Ale, Baltic Porter and Phonograph Maple Smoked Porter. Mrs. Sip also grabbed bottles of their Woodland Dark Lager and Velvet Thunder Barrel-Aged Wild Ale, before we returned home for a night of drinks, snacks and Home Alone movies, while wrapping gifts and doing some decorating.

Our last event prior to Christmas was Lumagica in Cloverdale. The weather was really windy, but we enjoyed the light displays and walk. The kids absolutely loved the outing, which is really what the season is about. As we traversed the route, I enjoyed a 2 Pals Cuffing Season Winter Ale.

Lights

Our Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day were all fun, if not hectic, but that’s par for the course. Liquor-related gifts I received included bottles of Wayward Distilleries Krupnik Spiced Honey Liqueur and Raspberry Gin Liqueur, as well as Havana Club Cuban Smoky Rum. I also got a BC Liquor Stores gift card for future adventures and The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe book for inspiration for those adventures.

Some notable boozy gifts I had for Mrs. Sip, included some neat new beers: tall can four-packs of Granville Island Cheeky Monkey Chocolate and Vanilla Hefeweizen, Russell Cinnamon Bun Brown Ale and Twin Sails These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty Stout (Chocolate, Peanut, Pretzel, Marshmallow). Also, single tall cans of Granville Island Prometheus Belgian-Style Golden Strong and Seawall Saison. We spent some of Boxing Day trying a few of these offerings.

For Christmas dinner, hosted at Ma and Pa Sip’s abode, I finally got to serve the Christmas cocktail menu I created for last year’s festivities. My theme was cocktails from around the world, with names that translated to Merry Christmas, featuring ingredients from those places. This resulted in the Mele Kalikimaka (Toasted Coconut Rum, Macadamia Nut Liqueur, Mango-Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice), Feliz Navidad (Cinnamon Tequila, Kahlua Vanilla, Milk/Soda Water), Joyeux Noel (Grey Goose Le Melon Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, Lemon-Lime Soda) and Buon Natale (Limoncello, Amaretto, Ginger Beer).

Gifts

Our last outing of December was to Patina Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I shared their Smoked Meat Bunwich (pulled pork in Memphis BBQ sauce) with fries and coleslaw, Pulled Pork Tacos and Southern Cornbread. Our beverages included an excellent Horchata Cream Ale (also bought a tall can four-pack) and Blueberry Wheat Ale. I loved seeing horchata used in a cream ale, as I typically only see it used in dark, heavier beers, such as stouts.

That’s a wrap for the month and the year. I hope to get my Best of 2021 out there soon. As for no mention of New Year’s on this article, it’s because the night was a dud, inspiring a future article on the best and worst holidays. Lots to look forward to as we begin 2022!

Sip Trips #189: Celebratory September

I’ve decided to do monthly Sip Trips updates going forward and we’ll start with the last gasps of summer, moving into fall. It was a busy month, as Septembers always are, given the Sip Advisor, Pa Sip, Toddler Sip and others all have birthdays. With that in mind, let’s get right into things:

The month began with meeting a friend for dinner at Izba Bistro in Port Coquitlam. There, I had the Chicken Schnitzel Burger and a glass of Krombacher Pilsner. While the meal was quite good, my Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the NHL playoffs as we ate, but I can’t hold that against the restaurant… or can I!?

The next day, we celebrated Pa Sip’s birthday. As a massive Beatles fan and someone who was turning 64, we held a ‘When I’m 64’ party and going with the British theme, I picked up a bottle of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla Gin to serve up some G&Ts. As I grabbed the bottle, I also bought a tall can four-pack of Ravens Two to Tango Mango Jalapeno Gose, as well as a bottle of Captain Morgan Orange Vanilla Twist to gift to Pa Sip. Served at the party was bottles of Innis & Gunn Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale and cans of Old Speckled Hen Pale Ale, both of which added to the ambience.

64 Birthday

During that next week, we journeyed to White Rock to hit a couple of breweries there, which we had never visited before. We started with 3 Dogs Brewing, where we shared a flight (Dog Daze Haze IPA, Dingo 8 My Baby Aussie Ale, Blackie the Brown Dog Porter, Faux Paw Wet Hop Pale Ale), paired with two of their hotdogs, the Trailer Park Dog (crushed potato chips and queso sauce) and Downward Dog (avocado, sundried tomatoes, feta). The hotdogs were very good, as were the brews. Next up, was the neighbouring White Rock Beach Brewing, where we delved into another flight (West Beach Pale Ale, East Beach Brown Ale, Oxford Hill Hefeweizen, Russell Avenue Raspberry Honey Wit). After ordering tacos from a stand outside, we decided to pair our eats with a glass of the Hefeweizen.

With a week off from work on the schedule, we began the break with a trip out to the Abbotsford breweries. First stop was Field House Brewing, where I had a glass of their Citra Tettnang Galaxy XPA, while Mrs. Sip had the Mosaic Enigma Raspberry Hazy. Old Abbey Ales followed for a flight (Diehard Hazy Lager, Pineapple Express, Wit-ness Protection, Gimme S’more, Sippy Chai Aye) of their many creative creations. Last, was Loud Mouth Brewing for another flight (Peach Guava Sour, Pilsner, Hazy IPA, Raspberry Wheat) and an order of Churros. We’re glad we got to Loud Mouth when we did, as it may not be around much longer. The owner-operator said he’s shutting the doors soon to open a restaurant instead. If that food is anywhere near as good as the Churros were, I can’t wait to try the place.

A few days later, nearing Toddler Sip’s 100th brewery visited, we ventured to Port Coquitlam’s Taylight Brewing for two flights (Blossom Rose Lager, Piwo Grodziske Smokey Wheat Ale, Guava & Lychee, Rye Pale Ale, Graf Giraffe Cider & Beer, Jasmine Gruit, Slack Tide Hazy Pale Ale, BlackBerry Hibiscus Sour), before popping into the nearby Tin House Brewing to accomplish the milestone, all before she turned three later in the week. At Tin House, we ordered sleeves of the Let’s Get Take-Out Thai Wit and Run of the Mill Peppercorn Saison. I’ve enjoyed all the brews I’ve tried at this brewery, so we also took home a growler of their PB&J Stout.

Milestone Beer

For my own birthday, the day before Toddler Sip’s, I received bottles of Captain Morgan Jack-O Blast and Patrón Tequila, as well as a six-pack of Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest. We spent much of my birthday decorating and preparing for Toddler Sip’s Disneyland-themed party, as we were supposed to be in Disneyland for the week, but COVID-19 kyboshed those plans. For the party, I served up a few original cocktails for guests, including the Meeska-Mouska Mocktail (Fruit Punch, Lemon-Lime Soda, Cream Soda), Dead Men Tell No Tales (Spiced Rum, Crystal Skull Vodka, Coconut Cream, Pineapple-Mango Juice), Elephants on Parade (Absolut Karnival Vodka, Pink Lemonade Vodka, Raspberry Lemonade, Lime Juice) and Into the Unknown (Orient Apple Vodka, Arctic Crowberry Frost Liqueur, Hawaiian Punch Berry Blast).

Later in the week, the kids each had doctor appointments in Vancouver, so we took the opportunity to have lunch at Craft Beer Market, which had sent me a $10 off email earlier in the month. Mrs. Sip and I split a tasty Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza, to go along with drink choices of Superflux Colour & Shape Hazy IPA for me and Twin Sails Would Crush Raspberry Wheat Ale for the missus. As we neared the end of our beers, Mrs. Sip had the great idea to combine them, which resulted in a delicious mix.

The next day, we had another small birthday party for Toddler Sip, joined by a couple of her little friends at a nearby playground. To provide the parents with some refreshments, I picked up the Red Truck 4×4 Pack, featuring four cans each of the Cherry Bomb Black Cherry Lager and The Defender Bourbon Ale.

Birthdays

On the way home, just when I thought we had survived the long week and could relax a little, Mrs. Sip surprised me with an evening out with a couple friends on Brewer’s Row in Port Moody. Us guys decided this was a great way to celebrate our birthdays and will hopefully continue to do so in the future. We only hit two of the five establishments on the row, as with lineups at all locations, it was best to hunker down for a bit where you could get in. At Twin Sails Brewing, I had pints of their Two Straws Apricot Milkshake IPA and Vacation Mode Peach & Passionfruit Pale Ale, followed by Moody Ales and their Huge Citrus Hazy Pale Ale and Sublime Pineapple Hefeweizen.

Then, it was finally time to rest, feeling like we needed a vacation from the week of vacation. It’s all good, though, as Toddler Sip had an extended week of birthday fun and we did manage to get our own enjoyment in here and there. I can always chill out during the work week, right!?

Sip Trips #159: Free Bird Follies

As winter fades away and spring emerges from the darkness, the Sip Family has been busy. Mrs. Sip was recently in Las Vegas with her girlfriends, providing the Sip Advisor a little time to get reacquainted with loved ones. Those would include new purchases, such as Steel & Oak Talanoa Wheat Ale and Lamb’s Cherry Spiced Rum. The Talanoa (Fijian for sharing stories and ideas to build relationships and understanding) was brewed by the ladies of Steel & Oak Brewing as their second annual Women’s Charity Brew. Proceeds from the beer, made with black currant and rosemary, are going to The Kettle Society, which provides support for people living with mental illness. The Spiced Rum was an interesting find as I perused the aisles of a nearby liquor store. Thanks to an online suggestion, I’ve used the booze in a Mai Tai recipe and look forward to throwing it in a Dark N’ Stormy soon.

rum locations

As for events, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the Abbotsford Centre last Friday. Prior to heading out to the valley, we had dinner at Milestones, capitalizing on their afternoon happy hour for servings of Phillip’s Electric Unicorn White IPA and Hoyne Dark Matter. The two Victoria-based brews paired nicely with my Crispy Sweet Chili Chicken Bowl, which I would definitely order again. Mrs. Sip had the Caprese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which I snagged a bite of, and also enjoyed.

As for the concert, I think my hearing is still slowly coming back. The show was rocking all the way through the night and the band ending their appearance with an encore performance of Free Bird was everything a fan could have asked for. Arriving early, we took advantage of the Vancouver Island Brewing free tasting being offered and also grabbed cans of a couple Foamers’ Folly Brewing selections, including the Hot Box IPA for me and Raspberry Honey Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip.

freebird nursery rhyme.jpg

After a day of “rest”, where we only had two commitments to make, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Dead Frog Brewing. They turned their Steel Toe Lager green (with natural ingredients), so we crossed that tradition off the to-do list. Mrs. Sip also ordered a pint of the newly-released Pineapple Midnight Tropical Porter for us to share, which had an interesting blend of summer and winter flavours. For food, we imbibed with Pork Carnitas Street Tacos for moi and some Avocado Toast for the mademoiselle. Both were quite good and recommendable. The Dead Frog staff deserve major kudos for doing their best to make guests comfortable on a very busy day and for providing live music and cupcakes for children young and old at heart.

In the coming weeks, Mrs. Sip and I will celebrate 17 years of being in a relationship. I honestly can’t believe she’s put up with me this long!

Sip Trips #81: Restaurant Roundup

While the Sip Advisor hasn’t posted a Sip Trips article for a couple weeks, that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept up my typical level of social activities. I was just saving up a few outings and before I knew it, there was almost too much to report on.

Dressed as my own inner child – seriously, I just couldn’t get inspired to come up with a costume for this Halloween season, so this was a last minute idea that actually worked out fairly well – we attended a friend’s fundraiser at Rusty’s Neighbourhood Pub in Cloverdale. The burger and beer deal didn’t leave much to the imagination, especially as far as beverages went, but through a technicality, we were able to upsize our burgers and I really enjoyed my Doc Holliday variation. Much of their menu looked really good, so next time we’re in the area, we’ll have to drop in again.

bacon-cheeseburger

The next day, we intended to check out Abbotsford’s Craft Beer Corn Maze, before a storm decimated the attraction. Instead, we used the occasion of being out in the Fraser Valley to visit Old Abbey Ales. Here, the Sip Alliance each constructed their own flight of beer and with so many options available at the tasting room, no two boards were the same. I really like that Old Abbey Ales has the customer fill out there selections, rather than recite them. This gives you more time to round out a perfect cross section of brews and decreases the chances your order will get mixed up.

A couple days later, as Mrs. Sip prepared for her ongoing trip to India, we visited Patron Tacos & Cantina for a meal. We typically order their Queso Fundido dish and then use the cheese and sauces it comes with on our tacos. This makes for quite the feast and Mrs. Sip and I both left with overly full tummies.

That weekend, after recently receiving a flyer advertising Milestones new Epic Eats menu, Mrs. Sip and I were looking forward to testing out some of the new additions. While Mrs. Sip ordered the Jiffy Pop Popcorn Shrimp, I had my eyes – and stomach – set on the Hottest Club in Town. This Sriracha chicken and waffles club sandwich was absolutely fantastic and I look forward to crossing paths with it again shortly. We also noted that the restaurant now has a Beers & Bros deal (a pitcher of beer and four appies for $40) to accompany their Girls’ Night Out Bellini promotion.

waffles-pancakes-with-abs

To celebrate Halloween, we decided to check out the Day of the Dead-themed Stanley Park Train. Following that, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and myself made our way back downtown and popped into Steamworks Brewpub for a bite and beverage. With a $15 pitcher deal on Mondays, we settled on their Pumpkin Ale, while splitting their massive House Baked Pretzel. This was probably the best way to wrap up Oktoberfest festivities, through the month.

Come Friday, I was on the road again. Mrs. Sip and I are members of the Langley-based Backyard Vineyards and as such, are invited to their semi-annual customer appreciation nights. Mrs. Sip always seems to be on vacation when they occur, but that doesn’t stop the Sip Advisor from enjoying. With great live music filing the air, guests were treated to a fantastic meal and other goodies. Prior to arriving at the winery, we had made great time from Vancouver, so decided to pop into Trading Post Brewing for a beer. I liked my serving of their Dear James S.M.A.S.H. Saison and it was a good start to the evening’s entertainment.

beer-and-wine-consumption

The weekend was wrapped up with a visit to White Spot, where I was able to try a pint of Granville Island Harvest Ale. The beer, exclusively brewed for the restaurant chain, was a solid accompaniment to one of my all-time favourites, the Legendary Burger. You are not a true British Columbian if you have never tried this entrée.

Well, I ended up with much more to discuss than I first thought. With Mrs. Sip away in India for the next two weeks, it kind of feels like the calm before the Christmas season storm. I better enjoy my “downtime” while it lasts!

July 22 – Cincinnati Lunchbox

Burger Bar

Very few things compliment a tall, cold mug of beer like burgers do. I’ve been privileged to enjoy a number of fine selections. Here are some of my favourites:

Legendary Burger – White Spot

A darling of Western Canada (particularly the province of British Columbia), I can rarely remember a trip to White Spot that didn’t result in ordering this burger. You scan the menu every single time and even contemplate ordering something other than the norm, but you always end up asking for your favourite and you never regret doing so. The secret recipe Triple-O sauce is to die for and should be available to purchase.

Legendary Burger

Prime Rib Burger – The Keg

Ordered off of its bar menu, most Keg restaurants will allow this to be selected even if you’re in their main dining room, as well. The ones that don’t are listed near the top of my always growing ‘enemy list’. This burger is absolutely fantastic. The seasoning, combined with all the toppings makes for one tasty meal. Take my advice and throw in an extra buck for the bacon. Unbelievably, it’s one of the cheapest items on the restaurant’s menu to boot!

Whopper – Burger King

Flame broiled, yes please! The thing I love best about the Whopper is that it is loaded with toppings. Toppings are essential to any burger enjoyment and the King has read that message loud and clear. I appreciate that the chain has found its way into a number of airports, giving me an opportunity to have a decent meal on the run. Burger King is also one of the few food vendors in movie theatres around my parts, taking advantage of hungry moviegoers.

whopper

Big Xtra – McDonalds

Although I can only find this burger (known as the Big N’ Tasty in the U.S.) at Wal-Mart-connected McDonalds, it is worth the trip. In my opinion, all burgers need essential ingredients and this meal covers all the bases. You have your lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions… all the colours of the rainbow. Perhaps the only thing missing is a couple strips of bacon, but we’ll let that transgression pass.

Big Crunch – KFC

I had to include a chicken burger on this list and the best place in the world for bird meat is hands down KFC. I haven’t had a Big Crunch in a couple years, but just writing this has me craving the delicious 11 secret herbs and spices recipe. A little tip for chicken burger connoisseurs, try dipping your meal in ketchup before each bite, adding another wonderful flavour to the mix.

Big-Crunch

Kobe Beef Sliders – Milestones

Perhaps the only thing better than one big burger is three mini burgers! Most of my beef selections come sans cheese, but in this case, I’m happy to leave the mozzarella on. The Milestones sliders are topped with crispy onion straws and are accompanied by a delicious sesame mustard sauce for dipping. The appetizer is perfect for sharing and Mrs. Sip and I have been known to gorge ourselves on a couple starters prior to skipping dinner!

Bacon Deluxe – Red Mill Burgers

I learned of Red Mill Burgers watching Man vs. Food, as host Adam Richman toured a selection of restaurants in Seattle, Washington. Thankfully, that means the franchise’s locations are only a two-hour drive away for Mrs. Sip and I. Well worth it, I would say! When we arrived, the line-up for ordering was out the door and it didn’t take long to understand why. Loaded with toppings and the delicious Mill Sauce, I was in burger heaven and I enjoyed the euphoria the entire two-hour trip home!

Drink #203: Cincinnati Lunchbox

Cincinnati Lunchbox Drink Recipe

  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • Top with half Orange Juice and half Beer (I used GIB Hefeweizen)
  • Garnish with Orange Slice

All this talk of burgers has got me really hungry… and all this mentioning of beer has got me really thirsty. Why won’t someone satisfy my needs!? I don’t ask for much. Only to be fed, thirst quenched, and legions of fans who will do my bidding!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Not a bad beer cocktail, but a little sweet and not really memorable… it doesn’t live up to the burgers listed above. I was looking forward to this drink, as Hefeweizen Beers are my favourite, but I think the Orange Juice took over too much.