Sip Trips #122: Endings and Beginnings

The final week of 2017 offered extra time with family and friends and that led the Sip Family to doing what we do best: eat and drink and be merry! Here what we got up to while closing out the year:

After getting out of work early on Friday, I met the Sip Syndicate fellas for some celebratory drinks at The Railway Stage & Beer Café (a Vancouver landmark that has recently reopened under Donnelly Group ownership). I had never visited the original Railway Club, so can’t compare the two. I had a really good time during this drinking session, featuring six different craft beers available during happy hour for only $3. I had originally thought of drinking one of each, but opted to stick with what I liked. This included the Phillips 6IX IPA, Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and Parallel 49 Wobbly Pop Pale Ale. Outside the happy hour menu, I also selected the Postmark Winter Warmer, which I had wanted to try since gifting it as part of a Secret Santa package. To finish the outing, we ended up with a glass of Scotch, before venturing out into the Vancouver rain again.

Scotch Whisper.jpg

The next night, we made our way to Coquitlam to visit a friend who had recently bought a place out there. After checking out her new abode, we went for dinner at Boston Pizza. There, I ordered the Southwest Flatbread (BBQ Chicken, Mozzarella, Bacon, Red Onions, Ranch Drizzle), which was delicious. It had been a while since we had a meal at BP, so it was nice to give it a go again.

We followed dinner with a trip to Mariner Brewing (brewery #5 for Baby Sip!). When I first visited their location in the summer, it was only a few days old and their beer lineup has grown impressively. Mrs. Sip and I split a flight of brews, which included their Berliner Weisse, Margarita Ale, Tropical Milkshake IPA, and Night Sky Mocha Stout. The latter three were all new to me, with the IPA being particularly tasty.

For New Year’s Eve, we were set to host a bigger party at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, but a number of people bailed on the plan, which seems to be a New Year’s tradition for some. I find the night to be very anticlimactic, with so many plans falling through and people being flaky. We still made it memorable, as it was Baby Sip’s first and stuck to our ‘Treat Yo Self’ theme by consuming massive quantities of food and liquor. To ring in 2018, Mrs. Sip and I brought our bottle of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur (the orange one) to mix with bubbly, which ended up tasting like a Bellini. We also split a bottle of Unibroue’s 25th Anniversary limited edition release, which tasted like a Black Forest Cake. It was so very good and what made it special was it was the last bottle available at the liquor store when Mrs. Sip spotted it.

Treat Yo Self.jpg

The week wrapped with celebrating Cousin Sip’s birthday at Galini Greek Restaurant in Langley. I ordered their very tasty Chicken Souvlaki, complete with scrumptious Greek Salad. Our service here was exceptional, especially considering the larger group.

The Sip Advisor is spending the next month doing ‘No Junk Food January’ to aid in getting back in shape after a too long hiatus from the gym, following Baby Sip’s birth. It will not be easy, but I’ll be helped along by keeping booze part of my life. With a friend’s wedding approaching and a beer advent calendar to work through, there’s no way I could completely abandon my old friend!

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Sip Trips #121: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

With Christmas closing in, the Sip Advisor decided to take some time off work… but it certainly wasn’t spent relaxing. Here’s what we got up to in the lead up to the big day and how we fought off the post-holiday blues:

Last Thursday, the Sip Family crossed the border to do some last minute shopping in Bellingham. We hoped to start our visit with drinks at Menace Brewing, but it wasn’t open for the day yet. Lucky for us, Mrs. Sip spotted yet another brewery across the street. Melvin Brewing (a Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery with a brew pub in Bellingham) hosted us for lunch. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered from their $10 lunch menu, with her selecting Fish & Chips, while I went with the Sandwich & Soup combo (Beef Dip with substituted Fries). For drinks, we passed around pints of their Block Away Brown Ale and Mash Murder Stout ($3 beer of the day special), while also sampling the Peaches Innit Pale Ale. All beers are brewed onsite and we quite good.

Christmas Shopping

On Christmas Eve, en route to a family dinner, we first met Sip Syndicate members at Central City Brewing in Surrey. Mrs. Sip and I had won a tour and tasting experience for six people at one of Central City’s trivia nights at their Downtown Vancouver brew pub in the summer and had to use the pass prior to the end of the year. For those keeping track, this was Baby Sip’s fourth craft brewery visit already. My flight of beers included the Smore Stout, Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, Imperial IPA and Super Solar IPA. It was a very nice and relaxing setting to enjoy some drinks together and could become a yearly holiday tradition.

Finally, the big day arrived. As for liquor-based Christmas gifts, Mrs. Sip gave me the Central City/Parallel 49 Great White Wonder Adventure Pack (their annual collaborative advent calendar), which was marked down, given the month had come and gone. That doesn’t mean the beer can’t still be enjoyed, though. Last year, I picked up some of the individual bottles from this set and I’m hoping for some enjoyable beers this time around. Mrs. Sip also gifted me a Groupon for Andina Brewing, which provides a set of tasters for two people, as well as a growler and fill. I also received a bottle of Serbian Honey Brandy, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with. As for the gift of giving, I picked up the Erdinger Variety Pack for Mrs. Sip, along with a few other treats.

Christmas Spirit.jpg

The week ended with an impromptu visit to Craft Beer Market for a holiday wrap-up with friends. On Wednesday, the restaurant offers $8 wings and $5 BC craft beers, which is a terrific combo. Mrs. Sip and I split an order of Salt & Pepper Wings and their Gaucho Chicken Flatbread, while I selected the Torchlight Broadside IPA and Whistler/Craft Snowed In White IPA (with $1 going towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank) for my beverages. Mrs. Sip went with the Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Moody Ales Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout for her drinks.

This weekend will be another busy one, with a birthday/housewarming to attend, drinks with the guys on the schedule… and, oh yeah, that minor hidden-on-the-calendar event we call New Year’s Eve!

Sip Trips #87: Holiday Wrap

I’m not going to lie, my little sippers. The Sip Advisor is a little down in the dumps with the holiday season coming to a close. I know there are some amazing things on the horizon and these feelings will pass. Let’s take a look at how the Sip Alliance finished 2016.

repeat-last-years-mistakes

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I visited Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar for a little date night and to celebrate the last working day of the year. When we had tried to eat there, following our trip to the Vancouver Christmas Market, they were hosting a private event, but we were given two drink coupons to entice us to return. While we split a meal of their Short Rib Beef Dip and Chicken Tenders, Mrs. Sip ordered the Elderflower Radler, while I enjoyed a pint of R&B Brewing’s Shake Yo Fruity Milkshake IPA (featured in the original Beer of the Week post). We also sampled the Central City Brewing Southern Cross Kiwi Sour, which I had heard was a very popular beer from the company’s Seasons Greetings advent calendar.

To ring in the New Year, the Sip Alliance made our way to Craft Beer Market for their Best of 2016 Brewmaster’s Dinner. The event featured a four-course meal with beer pairings, with the menu, as follows: Mushroom, Bacon and Bean Ragout with Delirium Tremens; Salmon Crudo with Steamworks & Craft Collaboration Kitchen Gose Mad; Braised Chuck Flat with Four Winds IPA; and Dark Chocolate Terrine with Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter. The main course of braised chuck flat was delicious and paired nicely with the IPA, while the dessert and porter were also very good. I felt so-so about the two opening dishes, but the beers were both nice. As for pricing, early bird tickets were $65 and I thought the price was worth it… we certainly had a lot of fun throughout the evening.

new-years-eve-pro

Finally, last night, I got to enjoy one of my Christmas gifts, going to the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes game with a friend who snagged me a ticket for a Secret Santa present. Prior to the contest, we met for drinks at the Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, which has a number of culinary items I wish to try in the coming months. On this visit, the Sip Advisor paired a couple pints of Howe Sound Brewing’s Father John Winter Ale with their Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, which was incredibly good.

As for the game, the Canucks won 3-0, with one of those goals coming on a penalty shot, which was quite exciting. Drinking wise, craft beer is hard to come by at Rogers Arena. While the stadium has been required to have 10% of their beer sales be of the craft variety, they do have a contract with macro-brewer Molson and that’s why a majority of the products available fall under that banner. Oh well, like my beloved Canucks, you can’t win ‘em all!

BC Beer Baron #366 – Longwood The Big One IPA

Much like for Christmas, the Sip Advisor was looking for the perfect beer to profile on New Year’s Eve. While that didn’t come as easy as its predecessor holiday, I did come across this product, courtesy of Longwood Brewing.

The Big One IPA is constructed using hops and malted barley grown locally. At 6.5% and 65 IBUs, this beverage is sure to measure on your Richter scale and is available in 568ml extra-tall cans at private liquor stores around the province.

longwood-the-big-one-ipa

Sure, the beer was designed as a reference to the massive earthquake predicted to hit this part of the world sometime in the future, but I thought it was an ideal selection for the end of this BC Beer Baron project. This is the ‘big one’!

The Nanaimo-based brewery is also home to a brew pub, which I would love to visit on a future trip to Vancouver Island. The location has become “one of Nanaimo’s premier destinations” and that’s good enough for me.

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

BC Beer Baron #63 – Big Rock Midnight Rhapsody

After completing our Dine Out Vancouver Festival menu at Big Rock Brewing’s Urban Eatery, Mrs. Sip and I found a more intimate spot to share a couple additional beers.

My choice was the Midnight Rhapsody dark ale, which I had been wanting to try for a while after spotting it in bomber form at BC Liquor Stores. On tap, the beer has a wonderful berry aroma and flavour (from currants and raspberry jam) and with its darkness, reminded me of a gourmet chocolate bar, only in liquid form.

Big Rock Midnight Rhapsody.jpg

At 5.5% and 25 IBU, this should fall in any drinker’s wheelhouse. Sadly (or amazingly if you’re a local) the ale is only available in British Columbia, so all beer lovers out there in this province should try to track a bottle or pint down.

Although I was a little late on the uptake of this beer, it might make for a perfect New Year’s Eve beverage in future years. As the brew’s description says: “Dance, sing, sway… to the tune of Midnight Rhapsody”!

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

BC Beer Baron #1: Steamworks Winter White Stout

As the Sip Syndicate sat around late New Year’s Eve, the discussion turned to this wonderful site and what my plans were for 2016. Admittedly, I had thought of many projects, but hadn’t settled on anything. Then, almost as if being dared, a friend suggested doing 365 days of BC beer. Well, my little sippers, I’m more than happy to oblige and I’ll even do 366 to cover the leap year!

Steamworks Winter White Stout

Today’s beer, from Steamworks Brewing, is a unique brew that I have never had before or seen anywhere, for that matter. Stout beers are characteristically dark and heavy, but that is obviously not the case here. The beer does share the traditional stout flavour of coffee/chocolate, but it pours a caramel yellow colour. The colour change is due to the removal of roasted malts from the recipe, with the flavours coming from the beer being aged with whole espresso beans, followed by whole cacao beans.

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

I’ve asked Mrs. Sip to add her opinion of each beer reviewed for this project, to offer the female perspective. She found the beer to be disconcerting because of the expected taste versus appearance. Neither of us are coffee drinkers, so stouts and porters – while enjoyable – have always been a bit of a mystery to us and I think this beer was a little too strong in coffee taste for both of us.

I hope all you little sippers had a wonderful New Year’s and that 2016 is an amazing year for you all!

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…

December 27 – Ruby Slipper

Dizzying Drops

While most of the world knows of the big ball dropping in New York’s Times Square, every New Year’s Eve, other places have their own tradition… and some of them are quite wacky. Let’s take a look at the oddest items that are used to help ring in the New Year!

#5: Show Low, Arizona – 2 of Clubs

According to legend, the city of Show Low earned its name when two men who hated each other decided to draw cards to see who had to leave the town (not the most riveting loser leaves matches ever devised) with one stating “If you show low, you win!” The winner drew a 2 of Clubs, thus spawning a city’s moniker, as well as the object they drop December 31st at midnight.

marriage-cards

#4: Plymouth, Wisconsin – Cheese Wedge

It’s no surprise that the people of Wisconsin are big into cheese. Hell, they wear wedges on their heads to football games and take no offense in someone calling them “cheeseheads”. On New Year’s Eve, the fine folks of Plymouth take things to a whole new level (literally!) as they drop an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge from 100-feet in a salute to the dairy industry. Mrs. Sip will be there one year, with crackers and carving knife in hand!

#3: Lebanon, Pennsylvania – Bologna

Pennsylvania is home to the most item drops across the United States and this is the oddest item among them, a 12-foot long, 150-pound slab of bologna. It’s all for a good cause, however, as the bologna is given to local food banks and animal shelters, following the event. If you could somehow combine the cheese in Wisconsin with the bologna is Pennsylvania, you’d have a nice charcuterie plate in the making.

Balogna Cat

#2: Brasstown, North Carolina – Live Possum

This one doesn’t sound so crazy until you realize that they use a live possum, put inside a Plexiglas pyramid. Held at the Clay’s Corner convenience store, the possum is carefully lowered before being fed and released. The event has drawn the ire of PETA and other animal rights activists, but locals love it and the store owners get all the proper permits. A similar event takes place in Tallapoosa, Georgia, although using a stuffed possum. Or, perhaps, the possum has just been playing dead all along!

#1: Key West, Florida – Ruby Slipper

I know what you’re probably thinking: What’s so odd about a ruby slipper being dropped? Did I mention that there’s a drag queen named Sushi (played by Gary Marion) in that stiletto? This event takes place at the 801 Bourbon Street Pub, while other Key West bars have their own drops, including a conch shell and a pirate wench, which sounds a little more up the Sip Advisor’s alley!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Ruby Slipper

Ruby Slipper Shot

In addition to the weirder items, all sorts of fruits are dropped across the U.S., including oranges, apples, peaches, watermelon balls, cherries, strawberries, huckleberries, pears, and grapes. What will they think of next!?

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Given our subject is about things dropping and it’s Super Saturday Shot Day, why not do a drop shot… and no, I’m not talking about the tennis variety! Coincidentally, there’s a drop shot called Ruby Slipper, going perfectly with this article’s chart topper. I’m okay with drop shots, but find them a little messy. This one tastes pretty good and the colours are neat, so it gets my recommendation.