Sip Trips #140: Getting Our Groove Back

Back from our European travels, we got back into the swing of things at home the last couple weeks, trying new restaurants and products, while also attending the odd event. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

I kicked things off by signing up for Legacy Liquor Store’s free Negroni Week event. In half hour sessions, visitors received a sample of the Negroni cocktail (Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth), as well as a personally etched cocktail glass from Campari. The drink serving was only about a sip’s worth, but it was neat to get the etched glass and it was all at no charge, so can’t really complain. Before leaving the store, I grabbed a bomber of Tin Whistle Obsession Hibiscus Saison, which I’m looking forward to drinking when the weather takes a turn for the better.

Negroni Decisions

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed lunch at the Sapperton District Taphouse, after hearing about the tavern from a baseball teammate. Here, I had a tasty order of Chicken Strips and Fries, pairing it with a sleeve of Parkside Graffiti IPA, which was on special. Mrs. Sip ordered their Slow & Low Sliders, which were also good. Looking at the restaurant’s events calendar, they are featuring a number of tap takeovers and trivia nights over the summer, so Mrs. Sip and I will likely return soon.

Later that day, Ma and Pa Sip returned from their month-long road trip of the southwest United States, bringing back two crowlers (growler-sized cans, for those unfamiliar with the term) from Boneyard Brewing in Bend, Oregon. Boneyard is one of my favourite breweries in the world, so I was very happy to receive their Notorious (80 IBUs, 11.5% ABV) and 7-Day WKND (70 IBUs, 7% ABV) IPAs. I’ve only been able to drink the latter of those two, thus far, and it was spectacular.

Before returning home from a couple days at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, we also popped into Central City Brewing to pick up their 2018 Across the Nation Mixed Pack. I really enjoyed the 2017 edition – released to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and featuring a beer brewed in collaboration with a brewery from each of the country’s provinces and territories (minus Nunavit) – and can’t wait to work my way through this year’s case. The set is highlighted by such intriguing beers as a Cherry Milkshake IPA, Cranberry Belgian IPA and Salted Caramel Lager. I do note that this year’s collection is in canned form, rather than bottles.

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We wrapped up the week by celebrating Mother-in-Law Sip’s birthday at Craft Beer Market, where folks celebrating their birthday get their age as a percentage off their bill. I began the meal with a serving of Andina Jalea Guava Saison, which I enjoyed, despite being my backup choice. I had wanted to order the Parallel 49 Alakazam Szechuan Peppercorn Saison, but although it was advertised on their online menu, it wasn’t on the hardcopy version, as the restaurant had already moved to their next rotating taps. For dinner, I had the Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a glass of Powell Street Lazy D’Haze IPA. Both were fantastic, as was Ma Sip’s Brewmaster’s Chicken Sandwich, which I was given the leftovers of.

This upcoming week is highlighted by my very first Father’s Day, which should be fun. We also have a couple more events on the horizon, so things are starting to heat up at the Sip Advisor headquarters!

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Sip Trips #139: Exploring Europe (Part 4)

The final stop on our European expedition was Belgium, where we visited the cities of Brussels and Bruges, looking to get our fill of what the country is famous for: chocolate, beer, waffles and fries!

First up, was Brussels, where we began by eating at The Purple Rose. While we didn’t love the Croque Monsieur Mrs. Sip and I split, we did enjoy our Belgian Beer Tour of seven 4oz beers, served with a side of fries.

This was merely a warmup, as our big excursion of the day was a Beer & Chocolate Tour, which featured tons of chocolate and six beers. The 4.5-hour tour was very good value, costing 80-Euros per person. I liked being able to pick from a variety of chocolate combos, choosing my sweets based on ingredients I thought worked well in cocktails. Following the chocolate, we were treated to a walking tour of the city, prior to hitting three different bars for the beer portion of the outing.

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Feeling quite jovial at the conclusion of the tour, we made our way to the Delirium Café for further beverages. I had hoped to drink from one of the bar’s massive fishbowl glasses (which you have to put down a 40-Euros deposit for), but they had sadly ran out of the goblets when we went to order. We still enjoyed a drink, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for.

The next day, we popped into Restaurant du MIM, located on the 10th floor of the Museum of Musical Instruments. There, I had a pint of Ramee Blanche, while we enjoyed the views from the outdoor seating section. I had the same beer at Café Georgette, famous for their fries, which can be eaten at the restaurant or as takeaway in a cone. We ordered our chips with Georgette Sauce, which completed the experience.

We then walked across town for drinks at the Brussels Beer Project, which had been recommended to us the day before by our Beer & Chocolate Tour guide. Mrs. Sip and I went with pints of the Delta IPA (Belgian IPA) and Jungle Joy (Mango and Passionfruit Blond). We had wanted to try the Grosse Bertha (Belgian Hefeweizen), but it was tapped out at the time. Mrs. Sip did get to try it when we had dinner across the street at Café Walvis. There, I paired some beef stew with fries and a bottle of Maredsous Bruin, as was recommended on the bistro’s menu.

belgian-beer

Before moving onto the Bruges portion of our vacation, I must mention that I really enjoyed the Grimbergen brand of beer, which we tried in Blond, Dubbel, and Tripel varieties. I found they worked particularly well with Belgian waffles, making for a fantastic breakfast and start to a day of exploring!

In Bruges (an awesome movie!), we began our activities by exploring the main square, while searching for a place to eat dinner. We landed at Huyze die Maene, where I selected from their 22-Euros set menu. My meal included another round of Flemish beef stew with fries, accompanied by a large serving of Kwak beer, which came in a very interesting glass that looked like something from a chemistry lab.

The next day, we toured the Brewery De Halve Maan, which finished with a glass of their Brugse Zot Blond. The tour cost 10-Euros per person, which may have been money better spent on just ordering a couple pints of beer. Mrs. Sip and I have grown tired of learning the process to make beer and really just want to sample the wares. At least we lucked upon a spot in the brewery’s courtyard to enjoy our beverages.

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While walking around the city, we stepped into one of the beer stores that Belgium is known for. These shops typically carry hundreds of different beers. Mrs. Sip wanted to try a couple from the Mongozo brand, including their coconut and banana-flavoured options. These brews were lighter on the alcohol percentage, but very tasty.

Before heading back to London and flying home the next day, we needed to return to Brussels to catch our Eurostar train. With time to kill, we walked to the nearby Cantillon Brewery, which specializes in sour beers. We ordered a glass of each of the four available brews, including the Gueuze, Kriek, Rose de Gambrinus, and Lambic.

That wraps our adventures from across the pond. Travelling such a long distance with Baby Sip went better than I expected, but it still had its fair share of hiccups, which I hope to delve into in a future Love & Hate article. Until then, at least we have the fuzzy memories!

Sip Trips #138: Exploring Europe (Part 3)

Our arrival in Porto, Portugal, unfortunately occurred on a Sunday afternoon, meaning all stores and most restaurants were closed. We didn’t let that deter us though, finding Bao’s Taiwanese Burger. I had the Pulled Pork Bao, while splitting an order of Fries 101 with Mrs. Sip. To drink, I had a bottle of Opo Gyroscope IPA and we both finished our meal with a Happy Ending Shot, made with Licor 43.

As we ate, our laundry was going through a wash cycle at a nearby laundromat. So, as we waited for the load to dry, we popped into Café Candelabro for a beverage. There, I had a bottle of Cristal Preta, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed a glass of wine and Baby Sip gnawed on a drink coaster!

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The next day, we went on an excellent Food & Wine Tour. The trek began with traditional egg tarts at Manteigaria, before cod cakes and veal pockets with a generous serving of wine at Imperio. Next, we were off to O Pretinho Do Japao for a charcuterie platter and more wine, followed by Port tasting (white, red and tawny) at Pouriga. The main event was a fantastic bifana em pao sandwich, paired with a Super Bock Lager at Conga. This sandwich, with meat marinated in a mix of beer and peri-peri sauce, was the highlight of the tour, as far as Mrs. Sip and I were concerned. McDonald’s actually has their own version, which I also tried, but obviously it was just not the same.

Following the tour, we made our way to the city’s riverside area, where we joined an English tour of the Calem Port Museum. The tour and five tastings cost us 27€ for me and Mrs. Sip. Unfortunately, Baby Sip was being really fussy during this tour, so we didn’t get to fully enjoy it, but the tastings kind of made the difficult experience a little more tolerable.

Looking to get back on track, we continued along the riverside, ending up at Sandeman Cellars outdoor patio area for some Port cocktails. Mrs. Sip had their Vau Nilla (Sandeman Branco Port, apple, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, bitters), while I went with the Club Ruby (Sandeman Ruby Port, red fruit puree, pepper, lemon juice, mint). The drinks were delicious and the setting spectacular.

Wine Flu

Sadly, our short stay in Porto was over and we were onto the capital city of Lisbon via train. Upon arriving, we ventured to LisBeer, home to a variety of Portuguese craft beers. En route, we passed a Napoleao wine and spirits shop, so decided to have a looksee. There, we found a bottle of Sharish Blue Magic Gin to bring home. While I have yet to use the liquor, it apparently turns pink when you add ice, tonic water or another mix to it. When we finally made it to LisBeer, we selected a pair of 8a Colina Brewing products in the Urraca Vendaval IPA and Ze’ Arnaldo Porter. This bar had a very relaxed atmosphere and we enjoyed our brief visit.

For dinner, we made our way to Lisbon’s Hard Rock Café. The busy restaurant provides priority seating for guests with babies and young children, which was a nice bonus. I ordered the Original Legendary Burger, with a pint of Sagres Bohemia Beer, while Mrs. Sip had the Tupelo Chicken Tenders and a bottle of Sagres Bohemia Wheat Beer. Our food was very good and the staff at the eatery were top notch in our books.

We wrapped the long day with some cherry liqueur tasting at Ginginha do Carmo. While I enjoyed the booze straight up, Mrs. Sip had hers out of a chocolate cup, adding a whole new element to the experience. While these venues are very small, patrons are able to enjoy their drink outside the establishment. Our next morning also began with cherry liqueur, this time from A Ginjinha Registada, the oldest of these hole-in-the-wall shops.

Pace Yourself

Our main tourist activity on this day was a two-hour walking tour of the city. Afterwards, we joined the guide and a few fellow tourists for a drink at Noobai Café. Upon entering the place, I spotted what looked like a beer tasting opportunity, so promptly ordered that menu item. My flight was comprised of four Super Bock Seleccao 1927 varieties, including a Munich Dunkel, Bavaria Weiss, Bengal Amber IPA, and Thames Porter.

We wrapped our second day by visiting a marketplace in the center of the town, sitting down to a plate of various sausages and glasses of red and white sangria. We also picked up a bottle of Rose Wine, which the vendor opened up for us right there, allowing us to walk the stalls of the market with glasses of vino.

Before travelling to Belgium, the final stop of our expedition, we visited Sintra, Portugal, a beautiful little town, highlighted by Pena Palace and a Moorish Castle. Given all the pushing of Baby Sip’s stroller I was doing up and down cobble stone streets, I enjoyed a couple Super Bock cans to reward my efforts.

Sip Trips #137: Exploring Europe (Part 2)

Lyon, France was the second stop on our European expedition. Upon arriving, our group of six (seven if you count Baby Sip… and you better!) settled into our Airbnb, before heading out to explore the city. As we wandered through the Old Town area, we stopped at Les Banana’s for some French cuisine. I went with a Napolitaine Crepe, which was very good and hit the spot, washing the meal down with a pair of Stella pints.

Our next stop was one of my favourites from the entire vacation: Les Fleurs du Malt. This bar, specializing in craft beer from around the world, had an amazing happy hour concept, where if you correctly guessed the flip of a coin, you got your choice of beer for half price. I guessed correctly twice (always opting for tails!) for my orders of Piggy Brewing Paradise Peppers and Coursendonk Rousse. The location had really funky art throughout and I really enjoyed our experience there.

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The next day, our crew travelled to the Beaujolais wine region via a private tour provided by Tasty Lyon. The trek stopped at Chateau de Corcelles and Domaine de la Madone, where we sampled a total of about 10 wines. At our second stop, we bought bottles of Viogner and Domaine du Niagara, which we enjoyed at a park along the Rhone River later that afternoon.

Our dinner that evening was a McDonald’s feast of burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. To make the meal a little more French, I drank some of the craft beers I had picked up the day prior, including Licorne Blonde Bio and Ninkasi (the French company) Tripel and French IPA.

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On our last day, we returned to the old town for a long walk. We stopped at La Mouss’tache for lunch, where we just got our orders into the kitchen before their afternoon break. My Bacon Burger was quite good, paired with a pint of Paulaner Salvator Ambree. This place was neat, with beer taps at each table, but we never figured out how the system worked. We returned later that day to watch the FA Cup Final and enjoy 5-Euro per pint happy hour, where I drank servings of Paulaner Weissbier and La Chouffe.

That wrapped our stay in Lyon and next up we were off to Portugal. Our time there started in Porto and ended in Lisbon, but there was much fun to be had as we journeyed through the country for the first time.

Sip Trips #136: Exploring Europe (Part 1)

The Sip Family’s four-country, six-city European expedition has come and gone. Travelling with Baby Sip added a whole new element to traversing the continent and while she was very well-behaved, we were lucky to have a pit crew of friends helping us out along the way. Here’s part one of our journey:

Starting in London, where we have good friends living in the east end of the metropolis, our first full day happened to fall on Mrs. Sip’s inaugural Mother’s Day. With that event in mind, I worked with our friends to book an Afternoon Tea at the Hilton Hotel Park Lane. We opted for the bottomless prosecco option and enjoyed drinking for two and a half hours. As for tea, I went with the Black Currant and Hibiscus variety, while enjoying the collection of sandwiches and desserts before me. The service from staff at the Podium Restaurant & Bar was fantastic and made for a special celebration for Mrs. Sip.

To wrap up our excursion, we stopped into the East London Liquor Company for Baby Sip’s very first distillery visit. The cocktail I selected was the Black Garlic Matters, comprised of the company’s own Demerara Rum, along with maraschino, cold brew coffee, black garlic, cola, and orange. The drink was delicious and I savoured every sip.

modern-art

The next day, we took a long walk around London, visiting Tower Bridge and dropping into the Tate Modern. I hate this art gallery, but was bribed by Mrs. Sip’s promise of having a beer in their cafeteria, if I behaved myself. I didn’t, but she still let me have a drink anyway! The cafeteria provides a beautiful view of the city, which I enjoyed with a pint of Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA.

From there, we met our friends for dinner at Wagamama. I had a very good order of Chicken & Prawn Yaki Soba, paired with a pint of Asahi. For her beverage, Mrs. Sip ordered a can of Nix And Kix Mango & Ginger Soda (with a touch of Cayenne Pepper), which was very tasty and I tried to track down another can to bring home for the purpose of making a cocktail with it, but came up empty handed.

On our final night in London, we met for dinner at Bubble Dogs, which combines hotdogs with champagne. The concept seems odd, but kind of works. Over a couple bottles of Rose bubbly, I had their Fourth of July Hotdog (barbecue sauce, coleslaw, crispy bacon), while we also split a number of the restaurant’s side dishes, including sweet potato fries, Horny Devils (corn and jalapeño fritters) and tater tots.

Cat with Hotdogs

Having Baby Sip with us limited some of our drinking activities, as some bars were unable to accommodate a little one, sometimes due to their liquor licence and sometimes to do with available space and us using a stroller. For example, I really wanted to do the Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour, but we weren’t able to with Baby Sip in tow.

As for craft beer, London has a bit of a bizarre scene, where most locations are only open for a few hours… and that’s not per day, but each week. We wanted to do the Bermondsey Beer Mile (10 breweries within a mile-long stretch), but it’s only an option on Saturdays. Regardless, I did pick up a number of bottled beers to enjoy, including Sharp’s Doom Bar Amber Ale, Adnam’s Ghost Ship Pale Ale, Young’s Special London Ale, and St. Austell Proper Job Cornish IPA.

Next up, we were off to Lyon, France to meet up with another set of friends. Part two will look at that brief stay, which included a tour into the Beaujolais wine region.

Sip Trips #135: Fine Foods

Sometimes it amazes me when I put together these weekly wrap-ups just how much we do in a seven-day span. This past week was no different as you will see below:

The week began with me joining Pa Sip at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill at the impressive Tsawwassen Mills Mall. This unique eatery offers great food and bowling with an underwater theme. To eat, I enjoyed a delicious Shrimp Po’Boy, highlighted by a spicy aioli and of course, the breaded shrimp. I look forward to taking Baby Sip back here in the future for a game of ten-pin.

Bowling Ideal

With friends coming over for dinner on Saturday, I picked up Stanley Park Brewing’s Summer Mix Pack. New to the lineup this year are the Trail Hopper IPA and Salted Watermelon Sour. Both are pretty good and I’ve always enjoyed Stanley Park’s mixed cases because of their 2×6 format, rather than the typical 4×3.

On Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I visited 33 Acres Brewing for a beverage. While she had her all-time fave Euphoria Belgian Tripel, I had the new-to-me Genesis B6 Northwest Hazy IPA. Their “quarry” tasting room was packed as usual, so we didn’t stay long, but I’m consistently impressed by the quality of the brewery’s beers, so we’ll keep returning, regardless of seat availability.

On Monday, a friend joined me downtown for some day drinking. What else are two guys to do, when one is briefly out of work and the other is on parental leave! Our first stop was Cactus Club Cafe for lunch. I combined Rob’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a Perfect Storm to drink. Once again the sauce really made my meal, as the sandwich employs a sambal mayo, which works well with the spicy panko-crusted chicken. My drink was also quite good, since Dark N’ Stormy’s are one of my favourite cocktails.

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Next up was Yaletown Brewery for happy hour. Here, we were able to indulge in a few $5 beers, with my choice being the Edinburgh IPA. Since we arrived before the after work rush, we were able to get a nice spot to sit on a couple couches, which allowed Baby Sip to roam around a little. After all, this was brewery number 30 for the tyke.

The week finished with a trip across the border with Ma Sip. While figuring out what we wanted to do for lunch, Boundary Bay Brewing entered the conversation and so we were off to their bistro. We split their fantastic Reuben Sandwich (with Tim’s Potato Chips on the side), while I washed the entrée back with a pint of Safety Break ISA. ISA’s have rocketed up my list of favourite beers of late, because I can enjoy the taste of an IPA at a slightly lower alcohol content, which definitely comes in handy when I’m driving.

This coming week features another full schedule. We’re also gearing up for Baby Sip’s first expedition to Europe (London, France, Portugal, Belgium), which is coming up fast at just over a week away!

Sip Trips #134: In the Name of Science

Another couple busy weeks are in the books, so let’s get right to the action. We began the latest Sip Trips cycle with a long walk to East Vancouver to use our Groupon for Andina Brewing. The deal entitled us to a tasting flight each, as well as a growler plus fill. The advertised growler (typically holding two litres of beer) ended up actually being a one-litre Boston round, but otherwise the Groupon was worth it. For our flights, we tried each of the brewery’s available varieties. We also ordered a round of their Platanitos (Plantain Chips).

Since we were already out that way, we decided to pop into Storm Brewing, one of our all-time favourite breweries. Storm does things differently than other breweries, offering patrons up to six samples of their eclectic menu, in exchange for a donation. On this instance, we tried a number of beers, including: Turkey Dinner IPA, Orange Creamsicle Ale, Garam Masala Ale, Spicy Mango Salsa Pilsner, Mint Julep Ale, Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, Vanilla Whiskey Stout, and Iced Mocha Stout. We were particularly impressed with the Garam Masala Ale, so bought a Boston round of the beverage.

Beer Trust

The next day, we went for another walk to the Olympic Village. While Mrs. Sip joined some friends for brunch, I explored Legacy Liquor Store, where I came across the newly released Brews Brothers Vol. 4 case from Parallel 49 Brewing, in partnership with 12 breweries from across the province. While I didn’t pick it up that day, as Baby Sip’s stroller didn’t have enough room, this pack will soon find itself nestled into our fridge. Not one to leave the booze haven empty-handed, I picked up a bomber of Stanley Park Cookies & Cream Dark Ale, which we look forward to pouring soon.

Later that week, we attended Science World After Dark, where the attraction is open to adults only and allows them to check out the exhibits with a beer or glass of wine ($6.50 each) in hand. This was our second time attending the event. Our night began with an IMAX film titled America’s Musical Journey, which documented a number of music styles that became popular in the US, thanks to artists such as Louis Armstrong and Elvis, while exploring locales including New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis and Miami.

We were particularly interested in visiting on this occasion, as the feature attraction currently running at Science World is Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Mrs. Sip and I spent more than an hour checking out nearly every piece of the exhibit and it was totally worth the price of admission.

Science Funny

This past weekend, we joined Ma and Pa Sip at Township 7 Winery’s members only event at Coast Appliances in Langley. The unique venue served up a very interesting event, highlighted by three stations where you could get a wine sample and appetizer pairing. You could also get a full servingglass of wine, choosing from four different varieties to cap your evening off with.

On Wednesday, we had tickets to see 2Cellos in concert. To prepare for the show, I enjoyed a couple drinks from my bottle of Wiser’s Spiced Whiskey, to go along with our takeout order of Uncle Fatih’s Pizza. As for the concert, these guys are amazing. Seriously, if you are unfamiliar with the duo, check their work out on YouTube and you’ll see some very talented Croatians doing things with cellos you never thought possible.

I wrapped up the week by joining Ma Sip at Steamworks Brew Pub for lunch. Here, I ordered a serving of their Purgatory Belgian IPA, to go with some Chicken Tenders and Fries. We sat on their outdoor patio, which provided a nice way to spend a spring/summer afternoon, now that the rain is gone and the sunny season seems to finally be here!