Sip Trips #182: 20/20 Vision

Wow, I haven’t written a Sip Trips in almost two months. And it’s not like we haven’t been busy, I guess it’s just been in different ways. So, let’s get right to it with the first Sip Trips of 2020:

Lately, I’ve tried a couple neat new beers at ABC Brewing, including the Wool Socks Winter Dubbel and Strawberry Milkshake IPA. When we popped in for a drink on New Year’s Eve, it was my first opportunity to be served by the brewery’s beer cocktail mixologist, who whipped up a delicious Dunder Biest Mode Sour for me and a mocktail for Mrs. Sip. Both were delicious and wonderfully-crafted.

A couple weeks back, a friend and I had dinner at Browns Social House in Downtown Vancouver, prior to a whiskey tasting event. My meal of their Szechuan Beef Noodle Bowl, accompanied by a trio of their Social Beers was a perfect set up for our later event. As for the whiskey tasting, we were able to try some high-end bottles, including Glenmorangie Signet, Balvenie Week of Peat, Laphroaig Lore, Stronachie 18, and MacCallan Triple Cask 15. The night was filled with many more brews, in between the whiskeys. Gotta cleanse the palate, am I right!?

tasting-throwing

Last week, a friend and I attended WWE Smackdown Live in Vancouver. Upon arriving at the arena, we grabbed a few beers, with my selection being a pair of Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ales. The show itself was entertaining, but given their was a 45-minute stretch with no in-ring action, instead filled by commercials, backstage segments and interviews, it solidifies my feelings that I’d rather be at a house show (non-televised with mostly inconsequential matches) than a TV taping (storyline developments, but WAY too many periods of inaction).

Following the wrestling, we stopped into Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smoke House for an extended nightcap. My beverages of choice were the Howe Sound Sky Pilot Pale Ale and Moon Under Water Creepy Uncle Dunkel. It was nice to pay a fairer rate for the beers, compared to what we were shelling out inside Rogers Arena across the street.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated a belated Valentine’s Day. We started with a late lunch/early dinner at Glowbal. Our table ended up filled with happy hour appetizers, the feast comprised of their Trio of Sliders (complete with Cotton Candy for dessert), Fish Fritters, Calamari, Avocado Toast, Cheese Croquettes, and Caesar Salad. It was a scrumptious meal, which I paired with a pint of Parallel 49 Pale Ale.

valentines-day

The celebration continued with a performance of The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The show was very good and you just can’t top a venue like The Orpheum for concerts.

To wrap the Family Day long weekend, we travelled across the border for an outing. While in Bellingham, we enjoyed a meal at Twin Sisters Brewing (brewery number 81 for Toddler Sip). Another buffet of many items consisted of their happy hour burger and tacos, along with Chili Cheese Fries and Beer Pretzel Bites, which may have been the best pretzel bites I’ve ever had. For drinks, I went with their award-winning Strawberry Zwickelbier, while Mrs. Sip added a taster of Cranberry Wheat Ale.

Hopefully it’s less than two months before my next Sip Trips. With baby number two set to arrive in under a month, we could be on lockdown for a little while, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops!

Sip Trips #181: Tidings of Joy

The last few weeks of December have been filled with a bunch of events, usually geared around Christmas and family time together. Here’s what we’ve been up to during the marathon holiday season:

Earlier this month, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Vancouver Canucks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs contest, which may be the closest I ever come to a playoff atmosphere live. I had also circled this game on the calendar, as the perfect opportunity to use my member gift card, of which I used nearly all of the $50 total on two tasty 24oz Postmark Juicy Pale Ales and a BLT from the Bacon food stand, which really hit the spot. Sadly, this is the first time we’ve attended this rivalry meeting where the Canucks lost, but the night was still fun.

TML

A couple nights later, we were out at Glow: Abbotsford, which had the same food menu as the Vancouver location, but a better selection of beers. I went with a Parallel 49 Filthy Dirty IPA to pair with my Buffalo Chicken Fries and half Philly Cheesesteak (split with Ma Sip). The fries were a little too spicy for my liking, but the meal overall was good. We finished off with a bucket of Mini Donuts to compliment everything. My Fried Chicken Burger, enjoyed when we revisited Glow: Vancouver later in the month was tremendous.

That weekend, while in the area to do the Vancouver Aquarium and Stanley Park Christmas Train, Mrs. Sip and I visited Stanley Park Brewing. My Fried Chicken and Waffles was perhaps the best serving I’ve ever had of this favoured dish. Meanwhile, my Big Jan IPA paired very well with the meal. Following the train, we enjoyed our annual family dinner at White Spot, where I enjoyed a few glasses of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale from a pitcher ordered for the table.

Christmas Day brought a number of liquor-themed gifts, including Cocktail Balls, Orgeat Syrup, a bomber of Steamworks Salted Chocolate Porter and mini bottle of Ole Smokey Moonshine Butter Pecan from Mrs. Sip. From the Sip-in-Laws, I also received a $50 gift card to Liquor Depot, which I can’t wait to use and look forward to a different selection than that of BC Liquor Stores, which I’ve become accustomed to.

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For our family’s Christmas dinner, I concocted a handful of cocktails to serve. These included the Jingle Juice (Gin, Club Soda, Cranberry-Lemonade Juice, Lemon Juice); Mele Kalikimaka (Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice); Yule Mule (Candy Cane Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice); Snowflake (Tarantula Azul Tequila, Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, Coconut Flakes); and Winter Comfort Shooter (Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack and Southern Comfort Gingerbread). Once again, the cocktails went over really well with the crew.

On Boxing Day, we met up with friends for a beer at the newly-opened Five Roads Brewing. I ordered the Christmas Staycation Red IPA (collab with Farm Country and Camp), to go along with a Margherita Pizza shared with Mrs. Sip. This was Baby Sip’s 80th brewery visited, a stat which I’m very proud of!

What a way to end the year and the decade, as well. Our New Year’s Eve will be spent with a quiet night in and we greatly look forward to what 2020 has to offer including a calendar that is quickly filling up and a baby boy on the way!

Sip Trips #180: Liquid Leavenworth

Last week, the Sip Family celebrated Ma Sip’s birthday with a getaway to Leavenworth, Washington. The adorable Bavarian-themed town was the perfect site for a weekend away, as we enjoyed their annual Christmas Lighting Festival, as well as other activities the area has to offer. Here’s what we got up to over a busy few days:

As we approached Leavenworth, we stopped for lunch at the ’59er Diner, where I ordered a Dirty Face Amber Ale from Icicle Brewing, to go along with my BLT and Curly Fries. This is one of my all-time favourite diner meals and an easy choice whenever I spot it on a menu.

Curly Fries

After checking into our accommodation at the Icicle Village Resort, we hit the local Safeway to stock up on provisions for the stay. I had a tough choice for my weekend beers, as every mixed case was very IPA heavy. I felt for those who don’t like hoppy beers, as nearly every set was comprised of four different IPA variations. I settled on the Red Hook Hoppy Hook Pack (Wintershook Hoppy Brown Ale, Big Ballard Imperial IPA, Atomic Robot IPA, Bicoastal IPA) because it included a brown ale, so at least there was some style variety. I also snagged bottles of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (to be enjoyed there) and Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced Rum (to be brought home). Lastly, I picked up a bottle of Sprite Winter Spiced Cranberry, which was a new mixer find for me.

On Friday, we visited the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where we had a fantastic experience learning about and meeting the reindeer. Following the farm, we stopped into Blue Spirits Distilling, where I enjoyed the All Bets Are Off cocktail (lime tequila, grapefruit juice, margarita mix, triple sec, cola syrup, smoked). Pa Sip even had the honour of smoking my cocktail for me!

After returning Mrs. and Toddler Sip to the Icicle Inn for naps, Ma and Pa Sip and I journeyed back to the town hub for drinks at the Rhein Haus. Here, I had half liter fills of the Ninkasi Sleigh’R Winter Ale and Paulaner Oktoberfest Marzen. Ma Sip and I also shared an order of Currywurst und Fries and the entire visit was great with very fast service. I love drinking outdoors, warmed by fire and you can’t beat a setting like the Rhein Haus offers.

beer meals

Saturday morning was spent at Icicle Brewing, again taking advantage of an outdoor table. As I was split between two beer options, Mrs. Sip suggested I order both and avoid having to lineup again on what would surely be a busy day for the brewery, given the tour buses coming into town for the lighting ceremony. My two choices were the Dark Persuasion Stout (German-cake flavoured) and the German-Style Hefeweizen, which was a limited release. Over the course of our beverages, we also indulged in two Beer Pretzels that really hit the spot.

On our way home, we stopped at Walmart for some more shopping. I bought a bottle of Tarantula Azul Tequila. The interesting blue liquor will make a great addition to my collection and allow me the opportunity to create blue tequila-based cocktails without the use of Blue Curacao.

We’re now back home for the sprint towards Christmas. I’ll never forget (hopefully!) Toddler Sip’s first experience in snow and the joy she shared with us as we pulled her around in a sled. It was a wonderful time away in a very unique and special place.

Sip Trips #179: November Rain

Now that we’ve truly entered the chaos of the Christmas season, I thought it best to wrap up the end of November for the Sip Family. Here what we got up to upon returning from our Hawaiian getaway:

We spent a fair portion of November staying at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, so treated them to dinner at White Spot one evening. I ordered my usual Legendary Burger and paired it with a pint of Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, my first winter ale of the season. Hopefully, there will be many more in December.

snowman beer

A couple weekends back, a friend and I converged on Port Moody’s Brewers Row for an afternoon of drinking. We hit all five breweries (Moody Ales, The Bakery, Parkside, Yellow Dog and Twin Sails) along Murray Street, the first time I’ve done the entire strip since a fifth location was added earlier this year. The highlights for me was a neat flight at The Bakery (Marzen Kellerbier, Irish Whiskey Barrel Stout, South African IPA, Raspberry Stout) and the Lights Out Imperial Stout with Coconut at Twin Sails, which came in at a whopping 15.1% ABV. I can attest, it did actually knock my lights out!

Following Mrs. Sip’s most recent midwife appointment, and prior to taking Toddler Sip to her first Disney on Ice spectacle, we ate dinner at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. The place had a great $5 beer special, so I selected the Strange Fellows Talisman West Coast Pale Ale. The brew paired nicely with our Bacon & Potato Pizza and Cheesy Flatbread, as well as our Irish Crème Cheesecake for dessert.

Mrs. Sip’s office Christmas party was held this past Friday at El Santo in New West. The set menu included tortilla chips and trio of salsas and guacamole, ceviche, grilled salad, a soft tacos dish with mushrooms and almond mole, and main courses of salmon and steak. There were also churros for dessert. As for drinks, I began with a serving of Strange Fellows Krampus Belgian Abbey Dubbel, before moving onto their expansive cocktail menu. I had servings of the El Campechano (Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, watermelon, mint, lime, soda) and Suenos de Coco (Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Mezcal, pineapple, toasted coconut syrup, nutmeg), while also trying sip of other people’s beverages. It was a good night out with the work crew.

aftermath-office-christmas-party

To finish the weekend, we attended Glow: Vancouver, which we found to be a great place for Toddler Sip. While Glow: Langley had more drink options, I did have a Spiced Rum and Coke on this occasion, but will probably not order drinks on future visits with our “year pass”. There was only one beer to choose from and it wasn’t even on tap. We did have a nice slice of Peanut Butter Cream Pie at the food area, another drastic change from the convoy of food trucks that served their wares in Langley. The Glow team is doing a good job with their available space in Vancouver, but I still curse whoever made an issue of the event being in Langley.

This weekend, we’re off to celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday in Leavenworth, Washington. I can’t wait to return to this winter wonderland and watch Toddler Sip experience it (and snow) for the very first time!

Sip Trips #178: Aloha Hawaii

Last week, the Sip Family enjoyed some rest and relaxation in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t just laze poolside or at the beach, though. Here’s what we got up to while on the island:

Upon arriving at our hotel late last Sunday, I ran across the street to pick up a six-pack of Waikiki Hana Hou Hefe. Then I poured a couple back on our balcony, enjoying the late night humidity and wondering what time Toddler Sip would have us up in the morning, affected by the three-hour time change, including the daylight savings time adjustment from that morning. The answer: six-freaking-a.m. We all managed to survive, though, and it could have been worse.

During Toddler Sip’s first nap of the vacation, I spent my free time at Yard House for their excellent happy hour, which includes $2 off draft beers and half price appies, among other deals. My brews for this occasion were the Koholo Red Sand and Kona Koko Brown. Both were paired with a serving of Korean Boneless Wings, which were tremendous. The only thing that sucks whenever I’m at a place that has a large tap list (Yard House, Craft Beer Market, etc.) and I finally decide and order something, they’re always out of my first choice and I have to scramble to make a second pick. Also, drinking on your own when the urge to pee hits can cause some tough decisions.

cute cats

That evening, we walked down to Waikiki Brewing, where I satisfied my thirst for a spicy beer with their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. I really liked this brew, as it featured more spice and flavour than some similar beers I’ve tried. For eats, we ordered their Prime Sliders and Giant Pretzel, which was impressively big. The meal was very good and set us up for the long walk to the nearest Walmart for some grocery shopping.

The next day, we returned to Yard House for happy hour again, this time with Mrs. Sip and a napping Toddler Sip tagging along. On this visit, I drank the Aloha Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale, completing a trifecta of good beers served up at the restaurant. Our appies were the Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Nachos, which we managed to complete right before Toddler Sip woke up and threw her one and only massive tantrum of the vacay. That’s the last time Mrs. Sip offers her water after a nap!

Finally, it was time to do some booze shopping for our room after some serious price comparison work throughout the area. On the cheap, I picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to use with Cherry Coke and later Tonic Water as mixers. Spiced Rum has become my favourite go-to elixir when travelling, thanks to its versatility with a number of drinks, from sodas to hot chocolate.

captain morgan

Day three happy hour was spent at The Street Food Hall within the International Market Place. I began at Beer & Be Merry, capitalizing on their $2 Kirin all day deal with a pair of servings. Before leaving the place, I also popped over to The Myna Bird Tiki Bar for a cocktail, ordering the El Diablo (mezcal, creme de cassis, lime, ginger, soda).

With Toddler and Mrs. Sip up from their naps, we ventured over to the O Bar, where my beverage of choice was the Karai Thai (tequila, pineapple, guava, Thai chili pepper syrup, lime). While the drink was very refreshing, it was not as spicy as I would have liked. We also tried to feed Toddler Sip dinner here, but she was too interested in the fish tanks and live music.

The next day, we returned to The Street Food Hall as a family to share some pepperoni pizza from Nana Lu Pizzeria. I also went back to the Beer & Be Merry bar for a pint of Aloha Red Zeppelin, which had caught my eye the previous day. When you bought a craft beer from this bar, the serving size was bigger than the $2 Kirins, while the price was cheaper than other locations, even while not a special deal.

cheap beer

Up next, was a visit to Maui Brewing, where I put together a flight of beer, including Pineapple Mana Wheat, Anada Hemp Brown Ale, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Imperial Dolce Porter (w/ Caramel and Salt). Once again, a place was out of my top choice beer, in this case, the Fully Pitted Habanero Milkshake IPA. For food, we shared a Pork Belly Bao, which we both liked. To wrap the stay, I ordered the Street Fighter (tequila, watermelon, sour mix, Hawaiian chili salt rim) cocktail, which packed the heat I was looking for.

Following this stop, we walked a little further to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant. Sitting in their lounge area for happy hour, I had the Kona Winds (tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, mole bitters) cocktail. To restock my beers, I grabbed a six-pack of Kona Wailua Wheat from a nearby store, before we returned to our room for our evening tradition of Netflix and falling asleep with Toddler Sip. No more Netflix and chill for us!

On Friday, we enjoyed happy hour at our hotel’s Splash Bar (at the Sheraton PK), ordering a round of Kalua Pork Nachos, as well as their Homemade Potato Chips to scoop up all the nacho toppings. I finally ordered a Mai Tai for the occasion, as well as a pint of Kona Castaway IPA. With Toddler Sip napping, we were able to pull out the Sushi Go cards and play a few rounds following the meal.

mai tai.jpg

For dinner, we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, sharing some Roadside Sliders and a slice of the spectacular Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. To quench my thirst, I had the Kona Gold Cliff IPA, which complimented the food nicely.

Saturday saw us do another long walk to the Ala Moana Center mall, then over to Dave & Busters for dinner and some arcade games. Our server here was nice enough, but did not provide the usual service we get when at the chain (didn’t explain how things work with the games, etc. and never asked if we wanted dessert, just brought the bill). Another complaint from me is that their drink menu doesn’t include prices… Cheesecake Factory does the same and I’ve decided I will no longer enjoy a beverage at places that hide the cost. What we did enjoy was our food, including Pretzel Dogs, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. It was also neat to see Toddler Sip play some of the games, as her last visit to D&Bs occurred when she was only four months old.

Sadly, all great vacations must come to an end. After a morning swim, I took care of my liquor buying business by grabbing bottles of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and Kula Toasted Coconut Rum. I also picked up a couple massive cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the day because I just can’t help myself when it comes to PBR!

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Our final meal of the trip was enjoyed at Duke’s Waikiki, where we enjoyed an epic feast. My fish entrée was prepared in a mouthwatering Spicy Gochujang-Ginger Roasted sauce, while I sipped away at a Hawaiian Time (strawberry basil lemonade with Absolut Mandarin and Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu) cocktail. For dessert, we shared the Specialty Hula Pie (Oreo crust, peanut butter cup ice cream), which was truly decadent and we all overate prior to our redeye flight home.

We hope to return to Hawaii soon and wish our stay there was longer than a week. For now, it’s back to cold weather, but at least the Christmas season is ramping up and that will provide much festive joy!

Sip Trips #177: Feast Fantastic

Another Sip Trips cycle is in the books and I can’t believe how fast the year is flying by. We’re already into November and much like every store out there, Christmas is coming on in a hurry. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last couple weeks:

Fresh off a visit to Boston Pizza just the week before, we decided to dine at the restaurant again, this time at the Queensborough Landing location. For this meal, I tried the Mad Mac Pizza, which features McDonald’s Big Mac ingredients (think the famous jingle) in pizza form. The pizza was good, but I think I preferred my Royal Hawaiian from the previous meal. Toddler Sip had a kid’s meal, which included a main, side, drink and dessert for a very reasonable price. The generous serving of ice cream sundae was also enjoyed by mommy and daddy.

Sundae School

On Saturday, Mrs. Sip and I finally used the Cirque du Soleil: Luzia tickets I bought for Mrs. Sip for Mother’s Day. Turning the evening into a full-on date night, we began with dinner at Coast, part of the Glowbal network of restaurants. We split quite the meal, taking advantage of happy hour. Along with my pair of East Van IPAs, we ordered dishes of Lobster Poutine, Crispy Calamari, Fish & Chip Cone, as well as a three-course dinner, comprised of New England Chowder, Atlantic Lobster and Crème Brûlée for dessert. I even added a single oyster to the feast, in order to keep my aphrodisiac level high.

As for the show itself, it was very good. The first half included some acts that even seasoned Cirque veterans such as Mrs. Sip and myself have never seen before and we left quite entertained. We noticed a new feature they were trying out at the event was an all-inclusive lounge to enjoy drinks and snacks before the show and at intermission for $50 per person. Given a single can of beer is $12, we hope this option will be available the next time the big top comes to town.

Cirque Tryouts

Earlier this week, Pa Sip and I took in the Vancouver Canucks game versus the Florida Panthers. The 7-2 victory was a great end to the night, with our meal at Brown’s Social House (at Queen Elizabeth Theatre) providing a fantastic start. Again, capitalizing on happy hour, or in this case, social hour, I enjoyed a pair of Social IPAs with orders of Howlin Hot Fried Chicken & Pickles and Parmesan Garlic Fries. There were other items on the menu that stood out to me, so I hope to return soon for another feast.

This weekend, the Sip Family leaves for Honolulu, Hawaii for a week. I can’t wait to try some breweries there, as well as eat and drink to my heart’s content. You’ll hear all about it in the next installment of Sip Trips!

Sip Trips #176: Oktoberfesting

The month of October should be spent celebrating the harvest with good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing and the yield has been quite bountiful. Here’s what the crew has been up to over the last few weeks:

The Sip Family recently attended Another Brewing Company’s (ABC Brewing) Oktoberfest event and what a time it was. ABC put together a collection of 11 German-style beers – four of their own, with others coming from brewery friends – for guests to enjoy. I paid about $50 for a limited edition stein and fill (24oz), as well as five additional tokens for 12oz pours or to be used on culinary items. Free tickets were also available to those who just wanted to attend and perhaps buy a few tokens for food and drink.

oktoberfest-driver

My stein fill was used on Sundown Brewing Hefeweizen, which was a fantastic start to the day. I then moved on to ABC Brewing Altbier, before going the experimental route with Ravens Brewing Lingonberry Lime Gose. A-Frame Brewing Kolsch was up next, followed by Main Street Brewing Dunkel. I also tried some of Chuckanut Brewing Altbier, from Bellingham, Washington.

The only shade I can throw the event’s way was the pretzel I spent a token on was cold. This was probably due to the pretzels arriving late and the ABC folks trying to get them out as quickly as possible, to satiate the many guests who had been inquiring as to their whereabouts. I also overheard some complain about a lack of salt on the pretzels and I agree with this criticism.

To celebrate a recent family birthday, we gathered for dinner at Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale. My beverage of choice at the German-themed restaurant was a pint of Krombacher Dark, while my meal was the Schnitzel Four Season, featuring vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms. The combo was very good and filling.

schnitzel

Prior to our Vancouver Canucks game last Saturday, we ate at the nearby Boston Pizza, which has a number of new specialty pizzas on their menu, making my choice quite difficult. I settled on the Royal Hawaiian, attracted by the sweet Thai honey garlic sauce, smoked prosciutto, bacon, and grilled pineapple. I’d also love to try the Mad Mac, which sounds like a pizza version of the McDonald’s Big Mac. Since individual pizzas seem to be getting smaller and smaller every time I eat at the restaurant, we still had room for a slice of Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake, which was simply decadent. Add in a pint of Stella Artois to wash it all down and we walked away ready for some hockey action.

Wrapping up this Sip Trips cycle, yesterday, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at White Spot, to celebrate the first anniversary of them providing Toddler Sip (formerly Baby Sip) with childcare. There, I ordered my usual Legendary Burger with side Caesar Salad (gotta go healthy on some occasions), joined by a pint of Granville Island Oktoberfest Lager. Thank you again to Ma and Pa Sip for their hard work and amazing dedication.

We now move into Halloween season with parties and other festive gatherings on the horizon. All should make for an interesting couple of weeks and you’ll hear about soon; same bat time, same bat channel!