Sip Trips #188: Sea to Sky

Taking the last week of August off to celebrate my and Mrs. Sip’s wedding anniversary and make a short getaway to Whistler with the Sip Family, was a perfect way to end the summer. We crammed a lot of stuff into a limited time, so let’s get right to the action:

Prior to our little vacation, we had a bit of activity that should be documented. A couple recent purchases included a six-pack of Spectrum Strawberry Ice Cream Pale Ale, which may be the best beer I’ve had all summer. It’s not too strong on the strawberry flavour, but just enough that you can enjoy it. I also picked up the Nude Vodka Soda Pride Pack for Mrs. Sip to try. It included six flavous (Cran Raspberry, Raspberry Lemon, Lime, Black Cherry, Mango, Peach), giving her a chance to sample a good variety of the brand’s offerings and decide if she wants to do more vodka soda products in the future.

Vodka Soda

We also dropped into Steamworks Brewing in Burnaby one evening. There, I had a delicious Imperial Red Ale, while Mrs. Sip ordered a flight, which included their Refresh Raspberry and Lemon Ale, Killer Cucumber Ale, Hazy Pale Ale and Black Angel IPA. We both particularly liked the Cucumber Ale, which I’ve had before, but never on tap.

The first portion of my week off was a night without kids, enjoying an overnight stay in Downtown Vancouver. We began with some happy hour snacks at 131 Water Kitchen & Bar. Our food included Crispy Chicken Bites and Veggie Spring Roll, which I paired with a 131 Lager. The beer went down like juice, while the food was good and enough to tide me over for our upcoming dinner.

To stock our hotel room, we picked up a tall can four-pack of Barkerville Sluice Juice Hazy Pale Ale, a bomber of Fuggles & Warlock Valkyrie Belgian Vineyard Ale and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, our room’s fridge wasn’t really much of a cooling device, so we didn’t get to enjoy our treats as we had originally hoped.

Hotel Fridge

For dinner, we went to Lift Bar Grill View in Coal Harbour. Arriving just in time for a quick happy hour order, we each got a glass of house rosé, an appetizer of Humboldt Squid and an Oyster each (for aphrodisiacal reasons!). Mrs. Sip then went with the Halibut for dinner, while I elected to have the Burger. With my meal, I had a pint of Parkside Dusk Pale Ale. The restaurant also kindly gave us each a glass of dessert wines on the house, as a little anniversary delight.

The next morning, we had brunch at Bellaggio Cafe, where Mrs. Sip had Eggs Benedict and I went with the Chicken & Brussels Waffle. I also enjoyed a 3-ounce Caesar, which got the day off to a good start. Our activities while in the area, included the Dimensions Art Gallery, where visitors can become part of the art installations and solving a cold murder case with Vancouver Mysteries. I would recommend both to anyone looking for something to do in Vancouver.

After a brief respite, we were on the road to Whistler, which I hadn’t visited since New Year’s 2012-2013. On our way up, we stopped at the Howe Sound Brewpub in Squamish for lunch. There, I ordered the Hopraiser West Coast IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Alpine Traverse New World Tripel. To eat, we shared the Brewer’s Select Pizza, topped with pepperoni, bacon, and chorizo. We also received a taster of the Pamplemousse Pale Ale and grabbed tall cans of King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen and Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale to go.

Summer Vacation

Before leaving Squamish, we also went to A-Frame Brewing, which only had a few of their own beers on tap. We put together a flight of their Okanagan Lake Cream Ale, Sproat Lake Pale Ale, Shuswap Lake West Coast IPA and finished the set with guest tap House of Funk Atomic Jam. The brewery had a food truck onsite, which allowed us to get Toddler Sip a Churro treat for dessert.

Our dinner that night was at The Keg, since we desired a slice of Billy Miner Pie. Our food selections included Prime Rib Sliders for me and a Lobster Tail for Mrs. Sip. I paired my meal with a Chili Mango Margarita that really hit the spot. Of course, that decadent Billy Miner Pie capped the meal, which the restaurant generously comped since it was our anniversary.

Our main event for the night was checking out the Vallea Lumina Light Walk. Words and photos can’t really describe how neat of an attraction this is. Set on a dark mountainous trail, you travel through some amazing light and sound experiences that make you feel connected to the surrounding nature. I’d love to revisit in the winter, if possible.

The next day, we left the village to explore a couple nearby breweries. First up, was Whistler Brewing, where we put together a flight of their The Blonde Spruce Goose, Wayside Apricot Wit, Chestnut Ale and Black Tusk Ale. It was a solidly built flight, if I don’t say so myself. The Sunny Daze Yuzu IPA, which I had wanted to try, wasn’t on tap, so I grabbed a tall can of it for the road and really enjoyed as a breakfast beer the next day.

Coast Mountain Brewing was our second stop and we ordered two flights to be able to try eight of their 11 brews. Our boards consisted of the Day Dream IPA, The Surveyor IPA, Forecast Pale Ale, Green Run Session IPA, Vanilla Bean Stout, Woodnutt Brown Ale, Sunbreak Saison, and Drink the Rainbow (made with Skittles). I feel like doing flights is a great way to try as much as possible, but a full serving is the best way to truly appreciate a beer, as palate fatigue seems to set in when we go the flight route.

Day three was my negotiated “don’t have to drive anywhere day”, so we spent the day exploring the village. For lunch, we ate at the High Mountain BrewHouse, where between Mrs. Sip and I, we had pints of their Belgian Tripel, Belgian Wit, Alta Lake Ale and Grizzly Brown Ale. Food seemed like a good idea with all those drinks, so we ordered the Four Cheese Pizza.

Pizza

Sadly, our stay in Whistler came to an end, but we weren’t ready to go home yet. We journeyed to Pemberton to hit a couple breweries there, starting with The Beer Farmers. Following our flight, made up of the Locals Only Lager, Farmers Daughter Biere de Table, Cover Crop Hazy IPA and Dunkelweizen, we completed the farm’s sunflower maze, which was a lot of fun, particularly for Toddler Sip.

Next up, was Pemberton Brewing, for a quick flight (U-Pick Strawberry Pale Ale, Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, Upside Down Brut IPA, Barb’s Nice Pear Rhubarb Pear Sour). We also brought home a bomber of Cream Puff NE Pale Ale, which will be a nice way to bring up memories of the journey, when we finally get around to enjoy it.

Road Trip

On our drive home, we stopped in Squamish again, to hit Backcountry Brewing. There, we had a fantastic Fig & Prosciutto Pizza (as well as an appetizer of Hushpuppies), to go along with a flight of beers. The flight included the Go Get Yourself Some Cheap Sunglasses IPA, Living in a Van Down By the River ISA, I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and Patches O’Houlihan Porter. To go, Mrs. Sip grabbed a tall can four-pack of I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop Peach Sour and single tall can of Case of the Mondays Peach-Pineapple-Guava Sour.

Eight breweries over four days, completes to checklist for Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. The expedition brought Toddler Sip’s number up to 96 breweries visited and Baby Sip up to 27. Parenting done right!

Best of 2017

With Mrs. Sip pregnant and nursing a baby throughout this year, many of the usual suspects to pop up on my annual “Best Of” list were not attended in 2017. Yes, the Sip Advisor had to suffer through missing out on the Portland Beer and Wine Fest, Tip N’ Taste, Made with Love and many others. Not one to give up, I soldiered on and found other events to take the place of those occasions. Here are my top 17 nights of 2017:

Rooting for the Home Team

The fuzzy memory nights got off to an early start when I joined a Sip Syndicate member for the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes contest on January 4. The tickets were a Secret Santa gift for the Sip Advisor and provided perhaps the closest seats to the ice I’ve ever enjoyed. To mark the occasion, copious beers were consumed, including during a pre-game meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Best of all, the Canucks picked up a rare 3-0 win on this evening, including a penalty shot goal.

Surprise, Surprise

One of Mrs. Sip’s last hurrahs before learning she was pregnant was this surprise birthday outing I arranged for her at the Tapped Vancouver beer and wine tasting event. Without her knowledge, I was able to get a number of our friends to also attend and it was fun to have them arrive throughout the evening, as continuous revelations.

Surprise Party Sick

Ode to Scotch

The night after Tapped Vancouver, I was back at it, attending a friend’s annual Whiskey Tasting event. The theme for this year was Scotch’s aged eight years or less, proving that many gems can be found. Going into the evening, I was a little hesitant, as I was going solo, with the one person I knew likely to be very busy throughout the night with hosting duties. Luckily, I got a seat at a great table of strangers, who made the event quite memorable. I was even included in the Robbie Burns addressing of the haggis!

Getting Away

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate journeyed to Pemberton, BC, for a secluded getaway. The retreat also provided an opportunity to tell some of our closest friends that Mrs. Sip was expecting. With that business out of the way, the rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. One of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourite pastimes is hanging out in a hot tub with good beers and that was certainly achieved here.

Viva Las Vegas

The first of two jaunts we took to Las Vegas in 2017 took a bit of a twist when we discovered Mrs. Sip was pregnant after we had already booked our escape to the party capital. Still, we intended to live it up and that was helped by some friends also being in Sin City at the same time. Each day/night featured a different route for fun, from a club experience at XS, to exploring the off-strip craft beer scene into the wee hours of the morning, to relaxing and listening to dueling pianos (a Sip Advisor favourite activity).

Rough and Tumble

Missing out on the Rugby Sevens event in 2016 was something I would regret. I had hoped to make amends in 2017, but missed out on the original batch of tickets released. Thankfully, organizers put another batch out and when a friend informed me of the great news, I acted immediately. The frenetic action of the rugby, along with an eclectic and festive crowd made for an amazing (albeit long) day at BC Place Stadium. My favourite photo from the day shows how much junk piled up throughout the affair.

Rugby Violence

Great Cocktail Reveal

Learning the gender of our little one was a moment I’ll never forget. To do it in style, I suggested Mrs. Sip – who had learned the gender a couple weeks prior – reveal it to me by pouring either a pink or blue cocktail. When the beverage came out pink, we were both thrilled. Having a bulk of our family and friends on hand to share the memory with us made it extra special. For the gathering, I concocted two blue and two pink cocktail recipes, so others could share in the anticipation.

Sweet Returns

Back in Las Vegas for the Easter long weekend, we made sure to blend our favourite spots along the strip, while mixing in some new locales. The highlights of this adventure included a couple shows (Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil: Mystère) and a few new bars and eateries. We also squeezed in some pool time, which helped wipe away the winter blues.

Journey on the Seas

In order to highlight as many experiences as possible on this list, I’m lumping our nearly three-week cruise getaway (from Rome to Dubai) together as one entry. Highlights included drinking cocktails in both Rome and Athens; a bucket of beers and other tasty beverages aboard the cruise; the always fun task of finishing all the bottles we accumulate on the last day of the itinerary (this time as a one-man wrecking crew); and enjoying a drink in a mostly dry country.

Comedy Capers

Driving six hours round trip for a comedy show may not be every person’s idea of a good night out, but the Sip Advisor isn’t every person. When I discovered Christopher Titus was performing at the Tacoma Comedy Club and I had a small window in my schedule to actually attend one of the shows, I got down on my knees and begged the Sip Alliance to placate my wishes… nay, my demands. In actuality, everyone was quick to come aboard and we had a fun night out in Tacoma before coming home the next morning.

Short Road Trip.png

Batting Practice

In the spring and summer of 2017, the Sip Advisor joined a baseball/softball team for the first time since I was a wee little sipper. While my skills were certainly lacking, I had a great time meeting new folks. After one set of early morning games, I hosted the team at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for some swimming and drinking. The weather was perfect for such an occasion and I think it helped the team bond even more than we previously had.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

From my earliest days, family road trips featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers providing the soundtrack. As a result, I grew up a fan of the band. Getting the opportunity to see them live was amazing and with Petty’s untimely passing just a month and a half later, the experience was all the more significant. I had already planned to see them the next time they rode into town… sadly, this will not be possible.

Baby Shower Beer Garden

When Mrs. Sip and I first conceived the idea of hosting a beer garden for our baby shower, we knew it would be a hit. After all, we wanted to include both our male and female friends and family and what better way to get everyone together than a beer garden. Mrs. Sip and I were taken aback with our guests incredible generosity with gifts. Our little one will be set up for some time to come.

Baseballs and Beers and Boxing

Unfortunately, I had missed our baseball team’s tournament earlier in the year, out of town for a family wedding. To make amends, I tied one on big time for the second competition, downing 10 beers over our five-hour break between games. Thankfully, those brews were of the 4.2% ABV variety. Once our day at the ballpark was finished, a few of us gathered for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight to keep the fun going.

Softball Fun

Brewer’s Row Revisited

Much like last year, our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row was a perfect summer day spent enjoying delicious beer and good company. For those that have never ventured that way, it’s a must. There are four breweries within a five-minute walking distance of each other and they each serve up fine products. This year, we also managed to visit the brand new Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam, as the first stop of our expedition.

Boys Will Be Boys

Bachelor parties/stags can be funny things. You’re often hanging out with a few friends and a number of strangers, perhaps doing a set of activities that normally wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse. But that’s also part of the fun. This day of debauchery included paintball and a Vancouver Whitecaps game, as well as the standard bar and strip club stops. The Sip Advisor drank quite well throughout and can’t wait for the January wedding and round two.

The Greatest Gift

My birthday was set to be an event-filled weekend, full of chicanery. Fate had other plans, however, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On the morning of my birthday, I awoke to learn Mrs. Sip was experiencing early labour. The rest of the day was spent awaiting the arrival of Baby Sip, who entered the world at 1:33am the next morning. While I was happy to share my birthday, our little one decided she wanted her own spotlight, making for future birthday weekends to be that much more special!

There you have it folks, the Sip Advisor survived a year without my numero uno drinking buddy. As you can see, while Mrs. Sip was busy doing an awesome job of bringing our daughter into the world, I kept up with my usual antics!