Sip Trips #113: Highs and Lows

You’d think with a baby on the way, Mrs. Sip and I would be scaling back on the social activities and moving into that nesting phase we’ve been told about. Think again! It seems we’re trying to squeeze every last bit out of our carefree lifestyle before that all changes. Here’s a look at the week that was:

The week started with the event I had been dreading all summer: Dîner en Blanc. Perhaps a more suitable name would be Dîner avec des Règles (Dinner with Rules – thanks Google Translator). After all, you had to dress a particular way, had to have a table with certain measurements, couldn’t do this, had to do that, etc. Saddest of all, I used to laugh at all the idiots carrying their tables and chairs around downtown Vancouver, dressed like members of some ridiculous cult… I mean, I still did this year, but now I was one of those idiots!

Diner en Blanc.jpg

The dinner itself, I will say, was enjoyable. Sadly, everything surrounding it was straight up unnecessary. First, we had to walk over an hour from our group meeting spot to the eventual destination, carrying tables, chairs, food, drink, and accessories across Vancouver, while holding up traffic at intersections and clogging sidewalks. Why they had us meet in the middle of Downtown Vancouver, only to walk to the northern tip is beyond me. A number of SkyTrain stations were closer and would have provided an easier journey.

Once at the venue, things didn’t get any easier, as we stood in line for close to an hour to receive our pre-ordered wine. Had we also ordered food, that would have added another lengthy delay. By the time we sat down to eat, the sun was already setting and folks were getting ornery. At the end of the night, guess what you have to do? Pack up in the dark and do the arduous journey back home. Will I do the event next year, as Mrs. Sip assumes? Hell no… I’m one and done, homies! Next year, the guys have vowed to spend our precious time saluting the five Bs: babies, burgers, beers, bourbon, and bacon!

Okay, on to better times. The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, attending the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) for the first time since our first summer dating in 2002. There, we enjoyed walking around and gawking at all the crazy fair food options. We started the day with a Dole Whip with Strawberry Sauce and Macaroon Crumbs, which was very tasty. For lunch, we settled on a Double Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Dog, which we shared at the Plaza Beer Garden with a Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears for moi. The setting was nice and relaxed for the time of day and our meal was very filling and gluttonous. For dessert, we grabbed a serving of Cookie Dough on a Stick, which was a perfect treat to end our visit on.

Cookie Dough

Aside from the food, we enjoyed the Extreme Bugs and Toytopia exhibits, while also checking out the world famous Super Dogs do their thing. Probably my only complaint from the day was that there was too many cash only booths, especially for beer and wine. Come on people, we’re far more advanced than that now.

On our way back downtown, we stopped at Legacy Liquor Store, where Vibrant Vine was offering a tasting of a couple products. Their bottles are designed by the son of the owners and even come with 3-D glasses to fully appreciate the work. We grabbed a birthday bottle of their Pinot Grigio for a friend, while I snagged a bottle Tin Whistle Summertime Coconut Hopfenweise.

Next up was Big Rock Urban Eatery’s Summer Wrap Party, where the brewery welcomed guests of all ages (and fur babies) to drop by for food, drinks, games and music. Each attendee could get a free beer and either an artisan deli sandwich or gelato cookie sandwich. With Mrs. Sip’s tickets, I was the recipient of two Grasshopper Wheat Ales and one of each type of sandwich, including peanut butter and bacon gelato on our cookie sandwich. The anniversary was quite the contrast between overpriced fair fare and the free brewery party!

Free Beer

After a very brief rest, I was off to a tournament for my softball team. Our squad already drinks better than we play, so with the tournament having a beer garden, at least we were in our element. Over a four hour break between games, I polished off 10 Hearthstone Atlantic Pale Ales. Suffice to say, our team lost by mercy in our final showing of the day. Triple O’s was also on hand food truck style, with their burgers pairing very nicely with the brews.

Moving on from the ball field, a group of us ended up at Bao Down on Commercial Drive, which serves up Filipino baos, tacos and other Pan-Asian fusion foods. Not quite interested in food just yet, I ordered their Calamasita cocktail (tequila, sweet and sour shrub, Cointreau, egg whites, Calamansi limes, agave syrup), which was very good and refreshing. I’d love to return and try more of their food menu in the future.

Finally, we ended up watching the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight. I’m not a big boxing fan, but the spectacle of the fight was fun and when you’re with friends, pounding double Spiced Rum and Cokes, does it really matter what you’re watching!?

Next week sees many long weekend shenanigans, including our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row; a trip to the Twilight Drive-in Theatre in Aldergrove; the Dysfunctional Disney burlesque at the Rio Theatre; our Lionel Richie-Mariah Carey concert and much, much more. Don’t you dare miss out!

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Sip Trips #34: Beer Baron

Well, this was a beer-soaked weekend if there ever was one – and there have been many! With a self-guided bike and beer tour, as well as a brews cruise on the docket, there’s much to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

With friends visiting from Toronto this weekend, I wanted to show them as much of Vancouver’s amazing craft beer scene as possible. I settled on a bike and beer tour of the affectionately named ‘Yeast Van’ area, which is home to numerous breweries.

Our first stops of the day were Bomber Brewing, followed by Off the Rail Brewing, located right across the street. Both locations offer some good beers and a totally different vibe. With so many stops planned on our itinerary, we largely split tasting flights between couples. My favourite beer at each stop was the Dunkelweizen and Raj Mahal IPA, respectively.

bike and beer

Next up was a short ride to Callister Brewing, which features a number of Real Cask brews, as well. With 10 beers on the menu, our crew ordered one of everything, providing many opportunities to find the perfect beer. I particularly enjoyed the Seshuinox and Apricot Resurrection varieties.

Another short jaunt and we arrived at Powell Street Brewing. When originally constructing the plan for the day, I had marked Powell Street as a stop that was optional. I’m very glad we made it there, though, as each of the four beers I sampled were quite good. This included the Wayne Grisettesky (awesome name!), Amarillo Sour, Right Kind of Crazy Double IPA, and Ode to Citra Pale Ale.

After a few tasting rooms to loosen us all up, it was time to visit what I considered would be our main event: Storm Brewing. Mrs. Sip and I love this place for its great staff (the Heathers!), funky atmosphere, and amazing beers. I really enjoy trying the brewery’s  ‘Brainstorms’, an ever-changing list of creative and unique beverages. On tap this time was a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Ale, Gin and Tonic Pilsner, Cream Soda Pilsner, Iced Mocha Stout, Raspberry Berlinerweisse, Dry Hopped IPA, and Vanilla Whiskey Stout. I gave high rankings to each of these options and can’t wait to go back and try the next batch of conceptions. Perhaps best of all, doing a tasting at Storm is by donation and with that, you get up to six samples.

Our last stop of the beer and bike tour was Doan’s Brewing, another first visit for the Sip Advisor. Here, we tried each of the four beers available, including their Kolsch, Alt Bier, Rye IPA, and German IPA. Nothing against Doan’s (their brews were decent), but the stop was a little anti-climactic after Storm.

anticlimatic

We had also hoped to get into Parallel 49 and Strange Fellows, but by the time we hit either place, later in the day, they both had long waits to get in and those in our group who had rented bikes, had to return them. The day was long from over, though, as after dropping off our rides, we walked over to Big Rock Urban Eatery in the Olympic Village area.

For this trip to Big Rock, I was more enamored with the food than the beer. I ordered what I describe as the ‘Eric Cartman Special’: crispy fried chicken skin, called Chickeronnes. The waitress pointed out to me that there was no meat involved in the dish and I told her that’s exactly how I wanted it! They didn’t blow my mind or anything, but now I can say I tried them. One of our party was celebrating their birthday, so the restaurant brought her a serving of their Fiasco Smores. I thought this dish was fantastic, with boozed up ingredients, including chocolate stout gelato, rauchbier ganache, and bourbon vanilla marshmallow.

We finished the day at Craft Beer Market, a must for any visitor to the city, as far as the Sip Advisor is concerned. Sadly, a few of the beers I wanted to try were already tapped out. We also tried to order some samples of beers we were curious about, only to receive a full serving. Despite that, the beer (Hoyne Dark Matter, Dieu Du Ciel Rosee D’Hibiscus, Hilliard’s Chrome Satan) was still good and it seems they improved on their Fast Food Sushi appetizer.

As if that wasn’t enough beer for a lifetime, we had purchased a Groupon earlier in the week for the Vancouver Craft Brew Cruise. Thanks to an additional discount, the originally priced $50 tickets only cost $24 per person. The cruise featured 17 craft breweries and with entry, you got five drink tickets. Each additional ticket was only $1, which is cool with the Sip Advisor. Through my own choices, sharing, and a couple freebies, I managed to try 16 different brews (or at least that’s what I recorded). I gravitated towards options I hadn’t experienced before and there were many available on the boat. My favourites included the Black Kettle IPA, Hoyne Summer Haze, Dageraad Burnabarian, and Phillips Short Wave.

female boat

Following the cruise, we were on the hunt for food and conveniently came across some reps for Central City, who advised us of their new downtown location on Beatty Street. What luck, as they were featuring half price burgers. Our group ordered five different options and all were good. My choice was the Crispy Crunch chicken burger, which was absolutely delicious and paired very nicely with my Steel & Oak Smoked Hef.

As if the week wasn’t busy enough already, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary on Tuesday. To commemorate the day, we had dinner at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which was special because that’s also where we stayed on our wedding night! Sadly, Mrs. Sip wasn’t feeling well, but I have largely recovered from a similar cold and ordered their Caliente cocktail, which mixes tequila, smoked serrano peppers, cilantro, and pineapple juice. It was muy bueno!

Next week looks busy again, with a visit to the Pacific National Exhibition and their craft beer fest scheduled for Saturday and one of my favourite events of the year, the Made with Love cocktail competition, on Monday.