Sip Trips #125: San Diego Sipping (Part 1)

Mrs. Sip, Baby Sip and I spent most of the month of February in San Diego County, which meant a lot of craft breweries, a few wineries and other adventures. Here’s part one of our experiences:

Upon arriving, we did some grocery shopping to stock up on supplies. While deciding on a case of beer, Mrs. Sip came across the New Belgium Blend Like A Brewer Variety Pack. This set has an amazing concept with a recipe guide that allows drinkers to blend the six beers (Black Lager, Sour Ale, Belgian White, Tangerine IPA, Belgian Dubbel, and Belgian Trippel) that comprise the case to make some very good mixes. Our favourite was the Monk’s Pajamas, which combined the Belgian Dubbel and Black Lager. I would get this pack again, just to do my own experimenting.

Abs Craft Beer

The resort we were staying at offered a weekly craft beer tasting, followed by pub trivia. We attended the tasting once, which allowed for a sampling of six different beers for $12. The brews offered were Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale, Mother Earth Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale, Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA, Novo Brazil The Mango Beer, Ballast Point Mocha Marlin Porter, and Belching Beaver Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Stout. This was a great introduction to the San Diego craft beer scene, some breweries which I was familiar with and others I was not.

Following the tasting, we won the pub trivia, earning us a prize pack that included a bomber of one of the beers we had just tasted. We selected the Belching Beaver Me So Honey Blonde Ale. The next two weeks, we would also come out on top at trivia, earning us bottles of AleSmith My Bloody Valentine Ale and Coronado Orange Ave Wit.

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A few days later, we travelled across the US-Mexico border into Tijuana for the craft beer tour we had arranged with Border Tours. Once we made it to downtown Tijuana, we hit four different breweries, getting to enjoy a flight or pint at each. The breweries included Norte, Border Psycho, Teorema/Ludica, and Mamut. We also stopped for delicious goat meat street tacos in the middle of the tour, which made sure we didn’t end up too blitzed. The tour cost us $108 each, after getting a special discount through the vendor. A Groupon for the tour also exists. Mrs. Sip and I both recommend the company, who provided us with a knowledgeable guide and was always quick to respond to any questions we had.

At this point, our vacation was just ramping up. In part two of our travels, we continue to explore San Diego County, including a self-guided craft beer tour for Valentine’s Day and a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo!

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Sip Trips #123: Wedded Bliss

Last week was a very busy one for myself and Mrs. Sip. We were members of a friend’s wedding party and there were a number of events to attend and breweries and restaurants to visit during our stay in the North Vancouver area.

Our first stop was the Tap & Barrel Shipyards location, which served host to the rehearsal dinner. There, I ordered the PB&J Burger, which was fantastic. I’ve had the burger on other occasions, but this was hands down the best version of it I have experienced. As for drinks, I chose pints of Mount Arrowsmith Comfortably Chum Hef and Hearthstone Magodes White IPA. I had also wanted to try the 33 Acres of Cashmere Red Ale, but it was tapped out.

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The next day, we visited Boston Pizza for a drink after I finished work. I picked the Whiskey BBQ Bacon Caesar, which had a really interesting smoky barbecue flavour to go with the usual Caesar blend. Following that beverage, we hit the nearby BC Liquor Store to pick up some supplies for the room. We snagged the Doan’s Brewing Happy Pack, which is comprised of two tall cans each of their Rye IPA, Kolsch, Stout, and seasonal Crystal Weiss.

After a brief respite in our room, we journeyed to Beere Brewing Company, where I had a serving of their recently released Cherry Willis Imperial Stout. The brew was very nice, featuring flavours of cherry and cacao. The night wrapped with one more brewery stop, as I showed an out-of-town friend the North Van scene, popping into Green Leaf Brewing for a pint of their Azacca Cadabra ISA.

Saturday was the wedding, and with an open bar on the docket, a lot of drinking was done. I visited the bar so many times that I had a good relationship going with the bartender, who complimented my alcohol tolerance, as well as the cuteness of Baby Sip, who was enjoying her first wedding and was very well-behaved throughout.

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Following a couple days off to recharge the batteries after the wedding, we were back at it Tuesday night, first stopping at Earl’s Kitchen + Bar for a happy hour beverage. I chose their Rhino Pale Ale, which is served in a massive, intimidating glass. Our evening entertainment was supplied by Relish The Pub and their weekly trivia night. One difference with Relish’s trivia, compared to other local options, is that each table pays a $5 entry, with that money going towards the BC Cancer Foundation. While we have yet to win anything during our few visits to Relish, the prizes are quite good (gift cards and pitchers of beer), so we will have to try our luck again in the future.

Mrs. Sip’s birthday is this weekend, so it will be another busy “break”. The Sip Advisor will be slinging drinks at a joint birthday party for Mrs. Sip and a friend, as the hosts are moving out at the end of the month and are looking to get rid of some liquor bottles. Should be a lot of fun!

Sip Trips #112: Summer Sizzle

For Mrs. Sip and I, I’ve coined the phrase: Weekend Warriors, Weekday Legends! Our insanely busy last week is a perfect example of our quest to live life to the fullest. Here’s a recap of all the action, which still has my head spinning:

The week that was started with the Sip Alliance attending Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert. Prior to the show, we met for dinner at The Kingston Taphouse, where Mrs. Sip and I shared their delicious Chicken Caesar Flatbread, followed by a slice of fantastic Oreo Cheesecake for dessert. Looking to build a buzz for the concert, I started with a serving of Original 16 Pale Ale and then doubled down with a Spiced Rum and Ginger Ale, which came with the lightest splash of the mixer.

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As for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (with special guest The Lumineers), the show was absolutely amazing. The band went through all their hits and had the place rocking from start to finish. Should they return to our beautiful city, I would certainly attend again. During the performance, I shelled out big bucks for a couple Stella Artois pilsners, which was simply the price of doing business.

On our way home afterwards, still feeling the adrenaline, we decided to go for a nightcap at The Loose Moose. There, I had a pair of Stanley Park Windstorm Pale Ales, while the bar filled the area with rock music, including my favourite Tom Petty track, Running Down a Dream.

On Saturday, Ma and Pa Sip hosted our Baby Shower Beer Garden. In the weeks leading up to the celebration, I lost sleep over my concerns that we’d run out of brews. The night before, I even made a run to get another two cases for additional coverage. In the end, we survived the night, thanks to mixed packs from Phillips, Whistler, Vancouver Island, Bowen Island, Central City and Big Rock breweries. We also had some ciders, coolers, wines, etc. to cover all the bases. Our guests really enjoyed the set-up and being able to try a variety of beverages. A huge thanks to both our sets of parents for their help with the party and to all those who attended and were so generous with gifts for our little one.

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The next day, I was right back at it, meeting up with the guys at Colony on Main for a couple beers, prior to attending a Vancouver Canadians game. While at the stadium, I visited the amazing Craft Beer Corner on multiple occasions, grabbing servings of Big Rock Citradelic IPA, Whistler Grapefruit Ale, and Steamworks Summer Ale and Flagship IPA. While I’m still not the biggest baseball fan, there’s something so appealing about foot long hotdogs, a beautiful day and drinking at the ballpark.

Following the contest, which the Canadians won, we visited Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub for a wrap-up. There, I had a pair of their Gatekeeper Caesars (complete with chorizo stick and pickled spiced bean), which were on special. The drinks provided a perfect finish to the hectic, but oh so memorable weekend.

Did things get lighter with the work week arriving? Heck no! Remember, the Weekday Legends portion of our credo? On Tuesday, Cousin Sip and I attended Caskapalooza 2017 at Craft Beer Market. The event featured 36 casks, with all the industry’s big players on hand. Tickets were $25 each – with partial proceeds going towards the Dress for Success charity – and included 12 tokens. With Cousin Sip’s help, we tried more than two-thirds of the available beverages, with my favourites being Yellow Dog’s Mango High Five Hazy IPA and Granville Island’s Porter Con Chocolate Picante.

Beer Work

The week wrapped up with a return to Darby’s Gastown for their pub trivia night with Mrs. Sip’s work crew. Over pints of Fuggles & Warlock Agent Orange IPA and Steel & Oak Towers and Trains IPA, our team put up another valiant effort, but finished tied for fourth place. Still, this earned us a set of passes to one of the local Escape Room companies.

On tap for another busy week upcoming is our first Dinner en Blanc; our fifth wedding anniversary, celebrated by visiting the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) for the first time in 15 years; a baseball tournament, complete with beer garden; our one-day pre-natal course (we’ll find a way to make things fun); and a return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row!

Sip Trips #111: Long Weekend Lounging

While the August long weekend was busy, there was actually far more time for rest and relaxation than I had originally anticipated. Still, it wasn’t all laid back and lazy:

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a bit of a date night at local favourite Patron Tacos & Cantina. Straying slightly from our usual order, we split their Queso Fundido and Chicken Quesadilla dishes, while Mrs. Sip satisfied her craving for Horchata and I downed a pint of their Patron Lager. The meal was very filling, so we even took home some leftover with us.

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The next evening, the Sip Syndicate gathered at The Yale Saloon for dinner. Here, I paired a Granville Island Pale Ale with their BBQ Sample Plate (split with a friend), which included a serving of brisket with jalpeno cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad. My only complaint from visiting the Yale Saloon last year remains the same, as it would be great to see more local craft beer added to the menu. At least a Granville Island selection is now available.

Following the meal, we made our way to Sunset Beach for the Celebration of Light fireworks. First, a quick liquor store stop was necessary, where we grabbed a pair of Postmark West Coast Pale Ale tall can four-packs to consume while watching the show in the sky. I was hesitant about attending the long weekend Saturday show (we typically see the lone Wednesday presentation for lighter crowds), but things weren’t anywhere near as bad as I feared. Best of all, the Team Canada contingent put on a fantastic show.

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On Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I decided to get some of the shopping out of the way for our Baby Shower Beer Garden. I’ve been stressing over having a good mix and the right amount of brews for the event, so it was relieving to make a few decisions. Wanting to have a fair variety, we grabbed mixed packs from Big Rock, Central City, Bowen Island, and Vancouver Island breweries. We also picked up some traditional options in Blue Moon, Budweiser, Canadian and Strongbow Cider, to cover all our bases. Also while out, I nabbed the Phillips Hop Box for myself, along with an extra-tall can of Longwood’s Berried Alive Raspberry Ale.

Sadly, the long weekend couldn’t last forever, but that didn’t mean the fun halted. With the work week back in full swing, we took time out to attend the brand new IQ2000 trivia night hosted at the Central City Brew Pub on Wednesdays. Our team put on a pretty good performance, finishing third and earning a pass for six people to enjoy a tour and tasting at the brewery’s impressive Surrey location. As for food and drink, I was saddened to learn that my Crispy Crunch Burger is no longer on the menu. I settled for their Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, which was also good. My beverage selections included the Mystery Tap (the cheapest brew on the menu for adventurous drinks), which turned out to be Central City’s Lemon Groove Golden Ale, followed by their White Ale. We’ll be back in a couple weeks to take home top prize!