Sip Trips #44: California Dreamin’ (Part 2)

Part one of this week’s Sip Trips looked at our time aboard the Star Princess, travelling from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Part two sees us arrive at our final destination, Escondido, California, for a few days of R&R at the Lawrence Welk Resort.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego, we were off in search of some of the city’s craft beer to enjoy during our stay. I picked up Stone Brewing’s variety pack, which included their Cali-Belgique IPA, Pale Ale 2.0, Coffee Milk Stout, and Ruination Double IPA 2.0 (including the slogan “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop”). My favourite of the lot was the stout and the entire collection made for some good drinking, while relaxing and catching up on TV viewing.

cats watching lion king

Our Lawrence Welk Resort also had a couple of their own craft beers, brewed by Iron Fist. This included the Renegade Blonde and Stout. The beers were decent, but expensive, coming in at $10 and $14, respectively. That said, they did come in 750ml bottles, so we were open to experimenting.

The weather during our stay was a mix of warm, sunny days and chilly nights (it even rained one day), so we managed to get a little pool time in. While soaking up some sun at one of the resort’s pools, we ordered a couple drinks from the pool bar. Mrs. Sip got a Mai Tai, while I enjoyed a Cucumber-Jalapeno Margarita. The cool of the cucumbers provided a nice balance to the heat of the jalapenos and it was a good tanning beverage.

That same day, we toweled off and made our way to the Temecula Valley Wine Country, a beautiful region chock full of wineries. We randomly selected Bel Vino Winery to start our journey and were shocked by the very expensive tastings prices ($17 each for 6 one oz pours), which are not waived with bottle purchase. I’m not sure if other California wine regions operate similarly, but you have to understand that Mrs. Sip and I are accustomed to paying $5 for a tasting, which is typically waived with the purchase of a bottle.

unpretentious wine taster

Hell, for the $17 tasting, I could just buy a bottle and call it a day. Mrs. Sip and I found this business tactic to not be very conducive in encouraging guests to buy wine. After sharing our first tasting, I didn’t even bother participating at our next stop, Leoness Cellars, which was suggested by someone we talked to at Bel Vino, and also operated under a similar pricing structure, with tastings costing $18.

The wineries we visited and drove by we all packed with people – some very, very intoxicated – so perhaps doing a tour bus would be the better way of hitting the region and saving money with whatever package you pay for. Joining the winery’s respective clubs is also an option and includes perks that make the prices more tolerable. All in all, I was pretty disappointed with how the Wine Country operated and their business practices.

We travelled back to Temecula a couple days later to visit Garage Brewing, but sadly, they are closed on Mondays. I had looked them up after returning from our wine afternoon and they had some interesting brews on tap. It just wasn’t meant to be, but another time will hopefully provide more success.

start drinking on monday

While we were visiting, San Diego was enjoying their annual Craft Beer Week, but being located outside the city, we didn’t get to attend any of the festivities. We made up for it on our journey to the airport by stopping at a few locations, starting with Lost Abbey and Port Brewing. There, we tried some samples of their Red Barn Saison, Witch’s Wit, Serpent’s Stout, and Mongo IPA. I thought each beer was quite good, with the Saison perhaps edging out the others as my favourite, thanks to its ginger bite on the back end.

Our final stop was to Stone Brewing, which has a new beautiful facility, although signage is hard to find, save for the gargoyle mascot that represents the company on bottles and other products. We sat down and had some drinks and snacks in the brewery’s restaurant, testing out beers such as Xocoveza for the Holidays, Sawyer’s Triple, Smoked Porter, and Go to IPA w/ Lemon Peel and Vanilla Bean. The Xocoveza winter ale and IPA were my favourite of the bunch. As we were leaving, we splurged on a bottle of Locoveza (produced in wine and tequila barrels) to bring home. At close to $20 for the brew, we’re saving it for a special occasion.

The return to the real world is always harsh, but next week’s Sip Trips will be full of goodies (they always are!), as Vancouver’s Hopscotch Festival has been ongoing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy attending a number of the event’s proceedings!

 

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Sip Trips #42

Nuttin’ Doin’

Mrs. Sip and I didn’t get up to too much adventure this last week, so this won’t be a long Sip Trips article. That said, we do have another vacation upcoming and there is certainly some mischief ahead. Let’s get on with things:

On Friday, I attended to retirement party of one of my coworkers at the new Tap & Barrel in North Vancouver. Here, I ordered the Steel & Oak Roggen Weizen, as well as the Hearthstone Hazelnut Porter. Both beers were good, with the Roggen Weizen being the better of the two. While I enjoyed the Porter, the hazelnut flavour wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. In fact, I couldn’t really taste it at all. The staff at the restaurant did a good job of taking care of our large group and paid me a terrific compliment as I settled my tab. The server remembered exactly what I had order because, as she put it, I ordered good beers!

retirement-plan

For Halloween, we celebrated with friends at a house party. My pre-drinking included the Steel & Oak Barrel Aged Smoked Hefeweizen, which Mrs. Sip picked up for me a while back. The brew was definitely boozy and at 7% was a good base for the night ahead.

The next day, we visited Ma and Pa Sip to help eat their leftover Halloween candy… after all, what else are parents for!? While there, Ma Sip cracked open her bottle of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur (the purple one) and created a drink using lemon, pomegranate, and lemon-lime sodas. The concoction was quite good and now I have a better sense of where my natural cocktail mixing abilities come from!

quit drinking

Prior to attending Cirque du Soleil: Kooza, Mrs. Sip and I had dinner at the Hurricane Grill in Yaletown. The food here was delicious – we shared the chicken quesadilla and pulled pork poutine – and the service very good. I ordered the Blood Alley cocktail (vodka, scotch, and blood orange soda), which was good, but if I’d made it myself, I would have used more scotch to enhance the smoky flavour. Mrs. Sip had their feature drink, the Hurricane (three different rums mixed with strawberry and mango puree), which was a little disappointing in that it was not made clear the drink was frozen and given we’re moving into winter, an iced drink was not what Mrs. Sip was looking for.

To sum up, this is what a quiet week looks like for Mrs. Sip and me. Next week, there will be no Sip Trips, as we will be enjoying a cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles, followed by a weekend of relaxing in Escondido, California. Nearby, San Diego will be celebrating their annual Craft Beer Week (how fortuitous), so you can bet there will be some Canadian content on hand for the festivities!