Sip Trips #159: Free Bird Follies

As winter fades away and spring emerges from the darkness, the Sip Family has been busy. Mrs. Sip was recently in Las Vegas with her girlfriends, providing the Sip Advisor a little time to get reacquainted with loved ones. Those would include new purchases, such as Steel & Oak Talanoa Wheat Ale and Lamb’s Cherry Spiced Rum. The Talanoa (Fijian for sharing stories and ideas to build relationships and understanding) was brewed by the ladies of Steel & Oak Brewing as their second annual Women’s Charity Brew. Proceeds from the beer, made with black currant and rosemary, are going to The Kettle Society, which provides support for people living with mental illness. The Spiced Rum was an interesting find as I perused the aisles of a nearby liquor store. Thanks to an online suggestion, I’ve used the booze in a Mai Tai recipe and look forward to throwing it in a Dark N’ Stormy soon.

rum locations

As for events, Mrs. Sip and I attended the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the Abbotsford Centre last Friday. Prior to heading out to the valley, we had dinner at Milestones, capitalizing on their afternoon happy hour for servings of Phillip’s Electric Unicorn White IPA and Hoyne Dark Matter. The two Victoria-based brews paired nicely with my Crispy Sweet Chili Chicken Bowl, which I would definitely order again. Mrs. Sip had the Caprese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which I snagged a bite of, and also enjoyed.

As for the concert, I think my hearing is still slowly coming back. The show was rocking all the way through the night and the band ending their appearance with an encore performance of Free Bird was everything a fan could have asked for. Arriving early, we took advantage of the Vancouver Island Brewing free tasting being offered and also grabbed cans of a couple Foamers’ Folly Brewing selections, including the Hot Box IPA for me and Raspberry Honey Hefeweizen for Mrs. Sip.

freebird nursery rhyme.jpg

After a day of “rest”, where we only had two commitments to make, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at Dead Frog Brewing. They turned their Steel Toe Lager green (with natural ingredients), so we crossed that tradition off the to-do list. Mrs. Sip also ordered a pint of the newly-released Pineapple Midnight Tropical Porter for us to share, which had an interesting blend of summer and winter flavours. For food, we imbibed with Pork Carnitas Street Tacos for moi and some Avocado Toast for the mademoiselle. Both were quite good and recommendable. The Dead Frog staff deserve major kudos for doing their best to make guests comfortable on a very busy day and for providing live music and cupcakes for children young and old at heart.

In the coming weeks, Mrs. Sip and I will celebrate 17 years of being in a relationship. I honestly can’t believe she’s put up with me this long!

Sip Trips #131: Strip Show (Part 2)

Part two of our travels to Las Vegas began with the holiest of drinking days: St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve actually celebrated the holiday in Dublin, Ireland, but being in Las Vegas was sure to be unique in its own way. We began the day with cracking open a few Guinness Nitro IPAs from the six-pack I bought at Walmart as we were out the day before. The beers were an interesting blend of a smooth and non-carbonated, yet hoppy ale.

Our first stop of the day was Ketchup Premium Burger Bar, to use the Groupon we had purchased prior to our trip. Our $10 got us $20 worth of food and drinks. With beverages already in hand (and more chilling in Baby Sip’s stroller!), we elected to go with a few food items, such as their Bacon Cheese Fries, Pretzel Bites and Crunch Dog. I was particularly fond of the fries, while Mrs. Sip enjoyed the hotdog.

As we travelled around the Miracle Mile Shops, we passed Sin City Brewing, which was serving up green beers to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Since this was something Mrs. Sip and I wanted to check off our list for the day, I grabbed us a pair of 24oz German Weisse Beers, which was a great way to enjoy the odd tradition.

Green Beer

After some more exploring, we had a late dinner Dick’s Last Resort in the Excalibur. This restaurant boasts servers that will treat you with contempt, as well as an eclectic food menu. Using a dining credit we had for staying at the resort, we ordered their Wicked Gator alligator bites, BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos and Crabby Balls with fries. To drink, I selected the Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. The alligator bites were particularly awesome and it’s no wonder the chain is known for this menu item.

The next day, we snagged last-minute tickets (through StubHub) to the Vegas Golden Knights game versus the Calgary Flames. We had always hoped to attend this contest, but when we first saw tickets for only $45 each, we hadn’t taken Baby Sip to a hockey game yet and weren’t sure how she’d handle the experience. Once we knew she’d be okay, prices to Golden Knights games had drastically risen, thanks to the team’s success. So we bided our time and when seats popped up for only $40 an hour before puck drop, we jumped. The 4-0 Vegas win, hat trick by William Karlsson and shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury made for one hell of a contest. All NHL teams should study the Golden Knights in-game experience, which is something I will never forget.

While we didn’t indulge in any drinks at the game, as we were returning to our hotel, we passed by the Pour 24 bar in New York New York, with Mrs. Sip spotting an ad for their own Golden Knights Game-Day Beer. This ended up being a delicious 16oz serving from Hop Nuts Brewing, which I believe was their The Golden Knight Belgian Golden Strong Ale, but I could be mistaken.

Golden Knights Bandwagon

As we ventured out into the night again, we had to pick up some more formula for Baby Sip. After all, she’s allowed to enjoy some beverages just like mommy and daddy. As we shopped, I picked up another walking beer, this time a pint of Oskar Blues Brewing Dale’s Pale Ale. At the checkout, Mrs. Sip spotted a bottle of Kona Longboard Lager for only 99 cents, so we added that to our basket, as well.

We enjoyed these beverages en route to PBR Rock Bar. No Vegas vacation is complete for me and Mrs. Sip without a stop here. Sadly, the Doritos Crusted Mac N Cheese that I have raved about in past Sip Trips is no longer on the menu, replaced by Bacon Mac & Cheese Balls, which are equally delicious. Our other favourite menu item, the Bucking Bull Fries have also been adapted, now including a fried egg. This may be the best serving I have had of these fries, thus far. To drink, I cashed in a 2-for-1 offer Mrs. Sip had picked up earlier to receive a couple servings of Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA. The large serving was very tasty and lasted for a while.

After having such a good meal last time we were in town, we next made our way to The Cheesecake Factory for some dessert. Mrs. Sip ordered the Fresh Basil, Tomato and Cheese Flatbread for a small bite, while we agreed we had to try the Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. This delicious and decadent treat features caramel, peanut butter, Butterfinger bits and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Cheesecake Love

For a nightcap on the evening, we popped into the Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan, home to a drink I just had to try after hearing about it. The Verbena Cocktail is a hidden menu item that just has to be tried by anyone who fancies interesting drinks. It is by far the most interesting beverage experience I’ve ever had, as my entire mouth was first number by chewing on the Sichuan flower. The drink then changes in taste and flavours as your taste buds are incredibly sensitive and feel like they’re actually growing back. I will be back to try it again, despite the high price when converted into Canadian dollars.

Sadly, the time to return home had finally come, but we had time for one more great experience at Lilia’s Mexican Cuisine & Cantina in Bellingham, Washington. My order of Tacos Al Pastor was wonderful. Just as fantastic was my beer selection of Iron Horse Quilter’s Irish Death Dark Smooth Ale, which was on special for just $4.

In closing, my main goal with this vacation was to disprove an article we read prior to our trip where a mother proclaimed that people should not travel to Las Vegas with babies. Sure, the trip could have been different, perhaps even easier, but I wouldn’t trade in the time we shared together for anything.

Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

Sip Trips #95: Long-Haul Trucking

Last weekend, the Sip Advisor did more driving over Friday, Saturday and Sunday than I have comparatively done for the rest of 2017. This included trips across the border to Bellingham, out east to Mission and Maple Ridge, and stops in between. Of course, beverages were also part of the weekend considerations.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we ended up in a Mexican restaurant of all places. Travelling to Bellingham, Washington to enjoy comedian Lewis Black perform at the Mount Baker Theatre, we decided to dine at the nearby Taco Lobo eatery. There, I paired a massive Al Pastor Burrito with a refreshing Boundary Bay Bellingham Blonde (no green beer for the Sip Advisor this year), while Mrs. Sip tried a trio of tacos and a serving of Horchata. I guess when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, we’ll have to visit an Irish pub, in exchange.

4-20 for Alcoholics

Dinner was very tasty and the show that followed was a lot of fun. The Mount Baker Theatre is a beautiful venue, reminding me of Vancouver Orpheum Theatre. We had planned to do some grocery shopping or pop into a craft brewery before heading home, but the daylight savings time hour change really affected us this year and we were pretty exhausted after the long work week, so unfortunately had to ditch those plans.

Later in the weekend, we were in Maple Ridge to visit a friend. She suggested having lunch at the Billy Miner Pub, which is located in a prime position along the water. Here, I ordered their Teriyaki Fries (pulled pork, smothered in teriyaki sauce and covered in cheese, crispy onions and diced green pepper), which were absolutely delicious. For my beverage, I had a tough choice to make, selecting from the pub’s extensive beer menu, but settled on a pint of the delightful Pfriem Family Citrus IPA.

Somewhere in all that indulgence, we also managed to have pizza dinners, breakfasts and coffee stops with various family members. How I will ever get into swimsuit shape for upcoming vacations to Las Vegas and our cruise from Rome to Dubai, I don’t know… but I’m willing to give it my best shot!

BC Beer Baron #77 – Old Yale Screaming Banshee Irish Crème Stout

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. Since March features St. Patrick’s Day and many of us largely associate the celebration with Guinness beer, the Sip Advisor thought it would be a prime month to highlight some of B.C.’s best stout beers.

Last month, the Sip Advisor attended a birthday at Craft Beer Market, but I felt like the celebration was for me, given the restaurant’s daily special of $5 BC craft beers. Since Craft Beer Market has so many good BC brews on tap, I felt like a kid in a candy store! My second selection of the evening was this Old Yale Brewing gem.

What a delicious beer we have here in the Screaming Banshee Irish Crème Stout. Sure, the name sounds like something from an R.L. Stein Goosebumps novel, at the very least, but the brew is not something to be scared of at all. My first taste was a nice caramel flavour, followed by an Irish Crème finish that is smooth and scrumptious.

Old Yale Screaming Banshee Irish Creme Stout

The brewery suggests drizzling the Irish Crème Stout over ice cream and also has a recipe for turning the brew into cupcakes. If you’re looking for meal pairings, they include hearty stews, Irish steak pies, chili, and chocolate cakes (yes, chocolate cakes can be more than just dessert!).

I’m really becoming enamoured with Old Yale Brewing, having previously enjoyed their Sasquatch Stout. If I was still covering the Chilliwack Bruins Western Hockey League team (they moved operations to Victoria in 2011), I’d be popping into their brewery regularly for growler fills and bottle purchases. If they ever open up a tasting room, they may never get me to leave!

For more BC Beer Baron articles, please visit our main page…