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.

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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…

Sip Trips #11: Luck of the Irish

The greatest drinking holiday of the year has come and gone and you know the Sip Advisor celebrated in style! We started the weekend off by attending an early St. Patrick’s Day party at the Jericho Garrison. Both Monster Energy Drink and Red Truck Beer were at the event, along with live music and other entertainment. It didn’t take long for the beer pong to get started up and the Sip Advisor made his usual strong contributions to his teams.

Beer Pong Grandma

On Sunday, with a touch of bad weather hitting the ‘Wet Coast,’ we decided to make a jaunt across the border to Bellingham, Washington, for a little shopping and a visit to the Boundary Bay Brewery. Mrs. Sip and I shared a sampler of their beers, which included six varieties to try. Our consensus favourite among the collection was the Oatmeal Stout, further expanding my burgeoning love for darker beers. It also comes in at a whopping 9.6%, so you’ll feel it soon enough!

It was also at Boundary Bay Brewery that the Sip Advisor finally joined the Instagram world. Feel free to follow me and my adventures in boozing… so long as I can find a wireless signal to get attached to. No data plan for this guy, I’m a free internet man!

Tuesday, of course, was St. Patrick’s Day… a national holiday for some and what should be for others, such as the Sip Advisor! The occasion brings up a lot of the same questions you hear around New Year’s Eve: Who will you celebrate with? More importantly, where will you take your partying ways? We decided, in that case, to repeat our New Year’s Eve plans, by celebrating at Craft Beer Market.

St. Patrick's Day Next

Decked out in our best emerald ensembles – or for some of us, the only green clothing option we have hidden away – we did what the Irish do best and drank our faces off! Mrs. Sip tried the just tapped Stanley Park Brewery Irish Stout Cask, while we also ordered one rack of Craft’s Around the World Sampler, which featured a grouping of wheat beers, followed by the Local Sampler, comprised of stouts and porters.

The sampler menus don’t always hit home for me, but these two sets looked good, with the Around the World containing four of six beers that I’ve tried before and are among my favourites, while the Local had some dark beer options that go perfectly with St. Patrick’s Day. Us guys topped the evening off with a shot of chilled Jameson Irish Whiskey, which was the perfect nightcap!

The fun didn’t stop with St. Patrick’s Day ending, as Mrs. Sip and her ladies met at their usual Joey’s Restaurant stop prior to a theatre evening and somehow, the Sip Advisor got invited along for a drink and a snack. Joey’s has the best skinny fries this side of McDonald’s and a bunch of their other eats are pretty good. Their happy hour specials are a highlight, although we’ve found that the deals vary depending on which location you’re at.

Drinking Time Sun

In liquor news, a lot of hullabaloo was made recently about how much water craft breweries are using. This is an absolutely ridiculous attack on the industry. Does Starbucks get any guff for how much H2O they’re pilfering for their disgusting beverages? And what about macro breweries which, by the nature of their name, have to be using more water than smaller operations?

As Ma Sip pointed out, the craft breweries are responsible for creating a ton of new jobs (from brewery staff, to servers at their tasting rooms) and you also have to consider Mrs. Sip’s arguments about increased tourism and all the benefits that can have on an area. Just look at how well Portland is doing, as well as other communities that are growing the industry.

Lastly, there’s one local product the Sip Advisor was made aware of this week: a collaboration brew between Persephone Brewing and Yellow Dog Beer. This Lightly Smoked Pilsner has me salivating for a taste and I’ll have to be vigilant in tracking it down!