Sip Trips #118: Pucks and Parties

This week has been a busy one as the Christmas season ramps up and Mrs. Sip and I have three Vancouver Canucks games on the schedule to attend. Thank god for our grandparent babysitters! Let’s get right to the action:

Late last week, with Ma and Pa Sip over, we grabbed dinner at the new Johnny Rockets location in Downtown Vancouver. I had their Original burger, which was pretty good. What I liked best was their half fries/half rings, allowing eaters to enjoy both side dishes. More restaurants need to adopt this concept. While we didn’t order them, the chain also offers a number of tasty milkshake options. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

Close Enough Cat.jpg

On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I had our first Christmas party of the season, through her office. The meal took place at Piva Modern Italian Restaurant, where we tried a number of great menu items. For appies, I particularly liked the Polenta Fries, while my main course of Duck & Fig Pizza was terrific. The meal provided a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and while Mrs. Sip’s Prosciutto Pizza was good, we were both raving about my selection.  For beverages, I enjoyed the Terra Saison and Red Pilsner, both from Steel & Oak Brewing, and for dessert, I tried the Bagpipes in my Ferrari (Glenmorangie, Disaronno, smoke and oak bitters), which was a solid nightcap.

The next day, we had our first Canucks game of the week and this is one we’ve had circled for some time. With the dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs in town, I swapped some of our other half-season tickets in order to attend this game. With a 2-1 victory for the home side, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Shock Top Wheat Ale and Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout the game, which helped with the intensity and anxiety of the matchup.

The weekend wrapped with our annual family visit to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Christmas Train. This was Baby Sip’s first time riding the Christmas Train, although we did take her on the Halloween Train when she was only just over a month old. As is tradition, we followed the park visit with dinner at the nearby White Spot location. Here, Cousin Sip, her husband, Sis-in-Law Sip and I split a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale, while I ordered my usual Legendary Burger. The two pair quite nicely with each other and made for a delicious meal.

Man Sized Mug

Lastly, on Tuesday, we celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday at The Keg. I, once again, selected the Prime Rib Sliders with side of fries for my meal, which was very good. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sip and I had to eat fast to get to another Canucks game, as food took a while to be served thanks to the kitchen being backed up by a private party. My Sliders were only $13 during happy hour, down from their usual $18 price tag. For dessert, Ma Sip saved her slice of wonderful Billy Miner Pie for Mrs. Sip and I, which we consumed in quick order following yet another Canucks triumph.

The weekend is full of scheduled activities and doesn’t let up at all. ‘Tis the season, after all!

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Beer of the Week #8 – Stanley Park Foghorn India Brown Ale

In need of a case of beer for my hosting duties as part of a surprise birthday gathering for Mrs. Sip, I returned to an old favourite. Picking up Stanley Park Brewing’s Lord Stanley’s Pick (Winter Edition) case allowed me another opportunity to enjoy this product.

The Foghorn India Brown Ale was a hit with my guests who tried it, thanks to its roasted nuts and toasted malts. The somewhat rare IBA beverage comes with stats of 6% ABV and 50 IBUs and the beer has a great colour profile that is perfect for the fall/winter season.

stanley-park-foghorn-india-brown-ale

Suggested food pairings include turkey dinner with all the fixings, including gravy, sweet potatoes, pecan pie, or Camembert cheese. As is always the case with Stanley Park beers, the name is incorporated into the logo, with a drift of fog encompassing the famous lion.

I’m really looking forward to the brewery’s prospective restaurant and tasting room to be located in the former Fish House Restaurant in Stanley Park. Plans include producing “park inspired beer that is innovative and unique to the park location only”.

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…

BC Beer Baron #336 – Stanley Park WinterGlow Mandarin IPA

The Sip Advisor was recently on the hunt for this new Stanley Park Brewing release and quickly captured my prey. Being an ardent fan of Mandarin oranges (Pa Sip used to always tuck one into our Christmas stockings), I couldn’t wait to taste them in liquid form.

The WinterGlow Mandarin IPA is a very good beer, with flavours of orange mixed in with west coast hops (Amarillo, Citra, and Centennial). The seasonal beverage comes in with stats of 6.4% ABV and 55 IBUs and is a perfect way to kick off the month of December. The drink even glows a vibrant orange colour.

Stanley Park WinterGlow Mandarin IPA.jpg

As I shared the beer with Cousin Sip, she noticed the Stanley Park logos change depending on the product. For example, the iconic lion that welcomes visitors to Stanley Park and adorns the brewery’s labels is palming an orange for this brew.

The IPA can be found at BC Liquor Stores in bottled six-packs, as well as in the company’s Lord Stanley’s Picks: Winter Edition mixed case. It is joined by fellow newcomer Foghorn India Brown Ale and year-round favourites Windstorm Pale Ale, 1897 Amber Ale, and Noble Pilsner.

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

BC Beer Baron #23 – Stanley Park Windstorm Pale Ale

While recently dining out at Wild Tale in Yaletown, Mrs. Sip and I took advantage of their happy hour drink deals. On the beer side of that ledger was selections from Stanley Park Brewing and I was happy to place an order.

I really enjoyed my servings of the Stanley Park Pale Ale, which were paired with our lobster dinner, featuring items such as seafood chowder, mussels, trio of salads (potato, coleslaw and mixed greens), one and a half pounds of lobster, and dessert. I felt the Pale Ale partnered best with the chowder and salads, but it wasn’t out of place with the other meal items, either. The brewery suggests pairings of grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry, and roasted vegetables.

Stanley Park Windstorm Pale Ale

The beer comes in at 5.7% and 35 IBU, which seems like just the right balance to me. Named Windstorm because of the 2006 squall that may have damaged Stanley Park, but inspired generations of British Columbians to repair and preserve the grounds, the company donates some proceeds from each sale of this brew to the Stanley Park Ecology Society, which provides upkeep of the landmark as well as “promotes awareness of and respect for the natural world”.

Stanley Park Brewing (under the banner of the Turning Point Brewing Company) has received criticism in the past because it operates more like a macro-brewery; have taken their name from an original brewery that operated back in 1897; and doesn’t have some of the intimate features we’ve all come to expect from craft breweries, such as a tasting room. There’s also been an issue with the company being called Stanley Park, but being located in Delta.

Despite all this, I have tasted some of their smaller batch stuff and have really liked it. Add to that their regular line-up containing some good brews and it’s at least worth trying for yourself and seeing whether or not you like it.

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

Sip Trips #1 – Holiday Hops

We begin this new, exciting project at The Sip Advisor with a look at the holiday season. Let’s start with New Year’s Eve, where every year, people fret over their plans for the evening. Are they doing something epic enough? Who are they choosing to spend the big night with? Well, this year, the Sip Advisor and members of the Sip Syndicate took our partying to the Craft Beer Market for their Best of 2014 Brewmaster Dinner.

The event featured the best food and beer pairings from the restaurant’s Brewmaster Series of dinners, throughout 2014. This included Winter Onion Soup with Howe Sound Rail Nut Brown Ale; Korean Tacos with Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic IPA, Hop Glazed Pork Belly with Parallel 49 Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale; and Chocolate Liege Waffles with Red Racer Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter, for dessert.

Beer for Dinner

The meal was very good overall, with the only blemish being that the soup came out lukewarm. The great staff at Craft quickly remedied this with a round of Burt Reynolds shots. The Sip Advisor also ordered a couple side beers in the Stanley Park Ice Breaker Winter Ale and the Steamworks Black Angel IPA. By the time 2014 turned into 2015, we were all about as glazed as the pork belly!

Rewinding a little, Christmas was also kind to the Sip Advisor with new additions to the collection. Sis-in-Law Sip gifted yours truly with a bottle of the new Bailey’s Irish Crème Chocolate Cherry, while Mrs. Sip was the recipient of a bottle of Centenario Tequila. Also under the tree this year was a couple new bar tools, as well as a new apron that proudly exclaims that “Sip Happens!” After all, real men aren’t afraid to wear an apron!

Mrs. Sip sure knows how to shop for me, picking up some neat Bitters Flavours that will be great for future experiments. For her, I picked up a great set of three sparkling wines (200 ml bottles) from around the world, which even came with a $5 gift card to Legacy Liquor Store. There was also a large plastic candy cane, filled with Pinnacle Vodka mini bottles, including Peach, Salted Caramel, Whipped, and Cinnabon flavours.

Christmas Liquor

Mrs. Sip, myself, and Sis-in-Law Sip also took some time to set up our own German beer tasting, featuring Maisel’s Weisse, Ayinger Brau-Weisse, and Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier. It was a nice way to try some great brews from the land of beer and chocolate.

In some liquor news, I was recently made aware of a new Crown Royal release: Crown Royal Regal Apple Whiskey, which I can’t wait to add to my cabinet. It still amazes me when a Canadian product (and a proud one at that) enters my conscious thanks to an American store’s e-mail, rather than happily stumbling upon it at any local store. At least the Canadian product will be in stores across the country, unlike many Yukon Jack offerings, which I’ve only been able to locate across the border.

That wraps up this first edition of Out and About with the Sip Advisor. Time will only tell what next week holds in store!

June 28 – Surfer on Acid

Summer Fun

With summer just kicking off, people out there might be making lists of the things they want to accomplish throughout the season. Here are some of the items that routinely appear at the top of Mrs. Sip’s and my summer bucket list… we hope we can be of assistance to all you little sippers out there:

#5: Picnic in the Park

The Sip Advisor makes a damn good sandwich and there’s nothing better than finding a nice quiet spot in the park to enjoy your own creation. If you’re lazy, you can always get someone else to make the sandwich for you (I’ve heard a place called Subway has decent hoagies) and then you know it will be done properly. Make sure to grab some good sides and snacks to round out the meal and be ready for dessert, too. If you can sneak some wine into your setting, then definitely go for it. All that’s left is to bring a comfy blanket along because you’ll probably be in the mood for a nap!

Picnic Basket Inspection

#4: Getting Active

After spending many months cooped up in a small, crowded gym, it’s nice to get out into the great outdoors for some exercise. Whether rollerblading or biking, Mrs. Sip and I love the downtown Vancouver seawall route, which takes you through picturesque Stanley Park. As one would expect, given its name, the seawall offers some stunning scenery, as you roll through beach after beach. It’s not my cup of tea, but I’ve heard hiking is also popular during the summer. You could even be one of those kooks that does their yoga or tai chi outdoors. Just get off the couch and get outside!

#3: Drive-In Theatre

While these amazing places seem to be a dying breed, if you have one even remotely nearby I whole-heartedly suggest you check out a couple flicks there. It’s always fun to go snack shopping prior to the night out and given most of the theatre’s revenue comes in the form of food sales, we’re always sure to make a couple purchases there, too. For the price of one movie in a normal theatre, you can get two or three at the drive-in and best of all, you can actually talk to your vehicle-mates throughout, without being a bother to over viewers. Trying to stay up until the wee hours of the morning (if you’re going for three films) can be daunting for some.

Theatre Food

#2: Drinking on Patios

You know that summer has officially arrived in this part of the world when the patios open up and folks can be seen enjoying their libations in the fresh air. Once the first glimmer of sun peaks its way through the rain clouds, it can be tough to get a spot on any of the city’s spectacular decks, but it’s worth the wait to be able to enjoy a beverage while people watching or getting reacquainted with friends that have hibernated through the winter. This wonderful experience also applies to the decks of your mate’s homes, where you don’t have to worry about exorbitant prices for cocktails.

#1: Drinking Poolside

Of course, to achieve this, you either need to have your own cement pond, or have a generous friend who doesn’t mind sharing theirs. I, of course, am the latter in that statement and I love throwing parties for my crew, where all that is required is a pair of swim trunks and some flippy-floppies (plus a case of beer) for good times to ensue. As day turns to night and all inhibitions are drowned by booze, it might be time to lose those coverings and go for an incredibly liberating skinny dip. Luckily, there’s always someone too conservative to join in, so make sure to make them the beer wench for the late night shenanigans!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Surfer on Acid

Surfer on Acid Shot

  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.5 oz Jagermeister
  • Splash of Pineapple Juice
  • Garnish with Pineapple Wedges

Honourable mentions go to watching fireworks, barbecuing, camping, and going to the fair. You’ll notice that “Going to the Beach” is absent from my ‘To Do’ list. Need I remind all you little sippers that the Sip Advisor doesn’t like sand. When I have access to swimmable water in a private setting, why would I ever go to the poor man’s pool? Your hate mail is always welcome!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This shooter was pretty good and I like that the Pineapple Juice component was minimal. A funny story: To get the Pineapple Wedges, I bought a couple slices of Hawaiian pizza and plucked the garnishes off for later use. When I finally used the pieces, I could still taste the pizza flavours, such as ham and tomato sauce. Ah, memories!

December 2 – Poinsettia

The Most Wonderful Time

Well, my little sippers, with December finally here, we have to decide how we’re going to spend the month. There’s more to do than you would think. Here are a couple of ideas:

Advent Calendar

This is the third year that I’ll be doing an advent calendar for Mrs. Sip, providing her with a treat each day until Christmas finally arrives… then the treats stop and we spend the big day in separate rooms, Mrs. Sip reading one of her nauseating books, the Sip Advisor seeing how drunk he can get before noon. It really is a wonderful time of year. In all seriousness, this is a fun idea and it scores you some serious brownie points!

redneck-advent-calendar

Santa Claus Parade

I only offer this as a suggestion because frankly, I don’t like being out in the cold for hours watching marching bands, as much as the next heat seeker. It’s a great event for kids, I guess. They at least hold out hope until Santa finally shows up atop the main event float. As for myself, I’ll be inside my warm little apartment, snuggled under a mess of blankies, sipping on (not gin and juice) spiked hot cocoa, and pestering Mrs. Sip to lose her clothes and entertain me!

Christmas Train

This option might be available to all you little sippers, but whether you live near a Christmas Train or some other Christmas Wonderland, you should definitely make a point of visiting once. It’s an annual tradition among the Family Sip. We meet at Stanley Park, ride the train, check out the lights and then head off to our favourite restaurant White Spot for a healthy dose of burgers, beer, and other merriment!

Snowball Fight/Build a Snowman

If you live where snow actually falls, then this is a great idea. If you don’t get the white stuff, you should probably avoid this idea, as you’ll just be playing with dirt. I can only remember a couple White Christmases (damn Vancouver’s mild temperatures) and you can bet when those happened, we were messing about in the snow and not all sheltered inside, afraid to go out into the open air as today’s little ones seem to be.

not-coming-to-work

Ice Skating

I look majestic when on the ice… except for that one time in the U.K. when all you could rent was figure skates and having spent my entire life in a hockey boot, I wasn’t used to the toe picks and wound up introducing my face to a sheet of ice! Luckily, I wasn’t much to look at before my accident… some say the accident actually resulted in a slight improvement. To be fair, my knees took the entire brunt of the fall, keeping my mind intact to be ruined by alcohol!

Christmas Parties

While I normally shun social gatherings with vehement disgust, I do find a way to fake it through the Christmas season. Mrs. Sip had to attend like nine parties last year. I matched her in nights I just sat on the couch and got blasted, but with her being so busy, we didn’t even have a chance to watch the Family Matters Christmas episodes I tracked down. I have a need for Urkel and that has yet to be satisfied.

Secret Santa/Gift Exchange

This is the only reason to have friends, am I right!? Hell, they don’t even have to be friends; they just have to be rich! I’ve written before about how we pull out our Roulette Shot Wheel and dole out shooters during our gift exchange. Usually we make the person who’s stealing a gift have to take a shot, but we usually end up ramping it up and also punishing the person who has just been stolen from… that’s the reality of life, my little sippers!

Drink #336: Poinsettia

Poinsettia Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Top with Champagne
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Mandarin Orange Piece

What suggestions do you have for the Sip Advisor on how to spend the Christmas holiday? Clearly, you can see I’m going to be busy, but I’ll try to fit your advice in!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is a really simple recipe and a definite crowd pleaser. Before starting this project, I bartended one of Ma and Pa Sip’s Christmas parties and this drink was the hit of the evening. A Mandarin Orange Piece is the perfect garnish this time of the year and works well with a champagne flute.