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!

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Sip Trips #157: Puerto Vallarta Paradise

The Sip Family is back from our week-long all-inclusive vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’re well-rested, slightly tanned and ready to hit the ground running at home. Before we can do that, though, it’s time to put a bow on this getaway. Here’s what we got up to in what I like to call “Yarta”:

We stayed at the Crown Paradise Club, which was a very nice resort, full of friendly and helpful staff, lots of stuff for kids to do and good food and drinks for the adults. We enjoyed each of the resort’s three restaurants, featuring French, Italian and Asian food, as well as the four bars scattered across the property. My go-to drinks included Cuba Libres, Palomas, servings of Dos Equis Ambar, and Johnnie Walker Red nightcaps.

drinks for everyone

In the middle of our trip, we ventured into town to visit the two craft breweries I had researched. Starting at Monzon Brewing, we enjoyed a flight of Peachy Gringo American Wheat with Peach, Verano Sin Fin Saison, Animo American Amber, Hermanita Session IPA, and A-Sacala Azacca Hopped IPA, paired with happy hour food specials Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken and Chorizo Tacos. Their happy hour goes from 3-5pm, setting patrons up perfectly for nearby Los Muertos Brewing, who run their 35-Peso per beer happy hour from 4-6pm. At Los Muertos, we ordered pints of the Anillo De Fuego Chili Ale for me, El Jefeweizen Summer Wheat for Mrs. Sip and Agave Maria Amber Ale to split. The place also had some intriguing food deals, such as 30-Peso slices of pizza.

The next day, we walked to the nearby Walmart to grab some pool toys for Baby Sip. There, I grabbed some unique canned products in Kraken & Cola and Jose Cuervo Paloma. The drinks were quite tasty and perfectly refreshing for walks in the hot sun.

Returning to town on our last day of vacation, we stopped for lunch at Señor Frog’s, trying to balance my desire for McDonald’s and Mrs. Sip’s want for something more local, with something familiar, but also not available at home for us. We both ordered one of their famous beverages, with Mrs. Sip opting for the Frog’s Buster (vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, cranberry juice, simple syrup, lime) and myself choosing the Big Watermelons (tequila, watermelon and strawberry liqueur, lime juice, guava, grenadine). For food, we shared the Queso Dip and some Pork Tacos, which were both delicious meals and very filling.

senor frogs queen

Right before leaving the resort, we wrapped things up with the time-tested tradition of tequila, salt and lime! We will definitely be back, as we found Puerto Vallarta to be a very clean, manageable and friendly destination. Cab rides were reasonable, the sights were beautiful and the temperatures were ideal.

Upon returning to cold, snowy Canada, we spent Family Day walking the Quayside Boardwalk in New West, eventually landing at Steel & Oak Brewing. There, we split three flights, comprised of each of the 12 beers they had on tap. My favourites from the collection were the Roselle Wheat Ale and Kataja Juniper Ale.

Next up, we’re hosting an Oscars viewing party, where I’ve selected and adapted some interesting cocktail recipes. We also have a few highly-anticipated Vancouver Canucks events to attend on the horizon, such as our SportsBar Live! viewing party and contest versus the hated Toronto Maple Leafs!

Sip Trips #155: Beer Birthday

The past couple weekends have been loaded with commitments. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

On a recent stop at Steel & Oak Brewing, we picked up a tall can four-pack of their recently released Blush Rosé Saison. The limited edition brew looks beautiful and is quite tasty, utilizing Merlot and Cab Franc grape skins from the brewery’s neighbour, Pacific Breeze Winery. Partial proceeds are going to the Camp Kerry Society and their efforts towards bereavement care. I’ve noticed more wine and bubbly concepts becoming intertwined with the beer industry lately, with Brut IPAs becoming a very popular variety.

bubbly orange

Last weekend, prior to our matinee Vancouver Canucks game, we visited the new Brewhall (formerly Steel Toad Brewing) in the Olympic Village area. I like what the Tap & Barrel folks have done with this place, with the video games and picnic bench seating. Their lineup of beers is also quite impressive, stocked with many of their own releases and collaborations with other BC breweries. While devouring my Crispy Chicken Burger with Dirty Cheesy Fries, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed pints of the Hoyne & Brewhall German Amber Wheat Ale and Brewhall Polar Beer White Stout. Had we not had the game to attend, I could have drank a few more beers and enjoyed the afternoon there.

This past weekend was Mrs. Sip’s birthday, so a massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY needs to be shouted from all corners of the globe to my muse. Mrs. Sip shares her birthday with one of our good friends, who was celebrating the big 4-0. His wife decided to throw him a surprise party at Mariner Brewing, which was a great location for our large group. Over the course of the evening, I enjoyed pints of their Glow Holiday Spiced Ale and Horizon Winter Pale Ale, along with a taster glass of their Northeast IPA. While I didn’t have any food myself, dishes that came out, including pizzas, hotdogs and popcorn, all looked good.

Upcoming, we have a member’s only event at Township 7 Winery and some kind of vacation around the Family Day long weekend… so long as we can figure out a place to go!

Sip Trips 153: Market Madness

Christmas is rapidly approaching and the Sip Family has been busy. From Vancouver to New West to Langley, we’ve been all over the place in recent times, taking in as much of the holiday season as we can. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

We’re now a couple weeks into Storm Brewing’s 12 Fills of Christmas and the lineup thus far has been delicious and diverse. Week one combined the Must Be Christmas Grape Lambic and Christmas Tree Pilsner, followed by the Dark! The Herald Angel’s Sing CDA and Santa’s Christmas Spiced Ale for week two. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month has in store. On one of my visits to get my fills, I also sampled their Eggnog Latte Stout, which was quite interesting.

lolcat_eggnog

As for events, a couple weeks back we attended the Vancouver Christmas Market, where I enjoyed some liqueur tastings from Okanagan Spirits. I wasn’t really into the market this year, with us no longer living nearby. We get free tickets annually, so still checked it out, but I don’t know if that will be enough to draw me back next year.

What I enjoyed more, was our visit to Mahony & Sons prior to the Christmas Market. There, I ordered a couple pints of Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale – a wonderful beer for those who haven’t tried it yet – along with the pub’s very tasty Poutine. Everything was on happy hour pricing, making for even more merriment.

The next night, we participated in Disney Trivia at The Pint. Having had dinner at Chronic Tacos beforehand (I adore their Al Pastor Burrito), I was looking to get my drink on and that came in the form of a trio of pitchers, including two of the Whistler Chestnut Ale. The pitchers were on special at $16 each, but were only 50-ounce pours, rather than the traditional 60 ounces. As for the trivia, we didn’t fare so well, but it was still a fun evening.

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We wrapped the work week by visiting the New West Christmas Market. What was nice about this market is that there was no entry fee and it was largely housed under an overpass, keeping folks dry in the case of rain. That said, it got really busy by the time I arrived to join Mrs. Sip and the live band was loud, so chatting was difficult. We left a short time later, after downing a selection from Steel & Oak Brewing, which Mrs. Sip tells me she thinks was their Dark Lager.

The next night, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a group of friends for a classic turkey dinner. This was the first time we’d ever cooked a turkey on our own and I have to say the experience was mostly positive, save for a few rookie mistakes and a lot of Google searches. It also gave us a whole new respect for the work our families have done when preparing dinners in the past. For the party, we shared our latest Storm fills, as well as the Whistler Winter Dunkel four-pack I picked up. This is the first time I’ve seen the scrumptious beer that tastes like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in any format other than a bomber-sized bottle.

Chocolate-Orange.jpg

We closed the weekend with a visit to Township 7 Winery in Langley for their Member Open House. I spent most of the time chasing Baby Sip throughout the tasting room, but did note the event provided a very generous serving of snacks and wines for the members.

The Sip Advisor is now on holiday break and there will be much mischief to get up to, as we have a Canucks game this weekend and then all the fun that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day usually offer up. It’s gonna get boozy!

Sip Trips #142: On and Off the Field

I’m always amazed at how quickly the summer fills up with events. This week alone, Mrs. Sip and I have received numerous Facebook event invites and that combines with other commitments to clog the calendar. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy the chaos, but sometimes you long for the shut-in winter months. Wait, we do a ton of stuff then as well. Anyway, here’s what happened last week:

Our week began with an unexpected entry into the weekly trivia at Darby’s Gastown. The trivia was so unexpected that I was only able to attend the second half of the quiz. I still managed to enjoy a serving of Luppolo Kveik IPA, along with the bar’s homemade potato chips and a soft pretzel.

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The next night, we were back in Gastown for The Portside Pub’s Cask Wars event. The competition was free to attend, so long as you RSVP’d for the limited tickets, and saw 11 breweries compete to drain their cask first and earn at tap at the popular bar. Upon entering, attendees received their first drink ticket on the house, with additional tickets costing a very reasonable $4. Mrs. Sip and I bought four tickets, but somehow ended up trying 10 of the offerings available. The eventual winner was Coal Harbour’s Dino Candy Raspberry Sour with Gin Soaked Lime Leaves (available in bomber-sized bottles). We had a fantastic time at this event, also enjoying orders of their East Coast Chowder and Garlic Fingers. One issue I hope is fixed for future Cask Wars (and this applies to all beer events) is I’d like to see every brewery have a sign telling what their beer is. Most do, but some don’t and I don’t like standing in line to find out what beer they’re serving, when it might be something I have no interest in trying.

On the weekend, our baseball team was involved in a tournament at Burnaby’s Riverway Sport Complex. While we didn’t have any favourable results over our games, we had fun, particularly at the onsite beer garden. Drink tickets were six for $20 and just like previous tournaments, Hearthstone Brewing was on hand to keep players hydrated with their Cali Common (my beverage of choice) and Rizzla Rice Lager. There was also a variety of ciders available for the non-beer drinkers.

Following day one of the tourney, Mrs. Sip and I awaited the return of Baby Sip from our friends at Steel & Oak Brewing. We each had a glass of their Smoked Hefeweizen, before splitting the Weekend Plans Peach Tart Pale Ale. When our friend’s arrived, I was also able to sample a sip of the Blackthorn Strong Ale.

babysitting-level-pro

Looking to get outside and enjoy the nice weather this week, I took Baby Sip over to Granville Island, hoping to visit Granville Island Brewing. Unfortunately, their tasting room was closed for a private event. Making lemonade out of lemons, I made my way over to the nearby Liberty Distillery for a cocktail. I selected The McClay (Railspur No. 1 Whiskey, lime juice, Thai bitters, pineapple-jalapeno cordial), which was a beautiful drink.

This weekend is highlighted by Canada Day, which has become one of my favourite drinking holidays. Hopefully the weather holds up enough for the Sip Advisor to host what has become an annual pool party at Ma and Pa Sip’s place. The beverages will certainly be flowing, regardless!

Sip Trips #132: Celebrations Galore

The Sip Family has been super busy the last couple weeks. So busy, that I’m just now getting a chance to document our recent adventures. Here’s what we’ve been up to since I was last able to write:

A couple weekends’ ago, we celebrated Father-in-Law Sip’s birthday, taking our revelry to Backyard Winery, followed by Township 7 Winery, in Langley. While at Backyard, where we enjoyed a couple bottles of Pinot Gris and charcuterie platters, Mrs. Sip rejoined their wine club now that she’s no longer pregnant and breastfeeding. At Township 7, our group did a wine tasting, while I toured the grounds with Baby Sip, who was visiting the fifth winery of her young life.

Later that week, we enjoyed a meal at EXP Restaurant + Bar. There has been some concern the place will be forced out of business, due to Vancouver’s ridiculous rent prices, so we wanted to visit before anything tragic occured. We ordered a round of Harry Potter-themed cocktails that were all pretty tasty. My favourite was the Gryffindor’s Liquid Courage, thanks to the Jack Daniels Whiskey base. To eat, I ordered the Triforce Burger, which is comprised of a crispy chicken breast, beef burger and bacon. It’s quite the meal, but oh so delicious.

Triforce

Heading into Easter weekend, I picked Mrs. Sip up from work and we enjoyed a drink at Steel & Oak Brewing. The brewery has recently completed renovations to allow for more patrons and the space is much-needed, as the place is often packed. We ordered the Encore collaboration with Yellow Dog Brewing and really enjoyed the beer. That’s really no surprise, as the two breweries are among my favourite in the province.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our 16th dating anniversary. We began the occasion by using the Groupon I had purchased for Big City Hunt, which offers scavenger hunts in a number of big cities. Even though we’re locals, we learned some neat things about downtown Vancouver, as we embarked on the two-hour tour, featuring trivia and photo challenges.

The main event of our anniversary was dining at the Top of Vancouver rotating restaurant. We split a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, along with a starter of Baked French Brie and mains of Duck Duo for me and Baked Whole Lobster for Mrs. Sip. The dinner was not cheap, but you’re partly paying for the view, which we enjoyed for over two hours and three full rotations of the restaurant.

Lobster Immortal.jpg

We wrapped our evening out by stopping at Nero Belgian Waffle Bar, where the alluring smell of fresh waffles forced us to investigate further. We split their set of seven Mini Liège Waffles, which provided the perfect dessert to our earlier feast.

The following day, we journeyed back to Langley to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s grandpa’s 93rd birthday at one of his favourite restaurants, Andreas. This place has an amazing menu and I can’t remember not liking any item that I have ordered. On this visit, I combined their French Onion Soup (which may have been the best serving I’ve ever had of the delicacy) with Chicken Fingers and Fries. The meal was decadent and the prices were all very reasonable.

On Easter Sunday, we met with friends at Big Ridge Brewing in Surrey. Having eaten recently, Mrs. Sip and I split an order of their Beer Battered Garlic Fries. These paired nicely with our beer selections of Viking Funeral Norwegian Ale for me and Vanilla Bean Porter for Mrs. Sip. Next time we’re out that way, I’d like to try something from their Asian Kitchen menu.

Chows Mane

Afterwards, we were off to Baby Sip’s first drive-in movie experience at Twilight Theatre in Aldergrove. Our films included Ready Player One and Game Night, both of which were enjoyable, despite some inclement weather, including a touch of hail during the shows.

Last, but not least, we also attended three Vancouver Canucks games in the last week, including the emotional final home game for the Sedin twins. This magical night will live long in my memory and Daniel and Henrik deserve every bit of praise they have received since announcing their impending retirements. Thank you to both of them for their 18 years of service, both on and off the ice.

The coming week remains loaded with commitments and activities, which you can read all about in next week’s Sip Trips!

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!