Best of 2017

With Mrs. Sip pregnant and nursing a baby throughout this year, many of the usual suspects to pop up on my annual “Best Of” list were not attended in 2017. Yes, the Sip Advisor had to suffer through missing out on the Portland Beer and Wine Fest, Tip N’ Taste, Made with Love and many others. Not one to give up, I soldiered on and found other events to take the place of those occasions. Here are my top 17 nights of 2017:

Rooting for the Home Team

The fuzzy memory nights got off to an early start when I joined a Sip Syndicate member for the Vancouver Canucks-Arizona Coyotes contest on January 4. The tickets were a Secret Santa gift for the Sip Advisor and provided perhaps the closest seats to the ice I’ve ever enjoyed. To mark the occasion, copious beers were consumed, including during a pre-game meal at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House. Best of all, the Canucks picked up a rare 3-0 win on this evening, including a penalty shot goal.

Surprise, Surprise

One of Mrs. Sip’s last hurrahs before learning she was pregnant was this surprise birthday outing I arranged for her at the Tapped Vancouver beer and wine tasting event. Without her knowledge, I was able to get a number of our friends to also attend and it was fun to have them arrive throughout the evening, as continuous revelations.

Surprise Party Sick

Ode to Scotch

The night after Tapped Vancouver, I was back at it, attending a friend’s annual Whiskey Tasting event. The theme for this year was Scotch’s aged eight years or less, proving that many gems can be found. Going into the evening, I was a little hesitant, as I was going solo, with the one person I knew likely to be very busy throughout the night with hosting duties. Luckily, I got a seat at a great table of strangers, who made the event quite memorable. I was even included in the Robbie Burns addressing of the haggis!

Getting Away

Over the Family Day long weekend, the Sip Syndicate journeyed to Pemberton, BC, for a secluded getaway. The retreat also provided an opportunity to tell some of our closest friends that Mrs. Sip was expecting. With that business out of the way, the rest of the weekend was spent eating, drinking and relaxing. One of the Sip Advisor’s all-time favourite pastimes is hanging out in a hot tub with good beers and that was certainly achieved here.

Viva Las Vegas

The first of two jaunts we took to Las Vegas in 2017 took a bit of a twist when we discovered Mrs. Sip was pregnant after we had already booked our escape to the party capital. Still, we intended to live it up and that was helped by some friends also being in Sin City at the same time. Each day/night featured a different route for fun, from a club experience at XS, to exploring the off-strip craft beer scene into the wee hours of the morning, to relaxing and listening to dueling pianos (a Sip Advisor favourite activity).

Rough and Tumble

Missing out on the Rugby Sevens event in 2016 was something I would regret. I had hoped to make amends in 2017, but missed out on the original batch of tickets released. Thankfully, organizers put another batch out and when a friend informed me of the great news, I acted immediately. The frenetic action of the rugby, along with an eclectic and festive crowd made for an amazing (albeit long) day at BC Place Stadium. My favourite photo from the day shows how much junk piled up throughout the affair.

Rugby Violence

Great Cocktail Reveal

Learning the gender of our little one was a moment I’ll never forget. To do it in style, I suggested Mrs. Sip – who had learned the gender a couple weeks prior – reveal it to me by pouring either a pink or blue cocktail. When the beverage came out pink, we were both thrilled. Having a bulk of our family and friends on hand to share the memory with us made it extra special. For the gathering, I concocted two blue and two pink cocktail recipes, so others could share in the anticipation.

Sweet Returns

Back in Las Vegas for the Easter long weekend, we made sure to blend our favourite spots along the strip, while mixing in some new locales. The highlights of this adventure included a couple shows (Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil: Mystère) and a few new bars and eateries. We also squeezed in some pool time, which helped wipe away the winter blues.

Journey on the Seas

In order to highlight as many experiences as possible on this list, I’m lumping our nearly three-week cruise getaway (from Rome to Dubai) together as one entry. Highlights included drinking cocktails in both Rome and Athens; a bucket of beers and other tasty beverages aboard the cruise; the always fun task of finishing all the bottles we accumulate on the last day of the itinerary (this time as a one-man wrecking crew); and enjoying a drink in a mostly dry country.

Comedy Capers

Driving six hours round trip for a comedy show may not be every person’s idea of a good night out, but the Sip Advisor isn’t every person. When I discovered Christopher Titus was performing at the Tacoma Comedy Club and I had a small window in my schedule to actually attend one of the shows, I got down on my knees and begged the Sip Alliance to placate my wishes… nay, my demands. In actuality, everyone was quick to come aboard and we had a fun night out in Tacoma before coming home the next morning.

Short Road Trip.png

Batting Practice

In the spring and summer of 2017, the Sip Advisor joined a baseball/softball team for the first time since I was a wee little sipper. While my skills were certainly lacking, I had a great time meeting new folks. After one set of early morning games, I hosted the team at Ma and Pa Sip’s place for some swimming and drinking. The weather was perfect for such an occasion and I think it helped the team bond even more than we previously had.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

From my earliest days, family road trips featured Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers providing the soundtrack. As a result, I grew up a fan of the band. Getting the opportunity to see them live was amazing and with Petty’s untimely passing just a month and a half later, the experience was all the more significant. I had already planned to see them the next time they rode into town… sadly, this will not be possible.

Baby Shower Beer Garden

When Mrs. Sip and I first conceived the idea of hosting a beer garden for our baby shower, we knew it would be a hit. After all, we wanted to include both our male and female friends and family and what better way to get everyone together than a beer garden. Mrs. Sip and I were taken aback with our guests incredible generosity with gifts. Our little one will be set up for some time to come.

Baseballs and Beers and Boxing

Unfortunately, I had missed our baseball team’s tournament earlier in the year, out of town for a family wedding. To make amends, I tied one on big time for the second competition, downing 10 beers over our five-hour break between games. Thankfully, those brews were of the 4.2% ABV variety. Once our day at the ballpark was finished, a few of us gathered for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight to keep the fun going.

Softball Fun

Brewer’s Row Revisited

Much like last year, our return to Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row was a perfect summer day spent enjoying delicious beer and good company. For those that have never ventured that way, it’s a must. There are four breweries within a five-minute walking distance of each other and they each serve up fine products. This year, we also managed to visit the brand new Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam, as the first stop of our expedition.

Boys Will Be Boys

Bachelor parties/stags can be funny things. You’re often hanging out with a few friends and a number of strangers, perhaps doing a set of activities that normally wouldn’t be in your wheelhouse. But that’s also part of the fun. This day of debauchery included paintball and a Vancouver Whitecaps game, as well as the standard bar and strip club stops. The Sip Advisor drank quite well throughout and can’t wait for the January wedding and round two.

The Greatest Gift

My birthday was set to be an event-filled weekend, full of chicanery. Fate had other plans, however, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On the morning of my birthday, I awoke to learn Mrs. Sip was experiencing early labour. The rest of the day was spent awaiting the arrival of Baby Sip, who entered the world at 1:33am the next morning. While I was happy to share my birthday, our little one decided she wanted her own spotlight, making for future birthday weekends to be that much more special!

There you have it folks, the Sip Advisor survived a year without my numero uno drinking buddy. As you can see, while Mrs. Sip was busy doing an awesome job of bringing our daughter into the world, I kept up with my usual antics!

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Sip Trips #89: Birthday Bonanza

Mrs. Sip’s birthday weekend was full of events, including an Irish pub dinner, beer tasting, whiskey tasting and all-you-can-eat sushi lunch. By the end of it all, I was totally ready for a day-long water tasting festival!

On Thursday, Mrs. Sip turned 33. We had the opening game of our Urban Rec season to attend, so we gathered with our team members at the Dublin Crossing Irish Pub for dinner and drinks. There, I enjoyed their Spicy Chicken Burger (available on the eatery’s daily specials menu), along with pints of Bomber Pale Ale, Granville Island Lions Winter Ale, and Hearthstone Hazelnut Porter. The meal was a lot of fun and much better than playing the ridiculous sport of handball… or as I like to call it ‘can’t do anything ball’.

irish-pub-kegs

The next night, I surprised Mrs. Sip with tickets to the Tapped Vancouver event at the Yaletown Roundhouse. The Groupon deal put the price of two tickets at $40 – an improvement on the original cost of $25 per person – making the festival much more palatable. While we definitely enjoyed ourselves, the 15 advertised vendors was far from that, as by my count, there was six breweries, one cidery and one wine vendor, carrying three different wineries products. Even the most generous mathematician could only credit the event with a maximum of 10 vendors attending.

Of those who were there, I was most impressed with Howe Sound and Fuggles & Warlock, who each brought with them a varied collection of beverages. Driftwood also arrived with multiple options, but very quickly were reduced to only having their Fat Tug IPA left to serve. Other breweries in attendance were Goose Island, Whistler, and Steamworks, as well as Lone Tree Cider.

Hard Cider Morning Apple Juice.jpg

The next night, I was invited to a private whiskey tasting, with the theme being that the products couldn’t be aged more than 10 years. While accompanied by pints of Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale to cleanse the palate, I really enjoyed the Lagavulin 8 Year, followed by the Ledaig 10 Year. I’ve always been a fan of smoky, peaty whiskeys, and these two hit the mark. The evening also provided my first opportunity to eat haggis and I have to say it wasn’t bad.

The rest of the week has been spent resting up from our warrior weekend, but we’ll be right back at it soon enough!

BC Beer Baron #39 – Bomber Choqlette Porter

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. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this month’s feature week will look at beers of a chocolate nature, perfect to celebrate the occasion.

Today’s selection comes from Bomber Brewing, which adds chocolate three separate times to the brewing of this recipe, resulting in the Choqlette Porter. As the brewery puts it, this beer is a perfect blend of “chaos and balance” and given its stats of 5.5% ABV and only 18 IBU, I can kind of see what they’re getting at. Bomber even goes so far as to say the beverage is “London and Paris at home in one drink.”

Bomber Choqlette Porter

I first had the Choqlette Porter at last year’s Toast to the Coast at the Vancouver Aquarium. I think I went back to their booth on four separate occasions for a refill. I guess you could conclude that I liked it! I had it again a couple weeks back during the Tapped Vancouver event at the Yaletown Roundhouse. It was just as I remembered it and this time I was able to share the experience and advocate for the beer with Mrs. Sip and other members of the Sip Alliance.

Bomber has a nice, intimate little home in ‘Yeast Van’, located across the street from Off the Rails Brewing and soon to be joined in the neighbourhood by Luppolo Brewing. It’s a fun place to visit, but unfortunately, the Choqlette Porter may have run its seasonal course and might not be seen again until the fall. If that’s the case, at least we have the memories!

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

BC Beer Baron #31 – Black Kettle IPA

The thing I like best about beer festivals is being introduced to breweries I haven’t yet had the chance to experience or in some cases, breweries I’m being reintroduced to. Such was the case at the recent Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse, where the Sip Advisor was able to get reacquainted with Black Kettle Brewing, after last trying their wares at July’s Tip N’ Taste in Langley.

As myself, Cousin Sip, and her husband approached our first booth of the night at Tapped Vancouver, we each picked one of the company’s options. I went with the IPA and found it to be a great starting point to my evening. I later returned for their two other selections (the Pale Ale and Scottish Ale), which will be profiled here at later dates. Where was Mrs. Sip, you might be asking? Well, she was running late, as is typical for her and with beer available, we weren’t willing to wait.

Black Kettle IPA

The brew comes in at 6.4%, but is lighter than most IPAs, while still being joined by the hoppy taste we’ve all come to expect from this variety of beverage. As an IPA fan, I will look out for this product when buying beers and suggest it to friends who also like their brews to have a little more of an edge to them.

I named Black Kettle my choice for MVP of the Tapped Vancouver event (not that this was an actual competition there) and it has earned its way onto our list of must-visit breweries when the Sip Alliance finally gets their act together and tours North Vancouver’s burgeoning brewery region. This little exploration can’t happen soon enough!

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

Sip Trips #56: Tapping and Tasting

While many would hesitate to be out at an all-inclusive beer and cider event on a Thursday evening (especially one where you’re supposed to play Urban Rec volleyball that same night), that’s not a theory Mrs. Sip and I follow. Rather, along with members of the Sip Alliance, we checked out Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse.

I probably would have balked at the event’s $66 regular entrance fee; however, when the activity came up on Groupon for $30, it was a pretty easy decision to make. For the price, we had unlimited access to all vendors and a souvenir tasting glass (which Mrs. Sip and I have a growing collection of). We did find it odd that this event would be taking place on a Thursday, rather than over the weekend, but the old “it’s for charity” argument won out.

Donate-A-Quarter-To-Charity

The breweries and cideries featured at the gala included: Black Kettle, Parallel 49, Bomber, Driftwood, Howe Sound, Lonetree Cider, Phillips, Whistler, and Russell. To be honest, I think the $30 entrance is just barely justifiable and I feel for anyone who paid the full price. There was absolutely no food – save for one food cart outside – and some beer vendors only brought one option with them, while others gave half pours, even though the event was all-inclusive (ie. fill my damn glass, homey!).

The MVP of the night would have to be Black Kettle Brewing, which had numerous bombers of three different beers and never went stingy with their pouring. Whistler Brewing would have ranked highly too, but their selections were from the brewery’s Winter Party Pack, which I had just purchased days before. I can’t fault them for that… or can I!?

I have to say that I’ve enjoyed both booze events I’ve attended at the Yaletown Roundhouse, having also relished the 2014 Made with Love cocktail competition hosted there. It’s a fun venue and its close proximity to the Sip Advisor offices is much appreciated. Too bad volleyball at the Richmond Olympic Oval didn’t go nearly as well as Tapped Vancouver!

Volleyball Balloon

On Saturday, to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s recent birthday, we put together our own blind wine tasting. Each couple was tasked with bringing a bottle of wine (white or red), which would be concealed in a BC Liquor Store paper bag. Then, the group would sample at will until notes and scores had been entered on each selection, before the final reveal.

We ended up with five whites and three reds, which I think was the perfect balance. My favourite bottle of the tasting was the Pinotage Mrs. Sip and I brought home from South Africa’s Groot Constantia winery. The overall winner was Cappo Shiraz, which Mrs. Sip’s parents won in a raffle through their curling association, of all places.

Wine Tasting Today

The event was a lot of fun for all and gave typically white drinkers a chance to try some reds. If you have a wine lover in your close circle, I suggest doing this for a birthday event. They will love the effort you put into it, as well as getting everyone together to celebrate.

That about wraps January up for the ol’ Sip Advisor and it’s been one hell of a month. When you have a brewery complimenting ‘how you weekend’, you know you’re doing well! Next month doesn’t let up however, as we have a bunch of great activities already lined up, such as the Science of Cocktails and the Family Day long weekend will no doubt include some sort of hijinks!

Sip Trips #55: Dirty Dancing

The week that was, was incredibly busy with activities each night of the weekend and Mrs. Sip’s birthday on Tuesday. Things started off with a lot of laughs as we went to The Comedy Mix to see Last Comic Standing winner Iliza Shlesinger do her thing, sharing a bucket of beer over the evening.

Prior to the show, we made a trip to Romer’s Burger Bar for their ongoing Craft Bowl competition. The tournament sees each Romer’s location offering two to three beers for customers to choose their favourite in a blind taste test. The winners move on to the next round, with the ultimate champion crowned Super Bowl weekend.

Bud_Bowl

The cost to play a role in the competition is only $6, which gets you a small sample of each brew, as well as a full serving of the one you choose as your pick. The three beers available for this trip were Strange Fellows Pale Ale, Postmark IPA and Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. I won’t go into too many details on the samples, as each will be featured as part of my BC Beer Baron project.

I will say that I ended up choosing the Postmark IPA, but two of our group went for the Strange Fellows Pale Ale, one went for Driftwood Fat Tug IPA, and one went completely off the board, so our tastes were quite varied. For the one who didn’t like any of the three options, Romer’s was nice enough to give him a sleeve of something else off their menu for his full serving. We will be back for another round of the Craft Bowl!

Moving on, the Dine Out Vancouver Festival (January 15-31) is currently taking over the city and when the event line-up was first released, I excitedly came home with about 10 activities penciled in for further research. Upon seeing the price of some of those proceedings, though, I whittled my list down to one activity: the Winter Beer Hall at Big Rock Urban Brewery, which we attended Saturday.

cat at table eating

For $40, we were treated to a three-course meal, accompanied by five 7 oz. cask beer samples. Big Rock was also responsible for brewing the Dine Out Van Fest Ale (a first for the annual foody festival), which was available at the Winter Beer Hall. The English-Style Brown Ale was joined by beers from some of the region’s top breweries, including Real Cask, Bridge, Doan’s, and Storm (a perennial favourite for Mrs. Sip and me). More on those selections when they come up in the 366-day BC craft beer project.

Once we were finished our meal, Mrs. Sip and I moved to a quieter part of the restaurant and ordered a couple other beverages in Big Rock’s Midnight Rhapsody (which I’ve been wanting to try for a while) and Winter Spice Ale (another choice I’ve been curious about). The night rounded out with visiting friends who live close by and sharing even more sudsy goodness.

Sunday morning, I was invited to watch the Seattle Seahawks game versus the Carolina Panthers at The Pint. While I arrived late, with the Seahawks down 31-0, the second half comeback provided some entertainment, while I enjoyed the pub’s Double Caesar, Rum and Coke and a pint of beer. All items were on special, so it wasn’t too much of a hit to the wallet, as Seattle came up short in their bid for another playoff victory.

football playoffs

The weekend wasn’t over yet, though. For Christmas, I bought Mrs. Sip tickets to the touring production of Dirty Dancing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Prior to the show, we sat down for dinner at Wild Tale, which on Sundays features a five-course lobster dinner for $50-$60. Mrs. Sip and I have become big fans of The Flying Pig chain of restaurants and Wild Tale is a member of that family. When Mrs. Sip heard about the lobster dinner, we made reservations quickly.

The meal began with seafood chowder, followed by mussels, and then a trio of salads (potato, coleslaw and mixed greens). Then, it was main event time, with your choice of one pound of lobster or one and a half pounds for $10 more. The restaurant could only procure the one and a half pound lobsters, so we received the larger size for the smaller price.

lobster delicious with butter

We made our reservation for 5pm, so as to enjoy as much of the restaurant’s 4-6pm happy hour and capitalize on discounted glasses of wine and beers. My Stanley Park Pale Ales paired quite nicely with a number of the dishes, particularly the chowder. Following dinner, it was off to the show, where one might say we had the time of our lives!

There’s never a dull moment at the Sip Advisor Offices and certainly no rest for the wicked. Tonight we will be attending Tapped Vancouver at the Yaletown Roundhouse, while this weekend will be spent celebrating Mrs. Sip’s birthday with blind wine tasting and drinks with friends. After all, there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead!