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!

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Sip Trips #66: Weekend Warriors

While I’ve often dubbed Mrs. Sip and myself ‘Weekend Warriors, Weekday Legends’, this past weekend was incredibly busy, even by our standards. Things all got started – as most weekends do – with the need to procure some alcohol. The Sip Alliance had a member’s birthday Saturday evening and so the hunt was on.

Our first stop was 33 Acres Brewing, a favourite Vancouver location of Mrs. Sip and mine. There, we filled a couple growlers, making sure to try some of the new items to hit their board, such as the 33 Acres of Egress Belgian Grisette, which Cousin Sip elected to purchase.

Beer Growler

Following that, we were off to Storm Brewing, in search of the many odd concoctions the company is highly-regarded for. We sampled much of their ‘Brainstorms’ lineup, including a Chocolate Lavender Stout, Grapefruit Radler IPA, Blueberry Lemonade Pilsner, Pineapple Upside Down Cake Ale, James’ Liver Tonic IPA, Bangers and Sour Mash Ale, Raspberry Pilsner, and… wait for it… Margherita Pizza IPA! Some of these just might make an appearance in a BC Beer Baron article.

Our birthday event that night evolved (as these things sometimes do) from a laid back house party to a relatively laid back bar visit, as we headed out to East Vancouver’s Brickhouse. While the pub’s surrounding area is a little sketchy, the venue itself was pretty cool, with couches you could chill on, while waiting your turn to play pool or darts. The place also has quite an impressive menu of craft beers, mostly from Washington and Oregon.

On Sunday, for Father’s Day, we gathered up the whole extended family and made our way over to Township 7 Winery in Langley for their annual Wine & Swine celebration. Tickets were $30 and included three wine and pork pairings, with live music from LB 4 LB (Pound 4 Pound). The event was a total hit with our crew and I love what Township 7 has done with their patio area, changing it from a grassy area that easily got muddy in the often inclement BC weather to a tiered and tabled setting.

always-been-my-favorite-fathers-day-card

As we were wrapping things up, some of the Township 7 staff suggested we check out the nearby Fraser Valley Cider Company. I’m not much of a fan of the stuff, but others in our group are, while some were curious to try. We split a few of their tasting flights, which included house, dry, honey and elderflower varieties. The setting was nice and the people were very friendly, so it was a great ending to the evening.

While the work week has offered a rare bit of rest, this weekend Mrs. Sip and I (along with Ma and Pa Sip) return to the Bellingham Tap Trail and time will only tell what shenanigans we get up to on this expedition!

Sip Trips #58: Chocolate for My Love

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, Mrs. Sip and I were able to attend two separate events in Langley, one pairing chocolate with wine and the other pairing chocolate with beer. Is there any better way to celebrate the holiday!?

Valentine's Day Romantic Gesture

First, on Saturday, we visited Township 7 Winery, where $15 got guests six generous samples of wine, four of which were paired with a chocolate treat from the White Rock Chocolate Company. Among the pairings were:

  • Sauvignon Blanc with Sea Salt & Lime Chocolate
  • Chardonnay with Brown Butter Caramel Chocolate
  • Merlot with choice of Cinnamon Chocolate or Chili Chocolate
  • NBO Blend with Black Cherry Silk Chocolate

The Sip Advisor’s favourite combo was the Merlot with the Chili Chocolate, as the spice of the chocolate was switched into overdrive with each sip of the wine. That said, the best chocolate overall was the Brown Butter Caramel Chocolate.

Next up, on Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I ventured out to Trading Post Brewing, which had just opened the day before to massive line-ups, as enthusiasts wanted to check out Langley’s first true craft brewery (Dead Frog Brewing is technically located in the neighbouring community of Aldergrove). Mrs. Sip and I had originally hoped to be one of the first guests of the new operation, but long waits and other commitments kiboshed that idea. Trading Post did offer a great incentive upon opening: the first 50 visitors to bring a bottle or can of macro-brewed beer, could exchange that for a free growler from the upstart brewery.

Valentine's Day Lent

The extra day’s wait was worth it, as we were able to partake in Trading Post’s Valentine’s Day chocolate and beer pairing. While we were able to sample each of the six beers available at launch (another two are in the works), each brew was paired with a chocolate from Abbotsford’s ChocolaTas. The pairings included:

  • 1827 Helles Lager with Grapefruit Ganache Chocolate
  • Derby Hop Session Lager with Pistachio Mousse Chocolate
  • Owyhee Tropical Wheat Ale with Green Curry and Ginger Chocolate
  • Capt. Coopers Cranberry Ale with Basil Tomato & Raspberry Chocolate
  • What Cheer Brett IPA with Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate
  • Three Bears Breakfast Stout with Dark Chocolate Ganache Chocolate

Our mutual favourite combo was probably the Brett IPA and Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate. As for beers, I also enjoyed the Derby Hop Session Lager and Tropical Wheat Ale, while I found myself really getting into the Green Curry and Ginger Chocolate. Some of the ChocolaTas creations are quite unique, but I can only imagine they taste as good as all of these selections did.

The entire weekend proved that you really can’t go wrong with chocolate!

Sip Trips #23: Cannon Ball

Vancouver Craft Beer Week has come and gone, wrapping up with a two-day festival on the PNE grounds. Mrs. Sip and I originally had plans to attend this event, featuring over 100 breweries, but decided, in the end, that sitting poolside on the gorgeous weekend and hosting our own beer bash with friends was more ideal.

pass-me-a-beer

From years past, I had heard of the festival being too crowded, with long lines and companies running out of their supplies. That said, everyone I have talked to this year, enjoyed it. Personally, I’m still hesitant to pay $35-$40 for any of these festivals where you get minimal to zero tasting tickets or tokens (in fact, the VCBW event gave you only admission and a taster glass… hell, I already have a full set of those from other activities during the week) and you still have to buy all of your samples on top of the entry fee.

In preparation for our pool time, Mrs. Sip and I hit the Central City Brewery in Surrey. There, we filled up a growler of their India Style Red Ale and grabbed some other bombers, including the Maple Bacon Ale and a Belgian Tripel, which was part of the brewery’s Hobbit series of releases. I also just learned that the company will be opening up a new brew pub, mere blocks away from the Sip Advisor’s home in downtown Vancouver, proving good things come to those that wait!

All of our friends who visited over Friday and Saturday brought their A-game and my parents’ fridges were crammed full of awesome beers and other treats. I particularly enjoyed the 33 Acres of Sunshine French Blanche that was left behind. The whole weekend has me thinking that a poolside beer festival is something I should coordinate for the future, becoming a legend and icon in the industry. All I need to do is make sure I have plenty of lifeguards on hand!

lifeguard on beer break

On Sunday, we ventured into the bush (translation: the suburbs of Vancouver) for some local winery visits. The tour was put together to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s mother’s birthday, and included stops at Backyard Vineyards (where Mrs. Sip is a member and had her spring shipment of wines to pick up) and Township 7 Winery. It was a relaxing and fun afternoon, even with your faithful Sip Advisor playing the rare role of designated driver. Sometimes, you just draw the short stick!

Following work on Monday, Mrs. Sip and I were off to Victoria (aka Vancouver Island) for her sister’s university graduation the next day. Upon arriving, we quickly made a jaunt to the Moon Under Water Brewpub to fill a couple growlers of their delicious beer. We ordered the This is Hefeweizen and Creepy Uncle Dunkel, which paired well with our late night snack and relaxing. I only wish we had more time to enjoy all of Victoria’s fantastic breweries.

graduation thanks

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s big achievement, we made reservations for Afternoon Tea at the infamous Empress Hotel. While the occasion offered a different kind of sipping than the Sip Advisor is accustomed to, the experience deserves mention in this week’s post. The finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, and even tea, were all exquisite and the bucket list-level event is something we will each remember for years to come.

Back on the mainland, we wrapped the week up with a visit to Craft Beer Market to meet a friend. The visit was fruitful in that we got to try the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale that vaulted to the top of my “to try” list, as well as the Yellow Dog Stick Toss Cranberry Saison and Phillips Electric Unicorn White IPA. All three were good, with the Killer Cucumber being my pick of the night, thanks to a subtle and refreshing cucumber flavour. Talk about taking advantage of the joint’s $5 B.C. beer special!