Sip Trips #178: Aloha Hawaii

Last week, the Sip Family enjoyed some rest and relaxation in the Waikiki area of Honolulu, Hawaii. We didn’t just laze poolside or at the beach, though. Here’s what we got up to while on the island:

Upon arriving at our hotel late last Sunday, I ran across the street to pick up a six-pack of Waikiki Hana Hou Hefe. Then I poured a couple back on our balcony, enjoying the late night humidity and wondering what time Toddler Sip would have us up in the morning, affected by the three-hour time change, including the daylight savings time adjustment from that morning. The answer: six-freaking-a.m. We all managed to survive, though, and it could have been worse.

During Toddler Sip’s first nap of the vacation, I spent my free time at Yard House for their excellent happy hour, which includes $2 off draft beers and half price appies, among other deals. My brews for this occasion were the Koholo Red Sand and Kona Koko Brown. Both were paired with a serving of Korean Boneless Wings, which were tremendous. The only thing that sucks whenever I’m at a place that has a large tap list (Yard House, Craft Beer Market, etc.) and I finally decide and order something, they’re always out of my first choice and I have to scramble to make a second pick. Also, drinking on your own when the urge to pee hits can cause some tough decisions.

cute cats

That evening, we walked down to Waikiki Brewing, where I satisfied my thirst for a spicy beer with their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale. I really liked this brew, as it featured more spice and flavour than some similar beers I’ve tried. For eats, we ordered their Prime Sliders and Giant Pretzel, which was impressively big. The meal was very good and set us up for the long walk to the nearest Walmart for some grocery shopping.

The next day, we returned to Yard House for happy hour again, this time with Mrs. Sip and a napping Toddler Sip tagging along. On this visit, I drank the Aloha Waimanalo Farmhouse Ale, completing a trifecta of good beers served up at the restaurant. Our appies were the Fried Chicken Tenders and Chicken Nachos, which we managed to complete right before Toddler Sip woke up and threw her one and only massive tantrum of the vacay. That’s the last time Mrs. Sip offers her water after a nap!

Finally, it was time to do some booze shopping for our room after some serious price comparison work throughout the area. On the cheap, I picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum to use with Cherry Coke and later Tonic Water as mixers. Spiced Rum has become my favourite go-to elixir when travelling, thanks to its versatility with a number of drinks, from sodas to hot chocolate.

captain morgan

Day three happy hour was spent at The Street Food Hall within the International Market Place. I began at Beer & Be Merry, capitalizing on their $2 Kirin all day deal with a pair of servings. Before leaving the place, I also popped over to The Myna Bird Tiki Bar for a cocktail, ordering the El Diablo (mezcal, creme de cassis, lime, ginger, soda).

With Toddler and Mrs. Sip up from their naps, we ventured over to the O Bar, where my beverage of choice was the Karai Thai (tequila, pineapple, guava, Thai chili pepper syrup, lime). While the drink was very refreshing, it was not as spicy as I would have liked. We also tried to feed Toddler Sip dinner here, but she was too interested in the fish tanks and live music.

The next day, we returned to The Street Food Hall as a family to share some pepperoni pizza from Nana Lu Pizzeria. I also went back to the Beer & Be Merry bar for a pint of Aloha Red Zeppelin, which had caught my eye the previous day. When you bought a craft beer from this bar, the serving size was bigger than the $2 Kirins, while the price was cheaper than other locations, even while not a special deal.

cheap beer

Up next, was a visit to Maui Brewing, where I put together a flight of beer, including Pineapple Mana Wheat, Anada Hemp Brown Ale, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Imperial Dolce Porter (w/ Caramel and Salt). Once again, a place was out of my top choice beer, in this case, the Fully Pitted Habanero Milkshake IPA. For food, we shared a Pork Belly Bao, which we both liked. To wrap the stay, I ordered the Street Fighter (tequila, watermelon, sour mix, Hawaiian chili salt rim) cocktail, which packed the heat I was looking for.

Following this stop, we walked a little further to the Top of Waikiki rotating restaurant. Sitting in their lounge area for happy hour, I had the Kona Winds (tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, mole bitters) cocktail. To restock my beers, I grabbed a six-pack of Kona Wailua Wheat from a nearby store, before we returned to our room for our evening tradition of Netflix and falling asleep with Toddler Sip. No more Netflix and chill for us!

On Friday, we enjoyed happy hour at our hotel’s Splash Bar (at the Sheraton PK), ordering a round of Kalua Pork Nachos, as well as their Homemade Potato Chips to scoop up all the nacho toppings. I finally ordered a Mai Tai for the occasion, as well as a pint of Kona Castaway IPA. With Toddler Sip napping, we were able to pull out the Sushi Go cards and play a few rounds following the meal.

mai tai.jpg

For dinner, we ate at The Cheesecake Factory, sharing some Roadside Sliders and a slice of the spectacular Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake. To quench my thirst, I had the Kona Gold Cliff IPA, which complimented the food nicely.

Saturday saw us do another long walk to the Ala Moana Center mall, then over to Dave & Busters for dinner and some arcade games. Our server here was nice enough, but did not provide the usual service we get when at the chain (didn’t explain how things work with the games, etc. and never asked if we wanted dessert, just brought the bill). Another complaint from me is that their drink menu doesn’t include prices… Cheesecake Factory does the same and I’ve decided I will no longer enjoy a beverage at places that hide the cost. What we did enjoy was our food, including Pretzel Dogs, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders and Goldfingers. It was also neat to see Toddler Sip play some of the games, as her last visit to D&Bs occurred when she was only four months old.

Sadly, all great vacations must come to an end. After a morning swim, I took care of my liquor buying business by grabbing bottles of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and Kula Toasted Coconut Rum. I also picked up a couple massive cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the day because I just can’t help myself when it comes to PBR!

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Our final meal of the trip was enjoyed at Duke’s Waikiki, where we enjoyed an epic feast. My fish entrée was prepared in a mouthwatering Spicy Gochujang-Ginger Roasted sauce, while I sipped away at a Hawaiian Time (strawberry basil lemonade with Absolut Mandarin and Kai Lemongrass Ginger Shochu) cocktail. For dessert, we shared the Specialty Hula Pie (Oreo crust, peanut butter cup ice cream), which was truly decadent and we all overate prior to our redeye flight home.

We hope to return to Hawaii soon and wish our stay there was longer than a week. For now, it’s back to cold weather, but at least the Christmas season is ramping up and that will provide much festive joy!

Sip Trips #175: Coastal Cruising

The September birthday blitz has come and gone for another year and it was fairly busy. It began with Sis-In-Law Sip’s birthday, where I concocted four relatively easy drinks to go along with the treats of autumn/fall theme. These cocktails utilized spirits such as Pumpkin Pie Vodka, Roasted Pecan Whiskey, Cranberry Liqueur, Apple-Cinnamon Vodka, and Cinnamon Whiskey. Mixers included Ginger Beer, Hibiscus Iced Tea and Chocolate Milk. Overall, the beverages went over very well with guests in attendance.

The next evening, we ventured to Maple Ridge for a meal at the Billy Miner Pub. While enjoying a pint of R&B Brewing’s delicious Orange Negroni Saison, I partook in an order of Teriyaki Fries, while also stealing a few nibbles of Mrs. Sip’s Cornbread. The meal was very good and the pub has become our go-to option when out that way.

To celebrate my birthday, as well as Baby Sip’s (we are one day apart), we booked a Princess Cruises itinerary from Vancouver to Los Angeles, with one day at Disneyland scheduled as well. The cruise featured its typical level of booziness, but I didn’t expect some of the treats that came my way (bucket of beers pre-ordered by Ma and Pa Sip and a pair of complimentary cocktails from the ship) and given I was drinking solo, I think I made quite an effort. That’s right folks, Mrs. Sip is pregnant with our second child – a boy this time – so Baby Sip will from this post forward be referred to as Toddler Sip.

second child

My goal for this cruise, was to not buy a single drink. After all, I had a bottle each of red and white wine, a couple mini bottles and the previously mentioned bucket of beers and cocktails to go through on my own. I used my two cocktail vouchers on Long Island Iced Tea variations, including the Georgia Tea (vodka, gin, rum, peach schnapps, Cranberry Juice, sour mix) and Italian Tea (vodka, gin, rum, amaretto, cola, sour mix). Both were strong and tasty, just the way I prefer libations to be.

I did crack on my “don’t buy a drink” credo, as we celebrated my birthday dinner at the ship’s Salty Dog Gastropub, where I ordered the Salty Dog Smash (whiskey, simple syrup, lemon juice, mint). The drink paired well with our food, as each diner gets to pick two main courses. We went with the Grilled Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Calamari Frites, and Ernesto Burger. The meal was quite decadent and was finished with desserts of Strawberries & Cream and Bourbon Chocolate Pot de Crème.

Our day at Disneyland was a lot of fun, with Toddler Sip getting to meet her hero Minnie Mouse and experience attractions such as the Enchanted Tiki Room, King Arthur Carrousel and the Mad Tea Party. We also tried a bunch of the specialty Halloween treats around the park, including the Toasted Salsa Roja Chicken Sandwich with Tortilla Soup, Blackberry Midnight Julep and Frozen Abuelita Horchata (mixing Mexican hot chocolate and horchata). Toddler Sip really liked the horchata.

tired disneyland

Admittedly, the day was exhausting and a bit of a bust, as far as my drinking goals were concerned. We were unable to secure a reservation at Oga’s Cantina (the only place to get a boozy drink in the park) in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area and were too drained at the end of the night to journey to Ballast Point’s new location in Downtown Disney. These will both have to be saved for next year’s return to the resort.

After flying back to Seattle and being picked up by Ma and Pa Sip, we went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There, I ordered the Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich and a pint of Mac & Jack’s Brewing African Amber Ale. We also took home a slice of Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake, which was so damn good when we finally got around to eating it the next night.

It should also be noted that I was gifted from the Sip-In-Laws a bottle of Swear Jar Whiskey, which can be used as a swear jar/piggy bank after being consumed. On the horizon is Oktoberfest, which we will be indulging in to celebrate Cousin Sip’s birthday. Time to get the lederhosen ready!

Sip Trips #174: Island Exploring

While the last couple of weeks have been quieter, coinciding with the end of summer, the Sip Family has still kept up a fairly busy schedule of events and activities. Here’s what we’ve been up to, of late:

Following the Labour Day long weekend, Mrs. Sip and I both took an extra day off work to take Baby Sip to the Vancouver Aquarium. While in that neck of the woods, we visited the new Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub. They have set up quite a facility there and we wish our visit wasn’t so brief. I ordered a pint of the Grapefruit & Juniper Red ISA, which was already on tap, despite being on their “Up Next” menu. I’m so glad it was because it paired quite well with the Pretzel Mrs. Sip asked for, accompanied by a very tasty mustard sauce. I’d say the only drawback is that a trip to Stanley Park takes us quite a bit out of the way nowadays, so popping into the brewpub will likely be a rare treat.

mustard

Later that week, to celebrate Pa Sip’s birthday, we had dinner at the Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant in White Rock. While splitting a platter of delicious Fish & Chips, I enjoyed a pint of Steamworks Lager. In my opinion, you just can’t have fish and chips without a frosty beverage and although the restaurant only had this one craft option, I’m thankful they at least had that.

This past weekend, we travelled to Victoria to visit family. While on the island, I was able to hit a couple of the many craft breweries our capital city has to offer. We began our limited crawl at Phillips Brewing, which has expanded greatly since my last visit a handful of years ago. I went with a flight of beers, selecting their Fresa Fresca Strawberry Cream Wit, The Ramanga Blood Orange Witbier, Au Currant Black Currant Wheat Ale, and Death Metal Norwegian Black IPA. I also picked up a bomber of Villager Hazy Kolsch, the official beer of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, for the road.

Up next was Vancouver Island Brewing, where I put together another flight, consisting of their Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Magic Hour Grapefruit Gose, Faller Northwest Pale Ale and Just Desserts Porter. If it wasn’t so expensive to take a vehicle round trip via BC Ferries, we would probably be able to explore Victoria even more. There are many locations over there that I’d love to stop at in the future.

ferries

We wrapped our most recent adventures by trying Burger Heaven in New West. The burgers here don’t come cheap, with the basic option starting at $15 and fancier items closer to $20 or more, but they are very good quality. I went with the Teriyaki, Mozzarella, Bacon & Mushroom Burger and it was fantastic. Our meal ended on a bit of a sour note, though, as we were charged for extra drinks we didn’t order and it wasn’t realized until after we paid. We were refunded for the drinks, but our tip was based on an incorrectly inflated charge. Not to mention, while this could have been an accident, you’re always left wondering whether the server was hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

Coming up for the Sip Advisor is the September birthday blitz, which sees myself, Baby Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and a couple friends all celebrate another year on this earth within a week of each other. Should make for quite a bit of fun!

Sip Trips #165: European Escape (Part 2)

After stops in London and Sicily to start our European vacation, we made our way to Malta for the final leg of the getaway. Promptly upon arriving in the country, we collected our rental vehicles and drove to the ferry, transporting ourselves to the sub-island of Gozo. After boarding the ferry, Mrs. Sip retrieved a can of Hopleaf Pale Ale for me, as I waited with a sleeping Baby Sip.

For dinner that evening, we went to the Zebbug Rovers Bar & Grill. Here, I enjoyed the Zebbug Rovers Special pizza (topped with chicken, bacon, ground beef, pepperoni, sausage and BBQ sauce drizzle) with a large serving of Paulaner Weissbier.

The next day, after checking out some of the sites around Gozo, we stopped for lunch at the seaside Churchill Restaurant. For our meal, I enjoyed a Grilled Angus Burger, along with a glass of House Rose. Afterwards, upon being challenged, I performed a near-perfect cannonball into the adjacent Xlendi Bay!

cannonball

Our big stop the following afternoon was a visit to Lord Chambray Brewery. Thanks to a group effort, we all got to try everything they had on tap, with my pint selection being the Sun Blas English IPA. Other favourites included the Fungus Rock Stout and Blue Lagoon Belgian Wheat.

That evening, we managed to finally get our hands on the final two episodes of Game of Thrones – as well as a TV we could view them on – and sat back to enjoy the spectacle. My enjoyment was enhanced by the addition of beers such as the 8.6 Original Intense Blonde Beer, which I became a big fan of during the Maltese portion of our trip.

The next day, we were off to the main island of Malta, staying in the marina area. On our first night, we had a late dinner at the nearby Mamma Mia, known for their Chicken Dippers meal, which was very, very good and really hit the spot after another long day of driving and sightseeing. A pitcher of Cisk Lager was a nice, if not underwhelming, accompaniment to the feast.

pitcher longer

Our next attraction was the walled city of Mdina, where we had lunch at the Palazzo de Piro Café. My Clubhouse Sandwich was unique in that it included boiled egg, but that didn’t detract from the meal. We also split a bottle of Medina Sauvignon Blanc to wash down our food.

Next up, was a visit to Meridiana Winery, where for 12 Euros, we received a four-glass tasting, including the vineyard’s Isis Chardonnay, Fenici Rose, Nexus Merlot, Melqart Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. With a bottle of the rose coming home with us, we can recreate the serene experience anytime we want.

To celebrate the return of our rental cars and no longer having to drive, we had another late dinner at Uncle Matt’s Kitchen. There, I had another meaty pizza with the Chicken Farm option. A tall can of Blue Label Amber Ale and glass of house rose completed the feast.

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We next explored Valletta, the capital of Malta. Our day of exploring ended with drinks at the 200-year-old Caffe Cordina, where I drank a bottle of Farsons Double Red Ale. Baby Sip liked the stop, as she got to chase birds in the small square, as well as receive numerous packs of cookies from the servers.

On our last day, we bought tickets for Malta’s hop-on, hop-off bus. Our main stop was the Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, where we explored and dined at Carrubia, along the waterfront. Mrs. Sip and I weren’t very hungry, but shared a really good breaded cod and chips plate. The restaurant also offered free bruschetta for the table. A bottle of Green Label Delicata made the picturesque spot a perfect ending to the journey.

As mentioned earlier, Alaska is up next, a cruise I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I’m hoping to get some breweries in while there and the typical cruise ship shenanigans are bound to occur. I’ve made it my goal to hit at least one saloon in each port, so that should make things interesting!

Sip Trips #164: European Escape (Part 1)

The Sip Family has wrapped our seemingly annual trek to Europe and have a few days to recover and repack for our next adventure aboard an Alaskan cruise. With so little time at hand, let’s get right to the wrap-up of our most recent crossing of the pond. Part one, will look at our stops in London and Sicily:

Our group of three couples, three babies and two grandmas began our travels in London. On our first evening, weary from the journey, we ventured to The Spencer Pub, located near our Airbnb. Despite the rest of the group each ordering Fish & Chips, I was craving a beef burger. It was delicious and a good choice, although no one was complaining about their meal. To pair with the dinner, I ordered a pint of Watney’s Sarcasm Citrus Pale Ale, which was tasty.

proper pub

After a night’s rest, we visited Windsor Castle. Following a self-guided tour of the grounds, we popped into the Tower Tea Room at the Harte and Garter Hotel & Spa, as the ladies wanted to enjoy an afternoon tea. Being the only guy in the group, I didn’t have much choice, but made the best of the situation, ordering a bottle of Windsor & Eton Guardsman Best Bitter.

With all our group finally amassed, including friends living in London, our next endeavour took us to Hampton Court. The day began with a meal at The Bishop Pub, where I enjoyed a Buttermilk Chicken Burger and pint of Meantime London Pale Ale. I always marvel at how low the alcohol percentage is on beers in London with it being rare to see something surpass 5%. Certainly not what I’m used to at home.

With babies in tow and the girls wanting to see a theatre production, the guys spent a night in on the Saturday, while we would get our turn out on Sunday (on Mother’s Day of all days). We took full advantage of our evening though, stocking up on beers to be enjoyed. My brews included Camden Hells Lager, Gipsy Hill & Yeastie Boys Bogan Bogan Double IPA, Drygate Disco Fork Lift Truck Mango Pale Ale, Drygate Gladeye IPA and Vocation Pride & Joy Pale Ale.

babysitting.jpg

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we convened at Ting in the infamous Shard building for their Shangri-La Royal High Tea. To start, Mrs. Sip and I ordered one of each of their cocktails, which included the Little Miss Royal (vodka, ratafia, isake classic and egg white) and The Little Prince (gin, blue curacao, pineapple, lemon and pastis glacial mint). These drinks were very boozy, which turned some of our group off, but that’s just the way I like my libations.

Then, it was time for the guys to take off and watch the end of the English Premier League season. My two comrades are Liverpool supporters and picked The Comedy Pub to watch the games amongst fellow fans. There, we drank quite a bit, remaining at the bar well after the crowds cleared. Over the session, I tried pints of the Camden Pale Ale and Doombar Amber Ale.

Our next stop was Waxy O’Connors, which is a very cool place with multiple levels and nooks buried underneath the city. After a few more rounds, we decided some food was in order and stopped at the nearest Pizza Hut (cause we’re classy like that) for a couple pies and, you guessed it, even more beers!

pizza hut

The next day, we were off to Sicily, Italy for the second leg of our journey. After a day of travel and some settling in to our place, we went for a late dinner at Ristorante Borgo dell’Etna. There, I enjoyed a serving of their Pasta al Ragu, while a few of us split an 8-Euro litre of house white wine. Gotta love Italian vino pricing!

On day two, we visited the city of Taormina. Unfortunately, it rained pretty heavily that day (as it did nearly every day of our Italy stay, despite our friend’s guidebook saying it rarely rained in Sicily), so we took refuge at La Cisterna del Moro. With a great view, I dined on a scrumptious Calzone Saporito (tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichoke), paired with a half-litre Moretti Rossa beer.

Day three in Sicily finally brought mostly good weather, so we partook in wine tastings at both Firriato Winery and Gambino Vini. Both places had their own charms and we very much enjoyed this day, which offered some easier road circumstances for us drivers. Baby Sip also liked running around the ground, collecting corks and pinecones.

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On our final day in Sicily, we booked a Godfather Tour, as a number of scenes from the trilogy were filmed around the island. Getting off to a rough start, due to more inclement weather and traffic gridlock, a portion of our tour was altered from an outdoor wine tasting to a meal at Il Padrino Restaurant. There, we were served about 15 different seafood dishes, with my favourites being shrimp in thousand island dressing and breaded mussels. The desserts were also nice, accompanied by homemade Limoncello, Grappa and Amaro, which you could pour as much as you wanted for yourself. The tour wrapped with a stop in the village of Savoca, where we enjoyed a couple beers to end the day.

Taking advantage of our beautiful Airbnb property, we did a few meals in, enjoying a number of Italian beers and wines to unwind after each busy day of sightseeing. My selection included: Cavaliers Birra Speciale Rossa Artigianale; Arcana Golden Ale, Red Ale and White Ale; Patronus Weissbier; Birotti Weissbier; and Briere De Haute Fermentation La Blonde De Ch’nord, which was my favourite of the bunch.

Upon leaving Italy for Malta (part two of this Sip Trips review), I bought a bottle of Fuoco dell’Etna at the airport, lured in by the bottle’s design which looks like a volcano has erupted (complete with a rocky texture), as well as the liqueur’s 50% alcohol percentage. The booze is supposed to include flavours such as strawberry, citrus and Sicilian herbs, so I’m looking forward to experimenting.

Sip Trips #147: Maritimes Musings

This past week, the Sip Family was away in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a wedding. While on the other side of the country, we got up to our usual brand of mischief, touring the city and a number of fine attractions. Here’s what we got up to in the Maritimes:

Upon arriving late last Thursday, our first order of business was to invest in some beverages for the duration of our stay. With Baby Sip in tow, we were set to do a little more drinking at our AirBnB, rather than out and about, as minors can’t be in breweries or pubs past 9pm in the city. After settling in, we made our way to the nearby NSLC liquor store, where we grabbed a six-pack of Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale and a tall can of Nine Locks Watermelon Blonde. Both beers were good, with the Dark Cream Ale being a new style to me and the Watermelon Blonde being very refreshing in the Halifax heat and humidity.

liquor-store weekend.png

The next night, we also visited RockHead Wine & Beer Market to pick up more supplies, including J.D. Shore Spiced Rum from Halifax Distilling and a tall can of Tusket Falls Smoked Kiack Smoked Ale. The Spiced Rum went well with a bottle of Dr. Pepper we got the night before with our pizza order, while the Smoked Ale made its way home with us and will be cracked open in the near future.

Earlier on this day, we left our apartment en route to the city’s waterfront area. As we made the 20-minute journey, we stumbled across Propeller Brewing and despite only being five minutes into our walk, the stifling temperature forced us into the brewery for a dose of air conditioning and a flight of beers. Our set included the Stone Fruit Summer Ale, Lemon Pie Sour, Rye IPA and Porter. We had a great time here, chatting with staff and fellow patrons. I was even given bonus sips of the IPA and DIPA, so I could compare all three IPAs on tap.

Since our afternoon had turned into a bit of a brewery crawl, we decided to also pop into the nearby 2 Crows Brewing for another flight. Here, we sampled the Ramble Wild Table Witbier, Good Air Buckwheat Saison, Slam Jam Blueberry Brut IPA and Pollyanna Wild NE IPA. The price for a flight jumped up here compared to Propeller, but to a fare that was more common around the area. The Brut IPA was interesting and seemed to be a popular style in Halifax.

Nova Scotia

Finally reaching the harbour, next up was a late lunch/early dinner at Waterfront Warehouse. Mrs. Sip and I shared orders of the Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese and Fish & Chips, which paired very nicely with my pick of Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale. Our meal on the patio was very nice and Baby Sip even got her first taste of Atlantic lobster.

Saturday was highlighted by the wedding, with the ceremony taking place across the water in Dartmouth. Following the nuptials, we explored that city a little bit, first stopping at Ace Burger (also home to North Brewing). We split their Jughead Burger with Spicy Fries, followed by an spectacular Ice Cream Sundae for dessert. For drinks, I selected the North Perseid IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with the Off Track Wheat in the Knees. With a 15% discount at North Brewing, thanks to eating at Ace Burger, we took home a bottle of Midnight Strong Dark Belgian, which also made its way back to Vancouver with us. Mrs. Sip loves her Belgian strong beers, so hopefully this hits the mark once we crack it open.

Before returning to Halifax, we visited New Scotland Brewing, which only opened its doors a month ago. As a result, some of their concoctions were sold out, but we did manage to put together a flight comprised of their Bonnie Kolsch, Strawberry Peppercorn Mead, Beachcomber IPA and All the Fuss Gose. It was interesting to throw the mead in there and it turned out to be my favourite from the collection.

Mead

The wedding reception took place at the Waegwoltic Club, which offered an amazing setting to party the night away and celebrate the newlyweds. Among the open bar lineup was the Garrison Tall Ship East Coast Ale, which I indulged in a few times throughout the festivities.

The next day featured our Downtown Food Tour, through Local Tasting Tours. Mrs. Sip and I have grown to love doing organized food tours in the places we travel to and find them to be highlights of any city we visit. This circuit was no different, expertly hosted by our guide, Rachael. The itinerary included seven stops, each with its own special treat for us connoisseurs: Prince George Hotel (Poutine), Tempo (Banh Mi Slider), The Split Crow (Queen’s County Chowder), The Old Apothecary Bakery (Salted Caramel Brownie), World Tea House (Black Tea from Kenya), Snappy Tomato Pizza (Donair), Sugah/Rum Runners (Chocolates, Salt Water Taffy, Sponge Toffee, Rum Cakes). I liked that there was a mix of options, from food to dessert and even a tea break, which Mrs. Sip was really into. The value for this tour was also quite good, as for $50 each, we left comfortably full and with a new appreciation for places around the city.

After letting our stomachs settle and giving Baby Sip a chance to exert some energy and explore at a waterfront playground (she was such a good trooper throughout the food tour), we met with a friend at the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden, along the water. The beer garden has both full-service and self-service sections, with numerous picnic tables for folks to sit at. I started with a tall can of Garrison Jalapeno, which was a little disappointing, as despite a nice pepper taste, there was no heat to the brew. I switched to a Big Spruce Tim’s Dirty IPA for my next beverage, which was good. Mrs. Sip went back to the Propeller Stonefruit Summer Ale and we split a delicious Lobster Roll that was stuffed with meat from the crustacean.

lobster pick me

On Monday, we added some more culture to our vacation, with an afternoon spent at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The museum’s most popular collections include one about the Titanic, as Halifax played a large role in the recovery of bodies from the doomed vessel, and the Halifax Explosion, which killed thousands and injured many more. This was a fascinating stop amongst all our eating and drinking.

For dinner, we returned to Tempo, home to my favourite bite from our food tour, the Banh Mi Slider. With Mrs. Sip wanting to return to indulge in their Lobster Dinner special (only $29), it offered the opportunity for me to get a full serving of the dish. We also ordered a serving of their Calamari, which also won us over. For drinks, Mrs. Sip had a small jug of Sangria, while I went with Keith’s IPA from the happy hour menu. The beer really hit the spot, pairing well with my meal.

Following dinner, we travelled to Unfiltered Brewing, which doesn’t do flights, but offers any of their beers in a four-ounce serving. Therefore, we got tasters of the Daytimer Berliner Weisse, Exile on North Street IPA, Marcus Junius Brut IPA, Dementia DIPA and Warning Label Aged DIPA. Unfiltered is known for their IPAs and it showed with how good these options were, my favourite being the Exile on North Street.

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Before calling it a night, we made it to Good Robot Brewing before their 9pm curfew for minors. We really enjoyed the brewery’s beautiful outdoor space and also liked that flights were served in muffin tins. Our selections here, included the 5th Chamber Fruit Gose, Sorry Coconut Coffee Blonde, El Espinazo Del Diablo Mexican Lager and Bingo Bronson Chocolate Porter. We also ordered a round of Butter Chicken Nachos to complete the visit.

On our final day, we rented a vehicle and travelled to Peggy’s Cove along with the couple that got married. They also hosted us for a fantastic lobster feast, with bowls full of claws, tails and legs. Mrs. Sip was in seafood heaven and our glasses of mimosas made the meal even more decadent.

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Upon returning to Vancouver – following excruciating flight delays and lost luggage (nice try calling it “delayed” luggage Air Canada) – and getting a few hours of sleep, we crossed the border to the United States, so Mrs. Sip could do some shopping for a baby shower she’s hosting this weekend. Taking advantage of the trip to Bellingham, we had lunch at Kulshan Brewing, eating from the Hot Mess Food Truck, which was on-site. We both greatly enjoyed Philly Cheesesteaks, as well as our beverages, a German-Style Kolsch for Mrs. Sip and their Beer Prom IPA for moi.

That wrapped a very busy week for all of us and things heat up again this weekend. On the schedule thus far is a family gathering, the aforementioned baby shower, Caskapalooza 2018 at Craft Beer Market and probably a few events I can’t even remember!

Sip Trips #139: Exploring Europe (Part 4)

The final stop on our European expedition was Belgium, where we visited the cities of Brussels and Bruges, looking to get our fill of what the country is famous for: chocolate, beer, waffles and fries!

First up, was Brussels, where we began by eating at The Purple Rose. While we didn’t love the Croque Monsieur Mrs. Sip and I split, we did enjoy our Belgian Beer Tour of seven 4oz beers, served with a side of fries.

This was merely a warmup, as our big excursion of the day was a Beer & Chocolate Tour, which featured tons of chocolate and six beers. The 4.5-hour tour was very good value, costing 80-Euros per person. I liked being able to pick from a variety of chocolate combos, choosing my sweets based on ingredients I thought worked well in cocktails. Following the chocolate, we were treated to a walking tour of the city, prior to hitting three different bars for the beer portion of the outing.

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Feeling quite jovial at the conclusion of the tour, we made our way to the Delirium Café for further beverages. I had hoped to drink from one of the bar’s massive fishbowl glasses (which you have to put down a 40-Euros deposit for), but they had sadly ran out of the goblets when we went to order. We still enjoyed a drink, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for.

The next day, we popped into Restaurant du MIM, located on the 10th floor of the Museum of Musical Instruments. There, I had a pint of Ramee Blanche, while we enjoyed the views from the outdoor seating section. I had the same beer at Café Georgette, famous for their fries, which can be eaten at the restaurant or as takeaway in a cone. We ordered our chips with Georgette Sauce, which completed the experience.

We then walked across town for drinks at the Brussels Beer Project, which had been recommended to us the day before by our Beer & Chocolate Tour guide. Mrs. Sip and I went with pints of the Delta IPA (Belgian IPA) and Jungle Joy (Mango and Passionfruit Blond). We had wanted to try the Grosse Bertha (Belgian Hefeweizen), but it was tapped out at the time. Mrs. Sip did get to try it when we had dinner across the street at Café Walvis. There, I paired some beef stew with fries and a bottle of Maredsous Bruin, as was recommended on the bistro’s menu.

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Before moving onto the Bruges portion of our vacation, I must mention that I really enjoyed the Grimbergen brand of beer, which we tried in Blond, Dubbel, and Tripel varieties. I found they worked particularly well with Belgian waffles, making for a fantastic breakfast and start to a day of exploring!

In Bruges (an awesome movie!), we began our activities by exploring the main square, while searching for a place to eat dinner. We landed at Huyze die Maene, where I selected from their 22-Euros set menu. My meal included another round of Flemish beef stew with fries, accompanied by a large serving of Kwak beer, which came in a very interesting glass that looked like something from a chemistry lab.

The next day, we toured the Brewery De Halve Maan, which finished with a glass of their Brugse Zot Blond. The tour cost 10-Euros per person, which may have been money better spent on just ordering a couple pints of beer. Mrs. Sip and I have grown tired of learning the process to make beer and really just want to sample the wares. At least we lucked upon a spot in the brewery’s courtyard to enjoy our beverages.

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While walking around the city, we stepped into one of the beer stores that Belgium is known for. These shops typically carry hundreds of different beers. Mrs. Sip wanted to try a couple from the Mongozo brand, including their coconut and banana-flavoured options. These brews were lighter on the alcohol percentage, but very tasty.

Before heading back to London and flying home the next day, we needed to return to Brussels to catch our Eurostar train. With time to kill, we walked to the nearby Cantillon Brewery, which specializes in sour beers. We ordered a glass of each of the four available brews, including the Gueuze, Kriek, Rose de Gambrinus, and Lambic.

That wraps our adventures from across the pond. Travelling such a long distance with Baby Sip went better than I expected, but it still had its fair share of hiccups, which I hope to delve into in a future Love & Hate article. Until then, at least we have the fuzzy memories!