Love & Hate: Holidays/Observances

There are some days that mark the calendar that we greatly look forward to. Others, we’d rather not come to pass and perhaps even disappear entirely. The Sip Advisor is going to look at these occasions, some of which I’m a fan of and others I loathe. Let’s start with days to love:

Christmas

Christmas reminds me of the sentiment about pizza: even bad pizza is still pizza. For example, our COVID Christmases have somehow turned out to be good, despite restrictions and a general lack of holiday cheer. As a kid, Christmas is everything. Once Boxing Day hits, preparation for the next Christmas – and the presents that come with it – move into full gear. As an adult, there is still a lot of fun to be had with a series of days off and when you become a parent, you get to live the season through the kids’ experience. It can be a hectic and stressful time, but worth it all.

Halloween

Great as a kid, perhaps even better as an adult. When you’re young, with candy on the line, you would walk for miles to get your hands on the sweet stuff. To quote Garfield: Candy! Candy! CANDY!!! Adult Halloween parties are fantastic or at least an excuse to continue the Halloween extracurriculars when you can no longer justify trick-or-treating. Now, as a parent, I’ve come to greatly enjoy the night out with the Sipplings, although that is probably bolstered by my love of drinking outside and having a stroller to hold my wares.

halloween

Easter

Four days off for the rebirth of Jesus? Um, yes please. We’ve used the break to go to Vegas, Seattle, Disneyland, Portland (for back-to-back Beer and Wine Festivals) and other getaways. Plus, who can turn down all the chocolate eggs, jelly beans and other sweets that come with the holiday? Even that fake grass that’s used to fill out Easter baskets has become an item of fondness for many. My only complaint about Easter would be there’s not a lot of obvious viewing choices connected with the holiday, which is different than Christmas and Halloween.

So, those are the holidays the Sip Advisor particularly loves. Not let’s see the other side of the ledger and the days I hate:

New Year’s Eve

Every year, there’s this pressing need to have an epic plan for the occasion and it never goes off accordingly. Events get cancelled, people get lame and bail, etc. Among our NYE duds was when Mrs. Sip and I got engaged at Christmas and planned to announce it to a group of friends on New Year’s. Thanks to it being a mid week December 31st and there being a light snowfall, our guest list dwindled down to three people. We still gave our good news, but it felt anticlimactic. I will say, we’ve had some good New Year’s Eves, but they often consist of taking things easier, staying at home or going for a meal.

New Year's Eve

Valentine’s Day

Mrs. Sip and I actually prefer to celebrate Valentine’s Day before or after the actual date. Why pay double for things like flowers and chocolates? I prefer to get the same items for their regular price, or in the case of chocolate, at a discounted price, as stores try to move the items after February 14th. And hell, you really shouldn’t need a specific day to show that special person in your life just how important they are to you. That’s a year-round commitment. Lastly, there’s the folks who find Valentine’s Day to be a real downer because of relationship issues. All-in-all, V-Day is meh.

Daylight Saving Time

It’s absolutely ridiculous that we still go through this changing of clocks twice each year. Many professionals have debunked the whole reasoning behind its beginnings and point to how unnecessary the whole ordeal is. It’s even worse as parents of young kids, when you have no clue how the change will affect them and for how long. Will they wake up an hour earlier than usual, which means you’ll lose sleep as well? The stress of what will happen just isn’t worth it. Let’s just agree to finally kibosh the whole thing.

Before wrapping this post up, here are some quick thoughts of mine on other holidays and observances (in chronological order):

Lunar New Year: I will never turn down a good Chinese meal.

Groundhog Day: What a ridiculous thing to highlight on any calendar.

Family Day: This was an awesome addition to the calendar when we were childless. Now it just means I have to spend time with the fam!

Family Day

St. Patrick’s Day: Green beers and banishing snakes… what’s there to complain about?

Cinqo de Mayo: Tacos and margaritas… what’s there to complain about?

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day: After fours years as one, parents deserve all the praise they can get.

Labour Day: I’m split here. It signifies the end of summer, but also inspires you to have one last big bash before the season is out.

Thanksgiving: A perfect excuse to eat and drink to excess.

Love & Hate: Bah Humbug!

Bah Humbug

  • 1 oz White Rum
  • 1 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1 oz Orange Liqueur
  • Top with Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Garnish with a Lime Wheel

Agree or disagree with my holiday assessments? Think I’m just a bitter man, who needs to take a chill pill? Let me know in the comments below. Just remember, I’m always right and that’s a position I’m not willing to budge from!

Sip Trips #182: 20/20 Vision

Wow, I haven’t written a Sip Trips in almost two months. And it’s not like we haven’t been busy, I guess it’s just been in different ways. So, let’s get right to it with the first Sip Trips of 2020:

Lately, I’ve tried a couple neat new beers at ABC Brewing, including the Wool Socks Winter Dubbel and Strawberry Milkshake IPA. When we popped in for a drink on New Year’s Eve, it was my first opportunity to be served by the brewery’s beer cocktail mixologist, who whipped up a delicious Dunder Biest Mode Sour for me and a mocktail for Mrs. Sip. Both were delicious and wonderfully-crafted.

A couple weeks back, a friend and I had dinner at Browns Social House in Downtown Vancouver, prior to a whiskey tasting event. My meal of their Szechuan Beef Noodle Bowl, accompanied by a trio of their Social Beers was a perfect set up for our later event. As for the whiskey tasting, we were able to try some high-end bottles, including Glenmorangie Signet, Balvenie Week of Peat, Laphroaig Lore, Stronachie 18, and MacCallan Triple Cask 15. The night was filled with many more brews, in between the whiskeys. Gotta cleanse the palate, am I right!?

tasting-throwing

Last week, a friend and I attended WWE Smackdown Live in Vancouver. Upon arriving at the arena, we grabbed a few beers, with my selection being a pair of Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ales. The show itself was entertaining, but given their was a 45-minute stretch with no in-ring action, instead filled by commercials, backstage segments and interviews, it solidifies my feelings that I’d rather be at a house show (non-televised with mostly inconsequential matches) than a TV taping (storyline developments, but WAY too many periods of inaction).

Following the wrestling, we stopped into Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smoke House for an extended nightcap. My beverages of choice were the Howe Sound Sky Pilot Pale Ale and Moon Under Water Creepy Uncle Dunkel. It was nice to pay a fairer rate for the beers, compared to what we were shelling out inside Rogers Arena across the street.

The next day, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated a belated Valentine’s Day. We started with a late lunch/early dinner at Glowbal. Our table ended up filled with happy hour appetizers, the feast comprised of their Trio of Sliders (complete with Cotton Candy for dessert), Fish Fritters, Calamari, Avocado Toast, Cheese Croquettes, and Caesar Salad. It was a scrumptious meal, which I paired with a pint of Parallel 49 Pale Ale.

valentines-day

The celebration continued with a performance of The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The show was very good and you just can’t top a venue like The Orpheum for concerts.

To wrap the Family Day long weekend, we travelled across the border for an outing. While in Bellingham, we enjoyed a meal at Twin Sisters Brewing (brewery number 81 for Toddler Sip). Another buffet of many items consisted of their happy hour burger and tacos, along with Chili Cheese Fries and Beer Pretzel Bites, which may have been the best pretzel bites I’ve ever had. For drinks, I went with their award-winning Strawberry Zwickelbier, while Mrs. Sip added a taster of Cranberry Wheat Ale.

Hopefully it’s less than two months before my next Sip Trips. With baby number two set to arrive in under a month, we could be on lockdown for a little while, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops!

Snack Time #8: Jelly Belly 10 Flavour Pack

After mentioning that I was craving jelly beans the other day, as a belated Valentine’s Day treat, Mrs. Sip picked up a box of the Jelly Belly 10 Flavour Pack for moi. The case was holiday-themed for the occasion, but also comes in a year-round format.

Flavours included blueberry, buttered popcorn, cinnamon, coconut, licorice, Sunkist tangerine mandarin, green apple, juicy pear, watermelon, and very cherry. That’s an impressively broad profile of tastes in one little pack.

jelly-belly-10-flavour-pack

The only one I didn’t like was the juicy pear, although I’ve never understood Jelly Belly always hyping their buttered popcorn bean. I would have rather seen strawberry or a lemon/lime flavour instead, among the company’s eclectic options.

I liked that the pack is spilt into 10 labeled pods as I always found assorted Jelly Belly packs frustrating with not knowing whether I was putting watermelon or jalapeño in my mouth. I think Jelly Belly sadistically thrives on that risk.

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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!

BC Beer Baron #46 – Trading Post What Cheer Brett IPA

Trading Post Brewing is BC’s newest craft beer operation, having just opened on Saturday. While Mrs. Sip and I tried to visit then, the out-the-door line-up prevented that, but we returned the next day and were able to partake in the brewery’s beer and chocolate pairing for Valentine’s Day.

One of our mutual favourites, among the company’s six-beer opening line-up was the What Cheer Brett IPA. This style of beer combines two of the most popular brewing families: sours and IPAs. Even Mrs. Sip was a fan, despite not loving either variety. I have suspicions that the salted caramel chocolate (from ChocolaTas in Abbotsford) pairing may have helped in her newfound appreciation!

Trading Post Brewing

The Brett IPA has a 6.6% ABV, with 56 IBUs. The refreshing brew was made with flavours of mango, guava and orange, while incorporating four different styles of hops.

To say Trading Post had a very successful opening weekend would be a huge understatement. While we were there, the company’s brewmaster was taking the time to chat with visitors about his creations and he was thrilled with the response so far from the craft beer community. Great for them, not-so-great for Mrs. Sip and I, but we’re happy for the new addition to the network.

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

BC Beer Baron #45 – Barkerville Promise to Sophia Valentine Ale

For Valentine’s Day, featuring a love-themed beer as part of this 366-day BC craft beer project seemed like the perfect idea. My research, however, proved that there weren’t too many obvious options to choose from. That was, until I stumbled across the press release for this Barkerville Brewing product.

This is the second year that Promise to Sophia has hit the market before Valentine’s Day. It is a strong (6.9% ABV) and dark milk stout, flavoured with vanilla and anise. As the brewery writes, “Smooth and slightly sweet, this winter warmer is sure to inspire everlasting devotion.”

Barkerville Promise to Sophia

Promise to Sophia is the only Valentine Ale the Sip Advisor knows about and it has a hell of a story behind it. During the Cariboo Gold Rush of the 1860’s, John and Sophia Cameron staked their claim to riches, but sadly Sophia didn’t survive their first brutal winter, succumbing to typhoid fever.

On her death bed, Sophia asked her husband to return her body to their native Ontario. Three caskets, four funerals, and two burials later, John lived up to that promise and got Sophia to her final resting place. Now that is true love and dedication!

Barkerville, BC was the epicenter of the Cariboo Gold Rush and most of the brewing company’s beers are named with this is mind. There’s the 18 Karat Ale, Paydirt Cascadian Dark Ale, and White Gold Witbier, for example. Even when you pop a Barkerville Brewing bottle cap, you will be greeted with a message stating: “No Gold – Keep Digging!”

Only available at select private liquor stores, this beer wasn’t easy to track down and I have to give a special thanks to the Brewery Creek Liquor Store for having it in stock. When I succeeded in my mission of finding the Valentine Ale yesterday morning, there was only two left in stock. That’s another story of true love that will one day be told to future generations!

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

BC Beer Baron #44 – Phillip’s Longboat Chocolate 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.

Phillips Brewing is popular amongst craft beer aficionados both on Vancouver Island and the mainland and they have another winner on their hands here.

The Longboat Chocolate Porter is smooth and flavourful. The beer hits you with chocolate first and then finishes with the traditional coffee aftertaste that porters are known for.

Phillips Longboat Chocolate Porter

The brewery believes (and the Sip Advisor agrees) that one of the world’s classic historical pairings is that of chocolate and beer. Phillips goes so far as to associate their beer with the duos of “Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, Super Dave Osborne and Mr. Fuji, cheddar cheese and pickles, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Mork and Mindy, [and] Bonnie and Clyde!”

The smallest size the Longboat comes in is as a bomber because “341 mL just isn’t enough!” Suggested pairings for the brew are with vanilla ice cream and chocolate. Phillips also provides a few recipes using the Longboat Chocolate Porter, which customers can try. These include, Funky Gingerbread Cakes and Hammer Brownies.

I’ve managed to get over to Phillips on a couple occasions for growler fills (in fact, the Sip Advisor’s first growler ever was from Phillips – a nice souvenir from a weekend jaunt to Victoria) and tastings. Sadly, our most recent visits to the island have been too short to fit in a stop, but we honour the brewery from home, when we can.

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

BC Beer Baron #40 – Old Yale Sasquatch Stout

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.

On a recent trip to the liquor store and with Chocolate Week fast approaching, the Sip Advisor grabbed a bomber of this Old Yale Brewing beer. I had previously sampled the brew at Tip N’ Taste last summer and was amped to do a full serving.

The Sasquatch Stout comes exactly as advertised: “Coffee, chocolate & mystery”. I’m not sure what the “mystery” ingredient might be, but I can verify that the beer is damn good!

Old Yale Sasquatch Stout

I’m not alone; however, in my appreciation of the brew, as it received a gold medal in the stout category, as well as being named ‘Beer of the Year’ (aka ‘Best Beer in Canada’) at the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Suggested food pairings include steak, smoked brisket, pulled pork sandwich, oysters, French onion soup, chocolate cake, and Tiramisu, all of which seem truly decadent. I particularly love to try the Sasquatch Stout with a pulled pork sandwich and a side cup of French onion soup.

For those unfamiliar with sasquatches (otherwise known as Bigfoot), they are mythological beasts that most have concluded don’t exist, while a small network of believers continue to search for the truth. The region near Old Yale Brewing is a hub for sasquatch sightings, thus the beer’s name and that wonderful description.

The Sip Advisor would love to make a trip out to Old Yale Brewing’s facilities in Chilliwack, B.C., but since they are without a tasting room and only have growler fills and bottle purchases available, I’m a little less inclined to make the long journey.

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

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 #38 – Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey Ale

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.

En route to visit friends following an event at Big Rock Brewing’s Urban Eatery, Mrs. Sip and I were checking out the brewpub’s store when we came across today’s beer. Never ones to show up empty-handed and thinking the brew would serve as a bit of a hosting gift, we quickly made our purchase and moved on to our final destination.

The Dark Cherry Abbey Ale is strong (well duh, Sip Advisor… it is 9.5%) and sweeter than some might like. That sweetness comes from the brewmaster’s use of Belgian candi sugar to go along with the naturally sweet taste of fruits such as cherries, raisins, and plums, already in the recipe. Include four different malts (Belgian dark, wheat, caramel, and chocolate) and there’s a lot going on with this beer.

Big Rock Dark Cherry Abbey Ale

The 750ml bottle retails for $12, which given the serving size and alcohol content, is a fair price. It even comes in a box and would make for a nice Valentine’s gift for anyone with a beer lover on their arm. Single on V-day? Why not enjoy one for yourself and forget all your relationship troubles.

Mrs. Sip’s Take:

My Valentine is typically a fan of stronger beers from the Belgian family, but she can be put off by fruit-flavoured creations. She found the Dark Cherry Abbey Ale to be intense in taste, but since it was shared amongst a group of four, that was just about right and a bigger serving might be too much.

When researching this beer, I discovered that Big Rock’s staff have made movie and music pairing suggestions to go with some of their product line-up. Musically, this beer should be paired with Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt (TV’s Catwoman from the 1960’s campy Batman), while the film Mixed Nuts (starring an ensemble cast including Steve Martin and Madeline Kahn) has been picked for your viewing pleasure. As far as more traditional pairings go, such as of the food variety, Big Rock suggests washing down a slice of Black Forest Cake with this beverage.

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