Sip Trips #151: Winter Resting

It’s been a while since the Sip Advisor provided an update on our adventures and that’s because there hasn’t been a whole lot of them. With the change in seasons and still settling into our new place, we’ve found ourselves sticking closer to home more often than not. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

On a recent date night for Mrs. Sip and I, we visited an old favourite in Patron Tacos & Cantina in Downtown Vancouver. There, we ordered our usual Queso Fundido and platter of Tacos, combining the two dishes for one incredible meal. I also downed a pair of Patron Lagers, which were on special for $5.50. The restaurant has always had good food and friendly staff, but on this visit, both of those factors seemed to have been improved even more so.

With a move to staying indoors a little more often, I’ve put together a wish list of winter beers to enjoy this season, working my way through a few of them. This has included: Stanley Park Layer Up Winter Wheat Ale, Whistler Black Tusk Chocolate Milk Ale, Dead Frog Red Rum Spiced Red Ale and Granville Island Tropical Stout. Still to be sampled from my “to do” list is the Old Yale Himalayan Salted Caramel Porter and Vancouver Island Misthorn Winter IPA. They will be mine… oh yes, they will be mine!

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Last night, we finally emerged from our event hibernation to attend Craft Beer Market’s Cheers to 5 Years Anniversary Party. We have been frequent guests of the restaurant over our years living in Vancouver, celebrating birthdays and New Year’s Eves, so it was only fitting to join the festivities. Tickets were only $5 (plus tax), with proceeds going to the St. Vincent de Paul charity drive, which provides holiday hampers to 10 families in Vancouver. With entry, you received one ticket for a full-sized beer and access to unlimited beer and wine samples from those in attendance. Beer vendors in included: Moody Ales, Stanley Park, Steel & Oak, Granville Island, Strathcona, Steamworks, Longwood, Torchlight, Spectrum, Collective Arts, and Phantom. There were also appies floating around, but it wasn’t always easy to get your hands on them. With Baby Sip in tow, we took a seat in the restaurant area and ordered Chicken Wings and the Gaucho Chicken Flatbread for eats. The night ended with a tasty birthday cake and scrumptious ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Another fantastic event from the folks at Craft. I can’t wait for the next one!

While we haven’t been at our usual level of busy lately, the Christmas season is upon us and that means the schedule is filling quickly with lots of fun events. Tune in next week for another installment of Sip Trips!

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Sip Trips #150: Return to Work

Now that Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) are getting settled into our new home in New West, the exploring has begun again. This week’s wrap-up, features a number of new eateries we’ve enjoyed over recent times:

A couple weeks back, I joined Mrs. Sip following one of her theatre shows for a meal at Bin 4 Burger Lounge in Vancouver. I had heard great things about this restaurant and they did not disappoint. I had trouble choosing from their extensive lineup of burgers, finally settling on the Dirty Bourbon Burger, which was absolutely delicious. I love most places that offer potato chips as a side, but what made Bin 4 special was you also get one free dipping sauce to go with your meal. They also have some neat cocktails, which Mrs. Sip indulged in with the Harvey Specter. I had a quick sip and enjoyed the drink, as well.

Burger Salad

Back at home, I’ve had a huge craving for ginger beer drinks lately, so grabbed a two-litre bottle and decided to put together a Buck/Mule Family Tasting Experience, comprised of the Gin Buck, Moscow Mule, Dark N’ Stormy and Mayan Mule. Each drink is similar (ginger beer and lime juice), with only the spirit being different: gin, vodka, dark rum and tequila, respectively. While I liked each of the family members, my favourite was certainly the Dark N’ Stormy. Mrs. Sip picked the Moscow Mule as her top choice.

My last week of parental leave was quite fun, as Mrs. Sip joined me for it. Among taking Baby Sip to Queen’s Park and other walks, we travelled to our nearest pub, the Royal Crown Castle. This place is very recognizable as you drive down Columbia Street, as it looks like a castle, but is actually the former gatehouse for the BC Penitentiary, which used to be on the site. To go with a pair of Radeberger Pilsner pints, which were on special, I had the Classic Beef Burger, while Mrs. Sip went with one of their daily specials, a Grilled Ham & Cheese with Turkey Chowder Soup. Our meal was very good and we will certainly be back, traversing the city’s many hills to get there.

Later in the week, we attended Harvest Glow in Langley. This is a fantastic place to bring young children, complete with a train ride, mini golf, playgrounds, pony rides, a corn maze, pumpkin patch, live music, and so much more. We marvelled at how much fun Baby Sip was having at only one-year-old. Best of all, you can enjoy your kid’s enjoyment with a drink in hand, as they offer beer, wine, and even cocktails. The set-up was different than last year’s Christmas Glow and I hope they are taking notes for this year’s yuletide version. We enjoyed the experience so much, we returned for another evening of entertainment.

Skittles Harvest

My final week on leave ended with a big bang, as we hosted a wine and cheese open house at our new place. With 40 guests expected, we stocked up on a dozen bottles of wine for guests to sample, along with copious amounts of cheese, meats and crackers. The event was a lot of fun and the culmination of all our hard work getting the home ready and liveable.

Now that I’m back to the daily grind of work, we’re still trying to mix in some fun here and there. On Tuesday, we picked up food from Big Star Sandwich in New West for the first time. It will certainly not be the last time, though, as we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. As much as I like Subway sandwiches, this was like Subway on steroids! My favourite part of their menu is that you can put hickory sticks on any sandwich, adding a nice crunch to your hoagie.

The coming weekend is loaded with events, as the Halloween season picks up. Check back soon for another Sip Trips update on all our adventures!

Sip Trips #149: September Insanity

Well, my little sippers, it’s been too long since I was last able to provide an update on the Sip Advisor’s adventures, thanks in part to our big move from Vancouver to New West. I’ve finally got some time to put fingers to keys, so here’s what we’ve been up to over the month of September:

As we enjoyed the calm between two storms – moving out and moving in – Mrs. Sip and I met up with some baseball teammates at the Sapperton District Taphouse for their weekly Tuesday Trivia. Over the course of the night, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Howe Sound You’re My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat Ale (on special), Steel & Oak Rhubarbarum Rhubarb Pale Ale and a Dageraad selection that was described to us as a double dark wheat ale. To go with our beverages, I ordered the Whiskey Barrel Burger, while Mrs. Sip once again had the Slow & Low Sliders. Best of all, our team won the trivia and got tickets to a comedy show, a t-shirt and, most importantly, a pitcher of beer for our efforts.

The next day, friends from out of town were visiting, so we took them to the Britannia Brew Pub in Steveston. As we did on our first visit, Mrs. Sip and I shared their Chowder and Fish & Chips for food, which I paired with their seasonal Tropical ISA. The beer was just what I was looking for to pair with seafood.

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A few days later, we were back in the Richmond area, so decided to drop into Fuggles & Warlock Brewing. Although I’d had a sip of the beer at the Battle of the Brews event a couple weeks earlier, I wanted a full glass of the Gin & Lime Pilsner, which I enjoyed more in the larger serving. Mrs. Sip went with her usual The Last Strawberry Wit, which has always been a fantastic and flavourful drink.

Next up was our cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with Princess Cruises. As is our tradition, we brought aboard four bottles of wine, as well as mini bottles of rums, vodkas and schnapps, which kept us well-lubricated throughout the voyage. This was helped along by various drinks aboard the ship, highlighted by multiple servings of Mayan Mules (subbing in tequila for vodka); a super-sized Chocolate & Chili Margarita (enough for both Mrs. Sip and me); and attending the Maitre D’Hotel Wine Club, including six samples of wine from around the world.

When our cruise disembarked in Los Angeles, we journeyed to Anaheim for one day at Disneyland, Baby Sip’s introduction to the place where her parent’s met as fresh-faced teenagers and began their long relationship. We decided to attend the Mickey’s Halloween Party, giving us access to the park starting at 3pm and lasting until 11pm. Mrs. Sip realized if we went this route, we’d pay only slightly more than the price for a one-day, one-park ticket (which would see us booted out for the Halloween Party at 6pm), while gaining access to both parks, extended hours, and the perks that come with the Halloween ticket.

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Prior to heading to the Disneyland Resort, we went for lunch at the nearby Tony Roma’s location, drawn in by their happy hour commencing at 11am. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a pint of Golden Road Get Up Offa That Brown, to go with our Chicken Tender Platter and Mrs. Sip’s cup of Baked Potato Soup. This is one of my favourite chicken strip platters of all-time, so it was very nice to have it again on this vacation.

Following lunch, we entered Disney’s California Adventure, home to (at this time) the only place among the parks where you can purchase alcohol. We went straight for the Karl Strauss Beer Truck, where we noted that brew prices have gone up since our last visit in December 2016. Despite the increase, I ordered their Aurora Hoppyalis, while Mrs. Sip went with the seasonal Oktoberfest.

After riding the revamped Incredicoaster, we rejoined our family near the Animation Building, stopping along the way to try a couple beverages only available during the Halloween season. Mrs. Sip had the Elsyian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Ale, while I selected the Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA. Both beers were very good, with the Elysian having the best pumpkin flavour I’ve experienced in a beer.

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Following taking Baby Sip on her very first Disneyland ride ever – The Little Mermaid – we made one more suds stop at the Sonoma Terrace beer and wine garden. I was happy to see the site now has beers on tap, instead of only bottles. With that in mind, I picked the Refuge Grapefruit IPA, but neglected to note which libation Mrs. Sip settled on.

Next, we were off to the Halloween Party, which was a lot of fun. It was neat to experience a park we’re so familiar with in a whole new way. The trick-or-treat stations handed out a variety of quality treats and the fireworks show was top notch. Our only complaint would be that one of the churros stands ran out of the pumpkin spice variety that we’d read about online, which seems like very poor planning to occur, not only during the Halloween season, but particularly during a special event such as Mickey’s Halloween Party.

Before flying back home to Vancouver, most of our group had lunch at the Golden Road Brewing tasting room within LAX Airport. This was a welcome surprise given how much we used to despise the airport and how we just had a beer from the company the day before at Tony Roma’s. I went with the Wolf Among Weeds IPA, paired with a Banh Mi Sandwich, while Mrs. Sip ordered the Mango Cart Wheat Ale to go with a Pub Pretzel.

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Back at home, we were running out of days to reach my goal of taking Baby Sip to 52 breweries in her first year of life, so made a trip to Vancouver for stops at R&B Brewing and Electric Bicycle Brewing. At R&B, we shared one of their spectacular pizzas, the Prosciutto & Arugula variety, along with pints of So Fresh and So Green, Green IPA for me and the Jam Session Raspberry Cream Ale for Mrs. Sip. At Electric Bicycle, we shared a flight, comprised of Kaedama Ramen Noodle Alt, Spatialized Pale Ale, Floridian Holiday Pink Peppercorn IPA, and Das Cocoloco Imperial Wit. It was a perfect way to achieve my and Baby Sip’s goal with some outstanding beers at both locations.

To celebrate my birthday the next day, we bought tickets to Trading Post Brewing’s Oktoberfest event, where they were joined by Field House Brewing and Steel & Oak Brewing. I tried beers from each vendor, including the Trading Post Hoppy Bock, Field House Festbier, Field House Dutch Pale Ale, and Steel & Oak Roselle Wheat Ale. We also ordered some of the fantastic food available, such as the Vienna Schnitzel, Laugenbrezel, and Parm Fries. The event was a lot of fun and to boot, we even got an opportunity to drink out of a boot!

As with any birthday for me, a number of liquor products were gifted my way, including bottles of Tanqueray Malacca Gin, Sons of Vancouver Chili Vodka, Fernie Ghostrider Pumpkin Brown Ale and Bad Tattoo Brewing’s Flash Pack case. Last, but not least, I also received a BC Liquor Store gift card, as well as cash, which will likely go towards boozy purchases.

money for birthday

Finally, to wrap up what is often our second busiest month of the year – only topped by December and all its Christmas events – thanks to a myriad of family and friend birthdays, we celebrated Baby Sip turning one-year-old. For the occasion, I created three cocktails, featuring colourful liqueurs that went with our Dr. Seuss ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go!’ theme. The recipes included Rum–Blue Curacao–Pineapple Juice, Vodka–Banana Liqueur–Club Soda, and Gin–Violet Liqueur–Lemon-Lime Soda. The unique yet basic recipes were a hit with our guests and added a nice enhancement to the party.

October looks to be a little less insane, but the calendar is already filling up with Halloween parties and other commitments. Bring it on, October!

Sip Trips #148: The Next Chapter

As Mrs. Sip and I wrap up our moving out from Downtown Vancouver, things have been insane around the Sip Advisor Headquarters, and that’s probably putting it lightly. Still, we managed to squeeze some fun into the chaos, especially with the celebration of our sixth wedding anniversary. Here’s what we got up to in our last couple weeks living in Vancouver:

For the second year in a row, we attended Caskapalooza at Craft Beer Market and it was a very, very good event. Like last year, tickets were $25 (plus taxes and fees) and included 12 tokens. Between myself, Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip, we tried nearly every beer of the 36 available. My favourites included a Smoked Apiary Dunkelweizen from Foamers’ Folly, Mariner’s Cuban Night Sky, and a Ginger-Cinnamon Rye Amber Ale from Trading Post. There were so many good and unique beers here that we are definitely planning on attending the 2019 Caskapalooza. The only minor tweak I’d like to see, if possible, is for the Caskport document, which allows drinkers to jot down what each brewery is offering, to already be filled out. This would a) advise folks of what is available and b) eliminate people stopping at the front of a lineup to write in the available information.

Keg Safety First

Following the event, we stuck around for a drink and some food. Mrs. Sip and I split the delicious BBQ Beer Can Chicken Sliders, while my beverage was the Electric Bicycle Frosty Mugs Brown Ale. This was the second time I’ve been able to try a brew from Electric Bicycle and both have been unique and quite tasty. I have to try to visit their tasting room soon.

Last Friday, Mrs. Sip and I hosted a moving out party of sorts, where our goal was to finish and get rid of all our mostly consumed liquor bottles. We ended up with about 25 bottles that had minimal liquid left and throughout the night, we all did our best to put those bottles out of their misery. I had a great time playing bartender and coming up with unique, but simple cocktails for the crowd to enjoy. Over our last week in the place, I managed to finish each and every bottle we were hoping to go through. Mission accomplished!

To celebrate our previously mentioned sixth wedding anniversary, we attended the Battle of the Brews competition in Surrey. The event started a little rough for us because as we arrived at our Skytrain station, I spotted the beer tents and it dawned on me that this was an outdoor event, on the one day in recent memory it rained. Things quickly turned around; however, as the organizers had planned for such a scenario and had ponchos ready for any guest that wanted one. The Battle offered a great selection of beers from a number of breweries, as well as awesome food from Brown’s Social House, Cactus Club, Dublin Crossing, Milestones, and many more. My favourite beer was Parkside’s Human’s – An IPA for the People, while my top food choice was Cactus Club’s Mini Crispy Chicken Sandwich. With all that going on, I thought the $50 we paid per ticket was very much worth it. My only complaint here was they need more on-site bathrooms, as five porta-potties is not enough when hundreds of people are drinking all afternoon. At least the long lines could be avoided if you learned about the washrooms in the adjacent Surrey City Hall.

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We wrapped up our Vancouver life with one final meal on the rooftop patio at The Keg’s Yaletown location. I order the Prime Rib Sliders at their $13 happy hour price (with side of fries) along with a Keg Caesar, also on special. Our group also split a bottle of Danzante Pinot Grigio and to top off the meal, we were given a slice of Billy Miner Pie for dessert, on the house because we were celebrating our anniversary.

I will certainly miss living in Vancouver, as my years running this site have documented all the great experiences we’ve been able to partake in. That said, we’re on to another exciting chapter in our lives and only time will tell what that has in store for us!

Sip Trips #146: Wedding Season

Mrs. Sip and I (along with Baby Sip) made the most of the recent B.C. Day long weekend. In fact, today’s entire wrap-up occurred on only one day of it. The rest of our time lately has been spent preparing to move out of our Downtown Vancouver condo. We’re still making time to squeeze some fun into our lives, though, so here’s what we got up to:

On Sunday, we got together with visiting friends for brunch at Craft Beer Market. I had a delicious order of Chicken & Waffles, paired with the Electric Bicycle Dig Dug Beet Juice Ale. I have never had a beer of this type before and was impressed with how good it was. This was also my first experience with Electric Bicycle Brewing and it has increased my desire to visit their recently-opened tasting room. Mrs. Sip’s beer selection, Storm Watermelon Pilsner, was also a fantastic beverage.

beets-natures-candy

Next up, we visited Big Rock Urban Eatery, where I indulged in another new (at least to me) menu item. The Songbird Saisaweizen was an interesting blend of saison and hefeweizen that I found to be very refreshing in the summer heat. The flavours were also quite nice and if we had the time, I would have elected to order a jug of the suds, rather than just a pint.

We wrapped the day with a wedding at the gorgeous Hycroft Manor. This was our first Persian nuptials, so it was fun to learn about another culture’s traditions. What we also loved about this wedding was that it only included the ceremony and a cocktail and canape reception afterwards. Rather than lose an entire day to a wedding, we were able to celebrate the newlyweds and still had our entire evening open (although Mrs. Sip took that time to crash after a hellacious July). As for that cocktail reception, it was open bar and the Sip Advisor did what he does best, indulging in multiple servings of 33 Acres of Sunshine, Innis & Gunn Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale and Whistler Rescue Session Ale (a nice touch given the bride and groom’s passion and support of animal rescue operations).

Tomorrow, Mrs. Sip and I leave for Halifax, Nova Scotia for another wedding this weekend. On the itinerary are a self-guided craft brewery excursion, a food tour and, of course, the wedding, which also features an open bar reception. Look out east coast, here we come!

Sip Trips #145: Hop Pursuit

A couple weekends back, Mrs. Sip and I joined friends at their family cabin in Birch Bay, Washington for a little getaway. To keep hydrated, I bought both the Hale’s Brewing mixed six-pack (Ale, IPA and Weizen) and the 21st Amendment Brewing Variety Pack (Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Ale, Blah Blah Blah Imperial IPA, Brew Free or Die Blood Orange IPA, Brew Free or Die IPA, Down to Earth Session IPA). Both were good, with the 21st Amendment case definitely being geared towards hopheads.

With only a couple months left to achieve my goal of getting Baby Sip to 52 breweries before her first birthday (one for each week of her life), we popped into Four Winds Brewing on Monday, joined by Cousin Sip. I had glasses of their Velo Pale Ale and Operis Brett Saison. This is my hometown brewery, so it was nice to finally get Baby Sip there and the beverages were pretty good, to boot.

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The next day, I tagged along with Ma and Pa Sip for a shopping trip in Washington. We ate lunch at Bellingham’s Chuckanut Brewing, where I enjoyed a delicious BLT and glass of their Willis Helles Lager. The sandwich was good and the beer decent. I love that craft breweries in Bellingham that also offer food have Tim’s Potato Chips as a side dish.

Keeping the streak going, on Wednesday, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and I visited Strange Fellows Brewing, pushing our brewery tally up to 42 with eight weeks left in our pursuit. At Strange Fellows, I had the Guardian White IPA, which was very refreshing. The girls selected the El Jefe Wheat Ale and liked it.

Wheat Smoothie

As for drinking at home, I recently grabbed Vancouver Island Brewing’s Summer Outpost Mix Pack, containing their Juan de Fuca Cerveza, Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, Ukidama Lychee Saison, and Broken Islands Hazy IPA. I really enjoyed this collection, particularly the Helles and Hazy IPA.

The upcoming long weekend has a few items on the docket and then we’re off to Halifax, Nova Scotia to explore some east coast breweries. We have two weddings to attend during this time, so there will be plenty of drinking and celebrating on the horizon!

Sip Trips #144: Time to Celebrate

Mrs. Sip and I have been so busy recently that it took a couple weeks to get around to sitting at the computer to record our latest adventures. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

A couple weeks ago, we attended the Vancouver Canucks Summer Showdown, a game contested between the team’s prospects. With our season ticket membership, we were entitled to four free tickets, so we quickly selected seats, which were disappearing rapidly. What we learned later, was that the game also included a free entree and beverage, which later became two drinks with alcohol options including wine and beer (albeit Budweiser). For our entrée, both Mrs. Sip and I went with the Prime Rib Sandwich from Carve, after being teased by in-game promotions for the food stall all season long. Other options included: Chicago Dogs from Steamers, Chicken Lover’s or Cheese Pizza from Pizza Hut, Poke Salmon from Catch, Bacon Cheddar or Veggie Burger Platter from Triple O’s, and Smoked Meat Poutine from Crisp. As if that wasn’t enough, free ice cream and popcorn could be found throughout the evening. The event was a lot of fun, with my only suggestion being to have beers available at unused beer stations to alleviate the food lineups, which grew long with many just wanting to use a drink ticket.

Free Food

Two nights later, we were at BC Place Stadium to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps defeat the Chicago Fire. While at the game, I had a large serving of Stanley Park Trail Hopper IPA, which cost a whopping $16. I know event pricing can be wacky, but I feel things are way out of hand when you can get an entire six-pack and more for the same price as one beer at a game.

Onto some reasonably priced fare, last week we attended Disney Trivia at Pat’s Pub (presented by Tipsy Trivia Vancouver). While we had to buy tickets (costing $10, plus tax each) to this trivia, we had a good time and Mrs. Sip even won one of the raffle prizes, taking home a Corona cooler bag that was filled with two t-shirts and a hat. The food at Pat’s Pub was very decently priced, with us each ordering $10 Chicken Strips and Fries that really hit the spot. The bar is also home to Hastings Mill Brewing, so we ordered very tasty pints of their Highland Scottish Ale and Strawberry Honey Hefeweizen, throughout the night.

disney-princess

The next night, I celebrated a friend’s stag party at one of the Playland 19+ Nights. We decided to go with the $81 VIP ticket (compared to $31 for general admission), which provided us with front of the line access to 10 rides, as well as a private bar. Drinks available included Parallel 49 beers, well drinks, and amusement park-inspired specialty cocktails, such as Sno-Cone and Candy Floss martinis. It had been a number of years since I had attended Playland and we had a great time riding the old wooden coaster and watching the burlesque show.

While the above doesn’t look like much activity over the last two weeks, my liver and weary eyes can attest that we’ve been busy. I’ll wrap with some recent purchases, which include the Parallel 49 Fanny Pack, and Fernie/Four Winds Sirocco Rauchbier, which have kept me quite happy in recent times.