Sip Trips #121: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

With Christmas closing in, the Sip Advisor decided to take some time off work… but it certainly wasn’t spent relaxing. Here’s what we got up to in the lead up to the big day and how we fought off the post-holiday blues:

Last Thursday, the Sip Family crossed the border to do some last minute shopping in Bellingham. We hoped to start our visit with drinks at Menace Brewing, but it wasn’t open for the day yet. Lucky for us, Mrs. Sip spotted yet another brewery across the street. Melvin Brewing (a Jackson Hole, Wyoming brewery with a brew pub in Bellingham) hosted us for lunch. Mrs. Sip and I each ordered from their $10 lunch menu, with her selecting Fish & Chips, while I went with the Sandwich & Soup combo (Beef Dip with substituted Fries). For drinks, we passed around pints of their Block Away Brown Ale and Mash Murder Stout ($3 beer of the day special), while also sampling the Peaches Innit Pale Ale. All beers are brewed onsite and we quite good.

Christmas Shopping

On Christmas Eve, en route to a family dinner, we first met Sip Syndicate members at Central City Brewing in Surrey. Mrs. Sip and I had won a tour and tasting experience for six people at one of Central City’s trivia nights at their Downtown Vancouver brew pub in the summer and had to use the pass prior to the end of the year. For those keeping track, this was Baby Sip’s fourth craft brewery visit already. My flight of beers included the Smore Stout, Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, Imperial IPA and Super Solar IPA. It was a very nice and relaxing setting to enjoy some drinks together and could become a yearly holiday tradition.

Finally, the big day arrived. As for liquor-based Christmas gifts, Mrs. Sip gave me the Central City/Parallel 49 Great White Wonder Adventure Pack (their annual collaborative advent calendar), which was marked down, given the month had come and gone. That doesn’t mean the beer can’t still be enjoyed, though. Last year, I picked up some of the individual bottles from this set and I’m hoping for some enjoyable beers this time around. Mrs. Sip also gifted me a Groupon for Andina Brewing, which provides a set of tasters for two people, as well as a growler and fill. I also received a bottle of Serbian Honey Brandy, which I’m looking forward to experimenting with. As for the gift of giving, I picked up the Erdinger Variety Pack for Mrs. Sip, along with a few other treats.

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The week ended with an impromptu visit to Craft Beer Market for a holiday wrap-up with friends. On Wednesday, the restaurant offers $8 wings and $5 BC craft beers, which is a terrific combo. Mrs. Sip and I split an order of Salt & Pepper Wings and their Gaucho Chicken Flatbread, while I selected the Torchlight Broadside IPA and Whistler/Craft Snowed In White IPA (with $1 going towards the Greater Vancouver Food Bank) for my beverages. Mrs. Sip went with the Storm Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Moody Ales Lusty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout for her drinks.

This weekend will be another busy one, with a birthday/housewarming to attend, drinks with the guys on the schedule… and, oh yeah, that minor hidden-on-the-calendar event we call New Year’s Eve!

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Sip Trips #120: Tidings of Joy

The holiday season in really ramping up, with parties and other festivities around every corner. Leading up to the big day, here’s what Mrs. Sip and I got up to over the week that was:

On Friday, we had another Vancouver Canucks game to attend. This time, friends of ours also had tickets, so we met with them at Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House prior to puck drop. At the Howe Sound Brewing restaurant, I had a pair of their Wee Beastie Scotch Ale, while ordering the Southern Fried Chicken sandwich for my meal. The fries at Devil’s Elbow come with a neat adobo ketchup, which I found myself lapping up like it was going out of style. Mrs. Sip tried their Gumbo, with a side of Mac n Cheese Cornbread (complete with cheese sauce drizzle), washed down by a Father John’s Winter Ale.

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As for the game, it was a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory for the Canucks. Mrs. Sip and I refused to let the ticket scanner snafu we encountered – which caused us and many others to miss some of the action and the first goal of the contest – dampen our spirits. Upsized servings of Central City India Pale Ale and Goose Island IPA helped with that.

The next day was our annual Sip Syndicate Christmas party and gift exchange. For my Secret Santa offering, I put together a themed package of things meant to keep you warm. This included a pair of Smart Gloves, which allow you to mess around with your phone while keeping your mitts toasty and the Postmark Brewing Winter Warmer. Our meal was fantastic, with each couple contributing a dish or two and everything turned out perfectly.

The weekend wrapped with Mrs. Sip and I meeting a friend in New West for brunch at The Hub. I tried the Hub Burger, which was very good and sipped on the Bomber Brewing Choqlette Porter. The beer was as tasty as I remember it being last time I enjoyed it.

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Tuesday evening offered our fifth and last Canucks game of December. Prior to the match, we grabbed dinner at the nearby Triple O’s restaurant, which on Tuesdays has a spectacular burger/meal deal. Original Burgers are only $3.69 each, while adding fries and a pop will set you back $8.19. On Canucks game days, you can get a burger, beer and fries for about $10, which would have been the route I took, had we not done takeout.

At our game, we may not have had the outcome we desired (a 7-5 loss), but the match versus Montreal was very entertaining and even included a hat trick for Thomas Vanek of the Canucks. Mrs. Sip and I shared an upsized Hoegaarden to start the game, which was a tasty first period treat.

This weekend is Christmas, of course. It’s always a crazy time for the Sip Family and that’s just the way we like it. From my family to yours, I wish all you little sippers a safe and merry holiday!

Sip Trips #119 – Feelin’ Festive

After a week filled with three Vancouver Canucks games to start the month, Mrs. Sip and I got a bit of a respite to recharge the hockey batteries (seriously, my voice was shot after yelling at every Toronto player and fan I could) with the team on a brief road trip. With the gap between games, we focused our attention on holiday activities around the Lower Mainland. Here’s what we got up to:

On Friday night, we had a few errands to run in South Vancouver, so decided to mix a little pleasure into the business. Popping into Dogwood Brewing for the first time, we enjoyed a flight of their brews, including the IPA, Barrel-Aged Stout, London Fog, and Winter Spice. The space was nice and cozy and well-decorated for Christmas. This was Baby Sip’s second craft brewery visit and she even woke up long enough to see the place this time around.

Errands

The next day, we ventured to Langley for the Glow Christmas Light Gardens and Market. With food trucks outside and a fantastic visual set-up inside the facility’s greenhouse, we spent over two hours at the attraction. Best of all, beer, wine and a couple cocktails could be had as you explored the winter wonderland. I had servings of Trading Post Brewing’s Smugglers Trail Rye Amber Ale and Three Bears Breakfast Stout, which were both available for only $5. Mrs. Sip started with a glass of white wine and later had a Baileys Irish Cream hot chocolate.

Tickets to Glow start at $20 for adults if ordered online ($25 at the door) and I would definitely recommend the earliest timeslot possible, as the parking lot and facility fill up quickly, causing long lines to get in later in the evening. Mrs. Sip still argues that any true European-based Christmas Market doesn’t cost money to get into, but that logic doesn’t seem to apply in this area of the world.

Following work on Monday, Mrs. Sip and I met at the Vancouver Christmas Market. As I’ve written before, if we didn’t get free tickets each year, thanks to Mrs. Sip’s theatre subscription, I’m not sure I would make the effort to attend. That said, we had a pretty good time, joined by another couple for some of our visit. The move from outside the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to Jack Poole Plaze has definitely opened up the place, but going on a weeknight helped too with a lighter crowd.

Santa's Lap

As is the norm for the Market, it didn’t take long to blow through the $50 we had taken out in cash for the event. For drinks, Mrs. Sip had a couple cups of Mulled Wine, while I had glasses of Erdinger Wheat and Dunkel brews. As for food, we split a Cheese Pretzel and Parmesan and Garlic Hurricane Potatoes which were both delicious. A highlight for us was chatting with the Persephone Brewing team, who were offering samples of five different beers (Black Lager, Pale Ale, IPA, Pilsner, and Golden Ale). Joining them was Wild Goose Winery and Okanagan Spirits, where I tasted their Bourbon, Gin, and Pear Brandy.

This weekend, it’s back to the rink for a couple NHL games, while also fitting in as much yuletide cheer as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat!

Beer of the Week #45 – Dogwood London Fog

On one of my many “research” jaunts to the liquor store, I came across this Dogwood Brewing release that instantly jumped out at me as unique. Upon checking out the product more thoroughly, I knew I had to at least try it.

The London Fog (the nickname of an Earl Grey Latte) is of the session ale variety. This seasonal/specialty brew is made with organic Earl Grey tea and French vanilla. When tasting it, my mind expected a chocolate finish to follow the flavours and was tricked when a beer aftertaste came instead.

Dogwood London Fog

My only complaint with the beer – other than the trickery it played with my mind – is its low alcohol content, but that’s merely a personal preference. As Mrs. Sip points out, the 4% ABV (15 IBUs) translates to less calories (approx. 120), which can be a big deal for some drinkers.

The beer is only available at select locations. Thankfully, Dogwood has provided a list of those spots on their website. I went straight to their tasting room for mine, my first visit to the South Vancouver location.

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…

Sip Trips #118: Pucks and Parties

This week has been a busy one as the Christmas season ramps up and Mrs. Sip and I have three Vancouver Canucks games on the schedule to attend. Thank god for our grandparent babysitters! Let’s get right to the action:

Late last week, with Ma and Pa Sip over, we grabbed dinner at the new Johnny Rockets location in Downtown Vancouver. I had their Original burger, which was pretty good. What I liked best was their half fries/half rings, allowing eaters to enjoy both side dishes. More restaurants need to adopt this concept. While we didn’t order them, the chain also offers a number of tasty milkshake options. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

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On Friday, Mrs. Sip and I had our first Christmas party of the season, through her office. The meal took place at Piva Modern Italian Restaurant, where we tried a number of great menu items. For appies, I particularly liked the Polenta Fries, while my main course of Duck & Fig Pizza was terrific. The meal provided a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and while Mrs. Sip’s Prosciutto Pizza was good, we were both raving about my selection.  For beverages, I enjoyed the Terra Saison and Red Pilsner, both from Steel & Oak Brewing, and for dessert, I tried the Bagpipes in my Ferrari (Glenmorangie, Disaronno, smoke and oak bitters), which was a solid nightcap.

The next day, we had our first Canucks game of the week and this is one we’ve had circled for some time. With the dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs in town, I swapped some of our other half-season tickets in order to attend this game. With a 2-1 victory for the home side, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed servings of Shock Top Wheat Ale and Goose Island Honkers Ale throughout the game, which helped with the intensity and anxiety of the matchup.

The weekend wrapped with our annual family visit to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Christmas Train. This was Baby Sip’s first time riding the Christmas Train, although we did take her on the Halloween Train when she was only just over a month old. As is tradition, we followed the park visit with dinner at the nearby White Spot location. Here, Cousin Sip, her husband, Sis-in-Law Sip and I split a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale, while I ordered my usual Legendary Burger. The two pair quite nicely with each other and made for a delicious meal.

Man Sized Mug

Lastly, on Tuesday, we celebrate Ma Sip’s birthday at The Keg. I, once again, selected the Prime Rib Sliders with side of fries for my meal, which was very good. Unfortunately, Mrs. Sip and I had to eat fast to get to another Canucks game, as food took a while to be served thanks to the kitchen being backed up by a private party. My Sliders were only $13 during happy hour, down from their usual $18 price tag. For dessert, Ma Sip saved her slice of wonderful Billy Miner Pie for Mrs. Sip and I, which we consumed in quick order following yet another Canucks triumph.

The weekend is full of scheduled activities and doesn’t let up at all. ‘Tis the season, after all!

Sip Trips #116: Ode to a Bar

Everybody experiences tragedies and one recently hit the Sip Advisor headquarters. Our crack team learned our favourite watering hole, Jimmy’s Taphouse, would be shutting their doors for good, with very little fanfare.

First, a little history: The Sip Advisor started going to Jimmy’s shortly after moving to Downtown Vancouver in 2010. One night, a buddy and I were on the prowl for cheap beer and stumbled upon the bar, sitting down to a couple pitchers of their very reasonably priced Jimmy’s Lager. Best of all, the place was located just a block away from my and Mrs. Sip’s apartment. From there, the legend quickly grew and I introduced many family and friends to the pub.

Husband-Signs

In the years that followed, we celebrated birthdays there, my bachelor party, St. Patrick’s Day, joined them for customer appreciation nights, and it was a prime venue for pre- or post-event indulgences. Perhaps most importantly, it was the first drinking establishment we took Baby Sip to when she was only two weeks old. I had hoped one day we could return with her as an adult and enjoy a beverage together. Alas, that dream is gone.

Why did we like the place so much? Well, their happy hour was one of the best in the city, with a thorough half price food menu and very good drink deals, such as $4 beer sleeves and house wine. Their poutine – with a unique chipotle drizzle – was so decadent and addictive, I would dream about the dish. Their chicken wings were also quite good, with a nice chunk of meat on each piece, something that is hard to find, in my opinion. And their patio area was a must-hit spot, situated across from the Roman Colosseum-inspired Vancouver Library.

I had only recently returned to the pub, after some time apart to pursue other relationships, but had visited a half dozen times over the last two months. It’s as if a part of me knew I’d be saying goodbye soon and it was time to make amends.

Working Goodbye

So, what grand plans do they have for the space? They will be expanding their adjacent private liquor store. It’s a decision that still befuddles this writer. Goodbye gorgeous patio, amazing happy hour and all the fantastic times you could have still hosted. Then again, I don’t write the cheques that keep the place operating.

Of course, there will be other bars that nestle their way into my heart. But nothing is ever the same as your first love.

Rest in peace, my old friend… you will be missed.

Beer of the Week #37 – Bowen Island Main Sail ISA

One of the mixed cases Mrs. Sip and I picked up for our Baby Shower Beer Garden was Bowen Island Brewing’s Twelve Pack. A new featured addition to that set was this easy drinking release.

The Main Sail ISA is light and refreshing with bold citrus and hop flavours. At 4.3% ABV and 40 IBUs, this beverage can be consumed in mass quantities without getting too tipsy and is ideal for long days imbibing out in the heat.

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What first drew me to the Bowen Island case, which can be found at BC Liquor Stores, was its very reasonable price of $15.99. Also included in the pack is their Reef Break Hemp Blonde, Artisan IPA and Westcoast Lager.

For fall and winter drinking, the company’s Winterlude Pack hits store shelves. This case sees the Snug Cove ESB, Deep 6 Lager and Twisted Trail Extra Pale Ale joining the Artisan IPA.

For more Beer of the Week articles, please visit our main page…