Sip Trips #135: Fine Foods

Sometimes it amazes me when I put together these weekly wrap-ups just how much we do in a seven-day span. This past week was no different as you will see below:

The week began with me joining Pa Sip at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill at the impressive Tsawwassen Mills Mall. This unique eatery offers great food and bowling with an underwater theme. To eat, I enjoyed a delicious Shrimp Po’Boy, highlighted by a spicy aioli and of course, the breaded shrimp. I look forward to taking Baby Sip back here in the future for a game of ten-pin.

Bowling Ideal

With friends coming over for dinner on Saturday, I picked up Stanley Park Brewing’s Summer Mix Pack. New to the lineup this year are the Trail Hopper IPA and Salted Watermelon Sour. Both are pretty good and I’ve always enjoyed Stanley Park’s mixed cases because of their 2×6 format, rather than the typical 4×3.

On Sunday, Mrs. Sip and I visited 33 Acres Brewing for a beverage. While she had her all-time fave Euphoria Belgian Tripel, I had the new-to-me Genesis B6 Northwest Hazy IPA. Their “quarry” tasting room was packed as usual, so we didn’t stay long, but I’m consistently impressed by the quality of the brewery’s beers, so we’ll keep returning, regardless of seat availability.

On Monday, a friend joined me downtown for some day drinking. What else are two guys to do, when one is briefly out of work and the other is on parental leave! Our first stop was Cactus Club Cafe for lunch. I combined Rob’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a Perfect Storm to drink. Once again the sauce really made my meal, as the sandwich employs a sambal mayo, which works well with the spicy panko-crusted chicken. My drink was also quite good, since Dark N’ Stormy’s are one of my favourite cocktails.

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Next up was Yaletown Brewery for happy hour. Here, we were able to indulge in a few $5 beers, with my choice being the Edinburgh IPA. Since we arrived before the after work rush, we were able to get a nice spot to sit on a couple couches, which allowed Baby Sip to roam around a little. After all, this was brewery number 30 for the tyke.

The week finished with a trip across the border with Ma Sip. While figuring out what we wanted to do for lunch, Boundary Bay Brewing entered the conversation and so we were off to their bistro. We split their fantastic Reuben Sandwich (with Tim’s Potato Chips on the side), while I washed the entrée back with a pint of Safety Break ISA. ISA’s have rocketed up my list of favourite beers of late, because I can enjoy the taste of an IPA at a slightly lower alcohol content, which definitely comes in handy when I’m driving.

This coming week features another full schedule. We’re also gearing up for Baby Sip’s first expedition to Europe (London, France, Portugal, Belgium), which is coming up fast at just over a week away!

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Sip Trips #134: In the Name of Science

Another couple busy weeks are in the books, so let’s get right to the action. We began the latest Sip Trips cycle with a long walk to East Vancouver to use our Groupon for Andina Brewing. The deal entitled us to a tasting flight each, as well as a growler plus fill. The advertised growler (typically holding two litres of beer) ended up actually being a one-litre Boston round, but otherwise the Groupon was worth it. For our flights, we tried each of the brewery’s available varieties. We also ordered a round of their Platanitos (Plantain Chips).

Since we were already out that way, we decided to pop into Storm Brewing, one of our all-time favourite breweries. Storm does things differently than other breweries, offering patrons up to six samples of their eclectic menu, in exchange for a donation. On this instance, we tried a number of beers, including: Turkey Dinner IPA, Orange Creamsicle Ale, Garam Masala Ale, Spicy Mango Salsa Pilsner, Mint Julep Ale, Pineapple Paradise Pilsner, Vanilla Whiskey Stout, and Iced Mocha Stout. We were particularly impressed with the Garam Masala Ale, so bought a Boston round of the beverage.

Beer Trust

The next day, we went for another walk to the Olympic Village. While Mrs. Sip joined some friends for brunch, I explored Legacy Liquor Store, where I came across the newly released Brews Brothers Vol. 4 case from Parallel 49 Brewing, in partnership with 12 breweries from across the province. While I didn’t pick it up that day, as Baby Sip’s stroller didn’t have enough room, this pack will soon find itself nestled into our fridge. Not one to leave the booze haven empty-handed, I picked up a bomber of Stanley Park Cookies & Cream Dark Ale, which we look forward to pouring soon.

Later that week, we attended Science World After Dark, where the attraction is open to adults only and allows them to check out the exhibits with a beer or glass of wine ($6.50 each) in hand. This was our second time attending the event. Our night began with an IMAX film titled America’s Musical Journey, which documented a number of music styles that became popular in the US, thanks to artists such as Louis Armstrong and Elvis, while exploring locales including New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis and Miami.

We were particularly interested in visiting on this occasion, as the feature attraction currently running at Science World is Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Mrs. Sip and I spent more than an hour checking out nearly every piece of the exhibit and it was totally worth the price of admission.

Science Funny

This past weekend, we joined Ma and Pa Sip at Township 7 Winery’s members only event at Coast Appliances in Langley. The unique venue served up a very interesting event, highlighted by three stations where you could get a wine sample and appetizer pairing. You could also get a full servingglass of wine, choosing from four different varieties to cap your evening off with.

On Wednesday, we had tickets to see 2Cellos in concert. To prepare for the show, I enjoyed a couple drinks from my bottle of Wiser’s Spiced Whiskey, to go along with our takeout order of Uncle Fatih’s Pizza. As for the concert, these guys are amazing. Seriously, if you are unfamiliar with the duo, check their work out on YouTube and you’ll see some very talented Croatians doing things with cellos you never thought possible.

I wrapped up the week by joining Ma Sip at Steamworks Brew Pub for lunch. Here, I ordered a serving of their Purgatory Belgian IPA, to go with some Chicken Tenders and Fries. We sat on their outdoor patio, which provided a nice way to spend a spring/summer afternoon, now that the rain is gone and the sunny season seems to finally be here!

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!

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!