Sip Trips #216: Bellingham Bonanza

November had a fair pace to it, including a mid-month getaway, along with other activities as we work towards the most wonderful time of the year. Let’s see what the Sip Family got up to throughout November:

The month began as many do, watching the Vancouver Canucks lose. While at the game, which started out well, only to end in misery, a friend and I took turns buying rounds. $20 for a tall craft beer at Rogers Arena is ridiculous and hard to accept. I had to do a double take each time the total came up on the payment machine. By comparison, we were able to buy late night happy hour pitchers at Browns Socialhouse following the game for the same price.

Beeramid

The highlight of November was our stay in Bellingham, Washington, over the Remembrance Day long weekend. Each night, our Oxford Suites hotel, offered a manager’s reception, with two drink tickets per guest. This allowed for a couple beers or wines to be enjoyed each day of our stay, so long as the kids allowed it. Mrs. Sip and I also had dinner at the hotel one night, where I really liked my Oxford Burger with Pasta Salad.

For dinner after arriving, we walked over to Buffalo Wild Wings at Bellis Fair Mall. This was my first time at the restaurant and I enjoyed my pair of Bird Dawgs (Honey BBQ and Buffalo), which is a chicken variation of hotdogs. Thanks to Mrs. Sip asking if I could mix and match flavour options, I was able to try two different versions of the meal, which I paired with a Breckenridge Christmas Ale. I hope to go back soon to try other menu items.

After visiting the fascinating Spark Museum, we dropped into Stemma Brewing. While there, I drank servings of the saBro That’s Fresh Hazy Fresh Hop IPA and Conditus Lager. I don’t normally go with lagers, but was curious about its blend of lemon and cayenne. I also got to try Mrs. Sip’s Skybright Winter Ale. To eat, we ordered some Birria Tacos from the food truck outside.

Birria Tacos

Next up, was returning to Bellis Fair Mall, to allow the kids to burn some energy at the Playdate playground. The best part of this place is that while the kids get to have their fun, parents and guardians are able to order beer and wine, along with various food offerings. Over two stays at Playdate, I was able to drink pints of Terramar Amber On, Breakside IPA and Stemma Hazy IPA. I would have taken the kids here if they only sold Budweiser, so for them to exclusively offer craft beers is a bonus. A playdate cafe, where adults can playdate too!

The next day, we started by perusing the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. This was followed by lunch at Boundary Bay Brewing, where Mrs. Sip and I shared the B.L.A.T. + Turkey with Tim’s Potato Chips. To drink, I ordered the Cosmic Visions Cold IPA. We’ve always enjoyed our times at Boundary Bay and this was no exception.

After lunch, Ma and Pa Sip took the Sipplings to a playground, while allowing Mrs. Sip and I a chance to relax at Stones Throw Brewing. It was a brief stay, but very much enjoyed, as I tried the Happy Valley Hazy IPA, while Mrs. Sip went with a hot cup of Mulled Wine. We really enjoyed our outdoor seats around a roaring fire.

Mulled Wine

Our last brewery stop of the day was at Otherlands Brewing. Here, I went with the Some Soft Returning Amber Kellerbier, while Mrs. Sip tried the Send in the Clouds Hefeweizen. We were tempted to try some the vegetarian dishes offered by the eatery, but had dinner upcoming.

For that meal, we visited Mi Mexico. To drink, I ordered the Bartender’s Special (Tequila, Triple Sec, Margarita Mix, topped with Cranberry Juice and Grand Marnier), which was very tasty. My feast consisted of the Burrito Al Pastor, which was enough for two people and quite good.

The next day, Mrs. Sip left for her girl’s trip to Las Vegas, while the remaining Sip Family members travelled to Blaine to check out Beach Cat Brewing. I had a pint of the Munchkin Red Ale, while the Sipplings played with the many games at the brewery. For dinner, Pa Sip and I picked up food from Boomer’s Drive-In. I had the delicious Bacon Swiss Burger with Curly Fries.

Curly Fries

One more food note for the trip, I finally tried a McDonald’s McRib, as the sandwich is celebrating a farewell tour in the U.S. The results were I wish I’d ordered my usual Mickey D’s favourites instead, but I can cross it off the food bucket list. I also brought home bottles of Tito’s Vodka and Dough Ball Cookie Dough Whiskey, along with a case of Mountain Dew Fruit Quake fruit cake-flavoured soda.

After returning from the vacation, Girl Sip and I had a daddy-daughter dinner at Boston Pizza. Monday nights are a perfect time to visit the chain, as draft beer is $1.50 off and individual pizzas are only $9.99 (about $5 off). I had a pint of Belgian Moon, along with a Tropical Chicken Pizza. While I don’t typically order dessert at restaurants, I had a free dessert for my birthday, through the BP app, so I went with the Loaded Brownie S’mores, off the Fall Menu. The dish was delicious, with the combo of hot brownie bites, toasted marshmallows and Graham Crackers being perfectly blended.

I hate smores - meme

We wrapped the month with a performance of Disney on Ice, an earlier birthday gift for Girl Sip. Prior to the show, we ate at the White Spot R+D Kitchen, where I had to get my usual Legendary Deluxe Burger (with Caesar Salad), despite some experimental options piquing my interest. I paired the burger I was craving with a serving of Off the Rail Big Red Ale, which completed a very good spread.

December is now here and we’ve already attended a few Christmas festivities. The month will only get crazier as we progress through it, so my liver has been warned of the impending work schedule!

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.

Trip-To-Hometown.jpg

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!

June 15 – Carpet Licker

Regionals

The world is littered with wonderful wine regions, where fans of the grape can pilgrimage to and get blasted winery-hopping style. While wine is far from my favourite libation, I do like to get travel wasted and visiting a winery provides some of the greatest surroundings for doing so. Here are some of the best stops to hit if you’re a connoisseur of reds and whites (and pinks, I suppose!):

Barossa Valley – Australia

This was a fun little wine tour Mrs. Sip and I did while visiting Adelaide, Australia. As good as the wine and scenery was, what I will always remember most from the tour was our picnic-style lunch, where the main course was barbecued kangaroo, marinated in red wine. I never thought kangaroo meat could be so delicious. I gorged myself on the delicacy, as well as the rest of the lunch, probably facilitated by the copious wine samples we had already enjoyed up to that point.

barossa valley

Okanagan Valley – British Columbia

Mrs. Sip just got back from visiting the Okanagan wine region on a stagette and if the 13 new bottles taking up space in my liquor racks is any indication, she had a good time and found some wines she really enjoyed. Heck, rumour has it Cousin Sip brought back 30 bottles of grape goodness after this 2 day trip!

Champagne/Beaujolais – France

Champagne was another wine excursion enjoyed by Mrs. Sip, minus your faithful Sip Advisor. How do I let her get away with this desertion!? While there, she sampled the wines and champagnes the region is renowned for. We were together for a brief stop in Beaujolais, where we climbed to the “Top of the World” and had a wine and picnic lunch before staying the night at a Beaujolais winery property.

Hood River – Oregon

On a weekend away with family, we hit a number of stops criss-crossing the Washington-Oregon border. We had a convoy of vehicles stopping at each business and it was fun to roll through a tasting with such a large, increasingly boisterous group. Our favourite stop was probably the Maryhill Winery, home to a summer concert series, and where guest can even hop into a tub and stomp some grapes.

Maryhill Winery

Columbia Cascade – Washington

On yet another wine tour (damn, we go on a lot of these!), Mrs. Sip and I, along with Cousin Sip and her husband braved the oncoming winter to sample a number of wines in the Cascade area. The last stop of our tour was the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where the main drag houses many underground wine tasting options. Getting Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip back on the bus was far from easy for us guys.

Napa Valley & Sonoma Valley – California

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many California wines, but never had the chance to visit any of the winery regions the state is home to. While Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a wonderful and quite memorable wine tasting in San Francisco (see Bay Breeze), we have never had the time to do a tour of the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. It is on our Bucket List to do together, we just need to be in the area for longing than a cruise port stop.

Bubbles over Napa

Santorini – Greece

The last stop as part of a tour exploring the island was visiting the Wine Museum of Santorini and Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. How do I remember such a crazy long Grecian name, you ask? Well, you see, Mrs. Sip has (or at least had) this little habit of “collecting” souvenirs from her travels. On this occasion, she wanted a glass from the little winery and to make a long story short, she got it!

Monticello – Virginia

While visiting Washington, D.C., our hosts took us out of the American capital to Virginia, specifically Monticello, where we had access to numerous wines and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the storied grounds of the winery surrounded by 19th century plantation ruins. Later, we ventured to the home of Thomas Jefferson, where unfortunately, no wine was served, which would have been a great tribute to the former president.

Drink #166: Carpet Licker

June 15

  • 1 oz White Wine
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur (I used Watermelon Pucker)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 0.5 oz Dr. Pepper
  • Top with Whipped Cream
  • Garnish with Sprinkles

I’m sure I’m missing some of the best wine regions, but I wanted to focus on areas we’ve actually visited or plan to visit in the very near future. Have any suggestions for a future getaway? Feel free to give us your best Lonely Planet review.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I thought this shot tasted fantastic, especially with my substitution of Watermelon Pucker for Melon Liqueur… I just had a feeling. The presentation is spectacular which certainly justifies the high score. The shooter ingredients and measurements are enough for two servings, so share the love!