Sip Trips #176: Oktoberfesting

The month of October should be spent celebrating the harvest with good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing and the yield has been quite bountiful. Here’s what the crew has been up to over the last few weeks:

The Sip Family recently attended Another Brewing Company’s (ABC Brewing) Oktoberfest event and what a time it was. ABC put together a collection of 11 German-style beers – four of their own, with others coming from brewery friends – for guests to enjoy. I paid about $50 for a limited edition stein and fill (24oz), as well as five additional tokens for 12oz pours or to be used on culinary items. Free tickets were also available to those who just wanted to attend and perhaps buy a few tokens for food and drink.

oktoberfest-driver

My stein fill was used on Sundown Brewing Hefeweizen, which was a fantastic start to the day. I then moved on to ABC Brewing Altbier, before going the experimental route with Ravens Brewing Lingonberry Lime Gose. A-Frame Brewing Kolsch was up next, followed by Main Street Brewing Dunkel. I also tried some of Chuckanut Brewing Altbier, from Bellingham, Washington.

The only shade I can throw the event’s way was the pretzel I spent a token on was cold. This was probably due to the pretzels arriving late and the ABC folks trying to get them out as quickly as possible, to satiate the many guests who had been inquiring as to their whereabouts. I also overheard some complain about a lack of salt on the pretzels and I agree with this criticism.

To celebrate a recent family birthday, we gathered for dinner at Elisabeth’s Chalet in Cloverdale. My beverage of choice at the German-themed restaurant was a pint of Krombacher Dark, while my meal was the Schnitzel Four Season, featuring vegetables such as tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms. The combo was very good and filling.

schnitzel

Prior to our Vancouver Canucks game last Saturday, we ate at the nearby Boston Pizza, which has a number of new specialty pizzas on their menu, making my choice quite difficult. I settled on the Royal Hawaiian, attracted by the sweet Thai honey garlic sauce, smoked prosciutto, bacon, and grilled pineapple. I’d also love to try the Mad Mac, which sounds like a pizza version of the McDonald’s Big Mac. Since individual pizzas seem to be getting smaller and smaller every time I eat at the restaurant, we still had room for a slice of Chocolate Explosion Cheesecake, which was simply decadent. Add in a pint of Stella Artois to wash it all down and we walked away ready for some hockey action.

Wrapping up this Sip Trips cycle, yesterday, we treated Ma and Pa Sip to dinner at White Spot, to celebrate the first anniversary of them providing Toddler Sip (formerly Baby Sip) with childcare. There, I ordered my usual Legendary Burger with side Caesar Salad (gotta go healthy on some occasions), joined by a pint of Granville Island Oktoberfest Lager. Thank you again to Ma and Pa Sip for their hard work and amazing dedication.

We now move into Halloween season with parties and other festive gatherings on the horizon. All should make for an interesting couple of weeks and you’ll hear about soon; same bat time, same bat channel!

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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.

Close Enough Cat.jpg

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 #84: Christmas Crunch

Well, my little sippers, the Christmas season is in full swing and Mrs. Sip and I have been busy with various events with friends and family. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve been up to:

On Sunday, we checked out the Stanley Park Christmas Train. While the ride was enjoyable as usual, Mrs. Sip was hoping there would be more of a theme, as there has been in past years. Still, the lights were beautiful and the music was festive, so I’ll give it a passing grade.

Following the train, we had our traditional family meal at White Spot. To pair with my typical Legendary Burger order, we selected a couple pitchers of Granville Island Winter Ale. There’s something about this beer on tap that takes it to a whole ‘nutha level!

chips-and-beer

The next evening, Mrs. Sip and I got a rare date night, visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market. The new location does provide more room, but some of the lineups need to be better organized, such as the beer booth’s queue bleeding into another nearby line and causing confusion and blockages. Mrs. Sip enjoyed her spiced rum mulled wine, while I downed a serving of Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel. The price for each beverage was $8, leaving little cash leftover for two folks who largely use cards for payment. It seems odd that many vendors selling merchandise were able to offer a charge card payment option, but most food and drink stalls could not. Oh well, that’s money saved from the expensive event that we really only attend because Mrs. Sip gets free tickets each year.

That saved money was quickly put to use as we popped into the Earl’s Kitchen + Bar in Yaletown. Their Man en Fuego cocktail (Mezcal, El Jimador Tequila, Mango juice, green Tabasco, lime juice) was on special and it’s a very good drink. So good, Mrs. Sip and I each ordered a second. For our meals, Mrs. Sip selected the Avocado Super Toast, while I went with the Hunan Kung Pao noodle dish. Both dinners were very good.

This weekend, we have even more on the schedule, so it will be another whirlwind. ‘Tis the season, am I right!?

Sip Trips #81: Restaurant Roundup

While the Sip Advisor hasn’t posted a Sip Trips article for a couple weeks, that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept up my typical level of social activities. I was just saving up a few outings and before I knew it, there was almost too much to report on.

Dressed as my own inner child – seriously, I just couldn’t get inspired to come up with a costume for this Halloween season, so this was a last minute idea that actually worked out fairly well – we attended a friend’s fundraiser at Rusty’s Neighbourhood Pub in Cloverdale. The burger and beer deal didn’t leave much to the imagination, especially as far as beverages went, but through a technicality, we were able to upsize our burgers and I really enjoyed my Doc Holliday variation. Much of their menu looked really good, so next time we’re in the area, we’ll have to drop in again.

bacon-cheeseburger

The next day, we intended to check out Abbotsford’s Craft Beer Corn Maze, before a storm decimated the attraction. Instead, we used the occasion of being out in the Fraser Valley to visit Old Abbey Ales. Here, the Sip Alliance each constructed their own flight of beer and with so many options available at the tasting room, no two boards were the same. I really like that Old Abbey Ales has the customer fill out there selections, rather than recite them. This gives you more time to round out a perfect cross section of brews and decreases the chances your order will get mixed up.

A couple days later, as Mrs. Sip prepared for her ongoing trip to India, we visited Patron Tacos & Cantina for a meal. We typically order their Queso Fundido dish and then use the cheese and sauces it comes with on our tacos. This makes for quite the feast and Mrs. Sip and I both left with overly full tummies.

That weekend, after recently receiving a flyer advertising Milestones new Epic Eats menu, Mrs. Sip and I were looking forward to testing out some of the new additions. While Mrs. Sip ordered the Jiffy Pop Popcorn Shrimp, I had my eyes – and stomach – set on the Hottest Club in Town. This Sriracha chicken and waffles club sandwich was absolutely fantastic and I look forward to crossing paths with it again shortly. We also noted that the restaurant now has a Beers & Bros deal (a pitcher of beer and four appies for $40) to accompany their Girls’ Night Out Bellini promotion.

waffles-pancakes-with-abs

To celebrate Halloween, we decided to check out the Day of the Dead-themed Stanley Park Train. Following that, Mrs. Sip, Sis-in-Law Sip and myself made our way back downtown and popped into Steamworks Brewpub for a bite and beverage. With a $15 pitcher deal on Mondays, we settled on their Pumpkin Ale, while splitting their massive House Baked Pretzel. This was probably the best way to wrap up Oktoberfest festivities, through the month.

Come Friday, I was on the road again. Mrs. Sip and I are members of the Langley-based Backyard Vineyards and as such, are invited to their semi-annual customer appreciation nights. Mrs. Sip always seems to be on vacation when they occur, but that doesn’t stop the Sip Advisor from enjoying. With great live music filing the air, guests were treated to a fantastic meal and other goodies. Prior to arriving at the winery, we had made great time from Vancouver, so decided to pop into Trading Post Brewing for a beer. I liked my serving of their Dear James S.M.A.S.H. Saison and it was a good start to the evening’s entertainment.

beer-and-wine-consumption

The weekend was wrapped up with a visit to White Spot, where I was able to try a pint of Granville Island Harvest Ale. The beer, exclusively brewed for the restaurant chain, was a solid accompaniment to one of my all-time favourites, the Legendary Burger. You are not a true British Columbian if you have never tried this entrée.

Well, I ended up with much more to discuss than I first thought. With Mrs. Sip away in India for the next two weeks, it kind of feels like the calm before the Christmas season storm. I better enjoy my “downtime” while it lasts!

BC Beer Baron #166 – Granville Island Nat Bailey Pale Ale

Available exclusively at White Spot restaurants (and enjoyed by the Sip Advisor over the weekend), this Granville Island Brewing release brings two British Columbia icons together, in the form of the eatery and the brewery.

The Nat Bailey Pale Ale is actually quite good for a “house beer”. The 5% ABV American Pale Ale pairs wonderfully with White Spot’s Legendary Burger, which has been an edible symbol of the province for decades. With strong flavour and refreshing taste, the brew will not disappoint.

Granville Island Nat Bailey Pale Ale

Granville Island has brewed two beers (the Pale Ale and Nat Bailey Lager) exclusively for White Spot for a number of years. Nat Bailey was the founder of White Spot restaurants all the way back in 1934. He is also credited with building Canada’s first drive-in restaurant in 1928 and creating the first car hop tray.

I’ve experienced many great moments at White Spot restaurants, from the birthdays of friends and post-wedding brunches to graduation celebrations and everything in between. Most notably, Mrs. Sip and I visited the restaurant as part of our very first date and we will forever have a soft spot in our hearts for the diner.

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

December 9 – Angel’s Delight

One for the Ages

For most, it would be hard to pick a favourite Christmas. What pushed that particular Dec. 25th over the edge? Was it a gift? How you celebrated? Who you celebrated with? All of them seem so good, but for the ol’ Sip Advisor, it’s a pretty easy choice. Not to take anything away from any other Christmas I’ve enjoyed over my 30 years on this planet, but bar none, my 2010 Christmas was the best… that’s when I popped the big question to Mrs. Sip! Here’s our story:

best-christmas

Mrs. Sip and I had been together for over eight years when the fall of 2010 rolled around and had been through a lot together. Having dated since we were both 18, we’d practically grown up together. While the road was generally quite smooth, there was the odd bump, as one would expect when you’re coming into your own as a person and going through all the steps of adulthood, such as school, work, friendships, etc.

We had also spent quite a bit of time doing the dreaded long distance relationship thing. Mrs. Sip took off for England just six months into our courtship (does that even happen anymore?) and she was there for much of the first year of our dating. A couple years later, I was off to England for my own exchange program, followed by Miss Sip going to Australia for a term and shortly thereafter, me taking off again, this time for a full year living in Toronto.

We’d done things the right way (I believe) and not rushed into our relationship, allowing each other to grow and expand our horizons at our own pace. Our relationship matured magically as a result.

One day at work, a radio ad came on and it dawned on me that it was time to go ring shopping. I hadn’t been thinking too much of taking our relationship to the next level, but at that moment, everything just seemed right about the idea.

engagement-ring

I bought Miss Sip’s engagement ring (a spectacular piece of jewelry, if I don’t say so myself) in September of 2010, sans any help from friends or family. I wanted to do this all on my own and keep it a secret from as much of the world as possible. This caused some crazy thoughts to run through my head, such as “What if something happens to me before I ask Miss Sip to marry me and no one ever knows I have this ring purchased?”

It was a long wait from late September to late December, as I planned to propose to Miss Sip on Christmas Day and then be able to share it will all of our family and friends throughout Christmas dinners and get-togethers. Periodically, I’d take a quick peek at the beaming diamond ring buried in my dresser drawer, awed by the step I was about to take and the journey that would surely ignite.

The only person in the world I told of my intentions was Miss Sip’s dad. I had always intended to ask permission for her hand, but I did worry my secret would get around. True to his word, my future father-in-law kept my secret… and later paid for doing do!

Christmas Eve finally came and I was beyond excited. The one downside was that both Miss Sip and I were currently suffering through pretty serious colds. We had a meal out together before heading back to our apartment to enjoy our first Christmas just the two of us. Sadly, instead of enjoying drinks, while making gingerbread houses and watching a movie, we were sucking back Neo-Citron, hacking and wheezing, and giving up on gingerbread houses, settling for a gingerbread shanty town. We also put on the god awful Babes in Toyland film before both passing out from our medication.

christmas eve

The next morning, I was feeling a little better, but Miss Sip was still having issues. I briefly considered postponing my marriage proposal, but decided that I just couldn’t wait any longer and with both our families hosting Christmas dinners, there may not be a better opportunity to have everyone gathered.

Under the guise that I wanted to capture our first Christmas morning for prosperity, I had borrowed Pa Sip’s video camera and had it set to perfectly capture our engagement. It was hard to conceal my excitement, as we started opening our stockings.

After our stockings were emptied, I made sure Mrs. Sip went first for exchanging gifts. She got me a Nintendo Wii, which would normally have stolen the show as far as Christmas gifts go, but I knew what we’d really be talking about all day. Finally, after three months of planning and waiting, it was my turn to blow her mind.

Things started off slowly. I gave her a set of different hot chocolate toppings and a digital photo frame – I had to have something under the tree for her to throw off the scent of what I was planning. Ironically, Mrs. Sip had done the same thing for me using random DVDs (the Wii was hidden underneath a pillow).  After the photo frame and hot chocolate toppings came my “set-up piece” – a simple silver bracelet that came with the engagement ring. As Miss Sip examined the bracelet, probably thinking that she should return the amazing Wii she had given me, I dropped to one knee and trying to keep my voice from cracking said, “I know that’s not the jewellery you deserve, so I also got you this!”…

Christmas-gift-diamonds

Miss Sip was shocked. I don’t think she had any idea this was coming down the pipeline. We’d talked about a future together, but I don’t think she expected this at all. She quickly responded with a resounding “YES!” and what a relief that was. I kept thinking of TV shows and movies where a marriage proposal is met with rejection. Thankfully this didn’t go in that direction.

The rest of the morning was a blur. We celebrated, planned how we would tell everyone and cursed our colds. The ring was three sizes too big and shortly after I proposed Miss Sip completely lost her voice, but nothing could take that day away from us… we were now engaged to be married!

Our first stop was Miss Sip’s parents to open gifts. We brought over cinnamon buns, but I couldn’t eat with all the anticipation. Mrs. Sip was able to talk long enough to let her parents and sister know we had gotten engaged that morning and we had another little celebration.

I left after a couple hours to go to my parents. After opening gifts there, we were all relaxing when Ma Sip inquired about what I’d got Miss Sip for Christmas. I told her about all the items, leaving out the engagement ring for later. I could feel Ma Sip glaring at me as I continued to aloofly watch TV. She was not happy with my choice of gifts, which was all the more hysterical given what had actually transpired. I couldn’t help but let a wicked smile cross my face as I left the room.

Lying Parents

That evening, I left my family dinner to return to Miss Sip’s parent’s place where I announced to the rest of her family that we had taken the next step in our relationship. Miss Sip couldn’t do it thanks to her voice giving out on her. Another celebration ensued before we were able to slip away and return together to Ma and Pa Sip’s home, where my family had gathered.

After settling in, I once again made the big announcement and (I bet you know where this is going) more celebrating was to be had. Ma Sip got her wish in that Miss Sip’s Christmas gift was more than a bracelet.

The rest of the next month was spent telling our friends about the engagement before revealing to the world via Facebook that we were set to be married in 2012!

Drink #343: Angel’s Delight

Angel's Delight Drink Recipe

  • 0.75 oz Gin
  • 0.75 oz Triple Sec
  • Top with Milk
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Garnish with a Candy Cane

Do you have a particular Christmas that you could call your favourite? Please share your story with Sip Nation!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This martini was a bit of a surprise.  I wasn’t sure how it would all come together and it ended up being a perfectly sweet and smooth drink. The colour and garnish were nice and it was simply an all-around good cocktail.

December 2 – Poinsettia

The Most Wonderful Time

Well, my little sippers, with December finally here, we have to decide how we’re going to spend the month. There’s more to do than you would think. Here are a couple of ideas:

Advent Calendar

This is the third year that I’ll be doing an advent calendar for Mrs. Sip, providing her with a treat each day until Christmas finally arrives… then the treats stop and we spend the big day in separate rooms, Mrs. Sip reading one of her nauseating books, the Sip Advisor seeing how drunk he can get before noon. It really is a wonderful time of year. In all seriousness, this is a fun idea and it scores you some serious brownie points!

redneck-advent-calendar

Santa Claus Parade

I only offer this as a suggestion because frankly, I don’t like being out in the cold for hours watching marching bands, as much as the next heat seeker. It’s a great event for kids, I guess. They at least hold out hope until Santa finally shows up atop the main event float. As for myself, I’ll be inside my warm little apartment, snuggled under a mess of blankies, sipping on (not gin and juice) spiked hot cocoa, and pestering Mrs. Sip to lose her clothes and entertain me!

Christmas Train

This option might be available to all you little sippers, but whether you live near a Christmas Train or some other Christmas Wonderland, you should definitely make a point of visiting once. It’s an annual tradition among the Family Sip. We meet at Stanley Park, ride the train, check out the lights and then head off to our favourite restaurant White Spot for a healthy dose of burgers, beer, and other merriment!

Snowball Fight/Build a Snowman

If you live where snow actually falls, then this is a great idea. If you don’t get the white stuff, you should probably avoid this idea, as you’ll just be playing with dirt. I can only remember a couple White Christmases (damn Vancouver’s mild temperatures) and you can bet when those happened, we were messing about in the snow and not all sheltered inside, afraid to go out into the open air as today’s little ones seem to be.

not-coming-to-work

Ice Skating

I look majestic when on the ice… except for that one time in the U.K. when all you could rent was figure skates and having spent my entire life in a hockey boot, I wasn’t used to the toe picks and wound up introducing my face to a sheet of ice! Luckily, I wasn’t much to look at before my accident… some say the accident actually resulted in a slight improvement. To be fair, my knees took the entire brunt of the fall, keeping my mind intact to be ruined by alcohol!

Christmas Parties

While I normally shun social gatherings with vehement disgust, I do find a way to fake it through the Christmas season. Mrs. Sip had to attend like nine parties last year. I matched her in nights I just sat on the couch and got blasted, but with her being so busy, we didn’t even have a chance to watch the Family Matters Christmas episodes I tracked down. I have a need for Urkel and that has yet to be satisfied.

Secret Santa/Gift Exchange

This is the only reason to have friends, am I right!? Hell, they don’t even have to be friends; they just have to be rich! I’ve written before about how we pull out our Roulette Shot Wheel and dole out shooters during our gift exchange. Usually we make the person who’s stealing a gift have to take a shot, but we usually end up ramping it up and also punishing the person who has just been stolen from… that’s the reality of life, my little sippers!

Drink #336: Poinsettia

Poinsettia Drink Recipe

  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • Top with Champagne
  • Splash of Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with Mandarin Orange Piece

What suggestions do you have for the Sip Advisor on how to spend the Christmas holiday? Clearly, you can see I’m going to be busy, but I’ll try to fit your advice in!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
This is a really simple recipe and a definite crowd pleaser. Before starting this project, I bartended one of Ma and Pa Sip’s Christmas parties and this drink was the hit of the evening. A Mandarin Orange Piece is the perfect garnish this time of the year and works well with a champagne flute.