Sip Trips #23: Cannon Ball

Vancouver Craft Beer Week has come and gone, wrapping up with a two-day festival on the PNE grounds. Mrs. Sip and I originally had plans to attend this event, featuring over 100 breweries, but decided, in the end, that sitting poolside on the gorgeous weekend and hosting our own beer bash with friends was more ideal.

pass-me-a-beer

From years past, I had heard of the festival being too crowded, with long lines and companies running out of their supplies. That said, everyone I have talked to this year, enjoyed it. Personally, I’m still hesitant to pay $35-$40 for any of these festivals where you get minimal to zero tasting tickets or tokens (in fact, the VCBW event gave you only admission and a taster glass… hell, I already have a full set of those from other activities during the week) and you still have to buy all of your samples on top of the entry fee.

In preparation for our pool time, Mrs. Sip and I hit the Central City Brewery in Surrey. There, we filled up a growler of their India Style Red Ale and grabbed some other bombers, including the Maple Bacon Ale and a Belgian Tripel, which was part of the brewery’s Hobbit series of releases. I also just learned that the company will be opening up a new brew pub, mere blocks away from the Sip Advisor’s home in downtown Vancouver, proving good things come to those that wait!

All of our friends who visited over Friday and Saturday brought their A-game and my parents’ fridges were crammed full of awesome beers and other treats. I particularly enjoyed the 33 Acres of Sunshine French Blanche that was left behind. The whole weekend has me thinking that a poolside beer festival is something I should coordinate for the future, becoming a legend and icon in the industry. All I need to do is make sure I have plenty of lifeguards on hand!

lifeguard on beer break

On Sunday, we ventured into the bush (translation: the suburbs of Vancouver) for some local winery visits. The tour was put together to celebrate Mrs. Sip’s mother’s birthday, and included stops at Backyard Vineyards (where Mrs. Sip is a member and had her spring shipment of wines to pick up) and Township 7 Winery. It was a relaxing and fun afternoon, even with your faithful Sip Advisor playing the rare role of designated driver. Sometimes, you just draw the short stick!

Following work on Monday, Mrs. Sip and I were off to Victoria (aka Vancouver Island) for her sister’s university graduation the next day. Upon arriving, we quickly made a jaunt to the Moon Under Water Brewpub to fill a couple growlers of their delicious beer. We ordered the This is Hefeweizen and Creepy Uncle Dunkel, which paired well with our late night snack and relaxing. I only wish we had more time to enjoy all of Victoria’s fantastic breweries.

graduation thanks

To celebrate Sis-in-Law Sip’s big achievement, we made reservations for Afternoon Tea at the infamous Empress Hotel. While the occasion offered a different kind of sipping than the Sip Advisor is accustomed to, the experience deserves mention in this week’s post. The finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, and even tea, were all exquisite and the bucket list-level event is something we will each remember for years to come.

Back on the mainland, we wrapped the week up with a visit to Craft Beer Market to meet a friend. The visit was fruitful in that we got to try the Steamworks Killer Cucumber Ale that vaulted to the top of my “to try” list, as well as the Yellow Dog Stick Toss Cranberry Saison and Phillips Electric Unicorn White IPA. All three were good, with the Killer Cucumber being my pick of the night, thanks to a subtle and refreshing cucumber flavour. Talk about taking advantage of the joint’s $5 B.C. beer special!

Australia – Moonlight Martini

Land Down Under

We’re going “down under” as we leave Estonia for the warmth and beauty of picturesque Australia. Mrs. Sip lived in the country for half a year and I was lucky to join her for six weeks. While together, we toured a fair portion of the country. There were numerous and diverse sites that we both fell in love with during our stay. Here are some of our favourites:

Phillips Island

Home to the World’s Smallest Penguins, hundreds of tourists gather each day and brave the elements to watch the little flightless birds return from the water, like clockwork, to their burrows on Phillips Island. Sadly, but understandably, you’re not allowed to take photos of the tiny travelers, as flashes from cameras can blind them and cause them to become disoriented, get lost, and turn into easy prey for predators.

Penguin Parade

Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is home to the Great Barrier Reef and its impressive collection of coral formations. In some of the clearest, most stunning water I’ve ever been in, I did my first ever scuba dive and saw species of sea creatures I may never see up close again. We also snorkeled the area for a few hours and enjoyed the bathtub temperature of the ocean… plus, it’s always fun to perv on Mrs. Sip in the water!

Daintree Rainforest

Also while in Cairns, Mrs. Sip and I also toured the Daintree Rainforest, including a river cruise where we searched for legendary crocodiles and a hike through the tropical bush. The Daintree is home to an untold number of animal and plant species and you never really know what you’ll come across in your trek. Mrs. Sip was on edge about seeing any spiders, while I was ever-vigilant in avoiding snakes.

Wildlife

There are some animals you will only see in zoos and around Australia during your lifetime. We decided to combine the two by visiting one of the country’s nature reserves: the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. There, we viewed epically large crocodiles, fed kangaroos, and were attacked by parakeets and lorikeets. We even got our photos with a koala and all was well until it peed all over our friend!

Koala Currumbin

Ayers Rock/Uluru

This mystical mass of land is located in the Australian Outback and while I did not journey there for my own personal walkabout, Mrs. Sip made the trip. It takes between two to three hours to walk around Ayers Rock/Uluru and it’s also a wonderful spot to view sunrise and sunset each day. Interestingly, it’s said that if you take any rock from the site you will be cursed, leaving many trying to return “souvenirs” they’ve pick up from the World Heritage Site.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney was such a neat city (surprisingly clean and green) in its entirety, but perhaps its most famous landmark is the Opera House located in Sydney Harbour. Mrs. Sip and I did a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour of the iconic metropolis and spent a fair bit of time hanging out in the harbour. Tourists can even climb the Harbour Bridge for a spectacular viewing opportunity.

Surfer’s Paradise

While I failed miserably at my attempt to learn surfing in Australia, the beaches around the country are a sight to behold. Surfer’s Paradise is where all the youngsters go to hang out and hang ten. If you’re not into the beach and ocean stuff, the area is also home to numerous dining and shopping options. If you choose to stick to the sand and water, be careful of disruptive visits by anything from jellyfish to sharks.

Australia: Moonlight Martini

Moonlight Martini Drink Recipe

  • Muddle Blackberries
  • 1.5 oz Shiraz/Syrah Wine
  • 1.5 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with Blackberries

Australian wine is also a big deal and they are most famous for their Shiraz/Syrah grape variety, which was brought to the country from Europe by James Busby in the 1830’s. Speaking of Aussie wine, Mrs. Sip and I also thoroughly enjoyed the Barossa Valley wine tour we joined in Adelaide, specifically our meal of kangaroo cooked in… you guessed it: red wine!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Given the World’s Smallest Penguins was one of my favourite Australian attractions, coming across the Little Penguin Shiraz Wine was almost too perfect to be true. Sadly, I didn’t have the Orange Vodka the recipe asked for, so I subbed in Raspberry Vodka with a splash of Triple Sec to get the orange flavour. The drink was pretty good and had a number of different notes to tease the taste buds!

December 27 – Hammered Farmer

Experience Points

I got to thinking the other day about things that must be experienced as a drinker. The rites of passage as a boozehound, if you will. Here’s some of the items that crossed my mind and I believe made me the Sip Advisor I am today!

Drink from a Funnel – Friends of Mrs. Sip and myself had this funnel they called Skeletor (thanks to it being a skull), which was fun drinking out of and made for a good dare as part of drinking games.

Funnel Fail

Do a Keg Stand – As a kid, I was always standing on my head. It’s something I did well and I still do head stands on many objects I find. Combine that with chugging beer and you have the infamous keg stand. I think I did pretty well in my only attempt.

Use a Flask – I first bought a flask in my early 20’s and have since upgraded to a much nicer one, which I gave out to each of the groomsmen and ushers in my wedding. As I’ve written before, Fireball is my go-to flask filler and it has seen me through many wild nights.

Buy Booze as a Minor – While I didn’t frequently do this, it did happen from on a couple occasions and without incident. It truly shows your dedication to the sport.

Enjoy an Open Bar – I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few “open bar” functions in my time. Sometimes those bars haven’t been very lucky to have me as a guest!

Rent a Keg – This is something I have yet to do personally. Sure, I’ve been to the odd keg party, but I’ve never hosted one. We’ve often bandied about the idea of getting a keg for my annual beer pong tournament, but letting folks drink whatever they wish has always won out over the mass serving. I did have a mini keg that travelled through some of Europe with me, if that counts.

Tap the Keg

Drunken Karaoke – Is there any other kind of karaoke!?

Buy a Round for a Group – It’s always important to take your rightful turn in buying drinks for the group. Just make sure you get yours back in due time.

Invent a Cocktail – Clearly this is no longer an outstanding issue for the Sip Advisor…

Buy a Woman a Drink – Does Mrs. Sip count? If so, then check!

Play Drinking Games – Whether it’s Beer Pong, Quarters, King’s Cup, Flippy Cup, or anything else, drinking games are an essential element of boozing fun. I’d say go easy on rookies, but they should know what they’re getting themselves into.

battle-shots

Go on a Beer/Wine Tour – In the course of this project, I’ve detailed the wine and beer tours I’ve been privileged to go on. Next up comes some visits to hard alcohol distilleries.

Do a Shot Challenge – Whether it’s one you create on your own or something hosted by a bar, these are always a fun way to get smashed and stretch your drinking limits. Mrs. Sip and I took part in one notable challenge in Nice, France, where we (along with three others) had to down all of our 10 shots in successive order. I was the only one ballsy enough to include a couple Flatliners in my set.

Visit a Beer Hall – Drinking around the world has become a huge part of travel for Mrs. Sip and I, whether it’s trying news beers, wines, and spirits, or visiting booze landmarks across the globe. The beer hall we enjoyed in Munich, Germany was among these great memories.

Do a Pub Crawl – Man are these fun… I’ve done crawls in a lot of parts of the world (Key West, Florida; Preston, England; Honolulu, Hawaii; etc.) and they’re always full of laughs, adventure, and of course alcohol. Map out a route and hit the town!

Bar Crawl

Survive a Hangover – Does it count if I’ve helped someone through their hangover? Remember, the Sip Advisor is immune from rough morning afters.

Be Known by Name at a Bar – While I have yet to find a place “where everybody knows my name”, the Sip Alliance was recognized at The Yard House in Hawaii as “Oh, you guys are back!”

Ride a Mechanical Bull – This should only be done while blitzed because it limbers you up for the eventual fall. I achieved this at the PBR Rock Bar in Las Vegas this year (twice!) and it was totally worth the resulting crotch bruising.

Hit Multiple Fast Food Joints on the Same NightGuilty as charged. Just the other day, Mrs. Sip and I grabbed some Mickie D’s takeout and while passing by a Mega Bite pizza shop, I joked we should grab some slices for the road as well. Before I knew it, Mrs. Sip was in there snatching some before we were on our way again!

Drink #361: Hammered Farmer

Hammered Farmer Drink Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Spiced Rum (I used New Orleans)
  • Top with Root Beer
  • Splash of Apple-Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wheel

What else do you think qualifies as a rite of passage for experienced drinkers? I wanted to include my feat of drinking a beer underwater, but Mrs. Sip insisted it was so rare and awesome that I was the only that would qualify. She’s always pumping my tires!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This is one of those bizarre recipes where they recommend way too much booze to make a decent drink. They say you should use 4 oz of Spiced Rum. While that will achieve the desired effect of being a Hammered Farmer, the cocktail’s taste will be way too strong. I dumbed the ingredients down to make a tasty drink where you can taste each element being presented. You’ll still get blasted, it just won’t be from one serving!