Category Archives: Beer Reviews

This started today. (Well, technically yesterday.)

Holy hell. How is it already time to start thinking about a spring race? Um, it’s 18 weeks until April 15? Are we sure about that?

[I should probably preface this post by saying that I have never followed a formal training plan for a marathon (or for any other distance, actually). At least, not since college when my coach wrote our workouts for the week on an 8″X11″ with a sharpie and photocopied them for us to hang in our dorm rooms. Oy…I am old and probably lack discipline!]

Anyway. Over the course of my dozen or so marathons, at my most organized, I’ve had ideas about how many 20+ milers I should fit in and rough weekly mileage goals. At my least organized, I’ve just been like, “oh I ran for two-something hours once, I should be fine.” (Which is a painful marathon training strategy on race day. Don’t do this.)

But I’ve never followed an actual plan penned by an actual person-who-presumably-knows-what-they’re-talking-about.

Enter Pfitzinger.

Honestly, I’ve heard nothing but tales of success from this dude and his plans. And also, tales of pain and suffering: he’s big on mingling pace work with endurance work, so you’ll get, like, a workout where not only do you have to complete a 22 mile run, but you must do 16 miles at race pace.

Good god. Awful. But the marathon is kind of an awful distance so I see where Pfitz is going with that. He’s going for awful. Which is how you’ll feel on race day. Can’t argue.

When I ran CIM last December and finally broke my decade-old PR, I did it on higher (for me – most weeks in the 50s and 60s, peaking in the low 70s) mileage. It was a personal breakthrough that I needed to run a lot in order to succeed at running a lot. (Hey, I never claimed to be smart.) But my training was very disorganized and I remember thinking, especially a few months later, on the heels of this spring’s highly mediocre Gansett Marathon, that I could probably do amazing things if I combined higher mileage with disciplined workouts.

So when I ordered Advanced Marathoning last summer, it was totally with the Pfitz 70 (peaking at 70 MPW) plan in mind for this spring’s Boston.

And then I spectacularly failed in my mission to build up enough base to safely do that. I’ve been running on a 25 MPW level (which is low for me) for the last few months. I can’t really explain it; it has just felt like enough. (I knew it wasn’t, objectively, but for some unknown reason I was disinclined to increase my mileage.)

The first week of Pftiz 70 calls for 54 miles. It wasn’t going to happen.

So I downgraded. Pfitz 55 it is, then.

The plan started yesterday with a rest/XT day. Oh hey, I like this plan. Since it was pouring anyway, I had no qualms about going to the gym and doing an easy 3K row followed by some weights. (I really do want to keep up the weights during this training cycle, and one of the nice things about the 55 MPW plan is that most of the weeks have two – sometimes even three – rest/XC days. I can keep up my strength routine and not turn in to a marathoning pool of Jell-O like I did last spring. Sweet.)

Today was the plan’s first real workout: an 8-mile “Lactate Threshold” run. Those are fancy words for “grinding tempo.” That’s a concept I am very familiar with but have had little direct exposure to in recent months.

The tempo portion was prescribed as four miles to be run at 15K/half marathon pace. At first, I rolled my eyes: what the hell is that supposed to mean? But this is apparently a benchmark workout that repeats itself several times throughout the plan so I figured it would be worthwhile to take my best guess and set a baseline.

Although…half-marathon pace? Oof, I don’t even know right now. The last half marathon I ran was on Thanksgiving Day and I did a hangover-shuffle-jog for 13.1 miles and finished (respectably, actually, considering the circumstances) in 1:48. Real HMP would probably be closer to 7:30. 15K? Haven’t run once in years, but maybe 7:15?

I set those as my bounds and went after it.

Workout One in the bag as prescribed. In the interest of avoiding traffic lights, I headed to Piedmont Park and looped its various roads and paths for the tempo portion. And I’m happy to say that it was fun. After several months’ break, I’ll say (prematurely) that it feels great to run with a purpose again.

The rest of the week calls for base mileage and a 12-mile long run, with a weekly total of 32 miles. I can absolutely handle this. (Am excited about it, even. Yes, I’m excited about running! This is fantastic!)

Obviously, two days in, I have no regrets about downgrading plans. As much as I think running higher mileage helped me last fall/winter as and much as I would love to magically be in a place to do that right now, I know that I am not. 55 MPW healthy and happy is better than 75 MPW stressed out and hurting from taking on too much too fast.

And, of course, lucky you, readers! (If I have any left after being so sporadic the last few weeks!) I’ll be back in the habit of posting lots of meaningless splits and detailed workout recaps and other such nonsense. I promise. You’re…um…welcome?

How about a beer review to seal the deal? Although this is kind of a weird one.

It was a year ago, when I was still living in Raleigh, that I purchased this bottle. I bought it from the impulse-buy rack on the way to the cash register at a wine store. Without really looking at it.

As it turned out, I’d bought a piece of Stone’s Vertical Epic Series, an annual release timed to the nifty-fun dates of our generation (10.10.10, 11.11.11, etc). Instructions on the label (which I read when I got home that night) are overt that the beer is meant to be consumed, at the earliest, on the date of the next vertical (i.e. a year and a month later). It was less clear whether collectors were supposed to have saved bottles from every year (awesome foresight, I guess) and host an ultimate vertical tasting with the release of the last beer in the series, this year on 12.12.12 (hey, that’t today!)

So I saved this Rogue Epic 11.11.11 bottle for a year. I wrapped it in bubble wrap and moved it from Raleigh to Atlanta. I gave it a precious cubby on our wine rack. And this last weekend, I drank it.

And it was just weird.

Sorry, but it was. Maybe I’ve gotten a little out of the beer game (which hasn’t stopped me from loving on my favorite Sierra Nevada Celebration one bit) but I thought this beer was…strange. Cayenne peppers. Weird semi-chocolate taste. Decent flavor, but disappointing body; there was little to no carbonation left in my bottle. Like drinking diluted Hershey’s syrup. Bleh.

Bottom line: doesn’t really matter because this beer is no longer for sale.  But if you happen to have a bottle that you’re breaking open, I’d love to hear your thoughts…part of me wonders if I just got a bad bottle?

Anyone else gearing up for spring training even though it barely seems like winter (at least here in Atlanta)? Like I said, I am not accustomed to following formal training plans so this definitely feels weird to me.   We’ll see how long I make it before I’m pushing Pfitz’s workouts all around the week to accommodate my OMGSOBUSY (or not) life.

On adjusting expectations

Um. One week from tomorrow, I am running a half marathon.

If it hasn’t been obvious from my (sporadic) posts – which have been either vaguely mopey or awkwardly lacking on the topic – the “plan” has not transpired. I have not been running 40-50 MPW (more like 20-30). I have not been consistent with my Tuesday track sessions and I certainly have not added a weekly tempo run. With respect to strength training and yoga, I have done okay, but progress on my hack squat and warrior three only go so far when it comes to racing 13.1 miles.

Honestly? I’ve considered giving away my bib. Waking up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving Day (a day which happens to involve hosting my husband’s entire family, all of whom are flying in from out of state) to half-ass a half marathon seems stupid.

But I think there is still something I can get out of this race, even if I’m not anywhere close to PR shape.

Namely: that I can use it as a tough-it-out marathon-pace run, giving me a baseline to determine what sort of shape I’m in as I go in to Boston training. I mean…Atlanta is hilly. Boston is hilly. If I can manage an 8:00 (or, if I’m having a good day, 7:45) pace for 13.1 on questionable training, that at least gives me something to go on when planning my Boston workouts.

So, that’s the goal: 1:45.

But truthfully, I won’t even be upset with 1:50. I really haven’t been putting the miles in these last few months, so why would I expect to be in shape? I am not in shape. I may be able to pull a decent 400/800 track workout out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean much when you’re talking about racing for over an hour.

And speaking of track workouts….I have decided to chill out a little bit lately. If I take on Boston training the way that I would like to (a la Pfitzinger), I’ll be doing lots of tough runs over the next few months. Right now should be base building and fun running. There is no reason to kill myself at the track.

So this week, I aimed for 80% performance.

We did 2 X [2X800, 2X400]

Instead of going balls out, I decided to try these at true 5K pace, which would mean 3:20 for the 800s and 1:35 for the 400s. That was tough; I’m used to chasing the 3:00 barrier on 800s and I haven’t run a 400 over 90 in a track workout in months.

800: 3:11, 3:14
400: 1:34, 1:33
800: 3:13, 315
400: 1:34, 1:32
 

That still exhausted me, even if I backed off of my usual pace targets. Also: it was dark and cold (by Atlanta standards) and there was a psycho bird that kept darting across the backstretch of the track as we ran by. (Seriously…I thought it was a rat until it took a brief flight during one lap-crossing.)

I have plenty of time to figuratively kill myself in the future with training and racing. This fall just hasn’t been my time for that. I haven’t put in the miles, and I have no one to blame for that but myself. I can’t expect race results that don’t reflect my training effort.

So: 1:45 (or 1:50) or bust. And a decadent Thanksgiving dinner afterward.

And thank jeebus that all discord has been solved in our house.

My husband recently switched computer/office bags and made the mistake of leaving his old one on the floor. This immediately became the Best Place To Sleep Ever and resulted in a knock-down drag-out fight between our two cats over who would roost there. I took the bag away and they’re fine now. Apparently, as they’re back to their yin-and-yang formation.

And if we are talking about political discord? I realize that my last post may have ruffled some feathers. I’d intended, in that brief post, to communicate my conviction that candidates (especially major party candidates) rarely represent the actual wishes of the voter, but that this isn’t a reason to abstain from the voting process.

Obviously you all know which angle I chose to approach that from when it came to the most recent election’s candidates.

I said this in the comments to that post and will say it again: if there is any political cohort about which it’s fallacious to assume stances or opinions, it’s the libertarians. I didn’t state any specific political/policy opinions in that post and I don’t plan to make that a focus of this blog, but I am happy to answer any questions or discuss via email [eatdrinkrun @ gmail].  Honestly, I expect that we are not as far apart as you think we are, assuming that you are coming at this from the “modern liberal”/Democrat point of view, which I assume most of you are…but I’m happy to chat with anyone of any political stripe.

[Insert analogy about third party candidates giving their all even though they know they will not win, and compare to my earlier statements about being able to gain something out of this half marathon even though I won’t come close to PRing, much less winning. Yes, I’m sure there is a parallel here.]

And with that, it’s bedtime for me.  I promise more beer reviews soon. We’re just about into my favorite beer season, with lots of Winter Warmers. I’m toasted just thinking about it.

You say Frittata, I say Give Me Two Hours

I’ll admit: my two-person household is not always totally organized when it comes to meal planning. There are a lot of one-off trips to the grocery store to gather ingredients for a particular meal.

The worst is when this happens during weekend breakfast/brunch. Because inevitably, it’s 10 AM and I’m starving.  Maybe I slept in because I stayed up too late the night before, or perhaps I’m exhausted because I’ve already been up and out on a long run, but regardless of the cause, it’s past breakfast time and I am effing HUNGRY.

“Let’s make a frittata,” my husband called to me from the sofa as I stumbled down the stairs at 9:30 this morning. (For the record, I actually wasn’t lushing it up on Saturday night. And 9:30 isn’t that late to sleep in my happy world.)

You…have a frittata recipe,” I challenged, pouring myself a cup of coffee. I thought to myself: what is a frittata, anyway? Frittatas are what I make when I screw up an omelette and try to spin the mangled results as intentional, right?

But he fired back: “Yes, I do.” And with a few taps on his laptop keyboard, he emailed me an Epicurious recipe.

Of course, we had to make a trip to the store for this. We had plenty of eggs – I eat eggs on the daily these days and we buy them in big Costco flats. We also had sweet potatoes, onions, sausage, and bell peppers. But we did not have fresh herbs or cheese…and I was not about to skip out on the cheese. That’s what turns eggs with meat and veggies in to breakfast pizza.

Between the trip to the grocery store and the various chopping and cooking steps that this recipe required, it was almost noon by the time we sat down to eat. But this frittata was so good that it was 100% worth it.

Recipe: Bacon and Potato Frittata via Epicurious. I subbed sausage for bacon and sweet potatoes for potatoes (nuked them in the microwave for a few minutes before chopping them up, because sweet potatoes always seem to take longer to cook than regular potatoes).

Seriously. SO GOOD. After we had stuffed ourselves, I divvied the rest up into breakfast portions for the rest of the week.

…and there’s a meal I don’t have to plan. See? My lack of organization works itself out. This frittata was totally worth a one-off trip to the store.

Although breakfast was served on the late side, it was a productive Sunday afternoon around here. I cleaned out the garage while my husband attacked our weeds with the mower. (I can’t, in good conscience, call our yard a “lawn.” It is weeds. And snakes and mice and spiders. Which is why I don’t like mowing it.)

Once the garage was spotless, I decided to go for an easy 5-mile run to round out the week:

Gotta admit, I don’t feel like I “only” ran 27 miles last week. After a hard leg workout at Boot Camp on Thursday, an intense upper body weight workout on Friday, and a long run (+ a holiday make-up Boot Camp) on Saturday, I was damn tired.

But one of my goals for this fall is to keep up strength work while training for the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving. And I need to remind myself that if I’m doing three 45-minute strength sessions a week, that’s the equivalent, time-wise, of running 15+ additional miles.

Not sure if that’s the right way to look at it, but for me, it seems like a good way to compare my level of fatigue from doing, say,  45 miles a week of running with zero strength training (which is basically what I was doing this past spring, and which lead to me being in crappy shape) to that of my current training.

Anyway. After my run today, I wanted nothing but to sit on the porch and wallow in my sweaty filth for a while, so naturally I cracked a beer:

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed Brooklyn Lager before. But this beer is actually one of my favorites. I’ll pick up a six-pack if we’re having company and I’m not sure if they’re beer drinkers: it’s easy-pleasing enough to serve an unknown audience but excellent in its own right, so you’ll enjoy it on your own if it doesn’t get consumed.

And sometimes, like when you’re covered in garage scum and sweat from an afternoon run, it’s the perfect thing to drink.

Billed as a “pre-prohibition” style lager, it has an amber, caramel-like color and much more flavor than your typical American lager.  But it’s not particularly dry or hoppy or bitter, and will please the vast majority of beer drinkers in any crowd. In short, it’s a safe yet enjoyable choice.

Bottom line: Yes! It may not be the most exciting beer, but I’d keep a pack of this in my fridge for easy drinking or serving to guests any time. (Purchased at Dekalb Farmers Market, $8/six)

Obviously, I’m much better at stocking my refrigerator with beer than I am with food.

Miles, slobber, beer

Thanks for all of your kind comments on my last post about my disgusting itchy feet. I almost didn’t post pictures because…well, they were disgusting and I realize that no one wants to be cruising through their Google Reader over their morning coffee and come across images of an internet stranger’s welty foot.

But it was too bizarre not to share, so I did.

Still not sure what exactly happened. As a few of you pointed out, it definitely could have been a reaction to poison ivy or poison oak or poison-something-else. That would be weird because we were camping in a sandy field and there weren’t many plants around, but who knows. Shady business, that Indiana.

Anyway, it’s better now and I went for a run today. Yay!

I ended up taking exactly a week off due to this rash/bite nonsense. Although it was unpleasant, I can’t say I am totally broken up about it. It was kind of nice to spend the holiday weekend being unabashedly lazy, especially since it was so hot out. Last week’s stats:

And for the month of August:

How’s that for a conservative mileage increase? I probably should be up closer to 150 with this half marathon on my docket, though. Oh well, I’ll get there.

Meanwhile, it’s been a really productive evening over here.

It’s difficult to get a photo that captures Parker’s Snaggletooth in all of its slobber-coated glory. But he has been extra clingy today and this rank drooly thing has been up in my business all night.

I’ve been smelly-slobbered on so much that I’m going to need a shower before bed.

And since it’s Wednesday and it’s been a while…beer!

I’ll admit that I bought this Ass Kisser Double IPA solely because of its moniker. I mean…obviously.

Ass Kisser Ales is the actual name of the brewery and apparently they’re in San Jose, CA. I’m of the opinion that if you come out of the gate with a name like that, you’d better be making some good, bold, in-your-face beers to back it up.

Sadly, though, this DIPA is pretty weak. I mean, it isn’t terrible, but the body is on the thin side with more bitter citrus and malt than hops. On the plus side, the 7.8% ABV is well masked: for a higher-gravity beer, it’s easy to drink. I just expect my DIPAs to be a little more…well, hoppy.

Bottom line: Buy this one for the label – I’m sure it would be a party hit. But don’t expect the flavor to pack the same punch as the name. (Purchased at Tower Beverage, $7/22oz)

Once again: thanks for putting up with my stupid “injuries” and lame whining. And I promise I’ll try to stop complaining about bugs…I realize I’ve been doing that a lot lately. In fact, throughout this post I have been resisting mention of the earwig (shudder) that I found in my bathroom* this morning.

Well, what can I say. Georgia has some serious bugs.

Eat, Drink, and Exterminate. It does have a certain ring to it, right?

*And then trapped under an empty water glass. With a towel thrown over the top. That thing will either starve to death or become someone else’s problem.

An eventful night in my bedroom

It’s Friday night. I have the house to myself and plans to attend a 12-mile run with a slightly-faster-than-me group on Saturday morning.

7:30 PM: I eat a delicious yet responsible dinner involving a juicy beef burger patty and lots of sweet potato fries. And I haven’t had a beer all week, so hot damn it’s about time.

[Meh. Avery Brewing’s White Rascal is a Belgian-style white (think Blue Moon). It’s the perfect thing to sip on a hot August night, but I was underwhelmed. It tasted kind of like an Arnold Palmer. 5.6% ABV.]

9:00 PM: I’ve burned through four of my expensive (but worth it, because they actually work) mosquito cones.

Also, there are probably cats in the kitchen agitating for dinner. Time to head inside.

9:15 PM: Beer number two is a Brooklyn Lager rummaged from the depths of the fridge. I sip it slowly while working on a new writing project that’s been banging around in my skull all week. I write almost 2,000 words, which makes me happy.

10:30 PM: Big glass of water. Teeth brushed, face washed, lights out. I congratulate myself for being a paragon of maturity and responsibility: sober, well-fed, plenty hydrated, and about to get a solid 8 hours of sleep before my morning run alarm.

11:30 PM: I am still awake.

12:30 AM: I am…still fucking awake.

12:45 AM: Just drifting off when I hear a thump. I mean…a THUMP. Wide awake again, with irrational visions of robbers and serial killers dancing in my head. Probably, it was one of the fat cats jumping down from a nocturnal romp on a banned countertop or something like that, but…

…OMG SERIAL KILLERS.

Wide, wide awake.

1:00 AM: I consider turning on the TV but the remote is out of reach. I grab my phone instead and spend the next 45 minutes reading the entire internet.

1:45 AM: I pop a melatonin, turn on the Pandora sleep station, and set the my sleep timer app for 30 minutes. Roll over and finally….

2:45 AM: There’s a baby crying in the hallway and it wakes me up. WTF?

Wait, it’s just the cat and her Baby Wail.

A couple of years ago, Emmy started doing this super creepy thing where she meows and it sounds just like a human baby crying. We have no idea where she picked it up. Apparently it’s an actual thing and it’s called a “manipulative meow” (charming), but I avoid crying human babies at all costs so I don’t know how she learned it. Unless imitating a dying infant is, like, embedded in her genetic code or something. Which I would have to admit is pretty badass.

Emmy only does the Baby Wail in one specific circumstance: at night, outside our bedroom door, when it is closed. And come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen her do it. (She’s just…there when one of us inevitably open the door.) So it’s possible she’s a supernatural shape-shifter of some sort.

In either case: you win, cat. 

2:50 AM: I get up to open the bedroom door.

To my surprise and relief, Emmy immediately curls up beside me and goes to sleep instead of prancing on my bladder or kneading my face or drinking out of my water glass or finding a plastic bag to lick compulsively.

3:00 AM: Emmy’s supernatural powers apparently extend into the thermonuclear realm. In just a few minutes, she’s managed to raise the temperature in the bed by about seven hundred degrees. I get up and switch on the ceiling fan.

3:15 AM: Still awake.

I consider wine. Or vodka. Or NyQuil. This is miserable.

I’m still thinking that I might actually get up for that 7 AM run, though. I mutter a complaint to the snoring cat (bitch), reach for my phone, and punch the icon for this white noise app that I downloaded a long time ago but have rarely used.

3:45 AM: White noises are obnoxious. I turn the app off. I give up on running and deactivate my alarm. It ain’t gonna happen on fewer than three hours of sleep.

[insert long pause here]

10:05 AM: I wake up, fully rested and refreshed.

My running group has been done for 90 minutes now.

FML. Glad I got some sleep, though.

[insert dramatic pause before postscript here]

Yes, I know I’m being whiny. Yes, I know I could’ve sucked it up and gone to run anyway. Yes, I know that my anxiety about running farther and faster than I have in months is probably what kept me up in the first place. Yes, I know your small infant kept you up all night and you can just-wait-until-you-have-kids me all you want but I already have a fucking cat that meows like a baby which is way creepier so there.

Basically, what I’ve taken away from this is that being reasonable and responsible doesn’t pay.

Remind me of that next weekend when I’m attempting a Saturday morning run after an indulgent dinner and a bottle of wine.

At the very least, being in a drunken food coma is a good way to guarantee sleep.

Two strong beers and a weak one

Lately, I’ve faced a daily choice of studying GRE math problems or pulling weeds in the (now thoroughly moqsuito-treated) yard. I’ve been opting for the latter…and actually enjoying it. Perhaps I have a future in manual labor. My college professors would be so proud.

Also:

Still boot-camping and running around 20-25 miles a week. That doesn’t make for very interesting workout posts, so you can just take my word for it.

Still eating lots of protein and (mostly) avoiding shitty carbs. I’ll do a post about that at some point…still deciding what I think about it.

Still not really dropping any weight and my body fat/muscle percentages have hit a standstill (at 22% and 40%, respectively), but that’s okay. I’m pretty happy with how I look and feel at this point. I’m going to continue the whole boot-camp-and protein-focused-diet thing through August, at which point it will be time to start thinking about doing some real running again.

Anyway. Let’s talk about beer? We’ll start with something easy:

(I was sure I must’ve reviewed Magic Hat’s Elder Betty in the past, but I can’t find anything in my horribly organized “archives.” Go figure.)

The fruity wheat. Not my favorite style of beer, yet somehow it keeps finding its way in to my fridge. And from there, it’s a short leap to a frosty glass on a sunny porch.

There are certainly worse ways to spend a summer afternoon.

The body’s a little thin and the berry thing is gimmicky, but overall the Elder Betty is an enjoyable beer. I prefer my wheat beers a bit more on the thick and hazy side, but I’d buy this to serve at a party. It would have broad appeal and be more interesting than Bud Light or whatever. At 5.5% ABV, it’s a great choice for day drinking.

Bottom Line: Nothing earth-shattering, but enjoyable. (Purchased at Mac’s Beer and Wine, $11/6)

From a sessiony wheat, let’s move on to a boozy Belgian:

I speak from experience: if you’ve had a horrible day, sipping a glass of the super strong and slightly sweet Trappistes Rochefort 10 will make it better.

The Trappist monks at the Abbey de Notre Dame de Saint-Remy in Rochefort, Belgium brew just three beers: Rochefort 6 (a Belgian Strong ale), Rochefort 8 (a Dubbel), and the Rochefort 10 (a Quad).

I haven’t tried the 6 or the 8, but I’ll say this about the 10: it is out-of-this-fucking-world good.

I picked up this bottle several months ago. I carefully packed it and moved it with me to Atlanta, and it’s been sitting in my fridge ever since. Just waiting for the kind of crappy day that would make me be all like, DAMN IT ALL TO HELL, I’M DRINKING THE EXPENSIVE ONE!

And it really did make my day 3000% better. It’s that good.

After pouring a rich brown, the first thing you notice about this beer is its smell: like earthy candy, with dried cherries and molasses and caramel and chocolate-covered raisins, but the kind from an expensive chocolate shop and not, like, Raisinettes or whatever. Before I even took a drink, I could tell there was a lot going on in this beer.

The flavor echoed the aroma, with a perfect punch of boozy heat (surprisingly gentle, considering the 11.3% ABV) at the end of each sip. Sweet, but not at all sticky. With a nice thick body and such wonderfully complex flavors, it was very much like drinking dessert. I savored every drop in that bottle.

Bottom line: YES X 1000. One of the best beers I’ve ever consumed. A bit tricky to find and definitely pricy, but worth buying if you see it. Ages well. (Purchased at Tasty Beverage, Raleigh NC, $9/11 oz)

And because I’m apparently trying to get the most bang for my buck these days, here’s another strong one:

A whole-cone Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada: the Hoptimum.

Side note: I’m starting to have trouble keeping track of all of these hoppy wordplay beer names. Hopsecutioner. Hoptical Illusion. Hoptimus Prime. Hop NotchModus Hoperandi. ApriHop. And I’m sure there are many more that I can’t recall. Cute and clever, but also feeling rather overdone. Enough!

Anyway. I forgive Sierra for the cheeky name because the Hoptimum is a solid beer.

It is, of course, very hoppy and puckery. Its IBU rating clocks in at a hefty 100, beating the brewery’s other IPA offerings (Celebration Ale at 65 IBU; Torpedo at 70). But stick around past the first bite of bitterness and you’ll be rewarded with a nice balance of pine, citrus and caramel flavors which linger through a dry finish. The high alcohol content (10.2% ABV) is noticeable, but not unpleasant.

Bottom line: An excellent choice for hop lovers, and certainly a worthy contender in the arena of ever bigger, bolder, and boozier IPAs.  (Purchased at Greene’s, $10/4.)

Writing this post has made me very thirsty. That’s a dangerous thing to be, mid-afternoon, mid-week.

I’d better get back to that yard work.

The Worst Beer in the History of the World

Please tell me I am not the only one who did this in her younger days.

That is: you cut off the edge of a big watermelon and scooped out the innards, leaving a melon cauldron of sorts, and dumped in a bottle of cheap vodka. You added some Sprite, pilfered from the dining hall. You allowed it to marinate for a couple of days. Then, you poured a nice big glass over ice, expecting it to taste like a Jolly Rancher. Instead, you discovered that watermelon-plus-booze is a foul combination. (But you and your friends probably consumed it anyway because, hey – you weren’t going to let a $15 bottle of Monarch go to waste.)

No? Just me?

You could be forgiven for repressing such a memory, as I apparently did when I picked up a six pack of watermelon-flavored beer a couple of weeks ago.

WATERMELON-FLAVORED BEER. I know. A lapse in judgment on my part.

I never would have given 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon a second look if I didn’t have quite a bit of respect for the brewery. Their standard IPA is solid and their Back in Black Ale is excellent. I figured that they wouldn’t bother releasing something undrinkable. I figured wrong.

It is, in fact, the Worst Beer in the History of the World.

(Possibly.)

Strike One: The first time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, it was a sunny Friday afternoon and I was refinishing some furniture.

(Side note: I refinish furniture now. It’s, like, a thing. I enjoy it immensely even though it’s probably the worst use, ever, of my time. It took me three weeks to spruce up a pair of nightstands that I probably could have purchased new for under a hundred bucks.)

Anyway. I had been working on my project for a couple of hours and was parched, so I took a big swig of this beer, right out of the can.

I was not expecting it to taste like rotten ass, and hence, I nearly spit it out – which totally would have ruined my primer job and made me hate this beer even more. But I choked it down. Barely.

Unable to find words for what I’d just experienced, I tossed the rest of the can and resolved to try the beer again later. Maybe the paint fumes were messing with my head.

Strike Two: The second time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, I enlisted help.

Some friends were over and we were having drinks on our roof deck. I stated my hypothesis – that I’d discovered the Worst Beer in the History of the World – and begged them to try it and tell me whether or not I was crazy. I brought up a can and passed it around.

Paying more attention this time, I was able to better grasp the specific qualities that made me want to retch. Hell or High Watermelon starts out fine: you take a drink, and it tastes like a normal light beer, crisp and bubbly and a little bready. But then it hits you: this very faint fake watermelon flavor that tastes like…perfume. Fake watery watermelon perfume. Perfume that would be marketed to tweens in a bright pink plastic bottle. And sold at Sears.

The consensus around the table seemed to be more “meh” than “oh my god you have indeed found the Worst Beer in the History of the World, someone should probably pay you a bunch of money for this making groundbreaking discovery.

But no one thought it was actually good. Or if they did, they were too polite to interrupt my impassioned anti-watermelon rant to say so.

And I’ll admit this: the can was polished off, by someone, at some point that evening. Hmm. So I guess the jury’s out on whether I’m crazy.

Strike Three: The third time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, I did it to be absolutely sure.

Calling something the Worst Beer in the History of the World is an act that shouldn’t be taken lightly, so I gave it one last chance. Today, actually, over lunch. I poured it in to a proper pint glass and sipped it like it was an aged barleywine, pausing between tastes to stick my nose in the glass, trying to pick up a scent that might somehow enhance the beer’s flavor.

Um…nope. Still tasted like watery fake-watermelon perfume. Still disgusting.

Three strikes. You’re out, Hell or High Watermelon.

Bottom line: Hell to the no. What were you thinking, 21st Amendment? (Purchased at Greene’s Beverage, $10/6)

Lesson learned. Watermelon and booze don’t mix.

Or I guess I should say: learned again. Because apparently I have the World Memory in the History of the World.

Anyway. I’ve got three cans left if anyone wants them. I won’t be drinking this again come hell or high…something.

Pretty sure that’s not what they mean when they say Free Weights

For the last two weeks, I’ve been unintentionally scamming the LA Fitness down the street from me. I keep trying to give them my money, and they keep refusing to take it.

As as example: today marked the sixth occasion on which I’ve been a visitor. So like a good honest citizen, I strolled in this morning with my credit card in hand, ready to settle up.

“I’ve been coming here on a visitor’s pass and I’d like to go ahead and join,” I said, tapping the card on the Lysol-scented counter. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried to get my application processed. Let’s keep this simple, I thought.

“Okay, what’s your membership number?” said the girl behind the counter.

UM.

“I don’t have one yet. I’m hoping you can give me one,” I smiled hopefully.

At which point the attendant began to tap extensively on her computer’s keyboard and frown at its screen, as if she were trying to rebook my missed connection to Timbuktu, or perhaps transcribe the IRS code in to Russian.

After several minutes of this, she stopped abruptly and informed me that her computer wasn’t working, and that I could go ahead and work out and we’d deal with it next time I came in.

Okaaaaaay. I tucked my method of payment back into my purse and proceeded toward the locker room. Is it just me, or have I entered some sort of bizarro LA Fitness Super Opposite Backwards World? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones harassing me about membership?

Anyway.

I had a good workout this morning, and maximized the value of the time I hadn’t paid for by spending a whole 75 minutes at the gym, with most of it in the weight room.

All of this strength training is sure paying off…

Gah. But I know. These things don’t happen overnight.

Here’s what last week’s workouts looked like:

Around 20 miles of running (some of it pretty slow, because I’m kinda sore from all of this other crap), two lifting sessions, and two yoga classes.

And one good beer:

Okay, I had more than one of these. Probably why that scale isn’t moving.

This beer was a worthy expenditure of junk calories, though! Sweetwater’s spring seasonal, the Road Trip Pilsner, runs right over (ha) the notion that the Pils is a boring style of beer. A nice bready backbone leads the way, then turns it over to more nuanced flavors (a touch of bitter lime? fresh cut grass?) before giving you a nicely carbonated finish. An excellent example of a quenching, warm-weather beer that isn’t totally watered down or wheated out. 5.2% ABV.

Bottom line: I’ll definitely be stocking this as long as it’s around! (Purchased at Target, $10/6)

Time to go make a healthy dinner (boring) and drink water (double boring).

Summer (Running) Break

I don’t think anyone will ever accuse me of not loving running. It’s a hobby, a lifestyle, a habit, an ingrained part of my everyday routine without which life would be very different.

But I’ll be damned if I don’t want a little break every once in a while.

I think it’s natural to finish a big event like a marathon and feel such a rush that you want to keep go, go, going. I’ve felt that pull myself, in the past. But I can honestly say that during the week following Gansett, at no point did I feel the urge to go out and run.

On Sunday, a week out, I decided to test the waters with an easy 4-miler. It felt…okay. And by that I mean it felt like exercise. Exercise isn’t always fun. Sometimes, it’s something that you endure for 35 minutes so you can get on with your day.

When thinking about what comes next, fitness-wise, I’m certain about a few things:

  • I’m not going to run another marathon until Boston 2013 (I’m assuming I won’t have a problem with entry);
  •  I don’t want to spend the next few months hating the South because it’s a terrible place to run in the summertime, because other than the horrible summer running season, I really like it here;
  • I should try to lose 5-10 pounds (of excess body fat);
  • I need to build some strength in my core and back, as they tend to be the first things that tire during any type of endurance event.

So I’m not going to stop running, but I am going to take my mileage down considerably over the next four months and focus more on other activities. I tried to do something similar last summer with my stint of HEAT classes, but in retrospect, I never fully gave myself permission to et go of the weekly mileage chase and just engage in what was most enjoyable and beneficial at the time, given the hot/humid weather.

I’m not a huge planner, but in my head this looks something like 20 miles a week of running, with several other workouts mixed in. It’s the Summer (Running) Break:

  • 2 days of vinyasa yoga (god damn you, yoga racket)
  • 1-2 days of strength training
  • 1 track workout (5-6 miles total, 400s or 800s)
  • 1 “long” run (probably not more than 10 miles, maybe less, and done more for the social aspect than anything else)
  • 1-2 other easy efforts – base run or swim or whatever I feel like

That’s 5-6 days or exercise per week with only 2-4 days of running. It’s been quite a while since I ran that infrequently. But I’m looking forward to mixing it up a bit and sitting out the most unpleasant time of the year for outdoor running around these parts.

I am also looking forward to losing this marathon chub. Seriously…I know I’ve probably been doing it wrong (I think I spent my spring eating and drinking at 70 MPW rates while actually running 40 MPW) but it seems so unfair. I just ran a distance event at a respectable pace and somehow, according to my jeans, I am in the worst shape of my life.

I’ve got my work cut out for me.

But don’t worry. Even as I cut back, I’ll never give up on my beloved beer entirely. If it’s a choice, I’d rather have beer than dessert.

This Mugshot IPA from Georgia’s local Jailhouse Brewery exceeded anything a brownie sundae could bring to the table.

Lots of hops and a smooth, just slightly floral finish made this beer a delight to drink over a plate of caprese salad and thin-crust pizza. A subtle touch of citrus gave it a fresh-squeezed flavor that can sometimes be overpowered by the hoppy and/or perfumy element in IPAs.

Bottom Line: I’d never heard of Jailhouse before, but given my experience with this IPA, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for their other offerings!  If you’re in GA, give it a shot! (Restaurant pint $5, 6.7% ABV)

Alright, time for bed! Thanks for all of your well wishes on our new home; its a lot of work, but I’m not complaining one bit. And if you’re ever in Atlanta, we’d love to have you over for a rooftop drink!

All quiet

I love writing, but sometimes I feel like I have a limited supply of words to lay down. And unfortunately, I’ve had precious few of them left over for blogging over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been working really hard on this other writing project. Okay…that’s an exaggeration. I’ve been intending to work really hard on this other writing project while being constantly distracted by Draw Something (user name: shelbyvanpelt – and no, I’m not very good at in spite of my love for MSPAINT, but it’s highly entertaining nonetheless.)

In any case, you haven’t missed much. For instance, I calculated my March mileage and it was ho-hum.

Starting the month off with a foot tweak and a bad bout of flu, I knew I wasn’t going to hit the 200+ mark, but still…I didn’t really bounce back from that like I should have.

This past week involved a lot of easy running. No speed work, and not even a real long run.

To be completely honest, I feel like I’ve already moved on from this marathon, and I’ve been spending way too much time thinking about all of the things that I want to do post marathon. Other fitness-y things that aren’t running. Because I love running, but I feel like I have a limited number of miles to give, and I’ve been coming up short all spring.

Gah. I’m just all out of sorts lately!

You know what will help with that…

Red Brick is one of the local craft breweries here, and I recently picked up a pack of their HopLanta IPA. Hoppier than a bullfrog with a stubbed toe, the label claims. Cute.

So I wasn’t blown away by this beer, but it wasn’t bad either. I’d call it medium hoppy, with a good dose of breadiness and not so much bitterness. Easy drinking and enjoyable. I expect it tastes better when served fresh from the tap on a warm patio on a summer afternoon…as opposed to out of a bottle from my fridge. 6.7% ABV.

Bottom line: Standard IPA that performs well at the local/regional level. (Purchased at Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market, $8/6)

So I want to get back to writing here daily or at least several times  a week, because I miss having that daily ritual…what should I write about? Are there any controversial topics in the running and/or booze world about which you’re dying to hear my uninformed opinion? No? How about random questions for a FAQ/NAQ? Fire away, friends.