Tag Archives: review

Running updates and new minimalist shoes

trueglove2So I noticed my last running update was nearly a year ago, and thought it overdue to bring things up to speed.

I’ve kept up with the running, and have managed to get an official half marathon under my belt.  After the 10K I ran last May, I continued to push myself and grow my mileage each time bit by bit, and mile by mile.

I ran a few more races, including another 10K in the fall, and then signed up to commit to a half marathon.  13.1 miles and the near equivalent of a 21K.

Despite my planning, training, and the countless blisters, the half ended up getting canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.  It was frustrating, but my problem wasn’t nearly as bad as those who lost homes, cars, or lives so I took solace in that.  Despite the cancellation I ran a nice circuit around town and managed to achieve my goal time of a hair under 2 hours total.  And I do mean a hair, as the final time came in at 1:59:51.

Once the cool winter weather rolled in my shoes went into the closet, and didn’t see the light until late March.

Getting myself back up to speed took some time, but I began slow with a 6 mile loop, and again worked my way up.

2 weeks ago, on May 5th, I ran my official half marathon.  This was the same lcoation as my first 10K – the Redding Road Race for the Cows.  Again there were hills galore, but I managed to tough through it, and in better time than I expected as I was still ramping my mileage up.  I didn’t break the 2 hour mark, but came decently close at 2:06, and a better time than the lower 43%.

So with that under my belt, I have a handful more half marathons to run this year, plus a Tough Mudder and Super Spartan.  More than enough to keep the twinkle in my eye, and the rolls off my belly :)

I’m finding I am at a new level now.  It is actually pretty cool because I’m the kind of guy that likes mixing it up.  When I plan my routes, I typically do so using either mapmyrun.com or Gmap Pedometer.  Not only can it tell me how to get from A to B, but how far, so I can plan out a 9 mile run, a 5 mile quickie or a 13 miler for the weekends if I’m up for it.

Lately I’ve been plugging in a wide circle starting from my home, around 9-10 miles, but the best part… I don’t care about where it goes.

What I mean is that I feel like I have finally gotten to a plateau where I can run anywhere – hills or flat, and I love a route that takes me on meandering tours (like my meandering blog post.)  The other day I found roads that take me past no less than 5 farms, and all the beauty that they hold.  The wide expanses of fields, the picturesque fences filled with animals, and the rise of the hills overlooking the opposite side and all the greenery I love to enjoy.

It is a really, really good feeling :)

I’m also finding that using the minimalist shoes I like so much, are more dependent on proper lacing.  Over time it seems I’ve pulled the laces tighter and tighter each time I put them on, leaving no wiggle room as my feet naturally expand when I hit the pavement in the rhythm the music beats out over my headphones.  So in turn, the shoes rub, the blisters grow, and I hobble just a bit more a day or two after the run.  I’m sure it affects my gait, and proper form, and now the shoes I’ve been using have burned out barely a year later.

I spent time figuring out which ones are best suited for me, as I often do with entirely too much time sorting out the balance between cost, quality, needs and desires.  In the end, I chose an updated version of the shoes I already use and enjoy.  From the Merrell True Glove to the Merrell Flux Glove .  I’m not the only one who loves these shoes either, as many reviews rate them at or near the top of minimalist rankings.  An updated outsole, liner, and footplate that better suit mid to fore foot strikes, all tell me they should work out great.

To the pavement!!  {insert batman whoosh}MerrellFlux3

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To Bock – Or Dopplebock??

So for no reason at all, I’ve been on a Bock kick for the last few weeks.

I think the weather had something to do with it.  A few warmer days had come and gone, the piles of replenishing snow had nearly disappeared, and new stock on the shelves.

Bock beers are traditionally made German style for the spring.  Its a nice refreshing change from the darker beers you drink in the winter months, but enough sharpness to make you click your tongue.

This year I thought, I’ll see how many I can try.  Bocks seem to e divided in 3 ways.  You have the golden bocks, amber bocks, and dopplebocks.  These tend to have richer deeper flavor as it darkens into the dopplebocks (double strength).  If you take your traditional lager, and brew it longer with additional malts and hops, you’ve got a Bock.

Of all of them, the two I picked up first ended up my favorites – Sierra Nevada Glissade and Einbecker Mai-Ur-Bock.  Both golden types and both just make you smack your lips after it snakes past your tonsils.  The Einbecker was a tad lighter in the glass, but plenty of flavor regardless. Though the german brand is much harder to come by than the Sierra Nevada.

Beyond that came the canned Naragansett in a close third, followed by the Yuengling, Leinenkugel and the Anchor.

Both the Naragansett and the Anchor surprised me the most here.  The Naragansett more because it was more of a stronger, tastier craft style (6.5%ABV), and that their only other beer I’ve come across was a weak lager in a Budweiser vein.

The Anchor more because it was disappointing.  I had read some other reviews, and lots of people liked it.  Me?  Kind of – meh.  Darker than I would expect of a Bock, and easily dark enough to be a dopplebock, but without the higher ABV.

On to the Dopplebocks!  These are like the bigger bolder cousins.  Think about what the monks had done for lent back in the day, when they gave up everything and survived on this beer style alone.  (Just like this guy)

I’ve tried a few here and there in the past, with Aventinus being one of the best examples, along with Smuttynose S’Muttinator. But I was looking for ones that were more unknown to me so I tried these three.

As with much of the Victory beers, I enjoyed their version the best.  A deep well rounded dark lager you slow pour into a wide glass, and slowly smiled at.

The Sam Adams was good, but I like some of their other Imperial series beers representing better.  The Hooker?   Not bad.  Not great either, but a good beer nonetheless in a stronger package (that’s what SHE said).

So there you have it.  Just my humble opinion.  Find some.  Drink some.  Come up with your own conclusions – I think you’ll enjoy the trip :)

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A visit to Beer Nirvana (aka Halftime, my favorite beer store)

So while I typically am not a fan of driving an hour and a half away for work, every once in a while there are the perks.

For the few clients and times I head into Poughkeepsie NY, I get to go to Halftime Beverage.

To be honest I had never heard about the place until I happened to pass by it on a previous client visit into the area.  The enormous bottlecap logo was the draw, and I’m always on the lookout for a good beer store.

So what makes a good beer store in my mind?

A combination of selection, prices, options, and a staff that knows their beer.  At Halftime, they’ve got it covered.  You laugh at the door sign, until you’re hooked too :)

Halftime BeersNot only do they have a few thousand beer varieties available, you get it all for a decent price (not full retail).  They have the occasional sale, size options like a 6 pack or the big boy 22 ounce, but perhaps the best of all, is that you can get every bottle as a single.

I can’t say how many times I’ve just wanted to try a beer, without committing to the cost of a whole six pack.   Usually when I do it works out, but sometimes I get god awful stuff like the Blueberry Sour beer I got last summer – yeugh!  This way I get to try out the entire line of Dogfish Head, all at the price of a single six pack of theirs :)

Another topper is that they’ll give you a free beer glass if you spend somewhere north of $50 too.  Not sure of the exact amount, but lets just say I’ve gotten one every time…

So here was my shopping list this time around:

  • Affligem Tripel
  • Sly Fox Ibcubus
  • Sierra Nevada Glissade
  • Abita Abbey Ale
  • San Miguel Dark
  • Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
  • Dogfish Head Old School
  • Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere De Garde
  • Goose Island Pere Jacques
  • Goose Island Bourbon Stout
  • Goose Island Nut Brown
  • Goose Island Honkers Ale
  • Troegs Troegenator Doublebock
  • Troegs Hop Back Amber
  • Troegs Rugged Trail Brown

Can you tell I was on a brown ale kick this time? :)

I HIGHLY recommend the Goose Island Pere Jacques.  The one they have there is the Dubbel 2007 bottle, and having aged 2 1/2 years it is unbelieveable, complex, flavorful, and one tasty brew.

FYI, my other favorite stores are Stew Leonards Discount Liquor in Danbury CT, Mountview Wines in Naugatuck CT,  and Fairground Liquor by the airport in Danbury CT.

Any others you can recommend?  Share please!

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BrewFest Was A Success! (Kind Of)

Waterbury BrewFest (YouTube Clip)Yours Truly

So I managed to not only survive the Beerfest, but skillfully avoided getting far too loaded to drive home (unlike the shmoe who got a takedown 15 seconds after I took his picture)

Overall I had a good time.  Here’s my take:

Liked:

  • Samples, samples, samples.  They didn’t have everything I was hoping for, but I found a few new drafts  I’ll have to get again.  Schmaltz He~Brew ReJewvenator, Sea Dog Pumpkin, Heavy Seas Hang Ten Doppelbock, and Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter.
  • Getting to talk to the brewers (when available).  When the lines were lighter and they weren’t too busy refilling they were more than willing to talk up their lines.  Good to hear more Ten Penny Special Reserve is on the way, and I’ll be on the lookout for new River Horse shortly.Buddy!!

Didn’t Like:

  • The entry line.  What’s the point of buying online if they lump you allWaiting to get in... together anyway?  Sure I was guaranteed to get in, but after I pay an online handling fee, I’m saving all of $2 to get in the door 20 minutes after Johnny-On-The-Spot (who had a separate shorter line)
  • Not enough beer! I was hoping to try more of the beers I wanted to sample, but didn’t want to commit to a whole 6 pack to if they were not what I was expecting.  Maybe I was hoping it would be more like an entire free beer store, but it was more like a smaller selection.  I was hoping for Sam Adams Big Beers, Harpoon Leviathan, or the Sam Smiths Yorkshire Stingo.  Better yet I wanted to try the lead product from Blue Point, their Toasted Lager.  Sam Adams brought only sample A and sample B for a taste test, Harpoon had nothing more than their usual rack stuff, and all I saw of Sam Smiths was a single empty bottle of porter.  Blue Point ran out, as did many of the brewers barely half-way through the fest.  There were a few others in the Belgium tent I’d never seen before, but what good is that if I don’t see them in my usual stores?
  • Pourers without a clue. While many of the brewers knew of what was coming, or what made their beer so darn good, there were at least 3 that were little more than a man with a bottle who was told to keep pouring until he ran out.  And they knew nothing about the beer, the lines, or even where the brewery was based sometimes.  I wanted to get some info and was disappointed too many brewers just wanted to wing it and hoped the samples would speak for themselves.
  • Where’s the schwag!? One brewer brought a single TShirt for display behind him.  Others had plenty, but you had to shell out $20 a pop.  A few had stickers or product line flyers, but too many had nothing more than beer coasters to take home.  How about a discounted “fest-only” hat?  Would it kill them to have a “guess the amount of hops in the jar” game for some glassware?

Some drunkMaybe I had expectations too high, or maybe I had them just about right.  In either case I still had a good time, though I’m hoping they can improve it for next year.  My taste buds will have gotten sharper too so look out!  If it all follows as it has been, it’s been growing nearly double in size every year.  I say the more the merrier :)

Just try to get home a little straighter than this guy.

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Brew Review – Summertime Wheat Times Four

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

RiverHorse-DoubleWit

Ever since I found more in the beer stores than in the supermarkets, I’ve been drawn to the summer wheats.

A nice heartier drink that just makes you smile as you gulp it down.  All the more so when its nice and cool, and you’re hot and thirsty.

Since I drank a number of these all at once I figured I’d group it together into one review for comparison.

Sierra Nevada – Kellerweis.  A nice honey color much like the rest in this category.  I was drawn to this thanks to a review in Chow magazine, but in part because I like Sierra Nevadas in general.  It had a nice unfiltered, foamy head.  The flavor had citrus tones to itIpswich-SummerAle, and there was BoulderBeer-SweatyBettysomething to this one that made me say “Give me more!”

River Horse – Double Wit.  Not a true summer beer in that it was made just for the season, but it falls into this group anyway.  When I first tried this I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  Maybe it was the higher 7.4%ABV, or maybe it was what I had just eaten at the time that it didn’t match with.  It is definately more of a true Belgian style wheat than the more mass produced ones.  I had it again a few days later and it was a far better experience.   I loved the rolling cloudy bits floating in the foam.  The scent was much stronger too with the citrus and light spicing.   I think it lent itself more to the role as a great beer when you’re in the mood for a beer when you’re hot and thirsty.  Pretty much what you’re looking for in a summer beer.

Ipswich – Summer Ale.  I love their oatmeal stout so I figure I’d give this a try when I saw it on the singles rack.  I’m not really into the taste of IPAs, and this was more in that realm.  If you like IPAs I’m sure you’d be loving this, but as I’m not – I wasn’t.  The over hoppy tones erased any other stand out in the beer for me.  Otherwise it wasn’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll pick this one up again.

Last, but definately not least was the Boulder Beer – Sweaty Betty.  This was a great brew.  They classify this as an American Pale Wheat.  It had a nice tang that you get with a pale ale with the hops, but not overly strong to take away from the rest.   It was only slightly fruity with not as much of a strong flavor as the others, which made it harder to tell whether it was orange, lemony or something else.  Whatever it was I’m liking it.  A really good mix of flavors, and overall probably my favorite of the group.  I’ll be on the lookout for more from their lineup.

Try some for yourself.  1 month to the Octoberfests!

River Horse Double Wit (4pack only) PP6Pack = $11.98

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis PP6Pack = $9.99

Boulder Beer Sweaty Betty PP6Pack = $8.99

Ipswitch Summer Ale PP6Pack = $7.25

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Brew Review – Avery Samael’s

AverySamaelOne of three they’ve deemed part of ‘The Demons of Ale.’

Can’t say I’ve tried any others, but this one was pretty damn good.

When I walked up to the cashier he asked me if I had tried it before, and when I said I hadn’t he asked “Do you like full beers?”  I had an idea of what to expect from right then on.

It’s definately a strong beer – 14.5% ABV.  My wife thought it was a liquor when she tried a taste.

Much of its flavor supposedly comes from oak barrel aging.  Its very rich, and somewhat syrupy.  There are some caramel tones along with vanilla, with a great smell and spice to it.

I thought it had just the right amount of hops, which Avery says is one of the least in their lineup.

The color is great too, though the picture doesn’t show it too well with a nice cloudy reddish brown.

I’ve heard good things of Avery Brewing, and if this is any hint I’ll have to give their others a try too.

Definately recommended if you like a full bodied beer.

Only available in singles.  PP6Pack = $27

AverySamael02

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River Horse ESB

RiverHorse-ESB (Small) Ahhh River Horse.  So we meet again.  :)

This is their ESB Special Ale.

I’d have to say the closest mainstream is a Sam Adams.

A nice carmel color, with a great smell to it.  It goes down as easy as you might think.

Though I don’t know about the ABV – so you might want to take it easy.

The cost is a little on the higher end for a six pack, but not by much, and I would have to say worth it.

PP6Pack = $10.99

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1st Post – Welcome to the beer

Iron Horse Tripel MMmmm… so good.

I came across this one after cringing on the prices of 6 packs.  But when you’re looking at the larger 22oz on up, they run from $5.99 on up.  Doing the math this comes out to nearly $20 for a six pack.  So if you’re going to get a quality pack, anything less than $20 is a deal – and boy is this one worth it.

River Horse Tripel.  i’m a fan for sure.

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