Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trail Running, Snow & Sunshine

A coating of snow fell on the area the other night. By morning the clouds had rolled back while the temperature shot into the upper 30's, making for a pleasant run on wet snow which sparkled on the trees with steam rising up as it melted.

Friday, December 2, 2016

New Belgium Spiced Imperial Dark Ale

It must be winter, as most of the best new releases are spiced. Today's review of New Belgium's limited edition Spiced Imperial Dark Ale is no exception. Brewed in collaboration with Anne-Francoise, this beer is brewed with spruce tips, dry-hopped, and aged on white oak spirals. The final product comes in at 9.5%ABV and a smooth 30IBU.

"Va D'Or, the valley of gold. It's in this pastoral corner of Belgium that elegant stone buttresses and sun-kissed statues mark Orval Abbey, producers of one of the finest golden beers in the world, Orval. Valley of gold, indeed. For our final Lips of Faith collaboration this year, we teamed up with Orval brewmaster Anne-Fran├žoise Pypaert to craft a counterpart to the classic golden ale: Spiced Imperial Dark Ale. 
This bold beer's brewed with layers of specialty malts, dry-hopped with herbal French Strisselspalt, and spiced with citrusy grains of paradise and spruce tips. We then steeped toasted American oak spirals in the beer for two weeks, bringing a subtle spicy, vanilla flavor to tie the chocolaty malts and citrus spices together."

Upon pouring, this pale brown imperial is surprisingly delicate. I am reminded, somewhat of the brewer's, nutty, bready, Fat Tire amber ale though with hints of spruce and subtle oak layered in. But as the beer warms a bit of astringency and alcohol which should mellow over time, begin to reveal themselves. Look also for notes of cherry hidden in the nose, and perhaps a bit of tobacco on the pallet, along with trace amounts of that spicy/peppery Belgian yeast thing....

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2XMAS Ale (review)

Beer Review #170

Its been awhile since I reviewed a Southern Tier Brewing Company product (review #155), and as my first post-Thanksgiving beer, their 2XMAS seasonal seems appropriate.

Christmas is just a hop, skip and jump away from Thanksgiving and in some ways this Swedish Glogg inspired ale reminds me of the brewer's Pumking Imperial Ale. Both are heavily laden with dessert cooking spices such as cinnamon, cardamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger.

The beer pours ruby red and brown with a fragrant, just-slightly off white foamy head. Moderate carbonation complements the warm bite of cinnamon, and the rest of the medley of aforementioned 'pie spices.' Beneath it all is a sweet, malty, fig laden backbone, that you can easily find with a bit of searching. As I work on my second bottle, black pepper reveals itself, both in the aroma and at the back of the throat.

This is a solid, season-appropriate beer, though I can't help but think that a beefed up, darker version would be better yet.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016 Sayre Turkey Trot

Its hard to believe that this home town tradition turned 10 years old already. In general, running flat road 5k races doesn't do much for me athletically speaking these days, but I love these races for a host of other reasons.... such as supporting local causes, catching up with loads of running friends, and seeing so many kids and new runners being outside and active. And hell, its cool to see this one Bradford County races attract over 1,000 participants year after year. Wouldn't it be great if even a couple percent of these made it out to some of the other local races? It would be a major boost to our local running scene.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Mad Elf (Re-Review)

Beer Review #169

I try not to re-review too many beers, but from time to time its fun to check out something from the 'early days' of my beer drinking journey in order to see how many taste and knowledge have changed. This is also a chance to record episode 49 of 'The Pour' for My Youtube Channel. As a Pennsylvania winter standard, The Mad Elf seemed like a good candidate for revisiting. I originally reviewed this one exactly 364 days ago (review #61), and as with my two previous re-reviews I'm intentionally going into this one 'blind,' and not -re-reading the earlier review prior to writing this one.

Troeg's Independent Brewing is a Pennsylvania craft brewing staple. The once-yearly release of their beautiful transparent ruby hued spicy Belgian brew, Mad Elf , is eagerly awaited each autumn. Weighing in at a hefty 11%ABV (and only 15IBU), this festive, $18 per six-pack, libation is dangerous good.

Each batch is brewed with honey and cherries. My vague memory of last year recalls a more intense presence of both. This year those element seem a bit more subdued (to me), with the spicy Belgian element being more pronounced. Prepare for a spicy, peppery tingle on the sides of your tongue as you swallow, with ample helpings of pungent clove and ginger.

The beer smells much the same as it smells - clove, ginger - but there is also an underlying foundation of overly ripe cherry and creamy raw wildhoney.

Medium-high carbonation, quickly dissipating head.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Oops I did It Again!

Last year I sprained both ankles within 3 months of each other. The first sprain came at the Mile Run Trail Challenge Half Marathon, and the other at the inaugural World's End Ultramarathon 50k. I battled wonky weak ankles for the rest of that year. In 2016 I ran healthy and strong, completing 3 ultras and a dozen races, with neither ankle giving me any issues. All of that changed last night, a quarter mile into a road run, of all things, when I stepped off the sidewalk to avoid some pedestrians. Since completing the Pine Creek Challenge 100k in the September and the Green Monster 50k in October I've run no more than 3 or 4 times. Last night's run was going to the beginning of training for 2017's stupidity. Look's like I'll have to put that off for a few more weeks now....

No doctor visit. I've sprained enough ankles to know what they'll say after a pricey x-ray - rest, ice, compression, elevation, Ibuprofen. On the pain scale, i've had worse sprains. Although the side of the ankle is swollen, the pain seems focused beneath/beneath the Achilles tendon (though the tendon itself is pain free.) I had planned to run the local Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning. If I'm pain free by then I'll plan on running it extra easy. Either way, I'll likely be there with a video camera capturing some footage for my youtube channel: HERE

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween Fun with a Dancing Mummy & More

All of our silly Halloween dancing fun in one video...

Curmudgeon Old Ale

Beer Review #168

My tour through Founders Brewing Company beers available on the local racks continues this afternoon with Curmudgeon Old Ale.

Think classic seafaring ports, local pubs and weathered old fishermen. This old ale is brewed with molasses and an insane focus on the malt bill, then oak-aged. The result is a rich, malty delight that’s deceptively smooth and drinkable.
9.8%ABV, 50IBU. This one is smells better than it tastes. The aroma is smooth and sweet as in dark, rich, dried fruits like plum, fig and prune, but the taste is more bitter than the 50IBU suggests, but not in a 'hoppy way.' This particular bottle, being nearly a year old, wears alcohol on its sleeve and with black licorice, and a bit of molasses. The beer was aged in oak, but it doesn't shine through.

Dark amber, intensely foamy pour, but see for yourself in the video below:

Dance Like A Monster

Some video clips from Halloween at my house.....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Backwoods Bastard

Beer Review #167

A couple days ago when I reviewed Breakfast Stout (review #166) I mentioned that Founders was previously a brewer I'd purposely neglected. But after Breakfast Stout I find myself quickly warming up to the company. Today I'm making up for lost time by checking out their Backwoods Bastard "Ale Aged in Oak Barrels."

It's late October, cold air has finally moved in to the Northeast and the first snow flakes of the season are expected. At a hefty 11.2%ABV, this dark amber ale seems fitting for a day like this. Its strong, dark, and the barrel aging lends the beer some of the characteristics of my favorite stouts, but with a more moderate body than those thick, black Imperial Stouts.

From the first sniff this one declares its months in a bourbon barrel. That vanilla aroma imparted by oak is all over this thing. Caramel follows, with just a hint of alcohol.

Bourbon smokiness lays heavily on the flavor, along with rich, sweet toffee notes.

50IBU. An excellent beer.