Archive for the ‘Rambing on about nothing in particular’ Category

It has gotten to that time of year again when the snow has FINALLY melted and the weather is nice enough to get outdoors and hit the pavement.  As anyone who lives in Western New York knows, this winter was especially crappy with the continuous cold, heavy snow fall and record low temperatures.  Unfortunately, the ‘spring’ time has not been much better because the temperatures have still bee very low and the weather has been very wet.  Typically, when Memorial Day Weekend rolls around, I am planting my garden and laying down the mulch…unfortunately, my backyard is still pretty wet and I haven’t even hit the garden with the tiller yet.

My running goals and motivation are the same as last year, get in better shape, drop more LBs and hopefully survive the Buffalo Zombie Mud run this year.  Last year when I started off, I weighed 262.0 pounds and ended up around 237 pounds towards the end of October.  This year, I am starting off with a sexy 247.2 pounds with a goal set to get down to 220 pounds by Halloween

Here is my plan of attack for this year…

30 minutes (exact) to knock out the longest distance.  I ended up doing this by mid-June last year and it turned out to be very motivating as opposed to just running a single mile for time

My longest run last year was 3.18 miles in the 30 minute time allotment…my goal this year is break the 3.30 mile mark in 30 minutes, which is roughly a 9 minute mile average.

 

Here goes nothing…

Day One – 2.58 miles in 30 minutes….. Thankfully my back was bothering me going into the run because then it can continue to bother me the day afterwards too, while my body adjusts to doing actual exercise.  I remember being stuck at 2.84 miles about 45 days into my running last year, so this is actually a slow but encouraging start

Day Three – 2.72 miles in 30 minutes….An Obvious improvement from the first run of the year but my leg muscles and back issues are still hampering me.  My goal for the month of June is to get the distance to 3 miles and get the lungs up to par.

Day Five – 2.72 miles in 30 minutes….so better, no worse…only difference was that it was 85 degrees with 100% humidity…thought I was dragging ass too.

Day Seven – 2.88 miles in 30 minutes…thank you comfortable temperatures…pushing for that 10 minute per mile average by the end of the month.

Day Eight – weight at 245.7 pounds…down a pound and a half in the first week

Day Nine – 2.93 miles in 30 minutes…started out strong but kind of gassed out in the end.

Day Eleven – 1.5 miles in 20 minutes on the treadmill…it was raining out all day and was forced to run on my treadmill, which I hate….so hence the slacking

Intermission.   This whole week sucked with work and haven’t gotten out at all 😦

So I was able to draw some contract work in the lovely and tropical isle of Newfoundland last week. Yes, I say tropical because aren’t all islands usually tropical??? Seriously, although the temperatures didn’t represent the tropical island that I was speaking of but it did have the same temperature effect as Newfoundland is more of a craft beer desert. Let me explain my craft beer experiences while there…

(End Scene)

…and that pretty much explained it in a nutshell.

Newfoundland only has three craft beer breweries and all of them are based out of St Johns (which is in the Southeast corner of the island) and unfortunately for me, the closest that I got was about 300 Kilometers to St Johns. My first nights stay was all the way up in the St Anthony but I didn’t arrive until 8pm and the entire town was completely shut down by then (literally). The second and third nights were spent down in Deer Lake and the best I could find was a bar with zero patrons, one tap (Bud Light)(which was kicked), and had all of the Budweiser, Labatt and Molson products that I could enjoy. I did use this opportunity to drink a couple of beers that were made for Newfoundland and Labrador only which were Molson Black Horse and Labatt Blue Star. Both beers were similar to Molson Golden and Labatt Blue respectively but slightly sweeter and watered down. Thank God I was smart enough to pack my bag with enough bottles and cans to keep my company while on my trip. Newfoundland = Bring Beer With You.

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My Travel Map (1400+ miles in 4 days)

On a side note, anything north of Deer Lake (Location E) is mostly mountains and national park area.  There is only one road that goes north up to St Anthony (Location C).  It is a two land road that runs through about 50 miles of heavy mountain driving then runs along the coast of the Labrador Sea for the remainder of 300+miles.   Along the way, there are about 5-6 random fishing villages which contained about 25-40 houses, a gas station and a snowmobile dealer.

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This sign was posted every 2 KM

Yes, I did see a Moose.  He was roughly about 8-9 feet tall, crossed the road ahead of me about 100 yards and when I slowed down to take a picture of him, he belted out at me and start moving towards the car….needless to say, I didn’t want to have to explain to the rental car company why the side of my car had dents in it.

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Nasty Snow Storm next to the Labrador Sea (notice no guard rails)

After I finished my last dealer on Tuesday, I had a 280 mile drive back down Route 430 (Viking Trail) and caught a nasty snowstorm which led to whiteout conditions, which isn’t safe when driving down a slick road with no guard rails right next to the Labrador Sea.  On the picture above was a familiar sight for most of the way…slide off this road and you got about ten foot cushion before you plunge into the sea.  The weather that day was the worst as it was -10F for most of the day with 20-30mph winds blowing.

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Random Scenery Picture

If you notice that there aren’t any tall trees, then you would be correct.  The northern peninsula gets an extremely high amount of wind and most the trees once they get to a certain height just fall over.

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Mountains in the Northern Pennisula

The speed limit along the Viking Trail was 90 kilometers per hour (which roughly translates to 53-54 MPH) but since there is zero police presence in the northern peninsula, it was more of a recommendation than a limit.

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One of about 6 random fishing villages in the Northern Pennisula

This was just a random fishing village…and yes, that is the entire village in one picture.  Those people are hardened as fuck, in my opinion.  The natives of Newfoundland all speak with a mixed accent of Norwegian and Thick Irish but with a Canadian dialect.  It was pretty hard to cut through if you weren’t used to it…and the accent was even thicker in the northern peninsula.  For anyone that watches the show Gold Rush, it was like dealing with a bunch of Tony Beekes for the entire week.

…if you read the title and kept reading this thread, well then that is on you.  You’ve been warned!!!

A quick recap for myself in the craft beer genre

As all of my friends know that I am a craft beer ticker.  A ticker is someone who rates every beer that they have tried as they go, regardless of style, preference or quality.  A rating can be anything from a quick 1 to 5 score (5 being the highest) up to a full review with full descriptions of appearance, nose, taste and mouthfeel.  Unfortunately, I do not have a total for beer reviews for 2013 because I dumped all my information from Beer Advocate to Rate Beer then blew up my BA account.  If I were to take an educated guess, it would have to be upwards over 700 different reviews and with that being said, lets check out the best of the best from last year.

The Merc Top 20 of 2013:

20.   Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXIV ~ American Porter ~ 4.44 /5 Rating

19.    Bruery Sour in the Rye with Kumquats ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.44 /5 Rating

18.    Upright Brewing Four Play ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 4.45 /5 Rating

17.    Trappistes Rochefort 8 ~ Belgian Strong Dark Ale ~ 4.46 /5 Rating

16.    Almanac Beer Co. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine ~ 4.46 /5 Rating

15.    Founders CBS Imperial Stout ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

14.    Hoppin’ Frog Bairille Aois BORIS ~ Russian Imperial Stout ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

13.    Cantillon Fou Foune ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

12.    Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.49 /5 Rating

11.    Fat Heads Brewing IBUsive ~ American Double / Imperial IPA ~ 4.49 /5 Rating

10.   The Ale Apothacary Sahati ~ Sahti ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

9.     Live Oak Brewing Hefeweizen ~ Hefeweizen ~ 4.50 /5 Rating   (thanks Chris)

8.     Bruery Preservation Series: Or Xata ~ American Blonde Ale ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

7.     Bruery Oude Tart with Cherries ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

6.     Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze (batch 1) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.54 /5 Rating   (thanks Nate)

5.     Cascade Brewing Vlad the Imp Ale ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.60 /5 Rating

4.     Funky Buddha Veruca Snozzberry Gose ~ Gose ~ 4.60 /5 Rating   (thanks Miami Mike)

3.     VooDoo Brewing Black Magick Pappy Van Winkle ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.61 /5 Rating  (thanks Tom)

2.     Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek (2003) ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ 4.70 /5 Rating   (thanks Tom?)

and the Top Rated Merc Beer for 2013 was….Trappistes Rochefort 10 ~ Quadruple ~ 4.75 /Rating

Honorable Mention: Funky Buddha Passion Fruit Berliner

You will notice some names next to some of the beers listed above, that is just an appreciation to the people that shared or gathered those beers.  One great thing about the craft beer community is that most people will get really outstanding or rare beers not only to try them but to also share them with other people.  It is not all about a bunch of guys getting together to get drunk and make fools of themselves, its more of a profound brotherhood.

Now it is time for the 2nd annual installment of “The Merc-y Awards” (pronounced Merk-ee)

Favorite New Breweries Visited in 2013:

  1. Crooked Stave Artisan Beers ~ Denver Colorado
  2. Hoppin’ Frog Brewery ~ Akron Ohio
  3. New Belgium Brewing ~ Boulder Colorado

Honorable Mention: Voodoo Brewing Company ~ Meadville Pennsylvania

Favorite New Brewpubs Visited in 2013:

  1. NoDa Brewing Company ~ Charlotte North Carolina
  2. Tired Hands Brewing Brewing ~ Ardmore Pennsylvania
  3. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery ~ Charlotte North Carolina

Honorable Mention: Market Garden Brewing ~ Cleveland Ohio

Favorite Beers of 2013 (regardless of review or rating, this is more of preference):

  1. Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Raspberry/Strawberry Ale
  3. Funky Buddha Veruca Snozzberry Gose

Honorable Mention: Bruery Oude Tart with Cherries

Biggest Surprises of 2013 (regardless of review or rating, more of a surprise because I usually don’t like the style):

  1. Bruery Or Xata
  2. New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
  3. Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas

Honorable Mention: Buffalo Bayou Gingerbread Stout

Here is to a healthy and great drinking 2014 (hopefully, I get a real job soon…).  Prost!

Since the beginning of October, I have been busier than all hell between family obligations, working two jobs, GABF, work travel, etc.  I have really been trying to scale back the cellar because the bottle count is just way too high and there is zero need to buy beer anymore.  Unfortunately (which is the wrong choice of words here) I had a bunch of trades that I was still waiting on the receiving end of it and a few Beer It Forwards in the works going.  Well, since the calendar flipped to October, most of the boxes started to land and I have been too busy to even pay attention to them.  Well, 6 -12 bottle shippers and a 6 bottle shipper later and it is ‘bye bye’ shelf space.
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My wife has been complaining to me about not getting into the basement freezer…I wonder why?

So I am completely stealing this idea from my buddy Art , because he uses a different blog site and I can’t reblog it and add my own thoughts to it.

Every July, the store shelves start to fill up with the early signs of Oktoberfest beers and the dreaded gourd ales next to them.  Mind you, I am not a total hater of the over sized orange fruits but typically they are just faux pumpkin flavor and over spiced bombs.  To make matters worse, at some places when you order a pumpkin beer, you run the risk of having it served to you in a martini glass with a nice cinnamon and graham cracker flavored rim.  If this happens to you, make sure that you ask for a penis straw to go with it…

Anyway, as I had previously stated, I am not a complete pumpkin hater and have reviewed plenty of them over the past 2.5 years of beer ticks.  Here is my list of pumpkin ratings…from Top to Bottom:

  1. Southern Tier Pumking ~ 8.6% ABV ~ 4.43 /5 Rating
  2. Southern Tier Oak Aged Pumking ~ 8.6% ABV ~ 4.22 /5 Rating
  3. Elysian Brewing The Great Pumpkin ~ 8.1% ABV ~ 4.20 /5 Rating
  4. Fat Heads Spooky Tooth ~ 9.0% ABV ~ 4.18 /5 Rating
  5. Cigar City Grouchy Gourd ~ ABV Unknown ~ 4.08 /5 Rating
  6. Rivertowne Pourhouse Pumkins Pumkin Spice Beer ~ 5.4% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  7. Horseheads Brewing Pumpkin ~ 6.6% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  8. Schlafly Pumpkin ~ 8.0% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  9. Elysian Brewing Dark O The Moon ~ 6.5% ABV ~ 3.95 /5 Rating
  10. Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin ~ 8.5% ABV ~ 3.93 /5 Rating
  11. Elysian Brewing Hop Squash Pumpkin IPA ~ 6.6% ABV ~ 3.90 /5 Rating
  12. Blue Canoe Brewery Punked Out ~ 8.0% ABV ~ 3.90 /5 Rating
  13. Bootleggers Brewery Pumpkin ~ 6.1% ABV ~ 3.89 /5 Rating
  14. Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin ~ 5.9% ABV ~ 3.88 /5 Rating
  15. Weyerbacher Brewing Imperial Pumpkin ~ 8.00% ABV ~ 3.85 /5 Rating
  16. Timber Creek Tap & Table Creek O Lantern ~ 7.8% ABV ~ 3.75 /5 Rating
  17. Blackstone Brewery Pumpkin ~ 5.1% ABV ~ 3.73 /5 Rating
  18. Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin ~ 8.5% ABV ~ 3.73 /5 Rating
  19. Ithaca Brewing Country Pumpkin ~ 6.3% ABV ~ 3.55 /5 Rating
  20. Dogfish Head Punkin ~ 7.0% ABV ~ 3.55 /5 Rating
  21. Avery Brewing Rumpkin ~ 18.1% ABV ~ 3.53 /5 Rating
  22. Gilded Otter Brewing Clove Valley Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.53 /5 Rating
  23. Captain Lawrence Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.44 /5 Rating
  24. Southampton Publick House Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.43 /5 Rating
  25. Custom Brewcrafters Harvest Jack ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.40 /5 Rating
  26. Saranac Pumpkin ~ 5.4% ABV ~ 3.35 /5 Rating
  27. Cambridge Brewing Great Pumpkin ~ 4.4% ABV ~ 3.30 /5 Rating
  28. New Holland Brewing Ichabod Ale ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  29. Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  30. Bruery/Elysian/Stone La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.10 /5 Rating
  31. Becker Brewing Pumpkin ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.08 /5 Rating
  32. Seneca Lodge Brewing Pumpkin ~ 4.4% ABV ~ 3.03 /5 Rating
  33. Hoppin’ Frog Frogs Hollow Double Pumpkin ~ 8.4% ABV ~ 2.98 /5 Rating
  34. Buffalo Bills Brewery Pumpkin ~ 5.2% ABV ~ 2.10 /5 Rating

Some notable pumpkin beers that have yet to be reviewed yet are Elysians Hansel and Gretel and Southern Tier Warlock.  Hansel and Gretel really sounds appealing because of its addition of gingerbread but I am refusing to chase down Warlock because Southern Tier brewing had previously done a small batch beer called Warlock, which was a Milk Stout…not a fan of recycling the name to fit their means.

Well, the final countdown to my running armageddon is quickly approaching in just three weeks.  It seems like I just started my running a couple of weeks ago but it has roughly been three months now since I first slugged my fat ass up one side and down the other side of my street….and very slowly at that.

To quickly recap, I was sucked into running the Buffalo Zombie Mud Run from my wife and her friends.  Originally, it was going to be a group of 6-8 of us participating in the event but it turned out that I was the only one dumb enough to actually register for it.  That’s okay, I needed any excuse to shed some of my Beer Advocate Build and get into a shape that didn’t resemble a pear.

When I started this little adventure, I weighed a plump 262.0 pounds…after the first month, that fell to 256.6 pounds…then after the second month, the trend continued with it falling to 250.8 pounds…and as of today, three months in, it is down to 246.3 pounds, a total weight loss of 15.7 pounds to date.

As for the running aspect, my first run was a complete dumpster fire.  It has since gotten better from a 12.10 mile to a pretty consistent 30 minute run around the 3.10 mile mark.  I was hoping to have gotten a little farther on the distance in the same 30 minute time period but seem to have hit the wall a little bit.  I have tried changing up my routine a little bit but it seems to have been more detrimental over the past week then helpful.  Back to the drawing board I guess.

Also, given that the time is starting to draw near for the actual race, I decided to give a little back to the beer community (and increase any beer karma that may exist) by creating a LIF (Lottery It Forward) called Buffalo Zombie Mud Run LIF.  Basically, I am offering up several bottles of beer to the person that guesses the closest time of my run (without going over) or if I happen to not survive the run, then the person who guesses closest my farthest distance before my demise.  It is just my little way of giving back to the craft beer community, from which has sucked me into spending thousands of dollars and stocking up my cellar.

20 days to the apocalypse…a nice morning run with a first mile of 8.22 (which is a new best for me this year) but seemed to slow down as I got further along…still managed 3.13 miles in my 30 minutes.

17 days to the apocalypse…730am in the morning should not produce 120% humidity when its 68 degrees out.  Ran my fastest mile at 8.09 minutes and finished with a best distance of 3.18 miles in 30 minutes.

8 days to the apocalypse… No, I haven’t quit running, I got smacked with a sinus infection last weekend that then turned into a head cold.  I had to force myself to go out and run tonight.  Even with a head full of sinus crap, I decided to take it easy with the run tonight and only managed a 8.59 first mile and distance of 3.05 miles.  Not bad considering that I spitting out huge wads of grossness as I was going along.

5 days to the apocalypse… I am still feeling the effects of my sinus infection/head cold and my throat is still pretty raw at this point.  With that being said, this race isn’t going to run itself.  I forced myself to go out for a run tonight and stick with the same running format that I attempted the other night with running 1/3 mile sprints then walking it for 1/10th mile.  It still got me over three miles easily in my 30 minute allotment but my cell phone died and had no GPS to get accurate distance but was farther than I was the other night.  One more training run before the race.

3 days to the apocalypse… I went for my last training run before the race this saturday morning.  I picked a hell of a day for my final run as it was 88 degrees at the start of my jaunt.  I wanted to take it easy because of the heat and didn’t want to burn out for saturday morning, but still managed 3.02 miles in 30 minutes.  Not bad considering that I was stuck on 2.84 miles for a long time in July.

Zombies……Run…..  Today is the day…20 pounds lighter and as much as I would like to say “Ready to go”…my sinuses are still busted up.  Results to come very soon.

As some of you may know that I am a Reserve Society member of Bruery.  I turned into a Bruery fanboy about three years when I came across bottles of Autumn Maple at a local bottle shop in Buffalo for 4.99/each.  The funny thing is was that they had gotten the bottles shipped to them in error and were just dumping them.  Coincedentally, the Bruery are going to finally start hitting the shelves here in Western New York in the very near future.

Since I started my love for Bruery beers, I had been trading for them and scooping them up when I am on the road whenever possible.  In that time fram, I have amassed a very nice collection over the years where my bottle count was over 70 different beers from them at any given point, including Wanderer, Batch 1 Chocolate Rain, Papier Partridge in a Pear Tree, Batch 1 Levuds and BA Batch 1 Levuds.  Unfrotunately, ever since I have joined their Reserve Society, I have had very few beers that had impressed me enough to keep my love for the Bruery alive.  Although I really was impressed with the recent release of Sour in the Rye with Kumquats, it wasn’t the impressive original beer that I guess I am now on the search for….well, that search is over with their recent release of Or Xata.

Horchata differs from the many countries that make and serve it.  I had first learned (and loved) Horchata when I was in Cancun Mexico about 5 years ago.  The Mexican variation of the Horchata is typically made with Rice, Cinnamon, and sometimes Vanilla.  Now other Latin American Countries, Spain and Italy vary their ingredients with things like Evaporated Milk, Sugar, TigerNuts, Sesame Seeds or Rum but the end result is usually a milky, sweet concoction.

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Bruery’s Or Xata is listed as American Blonde Ale brewered with Rice, Cinnamon and Vanilla Beans, plus comes in with a hefty 7.0% ABV.  Here was my reviews of Or Xata:

Appearance:  Amber/Golen Straw Hue, Passe Some Light, White Head Ring, Maintains Some Lacing

Smell:  Cinnamon, Rice Pudding, Mild Vanilla, MIld Cream

Taste:  Creamy Rice Pudding, Vanilla Beans, Cinnamon

Mouthfeel:  Decent Carbonation, Medium Bodied, Mildly Sweet

Overall:  This beer fits the description to the finest ingredients listed and a very good respresentation of the actual Mexican Horchata style in beer form.  SOLID.  Scored 4.50 /5 points.

This beer has put my faith back into the Bruery as a solid original beer that not many (or any) breweries are attempting, let alone pulling off solidly.  My original order of 3 bottles had already been depleted and forced me to buy 3 more to enjoy.  I just hope that they last longer than the first three bottles…which was only two weeks.