Archive | May, 2012

Oak Mountain trail marathon race report

24 May

Two months have passed since my last race. I finally healed from my bout with ITBS, brought on by overuse and improper recovery from the Rouge Orleans ultramarathon. I’ve been able to resume my normal training and have been able to put in a good bit of mileage on the trails, which is by far my favorite place to run. I signed up for the XTERRA Oak Mountain trail marathon several months ago, with the intention of making it a family camping event. As one thing led to another with multiple family and school activities, I ended up going to Birmingham alone for the race.

The race takes place in the Oak Mountain state park, just south of Birmingham in Pelham, Alabama. The park is beautiful, and I arrived at about 2:30 Saturday afternoon as the XTERRA off road triathlon was taking place. I picked up my packet, then checked into my campsite and set up my tent.

By 4:00, I was off on a mission to find a lot of different craft beer not available in Louisiana to bring home for myself and several friends. I hit Highland Package Store near the UAB campus and hit the jackpot. I left with 2 cases of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale as well as several other offerings from Terrapin,  Great Divide, Green Flash, Founders, Boulevard, Avery, SweetWater, Tallgrass and local favorite Good People. I also managed to snag a couple bottles of Bell’s Hopslam.

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By that point, I needed to grab dinner, so I quickly found a highly recommend ale house, The J. Clyde. I was impressed from the moment I set foot inside. The draft beer selection was unlike anything here in Baton Rouge. It was nothing but craft beer and quality imports. I started with a cask version of Terrapin’s Monk’s Revenge. I then had a Great Divide 18th Anniversary Wood Aged IPA along with dinner, a fantastic burger topped with a fried green tomato.

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After dinner, I headed back to the park to take it easy and get some rest. After all, I did have a marathon to run the next day. I climbed in my sleeping bag shortly before 10, and had a good night’s sleep.

Morning light arrived at 5:45, so I got up and quickly broke camp, got dressed and packed up. I ate 2 Clif Mono bars and drank a Boost shake to ensure I had enough calories to start. I followed that with a couple of electrolyte capsules and a Vespa supplement. All that I had left to do was to wait for the start. The map showed a 3 loop course with a 5K loop, a 17 mile loop around the park and a 10K loop.

At 8AM we were off. There was about a half mile of asphalt to the trailhead and I purposely took it extra slow and not get caught up in racing that section. I settled in behind a talkative group at about a 9 minute pace, and before I knew it the first loop was done.

Again I had a half mile asphalt stretch back to the trailhead to start the long loop, which I remembered from last year’s race. I knew there would be a challenging steep uphill section around mile 5, and my memory was correct. We climbed close to 350 feet in less than a quarter mile. But it was beautiful to look down at where I had been. I was still holding steady at a 9 minute pace or so, but knew that I would slow down considerably soon enough. Miles 9 to 11 were a steady uphill climb of 1,000 feet on a wide, but somewhat rocky trail. I walked several of the steeper sections knowing that it would conserve valuable energy. Miles 11 to 13 were relatively flat, but on the same rocky trail. It made for slow going as opposed to the well groomed dirt trails earlier in the race.

I made it a point to take an electrolyte capsule every 30 minutes, a Crank e-Gel every 45 minutes and refill my bottle with water at every aid station, which were about 2 1/2 miles apart. I also dumped cold water on my head at each one, which was refreshing on a warm day.

Shortly after the halfway point we began to descend on the most technical section of the trail. There were lots of rocks and the steep downhill made for some treacherous running. I was all alone now, as some had passed me and others fell back. The descent continued, but the trail became more groomed and it was really peaceful out there by myself. I still felt well and was holding a nice pace. Before I knew it, I emerged from the woods at mile 20 and knew the last stretch was here. The 10K loop began on the same section as the 5K portion, but then veered off. I started to catch upnto other runners who looked to be struggling, while I felt pretty good. Not long after passing one of those runners, a rogue rock tripped me and I tumbled to the ground, scraping my hand and popping my last gel pack, which was of course in the same shorts pocket as my car key.

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I had about 2 1/2 miles to go, but I was starting to struggle. I noticed my breathing was short and choppy and I was getting hot. I still passed a few more runners, but I was ready to finish. The last section just seemed to drag on forever. Finally I emerged and neared the finish line. I had passed 9 runners in that last section, and my 4:09 finish was good enough for 22nd place overall. I beat my 2011 time by 8 minutes and this course was over a mile longer than last year’s. Though happy to be finished, I felt surprisingly good. No post race cramps or overly stiff legs. I celebrated my accomplishment with a Tallgrass Velvet Rooster, got some clean clothes on and headed out for some well deserved pizza before my 6 hour drive back to Baton Rouge.

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Despite the long drive home, my legs felt fine that evening and the next day. No stiff quads going downstairs is an accomplishment the day after a marathon. I was really pleased with this race and I head into the Leadville trail marathon on June 30th with some confidence that I truly am over my injuries. One day I will go back and run at Oak Mountain for fun while camping for a few days. It truly is a beautiful place with some fantastic trails. If you’re ever in the area, it’s a can’t miss.

American Craft Beer Week – Tasting Night

18 May American Craft Beer Week tasting

American Craft Beer Week tasting

In celebration of American Craft Beer Week, I hosted a tasting night on Thursday with a few of my closest beer geek buddies. Everyone brought a few beers to try, and we ended up with an impressive list. There were 28 beers that I got to try, most of which I had never tried before. Most of the tastings were 2 to 3 ounces, so we got a good idea of how the beer tasted.

It’s difficult to nail down a favorite among 28 different beers. There were many different styles, so it’s hard to say that this double IPA was better than that imperial stout. With that said, there were several stand outs from the crowd.

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA is a blend of the 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA, but it’s also brewed with maple syrup. I really enjoyed this one. It was very smooth and well balanced.

De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird) is a Belgian strong pale ale with some sour hints. It had a nose of banana, but the taste wasn’t overwhelming with only a little tartness.

Southern Tier Mokah is an imperial stout that blends two of their other stouts, Jahva and Choklat. The result is a fantastic tasting malted milk ball bomb that really overshadowed some of the other imperial stouts that we were looking forward to.

Russian River Pliny the Elder. Need I say more?

Founders Breakfast Stout versus Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. We had to taste the differences between these two. The KBS is aged in bourbon barrels, and gets a very boozy taste because of it. I honestly preferred the regular Breakfast Stout over the KBS, but I’m really glad I got to try it.

Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout 2010 aged versus 2011. I really had a hard time telling these two apart. The 2011 was slightly more carbonated. But that’s about it. At 18% ABV, a small taste was all I needed.

Terrapin Hoptaneous Combustion is a smoked imperial IPA. I’m usually not a fan of smoked beers, but this one was really good.

Russian River Sanctification is a wild ale that’s decently sour.

The full list of what we had is below:

Stone/Ninkasi/The Alchemist More Brown Than Black IPA

Bear Republic/Fat Head/Stone TBA

Homebrewed Watermelon Wheat

Big Boss Hell’s Belle

Russian River Damnation

Anchorage Brewinng Galaxy White IPA

Stillwater Cellar Door

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #11

Ninkasi Tricerahops DIPA

Yazoo Hop Project #64

Terrapin Phlux Capacitor

Terrapin Hoptaneous Combustion

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster

Russian River Pliny The Elder

BrewDog / Stone Bashah

Victory Yakima Glory

De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird)

Russian River Sactification

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

Southern Tier Mokah

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Drake’s Brewing Drakonic

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2012

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (2011)

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (2010)

 

Hope your American Craft Beer Week has been as good as mine!

 

This week’s beer haul

11 May

Friday is always a good day. Today was especially good for me, as I got beer delivered to me.

First was from my friend Katie (katieRUNSthis), who brought some beer back from Greenville, SC to Baton Rouge. Thankfully this beer had a better trip than Lynard Skynard’s plane. This haul came from The Community Tap. Excited to try some Thomas Creek, RJ Rockers, Westbrook and Foothills Brewing beers.

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The second was an order from LetsPour and I was able to get some good stuff from Russian River, Great Divide, Lost Abbey, Lagunitas and Green Flash.

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Look for some future reviews!

The Truck, The Brewer and The Blogger

4 May

Thursday evening marked the first ever pop-up restaurant in Baton Rouge, called The Truck, The Brewer and The Blogger. The event was held at the Tin Roof Brewing Company with Bite and Booze blogger Jay Ducote teaming with Taco de Paco food truck chef, Aaron Brown for a six course meal paired with Tin Roof beer.

My wife and City Social Stirring It Up blogger, Teresa, and I arrived around 7:00, and mingled while sampling some of the Voodoo Bengal pale ale. We took our seats at a table with some new friends, where the evening’s menu was listed.

The meal started with a Tin Roof BBQ shrimp served on a fried grit cake appetizer. There was a citrus flavor that somewhat overpowered the shrimp for me, but others at my table really liked it. This was followed by chile lime beef short rib chips, which were absolutely outstanding. I could have eaten these all night and left a happy camper. The Perfect Tin amber ale paired really well with the smoked flavor of the short rib chips.

Next up was a Louisiana crawfish and cauliflower soup, which was paired with the Tin Roof Blonde ale. One thing that was really striking was just how much of a difference it makes to use Louisiana crawfish in a dish. The flavor imparted is just so much more apparent than when Chinese crawfish are used. The blonde ale really countered the slight bitterness of the cauliflower making it an excellent pairing.

Next up was a small romaine salad with a Voodoo Bengal vinaigrette dressing. Oh, did I mention it had bacon? Bacon makes everything better. It also had a small piece of bread topped with grilled onions that soaked up the vinaigrette, and was oh so tasty.

That was followed by seared mahi mahi served atop a black bean puree and topped with tomatillo sauce, sliced avocados, roasted sweet corn and cilantro. I thought the pairing was excellent, but the black bean puree could have been left out or served on the side. I absolutely loved the tomatillo sauce, avocados, corn and cilantro and thought it melded perfectly with the mahi mahi. This was paired with a brewery-exclusive pale American wheat beer, which was one of the experimental brews used to make the forthcoming Tin Roof Watermelon Wheat ale. It was a light bodied typical wheat beer. I was hoping that we would get a sneak peak at the Watermelon Wheat, but it was not ready just yet. In talking with Tom Daigrepont, head brewmaster, he said that he will add watermelon puree to the boil and not to the secondary fermentation, so the watermelon flavor should be light.

Yet another highlight was the Frenched lamb chops served over sweet pea and mint risotto. All I can say is that these were the best lamb chops I’ve ever eaten. I have been a big fan of Chef Scott Varnadoe’s lamp lollipops at Stroube’s in downtown Baton Rouge, yet these even surpassed those. They were seared perfectly and cooked to a nice medium rare. The lamb just melted in my mouth and I was fortunate enough to have Teresa’s second lamb chop, since she was saving room for dessert. The sweet pea and mint risotto was nice as well, but I couldn’t finish it, since I knew I still had dessert coming. Again the meat paired well with the Perfect Tin Amber.

Finally up was a Sweet Brew-tality cupcake from Christina Stephens. It had a chocolate and coffee flavor to it with a hint of cayenne that worked perfectly and caramel drizzled over the frosting. This one got rave reviews from everyone at my table. It was outstanding and was paired with the Voodoo Bengal pale ale. It’s too bad Tin Roof didn’t have a small batch of their experimental coffee porter to serve with this one, as I think that would have been excellent.

All in all, this first time event was a resounding success. Thanks to Jay Ducote, Tin Roof Brewing and Taco de Paco for putting on such a great event. It was really nice to have a date night and do something different, even if it meant taking my wife to a brewery for dinner. What changes would I make? Well first, since it was warm outside, it made it warm inside. So, this kind of event may only be able to happen in the more mild months. But that’s to be expected. I would suggest to Tin Roof to make a few specialty beers to be served exclusively at this event, and then whatever is left over could be served on the regular brewery tours in the weeks following. I know they have brewed a coffee porter, a red ale and a black IPA in the past, and it would be great to get a chance to try these at an exclusive event like this. The food was fantastic, and Jay and Aaron did an outstanding job. Teresa and I both look forward to the next pop-up restaurant event.

Tin Roof Zythos Hop Project

1 May

The last several years have seen an explosion of new craft breweries nationwide. And while it’s hard to argue that more beer is a bad thing, there is one unexpected problem cropping up. Some of the best, and thus, most popular varieties of hops are becoming harder to find. And that’s also the reason you may not be able to find your favorite IPA year round. There’s just not enough hop availability, particularly Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, and Simcoe hops. The larger craft breweries are able to secure their hops years in advance with contracts, but what does that mean for the smaller brewers?

One potential solution could be a new proprietary blend hop from Hop Union, one of the main supplier of hops for the craft brewing industry. This hop blend, called Zythos, was created to mimic the rare Amarillo hops. And that’s where Tin Roof Brewing Company comes in. According to Tin Roof brewmaster, Tom Daigrepont, Zythos Hop Project “is something we decided on doing to determine the bitterness, flavor, and aroma aspects” of this new Zythos hop blend. Daigrepont went on to add, “we decided to take 10 gallons of Perfect Tin Amber recipe and use nothing but Zythos hops all the way through. The result will be ‘Krewe of Zythos Perfect Tin Amber,’ to be served at Avenue Pub in New Orleans on Thursday, May 17th during American Craft Beer Week.”

What’s the result taste like? Well, you’ll just have to head on over to the Avenue Pub on May 17th to find out.

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