The Land of Death and Shadows

This is what Jack jokingly calls Johnstown, PA, where I am from. Yes, it has super shitty weather and we never see the sun, but it’s where I call home, and I have a blast every time I get to come back and chill with my Johnstown friends. I actually had to come back because my driver’s license expired and I needed to get a new one with a new picture and everything (haha, yes, I still have a PA license!)

Friday night, I was feeling a little under the weather with a lot of sinus pressure, but we still made it out to my favorite bar on earth, Tulune’s South Side Saloon. This is the bar where I began to learn about good beer. As soon as I walked in I saw Joe, who has been voted Johnstown’s best bartender a few years in a row now. He really knows his beers. Every time I  walk in he updates me on what’s new and knows exactly what I will like and what I should try. This time when I walked in, he was pretty busy but he came over and gave me a Chimay bottle opener, win!

I got the Troubadour Obscura, which is from Belgium and is considered a mild stout.


Unfortunately I couldn’t really smell anything and it really took away from the taste and experience of the beer. Luckily, I’ve had this beer many times before and I was able to appreciate the taste that I knew I was missing out on.

I was worried I wouldn’t get to see Tara and Mike since they had to go to a wedding in Ohio the next day. Mike had to work, but Tara made it out for a little bit!


I ended up only having that one beer because not being able to taste anything was really depressing. But being back in my favorite bar with my favorite people made up for it!

Reel Rock Film Fest at the Arlington Drafthouse

After getting back from the rafting trip, I was exhausted, but Monday night we made it out to the Reel Rock Film Fest being held at the Arlington Drafthouse. I was feeling a bit sick, with a sore throat, but we were able to get to the Lost Dog Café across the street with enough time to have a beer before we had to pick up our tickets and get inside.

Lost Dog rocks! They have a great beer selection and the food is awesome too! Jack, unfortunately, didn’t see too many porters on their list and so he couldn’t make up his mind. So I made up his mind for him. We split the Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout!


After having it during the climbing trip, I said I needed to have it again out of a glass and this was my opportunity. Really good beer.

As I was drinking this wonderful beer, I was staring at the taps and noticed that had a few Southern Tier beers on tap. This got me thinking….will they ever have the Southern Tier Crème Brule Stout on tap? I’ve been fanatically searching for this beer since the 4th of July. So I asked the bartender what the Southern Tier beers were that were on tap and she said the one handle had to be changed, because they just put a new beer on and that it was the Crème Brule Stout! I think I scared her with my reaction. Yeah, I flipped out a little. I really like the Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout but I began to eye it with hatred. We only had time for one beer and it was standing in the way of my dreams becoming reality. I think the bartender could see how distressed I was and gave me a generous sample. Creamy, incredibly sweet, vanilla and butterscotch heaven. I will be back!

Oh yeah, and the films were kick ass too.

Part II of Rafting!

Saturday, down at the New River Gorge, we climbed at Summersville Lake!


(Watch out, we know Karate!)

It has such a great distribution of climbs in all ranges of difficulty that everyone was able to climb what they wanted.

That night, to have another successful bonfire, we ordered out pizza from Pies and Pints. It worked out great!

Another Left Hand Milk Stout, can I go anywhere without it??


Split another big bottle of Rogue Chocolate Stout. Sebbie, the woman on the bottle, rocks!! Woot!


Mmm, delicious, thanks Kristen!


Yay, smores!

And of course, another Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I am so predictable.


We all turned in kinda early since we had to wake up at 5:30am to go rafting the next day! I was super nervous because when we woke up it was freezing! I couldn’t imagine getting in the water!

chilly rafting morning

I even opted to wear the wetsuit, I was scared of the 61 degree water and 45 degree air temperature!

We had a blast! The rapids were awesome! I think we paddled a little too well and nobody really fell out. In the morning the air temps were so cold that the water actually felt warm in comparison, but it was the opposite in the afternoon and I started to freeze. I can’t believe how fast the day went on the water! Six hours later, and we were done. Successful rafting trip!

successful rafting

I was beat. Jack and I took turns passing out on the 5 hour ride home. It felt so good to get a hot shower and pass out.

Beer in Pictures

I’m still alive! I’ve just been super busy recently, and I really slacked on the blog, oops! So I have a week’s worth of beers that I drank that I need to post. Many of them are repeats. I tried lots of new beers while we were camping and my descriptions wont do them justice, I was a bit drunk at the time!

OK, from the beginning. Steeler game at Chris’s house. I just grabbed a few beers from the fridge and headed over. Very depressing game.




I love going to Chris’s for games, he makes great food, awesome condo, and the cutest beagle ever! You know how I feel about these beers—love em!


Wednesday was my birthday, but Jack was out of town, so earlier in the week Jack picked up a bunch of delicious fruit, bread, cheese, and desserts from Whole Foods and we went out for a motorcycle picnic! Again, I just grabbed a beer from the fridge.


Kinda low key for my birthday, but I knew we would be partying it up for the weekend and wanted to keep it chill.


Thursday night we got a bit of a late start but we left for the New River Gorge for a weekend of climbing and rafting! Yes, rafting too! As climbers we always see the river and say that one day we will go rafting. Thanks to Ryan and Kristen, who thought up and organized the trip, we were able to get a bunch of people to commit!

Friday, Jack and I  climbed at Tattoo wall down in Bubba city and were joined by Kristen and Ryan! It was a bit cold, but the climbing kept us warm! Here’s Kristen rocking out her first climb of the day!

novak climbing 2

That night we hit up the Secret Sandwich Society in Fayetteville for the first time! The sandwiches were amazing! They have really unique flavor combinations and house made sauces and jams. They also have a pretty good beer list!

Once we were stuffed we headed back to camp, managed to get a pretty good fire going, and cracked open some beers! A big thank you to Kristen for packing a whole bunch of yummy beers to celebrate my birthday!

Since they were big bottles we shared

Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout


Smooth, creamy, slight coffee, medium-full body, dry finish. I will have to have it again sometime soon, out of a glass, to give it the respect it deserves.


Ahh! Ryan proudly displays our next bottle, New Belgium Tripel, with smoke in his eyes! I really enjoyed this beer, but it tasted like bananas to me! Also, everyone in the DC area is flipping out because New Belgium beers are starting to be carried in the grocery stores in the area!



This next one we did not share. haha! But we each had an Old Chub Scotch Ale by Oscar Blues Brewing Co.


And last but not least we split, Kristen’s personal favorite of the night, Allagash Curieux, a bourbon-barrel aged Tripel.


Bourbon, caramel, oak, medium body, full mouthfeel. This is such a good beer! And with its 11% abv, this is the one that put us to bed. By this time we had a couple more people finish their ride down and join us round the campfire. Also, pretty cool, Ryan set up his slack line for us to get a little practice and entertainment. A slack line is a strange offshoot developed by climbers. Its very similar to tight tope walking. You don’t use a long pole, and once you get good you do amazing, mind-blowing tricks. We just practiced getting up on it and taking a few steps.

But here’s a sick video so you can see what I’m talking about. (its kind of a long video, but skip the intro that lasts the first full minute.)

Im gonna have to end this post here, but Part II will be up very soon!

Dave’s Birthday!

Friday night we headed into DC to go to Wonderland Ballroom for  a surprise birthday party for Dave!

Happy Birthday!


Cool atmosphere, but very limited beer selection. I started the night off with a Delirium Tremens.


I like to think of DT as being an “intro” beer to Belgian beer drinking. It’s considered a Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 8.5% abv. Its fruity, citrusy hops, a little peppery, but not too sweet and you can really taste the yeast. It seems to be carried in a lot of bars and is a good go-to beer when there is not much to choose from.

So many people came out to celebrate! It was awesome!


Next up I had the Chocolate City Amber? I tried to order two other beers but they were out. Fail. This was on draft and I sampled it from a very busy and hurried bartender.


It was ok. But I didn’t really have any other decent choices so I ordered it. I’m not even 100% sure if its called Chocolate City Amber. I believe that’s what the bartender said. Anyway, the beer was forgetful and not stunning. Pretty hoppy, finished dry.


The party went over well, cool bar to chill in, haha, and there were hipsters everywhere! They were cute and emo, I think we all stared at them for a while, I was trying to imagine how I could dress Jack up to pass him off as a hipster! I got some good ideas though, maybe for Halloween!

Jack Cooks Dinner

Well, Jack actually cooks dinner almost all the time, but since it was raining and our group bike ride/ cookout got cancelled, Jack had people over for dinner!

Sarah, Austin, and Trevor join us for some southern cookin’! Jack made delicious pork tenderloin, homemade biscuits, beans, corn, and a cake with chocolate icing!

Sarah and Austin also brought 2 six-packs for us to try! It’s like they read my mind! They brought over a porter and a pumpkin beer! Perfect!

First I tried the Bell’s Porter from Kalamazoo, MI.


Poured into an Ommegang glass, poured very dark black. Light chocolate, light coffee, roasted malts, a bit creamy/milky. Medium bodied, 5.6% abv. But what shocked me the most was no outrageous hops! I was expecting this to be a hoppy porter, probably since the only other Bell’s beer I’ve had is the Two-Hearted IPA. I think this is an amazing American Porter, very happy I got to try it, and I have the rest of the six-pack to finish off! So you will be seeing this again in the future!


Sara and Austin must have good beer picking mojo because this Schlafly Pumpkin Ale was spot on! A little heftier at 8%, poured a gorgeous orange amber. I thought this was the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor, spices and actual beer. The spices in this beer were a bit more up front and noticeable. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin. It worked really well, since the beer was almost a little creamy feeling. Very pumpkin pie-ish and sweet. This is a good fall weather beer. I’m happy to say I’ve finally found a pumpkin beer that I like! Again, I’m happy to have a few more to try later. I need to tell Jack cook dinners like this more often!

Hanging out at Trevor’s

Monday night Trevor was having a few friends over to chill, so we braved the rainy weather and headed over!

We discussed the various runs/ bike rides of the weekend and got to meet his new roommate!

I brought a pumpkin beer to try, since it seemed like a good almost fall like night. I tried the Post Road Pumpkin Ale.



Poured an orange copper. Smelled promising, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, hops. Taste was weak and lagery. Sorry. Not good. If you are going to add pumpkin and spices to a beer at least first start with a good beer. Hard to get through the whole beer. Fail.

Anyway, Trevor rocks, he has this little gem hiding in the back of his fridge just for me!!!


Yep, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, from a bottle. I usually drink it from the nitro-cans. So not having the nitrous ball makes it almost a different beer. Still creamy, but a little lighter seeming, not the thick cascading layers you get from the nitrous. Bittersweet chocolate, great aftertaste, medium dry finish. So delicious!

We turned in early since I was wiped out from the bike ride earlier in the day.

I noticed it’s getting dark earlier and earlier, so sad. I’ll miss you long summer days.