Off to the New River Gorge for Jack’s 30th Birthday!

Such a beautiful weekend in Fayetteville, WV! Jack and I did some trad climbing before our friends showed up and once on top of a pinnacle, we got some amazing photos!

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That is the longest single arch bridge in the western hemisphere! And over 900 feet high!

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It was a perfect day!

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After cleaning up, we went into town and got dinner and drinks at The Vandalian, owned by Porter Jarrard, a climber who put up tons of first ascents at the New River Gorge and the Red River Gorge.

They had a handful of good beers to choose from, since it was a nice day, I decided to go for something light and summery. I got the Lindeman’s Cassis by Brouwerij Lindeman’s of Vlezenbeek, Belgium at 4% abv.

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I think this may be the first beer I’ve had by Lindeman’s. I always thought of them as fruity girly beers that are hardly beer. They are and they aren’t. Its actually quite tart, like a gueze. Very spritzy, and light in alcohol, I imagine this is what Belgians give their kids on holidays and special occasions. Good sour cherry flavor, and you can really taste the black currant juice. Refreshing, this could be had in place of dessert!

The next day, we met up with the rest of our climbing friends and went to Summersville lake to climb. Thanks to Dave Raines for taking an awesome picture of me leading my first ever 5.11b! I was super excited! This climb made my day!!

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Later, the whole group went to Pies and Pints to celebrate Jack’s birthday! They have a great beer list, and I ordered the Trappistes Rochefort 8 by the Brasserie De Rochefort at the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy in Belgium at 9.2% abv.

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Truly an amazing beer. One of the best of its kind. Sweet dark fruits, brown sugar, Belgian yeastiness, roasted malt, earthy. Medium/ high carbonation, dry finish. Goes down so smooth.

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The night was a success! Especially since Liz made the birthday cake! Which was a PIE INSIDE A CAKE! A strawberry- rhubarb pie inside a vanilla cake! I honestly don’t understand how something like that is done, but it was delicious!

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Thanks Liz!

Happy Birthday Liz!!!

Liz usually throws an awesome party for her birthday! The past few parties she has thrown have been quite memorable, but I’m sure they involved a lot of clean up the following day. This year, she opted to go out for dinner and then drinks with friends. We first met up at Zest Bistro in DC for dinner! I ordered a beer on tap that I’ve never tried before, the Double Bag by Long Trail Brewing Company of Bridgewaters Corners, VT at 7.2% abv.

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I do not know where the beer gets this “double bag” name. The label art has a picture of two cows with udders right next to each other. Although this is not a milk stout, so the cows are confusing. Its considered a strong amber or an Altbier, a typically German style. A bit lagery for me. Malty, hop spicy, slightly bitter, piney, dry finish.

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And with dinner I had another beer, the Port City Porter by Port City Brewing of Alexandria, VA at 7.5% abv. (A local beer!)

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Tastes of semi sweet dark chocolate. A little bitter, with slight coffee undertones, but not overdone. Strong roasted malts, hints of vanilla. Not the best porter ever, but not poorly done.

Later, we moved down the street a block to a bar of which I unfortunately forget the name.

I ordered an Allagash White by Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine at 5.2% abv.

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This beer is almost a classic. Its quite appealing, and so I cant think of anyone that’s tried it and not liked it. Very easy drinking. Crisp, wheat and grass, somewhat citrusy, Belgian yeasts, slightly spicy, and refreshing.

Oh my goodness, and shots. Which I tried to get out of, but I had to do at least one for Liz. It was an easy one though, a lemon drop.

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All in all, quite a celebration!

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Monticelloman Triathlon Race Recap

It’s that time of the year again—tri season!

It feels like the season crept up on me though, I felt very undertrained going into this first tri. We picked the Monticelloman tri because it looked to be a pretty small race! The larger races can be fun and exciting, but also a hassle too.

The night before the race, it was pouring and we were driving around looking for a decent place for dinner. This wasn’t our first choice because we thought that even though they are calling themselves an “alehouse” that it would still carry the same old boring beers.  I have to say Capital Ale House really surprised me! They have a fantastic beer menu! And their waiters also knew a good amount about beer and were willing to bring draught samples to try! They apparently have several locations throughout VA, but it didn’t feel like a chain at all.

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Since it was the night before a race, I limited myself to one beer! But I made Jack promise to come back here for victory lunch after the race!

After tasting a sample, I decided to go with the Vampire Slayer by Clown Shoes Brewery of Ipswich, MA at 10% abv.

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Pours almost completely black. Dark chocolate creaminess, slight subtle smoke, and espresso/ coffee flavors, slightly bitter, big chewy mouthfeel. This does not go down like a 10% beer, quite smooth and the alcohol is well hidden.

Quite an odd twist, this beer also contains holy water! Aptly named I suppose!

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So this year, I decided to step it up and go from the sprint distance to the olympic distance for my triathlons. Olympic distances: swim: 1500 meters, bike: 24 miles, run: 6.2. The only down side to this is that since Jack and I are both racing at the same time now, we have no one to take awesome action shots.

Anyway, the race was set up wonderfully, the bikes were racked lengthwise like in pro races and it made the transition so much nicer since nobody was stuck with a bad spot deep at the end of a row.

I was a bit nervous about the water temperature since it was about 70 degrees. I looked around and saw that EVERYONE else had a wetsuit on. But everyone always says not to make big changes for race day. I figured I might be cold, but I’d live.

Well, I lived, but it wasn’t pretty. After the gun went off and I swam about 200 yards, I realized that my throat and chest had seized up from the cold and I couldn’t breathe. I started to breaststroke, to have my head out of the water,  but I still couldn’t get any air into my lungs. I usually love the swim portion and couldn’t believe this was happening! I made my way to a lifeguard on a surfboard and hung on until I could get my breathing back. At this point, I looked around and realized that I was dead last. But I didn’t drive down here and pay $100 to swim just 200 yards! So I decided to try to carry on. I also have a huge fear of dark lakes, and this was about as dark and lonely as they get. I couldn’t even put my face in the dark water, so I swam the whole damn thing backstroke. I managed to pass about 10 people so I was feeling better and was actually relieved when the swim was over. Next time, I will wear a wetsuit!

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The bike was windy and lonely. I didn’t realize, but when you do a small race, there will be a lot less people around you! The run was the only part that I felt strong on. Those 6 miles flew by and I finished with a nice long sprint to the finish!

Jack actually finished 13th overall and 2nd in his age group!

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I have to say that I completely approve of their prizes for age group winners!

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And yes! We made it back to Capitol Ale House and had steak and potatoes! I was starving!

I also couldn’t resist and ordered the Straffe Hendrik Quadruple by the  Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik/ De Halve Mann of Bruges, Belgium at 11% abv.

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This is quickly becoming one of my favorite beers. Whenever I see it on a menu I lose all willpower and I am compelled to order it! Sweet but not sickening, and slightly tart. Subtle fruit such as cherries, dates, plums. Medium to full body. Moderate fine-bubbled carbonation. You can definitely taste the alcohol, as you would expect, but not in a bad way, warming. This is definitely a victory beer!

Girls Night!

There is nothing better than hanging out with the ladies on a random Wednesday night! We met up at The Light Horse in Old Town Alexandria and proceeded to have an awesome time!

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First off, I ordered the Maudite by Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada at 8% abv.  (Pronounced Uni Brew, silly French Canadians!)

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I really enjoy the Unibroue beers, but I can never remember which one is which! I’ve tried all of them, and I scour the beer menu looking for clues, if its under the Pale Ale section or the Belgian Dark section, to try and remember which one is which! I had to blindly guess for this one, but was happy with what I got!

The Maudite is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, right up my alley! Dark and malty, spicy, coriander, clove, plum. A bit hoppy at the end.

Also, after learning that Maudite meant “damned” I felt that there had to be a story there and sure enough, on the Unibroue website, it tells the story behind the beer!

The word “Maudite” refers here to the Legend of “Chasse-Galerie” a tribute to the early lumberjacks of Nouvelle-France. The legend tells of eight daring woodsmen who, during winter, yearned to be home for the Holidays. They conjured up the Devil and all of them pledged their soul in return for flying them in their canoe to their village. As they sailed across the moonlit sky, one of them managed to free himself from the pledge by invoking the name of God, which caused the flying canoe to come crashing down to earth.

Glad I now know the story behind the beer and the label art!

Next up, I had the Legend Chocolate Porter by Legend Brewing Company of Richmond, VA at 5.9% abv.

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Not bad. Lots of chocolate and toffee. Not super complex, but a decent beer to drink. quite a bit of carbonation, almost too much for this style. A bit nutty with a dry finish.

I hope girls night happens more often! I got to enjoy some good company and some good beers!

We Got to Meet Liz’s Parents!

Liz’s invited us out to dinner with her parents, so we got to meet them and go to a new restaurant! Liz found a very cute, little restaurant, with a good food and beer menu called the Black Squirrel up in Adam’s Morgan in DC. Although, it was positively a monsoon! Jack (who is quite the gentleman) dropped us off at the door, and by the time we made it inside we were still drenched!

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The Black Squirrel offered all their beers on draught in two sizes, sample and full glass. I love sample sizes!

I started off by sampling the:

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Probably the best Founder’s beer I’ve had. Very malty, toasted burnt caramel. Figs and raising, boozy, light vanilla. Quite drinkable, I will definitely need more than a sample.

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Next, I decided to go back and try a beer that I haven’t had in years! But knowing that I’m going to Belgium in a few months, I thought I would re-try some old beers and remember what made me love them so much.

I had the Bruegel Amber Ale by Brouwerij Van Steenberge of Ertvelde, Belgium at 5.2% abv.

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This is why I love Belgium. This beer is considered a Pale or Amber ale. It poured much darker than what most people would classify a pale/ amber ale, and that makes me happy.

First I noticed the honey flavor, then slightly floral. Toasted malts, bready, like a buttery biscuit. And wonderfully full bodied. Not a super complex beer, but comforting.

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We had an awesome time with Liz and her parents! I’m glad we finally got to meet them and hear some wonderfully embarrassing childhood stories about Liz!

Happy Birthday Voltaire!

We have been so crazy busy that I am, again, way behind on my posts! This week, I’ll try to get caught up!

Back in May, we went over to Voltaire’s for his birthday party! It was super chill and fun. Jack used to live with Voltaire, so its always kinda fun to go see the old apartment.

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I grabbed a new and exciting 6-pack before heading over. I got the Kona Koko Brown by Kona Brewing Company of Kailua Kona, Hawaii at 5.5%abv.

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Very easy and drinkable. Although, I was expecting a definite coconut taste. Tiny hints of coconut sweetness. Lightly toasted malts, nutty, hints of caramel. A very good brown though.

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Obviously good enough that I had multiple! Certainly a nice beer to welcome summer!

Andrew and Kristen’s going away party

Jack and I were pretty sad to hear that Andrew and Kristen were moving away, but they’re heading to Boston, so maybe we can go visit again!

We didn’t leave to go out right away, so Andrew grabbed me a beer from his fridge, I guess its appropriate that it’s a Sam Adams! (Since they are out of Boston)

Not sure why I’m making this face, I think its because I’m somewhat skeptical about Sam Adams beers in general.

I had the Sam Adams Belgian Session out of Boston, MA at 4.25% abv.

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Not a bad beer, a bit lighter than I was expecting. Not quite the yeastiness or mouthfeel of a traditional Belgian. Almost more like a Hefe.

And this picture, I have to admit, I took the following night at Voltaire’s birthday party, but I realized that I had to have a picture of Andrew since he is the man we are out celebrating!

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Later in the night we made it out to Chadwick’s in Old Town. Their beer selection pleasantly surprised me!  I ordered the Straffe Hendrik Quadruple by Brouwerij Straffe Hendrik/ De Halve Mann of Bruges, Belgium at 11% abv.

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This beer is AMAZING! It’s fast becoming my new favorite beer! Sweet but not sickening, and slightly tart. Subtle fruit such as cherries, dates, plums. Medium to full body. Moderate fine-bubbled carbonation. You can definitely taste the alcohol, as you would expect, but not in a bad way, warming.

This beer is so good that it will be hard to order anything else after. Most beers will pale in comparison.