Chilling with an Infidel

While I was training for DC’s USA Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, Mondays were hill training runs, which I did on the treadmill to make sure that I got a real hill workout.  Honestly, it’s the part of training I hate the most.  Usually, running is a mind-clearing activity where I burn off stress, get inside my own head, listen to music, and just…well, run.  Hill runs are not like that for me at all.  There is nothing fun or stress-relieving about hill runs.  In fact, I often find they have the exact opposite effect. I spend the entire time either hurling curse words at myself (usually in my head, but occasionally the curses accidentally slip out for others to hear) or silently reciting some ridiculous mantra over and over again in order to keep myself running instead of giving into the urge to just walk up the damn thing.   I hate every minute of those runs, but I do them.  They make me a stronger runner, and, as I was training for a half marathon in DC, it was a necessity because the city is anything but flat.

2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel

2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel

So, since Monday , February 17th was day 3 of a long weekend for Hubby and me, I made sure to get my 4-mile hill run in early.  I didn’t want it hanging over my head, especially since it was cold outside, and Hubby and I decided it was going to be a lazy, stay inside type of day.  We took turns heading up to the gym, as he was experimenting with a new slow cooker beef stew recipe and isn’t crazy about leaving it on when we’re not home.  For my part of the day, I was more than happy to spend it at home watching the 2014 Winter Olympics, knitting, and, of course, drinking beer.

The 2011 Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company Infidel  (brewery) was a Belgian-style IPA from Idaho.  The beer was a dark, clear amber with 3/4 of an inch of off-white frothy foam.  On the nose, there was some orange zest, pine resin, and hops with hints of pepper.  In the mouth, there were some oranges, apples, and pine resin mixed with hints of tea leaves, white pepper, and a not-too-bitter hoppiness.  The beer was medium-to-full bodied with a lot of lacing.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $9 for 22oz, this beer was smooth, well-balanced, and perfect for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.  It paired very nicely with Hubby’s stew, complimenting the meaty flavors without overpowering the food (or being overpowered by it).  My one complaint was that I only had one 22 oz bottle, and the one I had went fairly quickly.

Question of the Day:  If you’re a runner, do you do hill workouts or do you just keep it to a simple run?

Price: $9 for 22oz
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

A Saturday Hop Session

Wine at Central InstagramThe week of February 3rd was a ridiculously busy week.  I started off Monday with a dentist appointment, had work events Tuesday and Wednesday night, ran four miles and celebrated Hubby’s birthday on Thursday, and finished off on Friday with dinner out at Michel Richard’s Central and The Importance of Being Earnest at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.   All that activity meant that I enjoyed a glass of wine or two while out, but didn’t have much chance to taste anything at home.

Running in DCSaturday, though, was a usual day for Hubby and me.  We spent the morning grocery shopping, picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, and finishing up the errands we needed to do before lacing up for our long run.  Since the weather was cooperating, I headed outside, running through the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor so that I could get in some hills in preparation for the half marathon.  It was a solid 13-mile run that left me hoping to get a little faster before race day, but feeling strong and ready.  Afterwards, as usual, I opened up a beer and just spent the evening being lazy.

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

White Birch Brewing Hop Session India Pale Ale

The White Birch Brewing Hop Session Ale (brewery) is an India Pale Ale from Hooksett, New Hampshire.  As the beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, it was a hazy medium amber, with an inch of off-white foam on the top.  On the nose, there was some yellow grapefruit and hints of Cheerios.  In the mouth, there was lemon and caramel mixed with hints of pine and something herbal.  The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $8 for 22oz, this IPA was a little lighter bodied than I expected, but it had a nice, balanced bitterness that kept the beer refreshing and enjoyable while still giving me some of the IPA qualities that I was really looking for.  We can have the debate about whether a brewery can make a “Session IPA,” but I think the Hop Session Ale embodies the idea well.  It embraced the hoppiness of an IPA without hitting me in the face with it, which meant the big, bold, bitterness that seems to be more and more common in many IPAs didn’t overwhelm this beer and let some of the other characteristics really shine through.  This was the first beer I’ve had from White Birch Brewing, and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their beers.

Question of the Day:  Are you an IPA fan?  Do you have a favorite?

Price: $8 for 22oz.
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

The Last of My Dogtoberfest

There are good running days and bad running days.  Saturday, February 1st was a bad one.  From the moment I started, my feet felt like cement hitting the pavement and I just couldn’t wait for the run to be over.  I’m not sure why it was so difficult.  I did my usual warm-up.  I didn’t run a more difficult route than usual.  Yet, I felt like my legs were letting me down.  I didn’t let the struggle keep me from running the full 12.5 miles, but it was a rough one.  As soon as I finished, stretched, and cleaned myself up, I headed to the fridge to grab a beer I knew would put a smile on my face.

Flying Dog Brewery's Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen

Flying Dog Brewery’s Dogtoberfest Märzen (brewery) is brewed with 100% German ingredients, although it is made in Frederick, Maryland.  The beer had a medium reddish-amber color with about an inch of off-white, foamy head.  On the nose, there was some nuttiness and maltiness with hints of caramel and black pepper.  In the mouth, there was a nice maltiness mixed with lemon zest, biscuits, and caramel.  The beer was a medium body with a mild bitterness and good balance.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.   At $2 a bottle, this Octoberfest beer offered something a little different.  After my run, I opened my last two bottles of the season, and I was sad to see them go.  The beer is refreshing, with good flavor, and perfect for drinking while trying to relax my sore muscles.  The nice thing about Dogtoberfest is that it’s also very food friendly.  It’s the perfect beer to drink while snacking on some cheese and crackers or having a German dinner complete with bratwurst.  I think it also might go well with something a little sweeter like teriyaki chicken.

Question of the day: Do you drink seasonal beers?  If so, do you have a favorite season?

Price: $2 a bottle (I bought 2 singles)
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 3.5 Corks

A Super Superbowl Red Wine

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Rib Shack Red CapNeither Hubby nor I are big football fans, so Superbowl Sunday around our house tends to be just another Sunday.  This year, though, I think I spent too much time browsing Pintrest and Facebook because when we went grocery shopping on the Saturday morning before the big game, I told Hubby we needed to make crockpot chili.  I blame all those Pintrest pictures of delicious looking Superbowl-themed appetizers and all my friends who spent the football season bragging about how their houses were filled with the wonderful aromas of slow-cooking chili.  I just needed Superbowl food, even without the actual Superbowl.  So, Hubby indulged my request, making the best chili I’ve ever had, while I baked some cornbread and opened a bottle of red wine.

The 2012 Rib Shack Red (winery) is from the Western Cape in South Africa and is made with 60% Pinotage and 40% Merlot grapes.  The wine was a dark ruby with flecks of purple.  On the nose, there were blackberries, cedar, and cumin with the slightest hint of nail polish.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, and smoke with hints of cumin and vanilla.  The wine had a medium body, medium tannins, and medium acidity.

2012 Rib Shack Red

2012 Rib Shack Red

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At a SRP of $10, the quality-price ratio on this wine is difficult to beat.  Admittedly, on its own, Rib Shack Red is a solidly average wine—good, but nothing that stands apart from other wines.  Paired with food (particularly red meat), though, this wine just sings.  Whether it’s something straight from the smoker, a juicy burger off the grill, or Hubby’s spicy slow-cooker chili, this is definitely the wine I want.  Our condo building has a holiday party every year that is catered by Red, Hot, and Blue BBQ, and since I’m in charge of the wine, I can tell you 9 months in advance that the Rib Shack Red will be making appearance in 2014.  It’s structured, food-friendly, and beautiful.  It’s affordable, but still good quality.  And, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, the grapes are all sustainably grown.  What more could I ask for in an everyday wine?

Question of the Day: I know it’s a little more than a month ago, but did you watch the Superbowl?  Did you go for wine, beer, or something else?

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby's chili...the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

The 2012 Rib Shack Red and Hubby’s chili…the perfect Superbowl wine pairing

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Sweet Wine Sunday

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

Angove Family Winemakers cap Sunday, January 26 was a quiet day in the A Glass After Work household.  Hubby and I were both still recovering from Saturday’s long run.  Not to mention that it was freezing outside, and the condo was just too warm and comfortable to leave.   So, I spent the day editing photos from Italy, baking oatmeal raisin cookies for my coworkers, blogging, and just lounging around.

Hubby is taking a Coursera course for fun, so he spent Sunday working on his first paper.  We often eat one larger meal in the late afternoon on Sundays, so once I finished baking in the kitchen, he pulled together a big (well, big for two people) Sunday dinner—baked ham and garlic mashed potatoes.  In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a very exciting day, but it was relaxing and perfect.

2012 Nine Vines Moscato

2012 Nine Vines Moscato

The 2012 Nine Vines Moscato (winery) is from South Eastern Australia and is made with 100% Moscato grapes.  The wine was a very pale, greenish yellow color.  On the nose, there were apricots, pineapples, and passion fruit.  In the mouth, there was passion fruit sorbet, lemon Italian ice, pineapple, and apricots.  The wine had a light-to-medium body, good acidity, and a bit of sweetness.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $10, this wine has an amazing quality/price ratio.  It’s sweet without being syrupy, and the acidity is bright without being shocking or overpowering.  If you’re a sweeter wine lover, this is definitely a wine worth checking out.  And, if sweeter white wines aren’t your style, you should try it anyway because I think the balance of acidity and flavors makes it enjoyable for even the most skeptical-of-sweeter-wine drinkers.  Unfortunately, though, for all of you non-USA readers, this wine is only available in the US.

All in all, not only will this wine be refreshing on a hot summer night or make a good picnic wine, but also it will pair perfectly with a salty, warm winter meal.  I couldn’t have picked a better pairing for this wine then the Hubby’s baked ham and garlic mashed potatoes.  The acidity in the wine cut through the heaviness of the ham in a way that helped highlight the flavor of the meal without enhancing the saltiness.  It also helped keep my palate fresh, which allowed me to enjoy the wine itself while still keeping every bite flavorful.

Question of the Day: Do you do big Sunday night dinners or are they just another night in your house?

Suggested Retail Price: $10
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks