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

An Aria for the Brett Lover

Running across the Key Bridge with Georgetown and the Washington Monument in the Background

Running across the Key Bridge with Georgetown and the Washington Monument in the Background

After having a rough 11-mile treadmill run on January 25, I headed into my 12-mile long run the following Saturday with mixed emotions.  I dreaded the idea of having another bad run, but was very hopeful that by heading back outside that the problems of the previous week would be left behind.  I also decided to take a slightly different route, this way I could run a few more hills, head into DC, and have a change of scenery.

Miles 1-4 were awesome, and I knew it was going to be a solid run. Miles 5 & 6 were rough, but mile 6 is always where I struggle a little in my longer runs.  So, I pushed through and by miles 7 & 8, I was feeling strong.  Mile 9 was ok.  Then there was Mile 10, when I was sure my legs were abandoning me.  I started a mantra in my head to keep myself from stopping with only 2 miles to go.  It was a hard final push.  When I finished and reviewed my split times, I realized my long runs have not only been getting consistently longer, but also consistently faster.  The best part of the run, though, was my post-run beer and pizza.

Aria by Perennial Artisan Ales

Aria by Perennial Artisan Ales

The Aria (brewery) is a Belgian ale fermented with Brettanomyces (affectionately known as Brett) by Perennial Artisan Ales in St. Louis, Missouri.  The beer has 1 1/2 inches of stiff, off-white foam and a hazy, amber color.  On the nose, there was honey, white pepper, horse stable, and wet hay.  In the mouth, there was apple, wet horse stable, and hints of honey and apricots.  The beer had a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this beer in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $13, this is the beer for a Brett lover.  When it’s done in a controlled way, I like the “barn yard” characteristics in my wine, which is why I wanted to give it a shot in my beer.  And, Perennial did a nice job.  They created a beer that was interesting and unique, yet still very drinkable.  That said, if you don’t like the Brett characteristics, you won’t like this beer.  Also, a word of warning…don’t pair the Aria with pepperoni and meatball pizza.  While the two are delicious on their own, they do not make a good pairing.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a beer or wine with Brettanomyces characteristics?  Are you a fan or do you think it gives the drink a flawed, nasty taste?

Perennial Artisan Ales

Price: $13 for a 750ml bottle
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Post Run with Flying Dog

Hubby and I are both training for the USA Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in March.  This will be Hubby’s first half, and my second…and it will also be just a few days shy of the 1 year anniversary of my hip surgery.  Even though we took a few weeks off from training over the holidays and while we were in Italy, we’ve both been diligently sticking to our training plans.  And, Saturday is our long run days.

BW Instagram Running SelfieThis past Saturday, I decided to do my long run outside, even though it was freezing cold.  Right before Thanksgiving my iPod Nano died, and I need to run with my Nano.  For me, it’s not just about the music.  In fact, what I love the most about running with the Nano is that it integrates with Nike+, which means I have a “running coach” in my headphones to tell me my pace when I hit the right button, as well as let me know each time I went another mile, whether I ask or not.  So, with my old one completely unusable, I ended up with a new one.  Unfortunately, though, the default calibration on the sensor wasn’t accurate for me, so I needed to head out to the track to calibrate my Nano/Nike+.

Originally, I planned to do run 1/2 mile on the track while calibrating, and then head back inside for the rest of my 10-mile run.  I was sure 27 degrees was going to be too cold.  Plus, I’m a slightly peculiar runner in that I normally prefer the treadmill.  It keeps my pace consistent, and it usually feels like the runs go faster.  Once I was out there running, though, it felt great.  I followed a 6:1 run/walk interval and was weaving up and down the streets of my neighborhood.  Before I knew it, the Nike+ running coach told me I was half way done with my run, so I texted Hubby to make sure he wasn’t worrying and to let him I was going to finish the run outside.

Flying Dog Brewery K-9 Winter Ale

Flying Dog Brewery K-9 Winter Ale

By the time I finished, my legs were exhausted, I was mentally worn out, I was glad to come inside in the warm, and I had my usual post-run beer craving.  But, the run was one of the best ones since my surgery.  It was also the longest, and it just felt right.  So, I drank my post-run protein drink, showered, and gave into the beer craving by opening a Flying Dog.

The Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale (brewery) is brewed in Frederick, Maryland.  The beer had a dark, clear amber color with a 3/4-inch cream colored head.  On the nose, there were baked sweet potatoes, walnuts, and something herbal.  In the mouth, there was toffee, allspice, and pinecones mixed with toasted maltiness and a touch of molasses on the finish.  The beer was medium bodied.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $2 a bottle, this beer was exactly what I needed after my long run.  It’s a lighter winter ale, but what I particular like is that I don’t feel like I’m drinking a Christmas tree or a glass of potpourri.  It has the nice winter spices without being overpowering.  I paired it with a two slices of meatball pizza.  After running and considering how cold it was outside, neither of us felt like cooking or going out, so we ordered delivery from Pete’s Apizza.  Not only was delivery the right choice, but the pizza made an outstanding pairing for the beer.  All in all, the K-9 Winter Ale isn’t my favorite of the Flying Dog beers, but it definitely is one I would grab again.

P.S.  If you haven’t filled out my reader survey yet…you have until Sunday! It’s only 10 questions (9 multiple choice questions and 1 “anything else you want to tell me”).  So, please take 2 minutes to complete it. I’d love to hear what you like and what you want to see more of at A Glass After Work!

Question of the Day:  Are you a runner?  If so, what do you crave after your long runs?

Price: $2 a bottle (I bought 2 singles)
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4 Corks

Port City’s Essential Pale Ale

Port City Brewing Company Essential Pale Ale

Port City Brewing Company Essential Pale Ale

All the preparation for vacation left me little time for blogging, so I never ended up finished writing about my week of DC beers.  Wednesday of DC Beer Week 2013 was a fairly slow workday. With the Congressional recess in full swing, most Capitol Hill staffers were off on their own vacations, as were many of my office colleagues.  That meant I had plenty of time to catch up on the desk work that piled in June and July, but it also meant that there wasn’t the urgency to get everything finished by the end of the day.  Admittedly, I relished the slower pace.  By the time I got home from work, I was ready to just relax on the couch with my book and a beer.

The Port City Brewing Company Essential Pale Ale (brewery) is an American Pale Ale that is brewed in Alexandria, Virginia.  The beer was a brownish yellow with a bit of cloudiness.  On the nose, there were grapefruits and oranges with hints of flowers and grass.   In the mouth, there were some malt balls and pine needles mixed with orange rinds and lemons.  The beer was medium bodied with a bit of a sudsy finish.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable beer.  At $2.47 for a 12oz bottle, this beer was not what I was hoping for, as it had surprising citrus, flowers, and mild hops, and I expect a bit more from my Pale Ales.  At the same time, it was a solid choice that was definitely drinkable after a busy day at work.  All in all, while I wouldn’t shy away from drinking the Essential Pale Ale when I see it on draft at a bar or restaurant, it’s probably not a beer that I will keep regularly in my fridge either.

Question of the Day:  Are you Pale Ale drinker?  Do you have a favorite type (ex. Amber Ale, American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, etc.)?

Price: $2.47 for a 12oz. bottle
Purchased at Grateful Red Wine Shop
Overall: 3 Corks

Letting Loose with a Loose Cannon

Tuesday was a fairly quiet day at work.  Congress is in recess, so the Members and Congressional staff are either back in their districts or states working or they’re on vacation.  As Hubby and I aren’t escaping DC until the end of the month, I’m using the time to catch up on the things that piled up during the chaos of June and July.  That meant Tuesday was an email day.  I spent it going through, literally, hundreds of emails.  It was definitely not fun, but I had to do it.

After a day of emails, I headed home to the monthly condo association meeting.  It’s one of those things I have a love/hate relationship with.  I’ve been on the board for 5 years and have been president for 2 of those.  There is definitely a thankless aspect to the job, but I love the community and most of the time the people who live here are friendly and respectable. All in all, we’re lucky that even though our board doesn’t agree on everything, we get along well and we are fairly efficient, not one of these horror stories with 3-hour long meetings and board members yelling at each other.  So, Tuesday evening was the monthly meeting, and there was a lot on the agenda.  The meeting was about an hour and half, which is long for us, and by the time I got back to our condo, I was ready to relax with dinner and a beer.

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA

The Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA (brewery) is an American IPA brewed by the Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, MD.  The beer had about an inch of white foam and was a dark orangey, topaz color.  On the nose, there were yellow grapefruits, oranges, and Pine Sol with hints of thyme and something floral.  In the mouth, there were pink and yellow grapefruits, French bread crust and a touch of bitter grass and pine needles on the finish.  The beer had a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $2.37 for 12oz bottle, I enjoyed this beer, although I expected a little more from it because the Loose Cannon is their flagship beer.  I paired this beer with Hubby’s grilled tilapia seasoned with his own cajun spice mix and a three bean salad, both of which went nicely with the beer.  A lot of casual beer drinkers don’t realize how food-friendly a beer can be, but don’t make that mistake!  Beer and food (and not just bar food) are meant for each other, and the Loose Cannon his one is definitely a beer worth opening with dinner as it was a great compliment to the meal.

Overall, this was one of the beers I was most looking forward to trying during DC Beer week because I see it on tap all over DC, and in the toss-up between it and another local brew, the other local beer has always won.  But, not this time, and I was glad of it because the beer was very good, went down smoothly, and would definitely be something I ordered out if it was on tap.

P.S.—Yes, I know that Heavy Seas is brewed in Maryland, but they were big supporters or DC Beer Week 2013 and were listed as one of the participating breweries, so I’m sticking with the DC Metro area during DC Beer Week 2013.

Question of the Day:  Have you tried any of Clipper City Brewing Company’s Heavy Seas beers?  What did you think?

Price: $2.37 for a 12oz. bottle or $8 for a 6-pack
Purchased at Grateful Red Wine Shop
Overall: 3.5 Corks