Before I wound up with my current injury, I signed up for the NYC Brew Mile with a bunch of friends. We’re all runners who love beer, so we thought it would be a fun no-pressure event. Plus, doing a beer mile is something we have all talked about and wanted to try at least once, as usually we’d be at the Craft Beer Brewery… so this was the perfect opportunity! Even though I haven’t been running and decided to skip the fall marathons I originally signed up for, I figured I would still be able to complete a casual mile race (broken up into quarters). There were no timing chips (but there was an official race clock), no one checking to make sure your beers were completely done before you set off for the next quarter, and an overall fun and casual vibe. But if we’re being honest, the running wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was (trying to) chug a full can of beer after every quarter mile.
The Brew Mile was held at Aviator Sports & Events in Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, Brooklyn, which meant it was a hike from Jersey City. But beer and running will get us to go a lot of places. The race itself was simple in theory: drink a can of beer (in this case Sixpoint Crisp) at the start, run a quarter of a mile, and repeat three more times. It was hot and I was thirsty before the race even started, so I was actually thrilled after the toast when they blew the air horn and told us to start drinking! My friends and I decided we’d all start together and try to stick together, but after that second chug we realized that some of us were stronger than others… so they took off, leaving three of us to burp and chug our way through the final half mile.
Like I said, the running wasn’t hard (aside from constantly burping)…. we were able to keep a respectable 7 minute pace during each quarter, and laughed as we passed people who would shout, “HOW ARE YOU STILL RUNNING?!” But each time we got to the drink station, the race got harder. Our splits for the beers increased by two minutes at every stop – 2 minutes after the first quarter, and a whopping 6 minutes before the last quarter. The carbonation and flavor of the Sixpoint was just too much by the end. Admittedly I thought it was going to be easier to chug the beers than it was; it’s hard to chug beer out of a can! Plus, I’m too old to be chugging beer out of a can… but if this event was a thing when I was in college, I would have crushed it.
The majority of us managed to keep all the beer in our stomachs and were able to sprint to the finish… because no matter how casual a race is, it’s still a race. The times in our group ranged from about 8 to 20 minutes, but we finished the entire mile and all the beers! We definitely want to try it again on our own; on a track, with beer that has less flavor (that’s the only time you’ll ever hear me say that), and not at 3pm in the middle of July. We’ll also need to get it on video so we can submit it as an official beer mile.
Since the race started at 3 in the afternoon, I was home and ready for bed by 9pm. My early bed time (and midnight chugging of water and eating a piece of bread) made it easy for me to get up on Sunday morning and head to a 60 minute Flywheel class… which was somewhat shocking.
Tell me… Have you ever run a beer mile (or wanted to)?! What’s your favorite kind of beer?
Two posts in one week — I told you I was coming back! Who doesn’t like a little Friday Favorites and a giveaway?! If you’re only here for the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom. But for the rest of you, here are some things I’m currently loving!
Vietnamese cold brew. I love coffee, and in the summer I drink iced coffee exclusively (I drink it a lot in the winter, too). I’m a fan of cold brewed coffee (more of that coffee taste without it getting watered down by the ice cubes), and will usually choose that over the regular iced coffee counterpart. So when a new coffee shop opened up down the block from me, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their cold brew. While there for the first time I noticed Vietnamese cold brew on their menu and decided to give it a try. Since that day, it’s easily become my favorite summer drink. What makes this cold brew so special? Well, it’s cold brew coffee mixed with sweetened condensed milk. It provides just the right amount of creamy and sweet while keeping the integrity of the cold brew coffee. My only complaint is that it comes in one size and I always want more!
High top sneakers. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point high top sneakers came back in style. At first I wasn’t really a fan, but like with most trends, they grew on me. I originally thought they were something that other people could pull off, but I definitely couldn’t. Eventually I worked up enough courage to buy a pair (after spending a LONG time looking for the ‘right’ ones) and I’m so glad I took the plunge. There were a lot of really cute expensive pairs out there, but since I wasn’t sure how they’d look on me, I opted for a more affordable classic pair; Vans Sk8 Hi-Tops! I ordered them from Nordstrom and wore them out as soon as I got them. They’re comfortable, fashion forward, and go with a lot more than I originally thought – I’ve worn them with pants, shorts, and even dresses! Also worth noting it’s almost Nordstrom Anniversary Sale time (those of you with Nordstrom cards can already start shopping), so if you’re like me and you’ve been wanting a pair but haven’t pulled the trigger, now is a perfect time!
Starbucks Peach Green Tea Lemonade. This is a drink that to me, tastes like summer. Growing up when I’d go to “the pool” with my mom and sister during the summer months (which we did pretty much every single day because I was obsessed), we’d usually bring lemonade, peaches, and Oreos. A random mix, yes, but a treat nonetheless. So when I saw this drink on the Starbucks menu, I decided to give it a try. As soon as I took my first sip I immediately thought to myself, “This tastes like summer!” and was transported back to those summer days at the pool. It’s sweet and refreshing, and something I find myself craving. I’m really glad I decided to give it a try (I usually just get iced coffee at ‘bux)!
Working in New York City. I’m sure there are a lot of people that will say working in NYC is the worst, but I actually love it. My family is from NYC (Brooklyn, specifically) and I spent the first 4 years of my life living there along with countless trips back to my grandma’s in Park Slope when growing up. Even today my dad can give you directions to pretty much anywhere in the city, even though he hasn’t been a resident for over 25 years. I always thought I’d wind up working in NYC once I graduated college, but that didn’t happen right away. I took a job that was located in the outskirts of suburbia, and a car was required for everything. As the years passed, I felt like I was missing out; I wanted to be closer to all the action! So when the opportunity presented itself to look for jobs in the NYC area, I jumped on it. Aside from finally working in a location I’ve wanted for years, there have also been some great perks. I’m a mere 9 blocks away from Refine Method and not far from a FlyWheel studio. I can go two blocks down towards the water and I’m at the Hudson Greenway/West Side Highway for amazing running. AND I’ve seen multiple celebrities since starting; just a few weeks ago I passed Mike Meyers and Louis CK on my way down Hudson Street to the PATH station! The benefits far outweigh any negatives I may encounter.
GoMacro bars. I’m always looking for snacks I can add to my pantry at home and desk drawer at work. So I was excited to be asked to try GoMacro bars and do a giveaway for my readers. I’m not a complete stranger to GoMacro; I’ve seen them at the store before, but never actually tried them until this past month. They’re made from mostly raw ingredients and are all organic, non-GMO, kosher, gluten free, and vegan!
I was sent a variety box of mini bars, and got to work on trying them for different things; before a workout or run, as a snack, etc. and it turns out they were great for all of my needs! I was sent a bunch of different flavors, but my favorites were the peanut butter, granola + coconut, and peanut butter chocolate chip. The consistency reminds me of the old-school PowerBars, but they taste much better. Since I only had the mini bars they definitely weren’t enough to have on their own before a workout, but were really helpful if I needed just a little something extra.
The folks at GoMacro were kind enough to offer a giveaway for one of my readers AND offer everyone a discount! You can enter through the Rafflecopter plugin below – the more you do, the more chances you have to win (a comment is required, though)! You have until midnight on Tuesday 7/14 to enter!
A few weeks ago, I was contacted about BackJoy products and their #GiveBackJoy campaign. As someone who has horrible posture and is always up for spreading the word about companies doing something good, I was more than happy to participate.
So, as a participant in BackJoy’s “Give Back, Spread Joy” campaign, I received a PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls. I’ve been well aware of my poor posture for over a decade; my mom was constantly telling me to “stand up straight!” in middle school and high school, but I usually just shrugged it off. Most of the time I chalked it up to being exhausted – she’d notice it the most while I was down on the pool deck during a swim meet. My excuse was always that it was mid-meet and I was either tired from just racing or trying to conserve energy and not wasting my time with perfect posture! Well, I haven’t competed in a swim meet in 6 years, and my posture still kind of sucks.
I think my poor posture is a combination of things, but there are two glaring reasons. One, my torso is rather long, so I just naturally lean forward a bit. Second, I have a weak core (as pointed out by my physical therapist last week – more on that in another post!), so I get tired quickly when trying to sit or stand up straight. These aren’t medical issues by any means, so I don’t really have an excuse for my poor posture aside from just being lazy about it. So when I got the PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to stop being lazy and start getting better about my posture. I mean, good posture can help with so many things… especially that little sport I love so much (running)!
So onto the products. As a runner, I’m a huge fan of the roller balls. They’ve been great for trigger point work on my legs, but also to help work out some tightness and kinks I’ve had in my back since starting to cross-train more (hello upper back knots!). It’s worth noting that my cats also love playing with them. Since I sit most of the day working either at my desk, table, or on the couch, the Sit Smart Posture Plus was an interesting addition. I could feel it encouraging me to sit up straight rather than collapse my core and slump forward and it was easy to move from seat to seat with me. While I haven’t had any long drives yet, I imagine it would be the perfect addition to a car ride – my back often hurts just from being in the car for an hour! The most fascinating product (to me) was the PostureWear shirt. I couldn’t help but think, how could a shirt help my posture? I’m not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I put it on, I could feel myself standing taller. As the product description states, its “ergonomic fit is flexible and comfortable enough to wear during both high and low intensity sports. It features a seamless construction for a comfortable fit, and performance fabric that wicks away moisture.” I was fascinated by the shirt because I could truly feel it encouraging me to stand with proper posture, and it wasn’t uncomfortable!
So at this point, you’re probably wondering why I decided to do a blog post about these products. First and foremost, I think they’re actually good products that can help with poor posture… I think I’ve seen an improvement in the way I sit during the day and it doesn’t feel like such a struggle to sit or stand tall (though I’m far from having “good posture” and I certainly don’t have it all the time). But more importantly, BackJoy is donating $100 worth of their products to chronic pain and rehabilitation centers (such Wounded Warrior Project and Denver Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center) just for this blog post alone (and any others)! I’ve been trying more and more to give back whenever and wherever I can, so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.
If you have less than stellar posture like myself or suffer from back issues, I encourage you to check out these products – they might be just what you need to help ease your pain and get you to stand up taller!
Disclaimer: These BackJoy products were provided at no cost to me. All opinions are my own.
When I started running 5 years ago in the late Spring of 2009, I decided that my first attempt at a race would be the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4 miler. I was nervous, ran in a pair of three-year-old Nike Shox sneakers and a cotton t-shirt, but made it to the finish line in 36:26. By that point I was hooked on running, and wanted to make this race a yearly tradition… and on Friday I ran my 6th Firecracker 4 miler!
It works out that this is the only four mile race that I do each year, so it’s a great way for me to see the progress I’ve made from year to year. When I signed up for the race this year, I was excited to see what I was capable of, especially after a big half marathon PR and my recent attempt at the mile. After talking with my coach about time goals, we settled on a time, which I of course thought was a little on the faster side. Jason has been really good at knowing my ability better than I do, so I trusted his suggestion and decided I’d go for it.
I woke up on Friday morning not sure what to expect outside. It had stormed pretty heavily the two nights before, and there was a pretty good chance that it would be raining for the race. I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining, but was instead overcast and in the upper 60s. Of course I scrolled right to the humidity section of the weather app on my phone, and wasn’t surprised to see 90%. I had my normal pre-race breakfast (picky bar, half a peanut butter sandwich, and a lot of water), and was out the door by 7am for the 9am race start. I packed a few different options for the run (hat? headband? sunglasses? shirt?), but after my 2 mile warm-up I knew exactly what I’d have to wear: a hat to keep the sweat from my eyes, and no shirt to keep me as cool as possible. Sure, it was “only” in the upper 60’s, but the 90% humidity made it a typical July sweat-fest.
When it was time to line up for the race, I put myself right up front. I knew that if I didn’t, I’d spend the next mile or so wasting energy weaving in and out of the crowds of people who are somehow overly confident with their expected finish times. Despite being right up front, I didn’t hear a countdown. The next thing I knew the starting cannon sounded, and everyone surged forward. I was swept up in the crowd for a moment and glanced down at my watch and saw my pace flash as 6:20. I knew at that moment I had a decision to make: fool myself into thinking I could hold onto it and fight through later, or slow down slightly and save a little for later. I pulled back ever so slightly, and settled in to a 6:50/6:55 pace as we rounded the first corner. I was able to count the women in front of me, and found myself running as the 6th woman. We passed the first mile marker and I clocked a 6:42, according to my Garmin. The next mile or so is straight down a main road, and I spent most of it jockeying back and forth with another woman and man. I could tell the woman was doing everything in her power not to let me pass her, and I think the guy was too – I even got an elbow a few times, despite the road being plenty wide enough for three, even four runners to run next to each other.
The third mile starts right after a turn onto a post-winter potholed road with a water stop, which is where I was able to shake the girl and guy I had been running with. I ran the second mile in 6:54, and started to worry that I wasn’t going to hit the time I was hoping for. I was getting tired, and bargained with myself that I could ease off just a bit to save some energy for the fourth mile. Slowing down a little helped (7:03), and by the time I hit the third mile clock I realized that I was about to hit a small 5k PR (clocked 21:23 according to the Garmin), and I knew it was time to try my best and hammer home. The last mile includes a path in a bit of a wooded area, and as I looked down at my Garmin and saw my pace listed as 10:00, I realized I’d just have to push it without really knowing my current pace. We looped into the park, and as I passed a spectator he yelled, “Just a quarter to go!” and what I thought was, “alright, 11th female!” I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back, and focused on the 12 year old boy in front of me that I just couldn’t seem to reel in (6:34).
I pushed it to puke pace like I do every time I enter that park, and I crossed the finish in 27:18. I made my way right over to the water truck and tried to walk as best as I could to prevent actually puking. I noticed they had a results table, so I made a beeline over to see if I was in fact the 11th female like I thought I heard the spectator yell. While they didn’t have overall placing listed quite yet, I caught my name on the scrolling computer screen to see that I had placed first in the 25-29 age group! Since I knew it would be awhile before they presented the awards, I took the opportunity to jog back to my car to grab my water bottle and a shirt. I made sure to run away from the course, because there’s nothing worse than seeing someone that’s already done jogging back towards you as you’re killing yourself to get to the finish line.
This race always provides free snow cones, popcorn, yogurt, and ice cream at the end of the race, so I was excited to grab a free Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bar to help cool me off as I waited for the awards and chatted with some hometown friends. Before I knew it they were starting the awards, and I scored a sweet little medal and a t-shirt! I should note, though, that the t-shirt says “2014 RACE WINNER” on the back which is just a little deceptive… since I won my age group, but not the race! It turns out, though, that I misheard that spectator as I was coming down the home stretch and I was actually the 7th woman overall, which was a nice surprise! (But again, does not warrant a “race winner” t-shirt).
Overall, I’m really happy with this race. Originally I went into it thinking I would run around a 28, but after Jason’s suggestion to go for a 27, of course, I hoped I would run slightly faster… internal competition is fierce. My 6:50 per mile average is the fastest I’ve averaged in a race, ever (aside from my road mile), so it was a big boost of confidence. I’m looking forward to a few 5k’s this month before really starting to marathon train.
Tell me… Did you race over the weekend? How did it go?!
That’s right, it is what some refer to as a “golden birthday,” which is when your age and day of birth match [defined here on Urban Dictionary]. I only learned about this recently, and was happy I hadn’t missed the golden opportunity to pretend my birthday this year was a momentous occasion (see what I did there?! golden birthday… golden opportunity…). While I don’t think I’m “old” (I joke about being old but don’t truly think you can say you’re old and believe it until you’re, well, old), I’ve realized that I’ve completed a good portion of this thing called life, and took a little time to reflect on it. I suppose as you do get older, you start to think about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and everything in-between. Reflections seem to happen during those milestone moments – a birthday, a wedding, the start of a new year. So rather than try to ignore it, I decided I’d do something productive!
I’ve seen plenty of people make lists for things they’d like to accomplish within a set period of time, and I find myself thinking, “that would be cool to do!” but never actually doing it myself. But as I enter what is decidedly my “late twenties,” I realized there is no time like the present to do what I want. Within reason, of course. So yes, I created a short list of things I would like to do during my 28th year. They don’t really have a theme, and are random things I started to jot down when this idea first popped into my head. I’m sure I’ll add to the list as the year goes on, but the idea is to embrace doing the things I love; especially those that make me a little uncomfortable. And yes, this little graphic took me a lot longer than I’d like to admit.
I’m starting the celebration a little early today by going for a run and having lunch with Ashley and cutie-pie Jennie. I’ll officially kick off my 28th year tomorrow morning with a 14 mile long run, followed by a much-earned free Starbucks drink (I’m thinking a Trenta will be in order). Beer, ice cream, and general relaxing will also be involved, and Sunday will include a trip to my hometown municipal pool, and a delicious dinner (to be determined where) with my mom and dad. Here’s to my golden year!
Tell me… Have you had your “golden” birthday yet? Any fun birthday traditions?
This past Saturday I ran my 11th half marathon since I started seriously running in 2009. After running into some IT Band issues in January while training for the Shamrock Half, I decided to pick a goal race a little further out to give me extra breathing room with my training. I settled on the Asbury Park Half Marathon (part of “Runapalooza”) since it was a day before the New Jersey Marathon, which gave me the flexibility to cheer for all my friends the next day. I should have known that when I signed up for yet another race along a shoreline, the wind would be an issue. But as runners, we’re good at forgetting the painful parts about races and training runs, aren’t we?
Before the race started we got ourselves checked for ailments and got our total 1 contact lenses to ensure that they remain safe. The race started at 8:30am, but since I’m an hour away from Asbury Park, it was a super early morning. Thankfully since it was so early, there wasn’t any traffic on the way down. I got to the Convention Hall just after 7 a.m. which gave me plenty of time to pick up my bib, take a trip to the portopotties, and meet up with teammate Lauren and #brobird GB!
It was pretty chilly in the morning, but by the time I walked out of the Convention Hall and lined up for the race the sun was shining and it was relatively warm. The race started just after 8:30, and I made an effort to get out front and in a comfortable position. While that mile should have been relatively easy, I wound up clocking a 7:08 (a solid 30 seconds faster than what I initially wanted to start with). I was nervous to have such a fast first mile, but I decided to go with it. I found myself in a group of about 4 men and a woman that were all going about the same pace, and I tried to tuck in with them as best I could to alleviate some of the headwind. I ran the next three or so miles with them in 7:16, 7:22, 7:21.
There were a lot of turns on this course. I mean, a lot. I tried to run the tangents as best as I could, but at some points I was so tired of running a block, and turning. And running a block, and turning. There was a nice out and back around mile 5 that was relatively calm in terms of the wind, and it was nice to see the leaders come through for the first time. Since it was a small race, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to start counting the women to see where I was. As it turned out, I was the 10th woman as we made our way around the turn to head back towards the boardwalk. I’ve never been in a lead pack before, and it was surreal to have people running in as we were running back out and cheering for us! I grabbed some water at the water stop, and tucked myself in and ran comfortably with three other women and let them do the work for a bit. I have to admit, all of the articles I’ve read recently about elite runners and their racing strategies paid off during this race when it came to pack running and using other runners!
Of course by the time we made it to the boardwalk around mile 7, there was a lot of wind. I kept a pretty solid pace the first 9 or so miles (aside from my way-too-fast start), but by the time we turned for the last 3.1 miles, the wind was gusting right in my face, and I was tired. It was also slightly defeating to run right past the finish line at mile 9 and know you still have 4 miles to go. Miles 5 through 9 were 7:22, 7:09, 7:14, 7:11, 7:16. I bargained with myself to take it easier miles 10 and 11, and that I’d pick it up the last 2 miles. I picked off three of the other women I had been running with earlier, and just tried to hang on. I ran miles 10 and 11 in 7:26 and 7:22. As it turned out, the wind was worse during the last two miles, so they were actually the slowest of the entire race! I’m obviously not proud of that, but I know that in those moments I was doing everything I could just to fight through the wind. At one point a woman I had passed earlier came up on my heels, and I could tell she was trying to use me as her wind shield. I slowed down because I didn’t want to do the work for her, and I let her go. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fight in me to stick with her, but I’m glad she passed me at mile 12.5 without making me do the work for her, rather than her just blowing past me at the end after a mile of me being her wind breaker. And despite all the negative split, progression, and fast-finish training runs I did over the last few months, miles 12 and 13 were my slowest by nearly 10 seconds – 7:37 and 7:35.
By the time I made the final turn back onto the boardwalk for my attempt at a quarter mile sprint to the finish, I was thrilled to not only be able to see the finish line, but to see a solid 1:36 on the clock. I pushed it to my ultimate puke pace, and managed to cross the finish line at 1:36:51. It took me a few minutes to gather myself (I felt like every possible bodily function was about to happen at once – yum), and then it hit me. I PR’d by nearly five minutes from my time at Shamrock in March, and I crossed the finish line of a half marathon with 1,131 finishers as the 33rd runner, 8th woman, and 2nd in my age group! Oh, and yes… I am wearing $5 sunglasses from Five Below. So stylish.
Going into this race I really wanted to PR. I was hopeful I could run a 1:38, but I really wanted to be under 1:40… I even said I’d be happy with a 1:39:59! So a 1:36 was way beyond what I thought I was capable of running. A lot of people seem to tell me I’m faster that I think I am… and I’m finally starting to realize that (maybe just a little). I’m really looking forward to a summer of short and fast races followed by a fall marathon PR. It’s time the marathon and I have another date since I have unfinished business with her… almost an hour’s worth!
Tell me… Did you race this weekend? How did it go?! What’s next on your running calendar?
I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
It’s no secret that I love beer… and especially trying new-to-me beers. I’ve even dabbled in the arts of brewing my own beer, which I need to get back to doing. So when the opportunity to try Kirin Ichiban beer presented itself, I jumped at the offer. I mean, what could be better than getting some Japanese beer and pairing it with some Japanese inspired food? Not much if you ask me!
I was sent both the Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light to sample, and really enjoyed them both. Kirin Ichiban is a 100% malt beer and only uses the first strain of malt liquid, which results in a crisp, clean, and refreshing taste. Kirin is one of the oldest breweries in Japan, and their mascot is the mythical Kirin beast (which is on their label), which is believed to bring serenity and prosperity. Since I’m currently in taper mode for my half marathon in two weeks, I’ll take all the serenity and prosperity I can get! I had the first beer pretty much as soon as the package arrived, but saved some to serve as inspiration (and as a pairing) for a light and delicious dinner.
My original plan was to make a noodle dish, but after receiving some goodies to help with sushi making (sushi rice, nori sheets, and some wasabi paste), I figured I could put them to good use with some veggie sushi rolls. As I was cooking the rice, though, I had another thought… what if I turned the sushi rolls into a salad?! Serving all of the sushi ingredients deconstructed over a bed of lettuce was genius; it really cut down on the labor (I’m not exactly skilled when it comes to rolling sushi), and was just as delicious. I really can’t believe I haven’t thought of making a sushi styled salad before – it was wonderful! I definitely plan on making this salad a lot more… and paired with a beer it was perfect.
Sushi Roll Salad – Serves 2 –
Salad Ingredients: 1 cup cooked sushi rice 4 cups spring mix or chopped romaine lettuce 1/4 cup carrots, chopped 1/2 cucumber, diced 1 avocado, diced 1 sheet nori, roughly chopped
Dressing Ingredients: 2 Tbsp soy sauce 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar 1 tsp chili oil [or sesame oil if you don’t want any heat] 2 tsp wasabi paste
Directions: 1. Add all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. 2. In a large bowl, add the spring mix, carrots, avocado, cucumber, cooked rice, and shredded nori. Toss the salad with the dressing.
About halfway through mytrip to Brussels, I realized it would be impossible for me to adequately talk about my food and drink experience in one blog post. So, I thought it was only natural to do a beer-specific post about everything I drank in Brussels because, well, it was amazing. If you love beer (at all) and especially if you enjoy trying new beers, you have to visit Brussels. They take their beer seriously – I mean each beer has a specific serving temperature and type of glass it should be served in – and even though I was there for a week (and had at least 3 beers everyday), I didn’t even crack the surface of the Brussels beer culture.
One of the very first things I was told when I asked for advice about visiting Brussels and where to go was to hit up Delirium Café. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Delirium beer (it’s the bottles with the elephant on them), but this particular bar is so much more than that. The building is actually split into three separate bars known as Delirium Village – Delirium Café in the basement, Delirium Tap House on the main floor, and Delirium Hoppy Loft upstairs. There are also a few other Delirium locations nearby that offer a smaller selection. If you’ve heard anything about this particular place, though, Delirium Café is likely the location that was mentioned. So, what’s so great about this place, you may ask? Well, they offer over 2,000 beers to choose from! That’s right – on any given night (or day) you’re there, you can choose from over 2,000 beers… talk about overwhelming!
As I mentioned, I had A LOT of beer while I was in Brussels – one with pretty much every meal, and then another one or two each night when I went out. I found myself a little nervous when ordering since it can be a little nerve-wracking to order something you’ve never had before. Aside from one night where I hated pretty much everything I ordered, I think I was successful! So without further ado, here are the beers I had (and a little review of each)!
Saison Dupont – I absolutely love saisons, but they’re newer to me (just started trying them this past summer). They originated in Belgium, so when I saw this on the menu at Houtisplou I knew I had to order it. It was crisp and slightly fruity with just an ever-so-slight sour finish. I would have ordered this over and over again, but I knew I had to branch out and try as much as I could.
Delirium Nocturnum – I’ve had Delirium beers before, initially attracted to them because of the elephant on the bottle. I’m not ashamed to admit that I often gravitate towards different drinks (especially wines) based on their labels and names. What can I say? You get extra points from me if your label is cute and/or clever. And until this trip I haven’t made a bad choice based on the name/label (see below for my least favorite beers). I’ve had Delirium’s Tremmens before, and while I wanted to try new-to-me beers from breweries I hadn’t had before, I had to order a Delirium while I was at Delirium Cafe!
Kriek – I had a few different Krieks while I was in Brussels (one by Brouwerij Lindemans, another by Brasserie Cantillon), which are lambic beers fermented with cherries, and was shocked that I liked them. While you might think to yourself, “ew, fruit beers!” this is so much more than that. They have a slight hint of sweetness, but it’s mostly a tart and sour cherry flavor you taste, which I absolutely loved. Also, they’re pretty carbonated, which I’m a big fan of since I have a slight (okay, big) obsession with Seltzer. The bright reddish color makes it fun to drink, too.
Achel 8° Blond by Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis – This was my first official Trappist beer of the trip, and let me tell you, those Monks know how to make a good beer! This is a strong pale ale, and is full of flavor since it’s right in the middle of their number rating system in terms of strength (6, 8, or 10). I had this beer at Poechenellekelder, a bar right across from the Mannekin Pis. They have a phenomenal beer list and it’s a perfect place to stop in and enjoy a brew (or a few) after taking in the tourist attraction.
Zinnebir by Brasserie de la Senne – Another Belgian pale ale, another near perfect rating on my Untappd app. This beer is simultaneously hoppy, but also pretty light, fruity, and crisp. I ordered this beer as it was listed as a local special when I was having dinner one night, and it was a perfect light companion to my heavier dinner of stoemp.
Vendett Extra Blond by Duvel Moortgat – This pale lager went perfectly with the fare served at Bia Mara, and I loved the fun pictures and sayings on the back of the bottles (as seen above). It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was a good light beer… dare I say better than most light lagers found in my neck of the woods.
La Chouffe by Brasserie d’Achouffe – This was a featured beer at Houtisplou on my last night in Brussels, and since I had luck with the Zinnebir, I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s an unfiltered blond that winds up being re-fermented in the bottle or keg, and it’s fruity and spicy (think coriander notes), and light on the hops.
Buffalo Bitter by Brouwerij Van Den Bossche – This was similar to the Dupont Saison, and I’d say is tied for first with my absolute favorite beer of the trip. The brew is actually a Belgian IPA, and I loved it. When I first started drinking beer for taste rather than to get drunk at keg parties in college, I didn’t know how to feel about IPA’s… I think there was actually too much flavor for me (since those college beers were always such high quality, ha), but I’ve since learned to actually love the complexity of a good IPA. And the Buffalo Bitter hits it right on the head.
And now for the three that I didn’t particularly like. I had such good luck the first few times I ordered beer, that I knew it was inevitable I’d happen upon a few that just weren’t my cup of tea. Unfortunately I wound up ordering them all on the same day! I also made the mistake of ordering them based on their names, which I know I said I’ve been successful with before, but these choices made me realize that isn’t necessarily a good way to order beer.
Open Mind by Birrificio Montegioco – This was the least offensive of the three that made it to my “yuck” category. It’s actually an Italian beer, but the bar I was at, Moeder Lambic, had a bunch of “visitors” so I decided to try one. It was okay (typical blond ale), but nothing to write home about.
Pink Killer by Brasserie de Silly – Yup, I ordered this because of the name. And when I saw it had a pink hue and came in a glass that had a cute little dog on it, I was pumped… until I took a sip. It reminded me of Mad Dog 20 20 that was mixed with cheap beer and cough syrup. Needless to say I didn’t finish it.
Barbar by Brasserie Lefebvre – Again with the name. But this time it wasn’t because of the actual name, but because it made me think of Babar, the cute little elephant that has adventures! As I type this out, I can’t help but shake my head (so you can too). This was better than Pink Killer, but barely. I’m not sure what it was about the beer, but I just didn’t like it. I managed to finish it, but only because I had ordered the Pink Killer when I was halfway through in hopes of it redeeming this beer, and since it was worse, this one didn’t taste so bad comparatively.
Needless to say I had a lot of beer on the trip. So much that I haven’t had one yet since I’ve been back (though that’ll change this weekend, I’m sure)! I was definitely spoiled by getting to try so many different beers, and on top of all the delicious food I was able to sample while there made it quite the trip. Now I need to figure out where to go next!
Tell me… Are you a beer drinker? What’s your favorite? (I want to try it!)
Look at me, posting a WIDW two weeks in a row! This week’s theme is Holiday drinks, and includes beer, coffee, and tea. I’m a sucker for themed drinks, and like to try them all. A lot of times, though, I find that themed and overly marketed drinks are average at best. The ones below are the exception to my made up rule in that they are themed, and they’re good. We should probably start off with the good stuff (the beer) first, right?!
Harpoon’s Winter Warmer: I had this beer for the first time at the end of the season last year and loved it, so I knew that as soon as it became acceptable to talk about the Holidays, I had to get my hands on some. In simple terms, it tastes like the Holidays (cinnamon, nutmeg), but not in an overpowering way. It manages to be light, but also warm you up, as the name suggests. This is definitely the kind of beer you want to have on hand for Holiday get togethers! [Spiced Ale, 5.9% ABV]
Shiner’s Holiday Cheer: Despite having “Holiday” in the name, it’s far from what you would expect as a traditional Holiday beer (at least for me). When I think of Winter Holidays, I think of the spices found in the Winter Warmer. This brew, however, throws that logic out the window and instead you get the taste of peaches and pecans. It is so delightfully fruity and light, and reminds me a lot of Magic Hat’s #9. Despite the summery flavors, it definitely works as a Holiday beer, and I can just picture sipping it in Shiner, Texas (where it likely makes sense to have such a light and fruity beer for winter). [Dunkelweizen, 5.4% ABV]
Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée: Oh man. I should preface this by saying up until a few weeks ago, I was very much not a stout fan. I could drink a Guinness if it was given to me, but it was never my drink of choice. They were always just a little too heavy and bitter for me. But after finally trying Founder’s Breakfast Stout a few weeks ago while out after work, and really liking it, I decided it was about time to try more. So when Jenny suggested I give Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée a try (with some dark chocolate), I made sure to pick it up when I went to the liquor store… and I got the last one! As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell the vanilla and caramel; it smelled like dessert. I was nervous to give it a try because I had such high hopes, and I wasn’t disappointed! It was so good. Not only could I smell the vanilla and caramel, but I could taste it. It’s a perfect “dessert beer,” or a beer to have when you want something a little heavier and sweet, rather than a light sweet beer (such as the Holiday Cheer above). [Imperial Milk Stout, 9.5% ABV]
Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee: No more beer! Starbucks puts out this blend every year, and it’s really good. I actually love all of their seasonal blends (Thanksgiving, Holiday, Christmas, etc.), but this may be my favorite. Made up of beans from a bunch of different regions (South America and Indonesia), I enjoy it every morning, but find it also pairs well with desserts. It’s a darker roast, but isn’t overpowering, and smells fabulous.
Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea: I had heard of this tea for a few years before actually trying it. I couldn’t believe that there was actually a tea flavor that tasted like sugar cookies. When I finally tried it last year I was in shock; not only did it taste like sugar cookies, but it tastes like my favorite frosted cake-like sugar cookies (like the one pictured below)! Well, the people were right – it tastes like a sugar cookie. This is a perfect tea for when I’m craving something sweet but don’t have anything around. The smell is phenomenal, and I promise it tastes as good as it smells. It’s perfect for someone like me that will almost always choose coffee over tea, but actually wants tea every once in awhile. If you love it, then you may want to consider buying wholesale tea.
I love taking advantage of different food and drink based on the season, and have been lucky enough to discover some really great ones.
Tell me… Do you have any favorite Holiday themed drinks? Any Holiday themed drinks I should try?
Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Budweiser. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.
Remember back when I did two “What I Drank Wednesday” posts and thought it would be great to continue doing them? Well obviously I failed at that part, but I’m back with my third installment today! This particular post is all about beer, and specifically, Budweiser’s Project 12 beers; Vanilla Bourbon Cask Batch 23185, North Pacific Lager Batch 94534, and Beechwood Bock Batch 43229.
What is Project 12, you may ask? Well, simply put it’s Budweiser’s innovation platform, where brewmasters have the opportunity to try new things and create new beers. Their Black Crown beer is actually a product of this project as well. These particular beers (mentioned above) are all named after the zip codes where they were brewed (Virginia, California, and Ohio)!
As mentioned above in the fun little FTC disclosure, I received these three beers to try at no cost to me on behalf of Millennial Central. I’ll be honest – I was really skeptical about new Budweiser beers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a beer loving gal, but these days I gravitate towards beers with more complex and varied flavor profiles and I wasn’t sure if Budweiser would be able to deliver. If you are my friend on Untappd, you know what kind of beers I like (and subsequently don’t like).
I brought the beers with me to my parent’s house for a fun little tasting since my sister and her boyfriend were there for Thanksgiving. My sister isn’t much of a beer drinker but her boyfriend is, so I knew I could count on some good thoughts and opinions on the beers from him. I also thought it would be fun to get my parents to try them! So, what did we think of the beers? I decided to give each beer a rating out of 5, based on not only taste, but also what the taster’s notes mentioned (i.e., could I actually taste a hint of the chocolate it was brewed with?).
North Pacific Lager Batch 94534: This was your most “typical” beer tasting beer. Lagers are the types of beers that most people are familiar with (at least around here), so it definitely gets that “yup, this is a beer” taste recognition. It’s light and crisp, and would pair well with just about any food; especially if you’re having a dish on the heavier side, since this beer is rather light. I gave this beer a 3.5.
Vanilla Bourbon Cask Batch 23185: I was the most excited to try this beer, but liked it the least. It’s aged on bourbon barrel staves and vanilla beans, and you can definitely taste the vanilla. It’s a smooth amber lager, but left a bitter aftertaste, which was a little too much for me. My sister’s boyfriend, however, loved this beer. So obviously tastings are all relative! Obviously this beer would pair well with sweeter foods (bacon wrapped dates for my carnivore friends, perhaps). I gave this beer a 2.
Beechwood Bock Batch 43229: This was my favorite! Brewed with chocolate and caramel malts finished on beechwood chips, the beer had the most complex and palate friendly (for me) taste out of the three. In addition to sampling it with my parents, I also had it with a sweet potato chili earlier last week, and the pairing was spot-on. I actually think this would be a great beer to use in a chili! I gave this beer a 4.
Out of the three beers, as I mentioned, the Beechwood Bock was my favorite. I would definitely purchase it on my own and I’d also grab the North Pacific Lager for someone that likes a more traditional tasting beer. While the Vanilla Bourbon Cask was my least favorite, different beers appeal to different people, so I’m sure there are plenty of people that would really enjoy the flavors (my sister’s boyfriend included). I’ll definitely be on the lookout for these next time I head to the liquor store.
This was such a fun way to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving – sampling beers, noshing on appetizers, and just enjoying each other’s company (after an afternoon of shopping, of course)! The idea of doing a little “beer tasting” get together has really sparked my interest, and I’d love to do a beer & cheese night (think of wine and cheese, only in my opinion, better) with friends where everyone brings either their favorite, or a new beer to try. I definitely need to plan one of those for the future!
Tell me… Are you a beer drinker? What’s your favorite?
Again, the beer and promotional items were sent to me on behalf of Millennial Central, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Additionally, I feel the need to mention that everyone who tasted the beers was over 21, of course.