Friday, January 27, 2012

No Wonder He Can't Run Straight

Big Bison Ale from Crown Valley Brewing
If you have read the profile bit about me you know that I am an admitted beer snob. This is a far cry from my high school days back in Lake Forest and my college years (first at Texas A&M and then the University of Arkansas). Back then it was most certainly a case of quantity over quality. Stroh's, Keystone, Coor's or Miller was the choice. Whichever was on special at the bar or the liquor store. It wasn't until my trip to the U.K. about 12 years ago that I realized I was missing out on a world of goodness. The great thing about the trip was finding a pub on nearly every corner. Sometimes two or three. Alcohol is viewed quite differently there. It is customary to meet at the local pub after work for a pint or two with your mates. Folks aren't looking to get plastered, just to have an enjoyable time relaxing and unwinding after a day at the job. I got to try so many different beers. Beers with actual flavor and character. And that was the beginning of me turning into a beer snob. I have not had a mass produced domestic beer since 2005. There are literally thousands of great brews out there waiting to be discovered. And I have found that I really enjoy uncovering some little known microbrew and trying out regional offerings. If I can keep it local, all the better. Not that the Ozarks is a bastion of brewing but there are some pretty good ales available that have a local connection. With that said, here are some beers that I have had recently and a quick thought on each. 

The Big Bison Ale (above) comes out of Crown Valley Brewery located in St. Genevieve, MO so it's pretty local. It's a Belgian Dubbel with a rich, ruby red color and as the name implies, is big on flavor. Malty caramel notes and bold this requires your big boy pants. Not for guzzling, just sit back, relax and enjoy. These guys offer an entire line of excellent brews and have a nice website. Check it out. 

Schlafly American IPA
Next up, out of St. Louis, MO, is this great little American IPA from Schlafly aka The St. Louis Brewery. I love IPAs, a lot of runners love IPAs. This one is no disappointment. Hoppy, slightly bitter and a touch of citrus. Hard to go wrong here. Perfect post run beer. 

Petrus Aged Ale

This one was unique. Aged Ale from Petrus out of Belgium. Great aroma and a complex taste. Think a little sour and tart like citrus, quite acidic. I kept thinking there were hints of a cider and/or champagne flavor going on with this. I wouldn't hesitate to have more of this. Like the Big Bison this one is for enjoying slowly. 

Avery India Pale Ale

Finally, a traditional IPA from Avery Brewing out of Denver. The story goes that back in the 1700s it was discovered that extra hops and a higher alcohol content helped to preserve the beer during long sea voyages to India. Thus, the name IPA. As such, this one is hoppy, citrusy and full of flavor. I have long been a fan of Avery and this is one reason why. Good stuff. 

I should also note that I never thought of beer being good immediately after a race. That is, until lately. Following my first DNF last November at Turkey n Taturs I had a cooler of beers to share with the group. I was bonked out but popped that top anyhow. It tasted great. Duh! But the funny thing was how quickly I felt better. Was it the beer or the two two hotdogs that did it? Then earlier this month following the brutal Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon I did it again. Guess what? It tasted good too. And I felt better than I should have after that insane course. So, beer will now be a staple post race. Seriously, it may be the high carb content that is being ingested immediately after crossing the finish line that does it. I'm sure the alcohol content doesn't hurt feeling good either. 

So how about you? What's your favorite brew and what are your thoughts on a celebratory/recovery beer?

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