Brews and Books

Less Moving, More Brewing

So, last few weeks have not been so good with the running.  The most I ran this weekend was around the block, because it was 10 pm on a Sunday and I had been in my running clothes all day and still had not gone for a run.  This was definitely one of those “you have to make exercise a priority” kind of days and it just never happened.  First, we had a friend stay over, and while I tried to convince him to go for a run (since he’s doing a 5K in a couple of weeks) he said no because he didn’t bring his running shoes.  Then, we had to go get groceries and run errands.  Then, we started brewing a saison, which for all-grain takes several hours, allowing me time to do yard work and entertain neighborhood kids who came over to play with our dog.

Once we’d extracted our wort, we took a break to go watch the USA/Portugal game — tied, flipping tied — which didn’t exactly lift my spirits as much as watching us beat Portugal would have, though was better than a loss.  Finally, at about 9:00 we got down to boiling our beer, which took 90 minutes and then another hour or so for the cool down and racking into a carboy for fermentation.  A busy, full day, none of which involved my running…at least until I took approximately seven and a half minutes to run around the block.

Good weekend on the BREWS side, less good on the MOVES side.

I finally made it out Wednesday afternoon for a sweaty 3-miler.  Our 4-year-old neighbor is insanely in love with our dog and craves constant attention, so she decided to engage in an attention-seeking blitzkrieg yesterday while I tried to work from home.  She began ringing/knocking on the front and back doors and tapping the downstairs windows about every 10-15 minutes, which drives my dog crazy.  Even after I opened the door, explained I was trying to work and that she was bothering our dog and that I would no longer be answering the door, she continued to do it.  I stopped answering the door and decided to go for a run.  Was she sitting on my door step when I left? Yes.  Did she start up again about 20 minutes after I got back from my run?  Yes.  Did she start ringing the bell within 5 minutes of Josh getting home from work?  Yes.  At least I was less stressed after going for a run.

The Oatmeal is Doing a Running Book

Thought everyone could use some humor after the laugh-fest of the above, so check out some of the new Oatmeal running book here.



IPAs, Founders, Among America’s Top Beers in AHA Poll

From the most recent issue of Zymurgy magazine, as voted on by the membership, America’s top beers are:

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder

2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

4. Bell’s Hopslam

5. The Alchemist Heady Topper

6. Lagunitas Sucks

7. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

8. Stone Enjoy By IPA

9. Founders Breakfast Stout

10. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Seems to reinforce the perception of Americans as a bunch of hop-heads, no?  Only three of the top 10 are not IPAs.  Numbers 2 and 3 on the list are two of my favorite IPAs with wide distribution and Josh and I were just talking last night over dinner (and a bottle of Enjoy By) about how much we like that particular IPA.  So, good job America.

Other notable Midwestern additions to the top 50:

11. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

14. Three Floyds Zombie Dust

32. Surly Furious

T34. Founders All Day IPA

45. Surly Abrasive IPA

T47. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

T49. Founders Backwoods Bastard

Not as much Ohio representation as I’d like to see, but I don’t think a lot of the local breweries have the capacity for much interstate distribution yet.  On the other hand, Founders occupies nearly 10% of the top 50 spots, which is well-deserved recognition for an excellent brewery.


Traveling in the South for an academic conference and struck by how noticeable the difference in humidity is down here. While I love seeing rolling hills again, I’m looking forward to returning to (slightly less humid) Columbus.  On Friday, I took a jog along the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville and it was sticky, but it feels worse down here in Atlanta.  I used my friends’ elliptical this morning because I didn’t think I could brave a run outdoors and I still was sweating buckets in their air conditioned house.  It feels like the ambient air is damper.

On the fermentation front, I tried a Yazoo Spring Ale on my way through Tennessee.  It was light, but had nice body and some hop crispness on the back end. Here’s their description of the beer:

A Helles bock style brewed with lager yeast, using a mixture of traditional german malts – Pilsner, Munich and Cara Helles – hopped using German Perle, Hallertau and Hersbucker hops. Flavor: A nice deep tan color with a slight bready sweet aroma, with a light mouth feel that finishes with a smooth maltiness and clean hop flavor.


Summer – In all its sticky glory

The plateau that is my weight continues. I went for a 2 mile jog before weighing in, so I shed some water and dropped 1.5 lbs from last week, but it’s basically the same ol’ same ol’.

Today’s weight: 182.5 lbs.

I find it a bit demoralizing that the new Withings scale shows a “normal” weight range that starts around 122 and ends around 168 lbs.  I cannot imagine myself being a normal, reasonably happy person at 130 lbs.  I would need to have radically changed everything about how I consume food and had liposuction to get down to that kind of weight.

In other news, here’s another defense of “calories in, calories out.”  The latest was a Opinion piece by Frank Bruni in the Times:

[Aggressively marketed pills, products, and plans] show no signs of going away anytime soon. Worse yet, they belong to, and are complemented by, a brimming culture of micro theories and boutique science that seeks explanations for excess pounds in equations well beyond the sturdy maxim of calories in, calories out.

Yes, that maxim oversimplifies. Yes, we learn more all the time about the asterisks to it and about which kinds of calories set you up to be hungrier (and to continue eating) or not.

But consult the most respected physicians in the field of weight loss and they’ll tell you that the maxim remains as relevant as ever. And the vogue for painstakingly tailored eating regimens and dieting techniques is to some extent a distraction from that, a dangerous one, because it promotes the idea that basic nature and fundamental biology can somehow be gamed, cheated, transcended.

“In terms of diet, the general laws of thermodynamics hold,” Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at the Columbia University Medical Center, told me. “The issue of — ‘If I eat a diet of all watermelons as opposed to a diet of hamburgers with the same number of calories, will I be able to lose more weight on the watermelons?’ — that’s a specious argument. We’re dealing with chemistry and physics, not imagination.”

I’m no doctor.  I’m not even a Times OpEd writer who gets quotes from doctors.  I agree that miracle pills aren’t the way to lose weight.

My “woo-woo” integrative health doctor – who my husband thinks is a quack and whom I am considering ditching because she is routinely 20 minutes late for appointments, even when I schedule early in the day so there won’t be a back log of people waiting – last year suggested I try cinnamon pills as a way of suppressing appetite and increasing my body’s use of sugars.  Didn’t seem to work.  There’s $10 down the drain.  So what did I do this year?  I let her suggest another supplement – lipoic acid.  Both of these supplements, when I look them up online, appear to be primarily for diabetics.  Does she think I’m pre-diabetic?  If so, she’s never mentioned it.  Nor did I get even a “good job” for losing 20 lbs this past year.  It’s all very discouraging.  Also, she told me to drink more water, and when I said it makes me use the restroom ALL THE TIME (by which, I mean, about every 45 minutes) she said to drink mineral water or put salt in my water to increase retention so I wouldn’t use the restroom so much.  When I did that, not only did I continue to use the restroom constantly but I also gained nearly 3 lbs in retained water.  It worked all right, but not in the way I had hoped.

So, I agree with Bruni about miracle pills, but I think the falling back on calories in/calories out is not as useful as it could be, because, at least for me, exercise makes me hungrier and I don’t think I get enough metabolic burn going from the exercise to make up for the uptick in calories.  Plus, it’s hot and muggy out.  Hello summer!

I’d like to try to stick to Michael Pollan’s rule: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  

Post Half Blues

Where have the past two weeks gone?  I didn’t run much the week after the Cap City, and then this past weekend we drove up to Chicago for a wedding and I didn’t keep track of what I ate, so who knows really.  We did do a very pleasant 5K Monday along the lakeshore, and I made it to the gym Tuesday for an ab workout and out for a 2 miler this morning, so some uptick in activity there.

I’ve been feeling listless and depressed lately and am trying to figure out if it’s procrastination, lack of exercise, poor diet, or something else.  About the only thing I am doing is getting enough sleep most nights, but I’m starting to feel guilty about sleeping in when my spouse has to haul out and go to work.

I was really hoping to get a long run in today to juice my numbers a bit for my yearly physical.  I’d like the numbers to show me down 20lbs from the last visit, but right now, it will probably be slightly less.

J got me a new wireless scale for our 3-year anniversary.  It’s going to be a very useful gift, but I think he was worried I would think it was unromantic.  He looked concerned and asked, “Too utilitarian?” as I opened it.  I got him leather cufflinks and a book of poetry, so in a fairly rare turn of events I probably did end up giving him the more romantic gift of the exchange.  They weren’t exactly love poems, though.  It was a collection by Mary Oliver, an Ohioan, queer, nature poet (seems disrespectful of a person to reduce them to three adjectives like that).  Go buy her book so I’ll feel less bad about my reductionism.

In any case, I’m going to set a few SMART goals for the next week and update on my progress next Friday.

Goal One – Use my tracking tools: weigh in each day, record everything I consume on LoseIt, use my Fitbit to track sleep in addition to steps.

Goal Two – Exercise at least 30 minutes, 4 times a week.  This should be an easy target.  I’ve already exercised 3 times this week and I’m signed up for a 5 mile charity run on Memorial Day.

Goal Three – Drink at least 6 glasses of water a day.  I find this hard.  Guess I’ll go get myself a glass now.  

I was 183.8 lbs at my weigh-in this morning.  13.8 lbs to my goal.

Half Marathon Accomplished

J and I successfully completed the Cap City Half Marathon this weekend there are three things about it that I am particularly pleased about:

1. We made it in my goal time of 2:30 — about 2:29 was our finish — and that was after being put in the slowest corral and having to move our way up through the course.

2. We didn’t walk — not even at the giant hill at the end of the course.  It helped that the DJ on the corners started playing Regulate as we turned the corner and faced the hill.  Nate Dogg had our back on the incline. Warren G, if I had wings I would have flown up that hill.  (As an aside: based purely on themes, street fights, picking up a car full of ladies, it doesn’t seem like this would be my style of song, but I love the third verse when they start explaining G funk and say “the rhythm is the base and the base is the treble” and “we brings…melodies.”)

3. Friends and co-workers are supportive — I’ve been getting lots of congratulations on finishing this race, which makes me feel happy about telling everyone I was going to do it!

There’s something about my physiology that makes me lose salt like crazy on these long runs.  J was wiping salt off my face at the end before we took pictures.  I’m wondering if the salt loss led to my body hoarding it the next few days because by Monday I’d gained a few pounds from my last weigh in.  I’ve been making an effort to stay hydrated the past couple of days, which means constant bathroom trips for me, and I’m now back down a couple of pounds.

Making my official Wednesday Weigh In = 183.4 lbs.

Not super, but I can work with this.  Here are my goals to start working back down again:

  • 60 oz a day of water.  People who drink 100 oz, I applaud you.  Maybe on days when I can live on the toilet.
  • Eat out no more than once a day.  Baby steps, folks.  I had double Panera on Friday.  Yes, you can do worse, but 2x a day is excessive.
  • Track my food.  LoseIt! here I come.

Elite or Elitist?

Elite Runner — PR in the 5K

I ran a sub-30 minute 5K this morning at the CRIS Run for Refugees.  It was an out and back route, and we had a brief shower on the outward route, but the sun came out for the run back.  I was struggling a bit with my breathing on the way back, possibly a combination of running out of gas and the air being full of pollen, but I broke the 30 minute mark, shattering (shattering, I say!) my previous 5k record by a minute and a half.  Did we take pictures?  No, we did not.  Because I am forgetful like that.

Also, because I needed to fit a long run in this weekend and am flying out to Chicago tomorrow morning, we tacked an extra 4.5 miles onto the 3.11 we’d already done by taking the entire loop trail of which we’d run only part for the 5K race.

Elitist Birder

The birds are out in force.  I saw more types of birds today than in the past 6 months combined.  Blue birds on the run this morning.  Mourning doves perching right out side the back door.  A robin is building its nest on our back porch light, a nest I have been begged not to remove so I am settling for trimming off the streaming bits so it sits neatly on top of the light.

That’s me – making birds’ nests more aesthetically pleasing since 2014!



From: Design Sponge

My brother-in-law was telling me this weekend that he and his wife are thinking about redoing their kitchen.  He mentioned that he’s pretty sure that underneath the old linoleum there’s hardwood, like there is in the rest of the house.  The hall way outside the kitchen is bare wood and it could use some refinishing, but it could be lovely and it would only be the work of a weekend.  Instead, his wife is thinking about putting down more linoleum, linoleum that looks like tile, because it fits their budget and she really wants tile.  I just don’t get it.  If you can’t have what you want, work with what you have that you could make beautiful rather than covering it up with something that is your second best.  They could always put tile in later if they don’t end up liking the wood.

They have a 5-year-old son so utility probably trumps beauty, but I don’t think wood floors are any less useful than linoleum, and they are much more beautiful.

Berliner Weiss (+) & Session IPA (meh)

Some beer-related thoughts from the past week or so.

BeerAdvocate’s Sour Note

BeerAdvocate’ s editor’s introduction in the April 2014 issue rubbed me the wrong way.  It felt like a screed against home brewers getting too uppity and acting like they were pros.  Beer Advocate’s focus is on professional, craft brewing companies, but I’m sure the audience includes a healthy number of home brewers too.

I’ve been a practicing lawyer, so I appreciate the importance of being properly licensed and obeying the law before beginning to distribute one’s beer.  These kinds of complicated, state-by-state laws and regulations keep my professional peers in business.  Was the intro supposed to be a tie-in for the featured article “The Illegal Beer Business”?  That article focuses on resale of rare/coveted beers (Heady Topper), the “black market.”  It didn’t have anything to say about home brewers, but the editors in their introduction sure did:

We’re seeing a disturbing, growing trend in the craft beer scene: homebrewers operating like licensed brewers.  By this we mean people who are pouring at festivals, bars, and other events; bottling at distributing samples; and promoting their “brand” as though they’re a licensed brewer.

They go on to argue that these people are breaking the law, creating consumer confusion, and drawing the wrong kind of attention from the government.  They admonish “aspiring pro-brewers out there” to:

Exercise due diligence, get a clue, and get licensed to brew before you serve the public.

I suspect that BeerAdvocate had a few specific brewers in mind that they are choosing not to name out of either courtesy or a desire not to be sued or attacked in the court of public opinion.  The tone of this so snarky though — “get a clue”?  Maybe their introduction is always this snarky and it hasn’t grated on me because the topic hasn’t been at the intersection of things that matter to me, like home brewing and the law.

From a legal perspective, I can see some of the practices they highlight being problematic.  Charging for and distributing alcohol is governed by lots of laws that vary by jurisdiction.  I would need to see the “branding” to know how its deceptive, but from an entrepreneurial point of view I think creating a brand as part of and prior to the licensing process makes a lot of sense.

Again, the brothers Alstrom must have someone in mind here.  I just wish I knew who.

Berliner Weiss – Yay

Berliner Weiss is making inroads in the U.S.  I place this entry first to let everyone know that I am not a hater on light beer styles.  Berliner Weiss is typically sour, low alcohol, and often flavored with red (raspberry) or green (woodruff) syrup.  I first had it on my honeymoon.

From my honeymoon trip in Berlin.

From my honeymoon trip in Berlin.









In Europe, the idea of mixing a light beer with some sort of sweetener is fairly common, so you’ll see shandies and radlers (usually beer with lemonade/sprite) on lots of menus.  Berlin was the only place I remember seeing Berliner Weiss, and now our local brewery (Actual) is making a version called Curiosus.  They told us all about the process of making it – it involved lots of funk and blankets.

From: Drink Up Columbus


Session IPAs – Meh

The pendulum swings back from high-alcohol hop bombs to…low-alcohol hop bombs.  I like me a good IPA — Ballast Point’s Sculpin, Founder’s Centennial — but this new trend is not the style for me.  It must be working for lots of other folks, though, since more breweries are jumping on the bandwagon.