Brewsday Tuesday – Left Hand Milk Stout

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured beer is Left Hand Milk Stout.

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Now, Left Hand Milk Stout is very special to me. It is due to this particular beer that I got into craft beer in the first place. The smooth, approachable flavor of this beer on nitro combined with vanilla ice cream made me come back for more. Thanks to Left Hand Milk Stout, I was able to start with porters and stouts, branch out into amber ales and lambics, and eventually become the craft beer nut that I am today. When I moved into my first apartment in Austin, my husband and I split a six-pack of this beer after we finished the moving process, and it remains my fondest memory of that place (which was otherwise a shithole). If you think someone in your life needs to come over to the craft beer side, have them try this beer, particularly if they’re already a fan of Guinness.

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This beer is probably most famous for being available in bottles (and now cans!) on nitro. While I prefer the nitro version, I’ll happily drink either.

Left Hand has started billing Milk Stout as “America’s Stout,” and I could not agree more. I was finally able to fulfill a dream of mine by visiting Left Hand in Longmont this past weekend, and while Left Hand makes some fabulous beers – I particularly love Good Juju and their Oktoberfest – this beer is the universal crowd pleaser. I’ll rally for this to be America’s Stout any day.

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My nitro pour at the Left Hand tasting room. Liquid gold, right there.

Now, you’ll most likely find the beer on nitro at any bar you visit, but I think it’s delicious either way. The beer will pour a dark brown color, almost black, with a strong cocoa nose. A nitro pour will be creamier, for sure, but drinking Milk Stout on CO2 doesn’t detract from the vanilla and cocoa flavors. This beer is sweet without being rich, cloying, or overwhelming. I can literally drink this all night, and have done so. Straight up, this is a damn fine beer.

This is a beer for ice cream. Drink it alongside or on top of your favorite vanilla, though I could see it going well with ginger ice cream as well. For cheese, you want a really fudgy blue. Nothing too aggressive or stinky, but something creamy and rich to play with the chocolate notes. That being said, this is a beer that doesn’t ever need food – it stands on its own.

That’s all for this week’s Brewsday Tuesday. Cheers!

Friday Things

It’s March! We made it!! For me, this means that the busiest time of the year is over. There are grumbles of some more business in my specific area of the field, but I’m going to ignore those for now until they become a reality. Let’s get to the links.

Even though things are getting warmer, it’s still the snowy time of year in the Mountain West. This overview of freezing to death is a good cautionary tale. Always check the weather before you go and take the conditions seriously.

March means spring, which means asparagus and radish season! I’m really looking forward to trying these radish and goat cheese muffins sometime soon.

Environmental justice is a HUGE part of environmental activism that doesn’t get talked about enough. I worked in an environmental justice clinic for almost a year and the impact of pollution related to energy production on minority and impoverished communities is catastrophic. Flint, Michigan is the most famous example, but it’s far from the only place in the country where things like this happen. Better late than never to have the conversation, though based on what I’ve seen, it’s too little too late for some places.

Yeah, because this country definitely needs more coal production, and especially in Alaska. Coal is not coming back, both from an economic and environmental perspective.

Speaking of coal not coming back: this piece by a rancher in Gillette, Wyoming explains firsthand the impact coal can have on farming communities. In case you’ve forgotten, by the way, Wyoming is a coal state. It also highlights how much Trump is not for the working class despite his campaign promises, though I feel like that should be evident by now.

This is just depressing.

This article on the correlation between health and weight speaks the truth. BMI does a really poor job telling the whole story. Example: the BMI charts for men and women are the exact same, despite the number of physical differences between men and women’s bodies.

A cool little piece on Oregon Trail to close out. I’d also love to see this. Also, if you don’t own the Oregon Trail card game, you’re missing out.

That’s it for this Friday. Have a good weekend!

Trail Guide – Barton Creek Greenbelt, Part 2

Another chilly day in Cheyenne (seriously – sub-freezing temps AND 20 mph winds? Just cruel) is making me miss those Austin “winters” again, so let’s continue our guide to the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

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Part 2: Spyglass to the 360 Trailhead, Mile 1.25ish-3.5

Parking at the Spyglass trailhead (1500 Spyglass Dr, Austin, TX 78746) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll be parking right by the original Tacodeli, home to some of the best classic breakfast tacos in town (get the black beans with portobello and rajas, trust me). On the other hand, you’ll be parking right by Tacodeli…so everyone in the world parks here. Even with the ample parking space, I usually had to park at least a quarter mile from the trailhead unless I came at a weird time on a weekday.

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Despite the lure of Tacodeli, this might be my least favorite trailhead from which to enter the Greenbelt. If you head west, you’ll be running through .25 mi of rocks. Not gravel or anything – big, honkin’ rocks that make finding your footing outright dangerous. This portion of the trail gave me many stubbed toes, and I am legitimately amazed I never twisted my ankle here.

If you can make it past the rocks though, you’ll be rewarded. Just past the rocks are some great climbing walls and swimming holes. This means two things for the eager runner: great views and thinned out crowds. Be warned that at around Mile 1.75, you’ll come to what looks like a creek crossing and a prompt to head left. Don’t do this – you can definitely cross, but you’ll have to recross and the portion of the trail on the left side of the river is less maintained.

As you continue down the trail past the climbing walls and up and over the rock formations (lots of fun, technical footing challenges here), you’ll eventually make it to the sign for the Gus Fruh trailhead. In my opinion, the trail gets a little tricky around here because it sort of splits into three forks. You want to keep going straight ahead and cross the creek – left will take you to Gus Fruh, and right will take you to a dead end. I’ve definitely dead-ended myself more than once here.

If you cross the creek and head up a big, soft dirt hill, you know you’re still on the right path. The trail will shortly break out of the trees and head through a field of tall grass. If those seasonal Texas downpours have been raging, this section of the trail might be flooded out – we saw a lobster here once! I love this portion of the trail, though. In the spring, you can see the wildflowers blooming and it’s absolutely gorgeous. As you continue down the trail, you’ll notice several branching paths, but the main trail is wide and evident enough that you shouldn’t get turned around. You can certainly head down one of those paths, though – it’s your adventure.

At about Mile 3, you’ll come to the first real creek crossing. Depending on the time of year, you’ll either hit a big, dry rock bed or a decently strong river. If the river is high, go slow and carefully find your footing. As long as you continue straight ahead, you’ll hit the trees on the other side and get back onto the main path. Always use caution, and if the current seems too strong, turn around.

barton-creek-without-waterWithout water…

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And with water. Thanks to Google – I never took pictures here because I was always focused on crossing.

Once you cross the river, keep right to continue on the Greenbelt. Unless they’ve fixed it, you’ll hit what looks like a gap or a downed bridge over the river. To get around having to make a huge drop, take a sharp left and then a sharp right to quickly drop down and back up. Keep right to stay on the trail. If you head left, you’ll head down a ravine that spits out into a parking lot. Continuing down the trail will lead you into the 360 trailhead, which will be on your left at Mile 3.5.

If it weren’t for the terrible rocky section at the beginning and the thick crowds at Spyglass, I would love this section of the trail. The atmosphere in this leg is very serene and wooded, and it has enough fun technical challenge to keep you on your toes. You’ll climb some granite, hit some rolling hills, and get your feet wet, and it’s all spaced out with some nice flat sections to let you cruise for a while. That being said, the best is yet to come beyond 360 – stay tuned.

View Part 1 here!

Brewsday Tuesday – Porter Culture

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. This week’s featured brew is Porter Culture from Hops and Grain.

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Porter Culture is not Hops and Grain’s most famous or most well-loved beer, but it holds a special place in my heart. On these cold Wyoming nights, I drink Porter Culture and am immediately transported back home. Not to Austin, but to Hops and Grain. This amazing brewery is the reason I lived through my first year of law school, and that’s no joke. The faces have changed and the taproom has changed even more, but Hops and Grain has always put out the same warm and welcoming vibe. We discovered Hops and Grain when we were poor as dirt, and while we came for the prices, we stayed for the people. My husband and I volunteered at their events and invited some of their folks to our wedding, which is coincidentally the source of our Porter Culture. It’s nice to have a seasonally-appropriate taste of home. If you ever make it to Austin and can only go to one brewery, make it Hops and Grain. You won’t regret it.

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Anyway, enough waxing nostalgic. Porter Culture is a Baltic porter, a style that departs from Hops and Grain’s usual fresh hop flavor. Upon pouring it, you instantly get punches of both chocolate and coffee in the nose. The taste is robust, bringing more chocolate and dark roasted malt flavors to the table. However, it’s not overwhelming – while not quite dry, it isn’t too thick either. Definitely a great beer to drink on a cold, snowy night.

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Also delicious when infused with a candy cane.

This is the sort of beer that pairs really well with smoked meats. Have it with a rack of ribs, or a burger. For you vegetarians out there, I also happen to know that it goes pretty well with fries. As far as pairing with cheese goes, I’m going to make a specific recommendation this time: Beehive Cheese’s Barely Buzzed. I had this combo at a beer and cheese pairing hosted at Hops and Grain, and it was out of this world. The smooth, white, coffee-rubbed cheese combined with the chocolate and coffee flavors in Porter Culture produced a truly remarkable combo. Any similar soft white cheese (soft, but not creamy or spreadable) would go well if you can’t find Barely Buzzed.

That’s it for Brewsday Tuesday! Enjoy responsibly, and cheers!

Friday Things

Congratulations, you’ve made it to another Friday! No long weekend this time, except in the metaphorical sense – I’m probably going to be glued to my work email. Not like I can get out too far anyway, since Cheyenne got hit with 5-7 inches of snow. I went for a run last night, then shoveled the walk since I was already outside. I honestly could not say which was harder.

Lots of link goodness coming at you for the weekend. Some of this is from a couple weeks back, but they’re all good reads.

Did anyone else read this talk with Jessa Crispin? I thought she brought up some thought-provoking points about capitalism, but disagreed with a lot of what she had to say. It made me think, that’s for sure. I like to engage with points of view I don’t necessarily agree with as long as they’re well-thought out and civilly-worded.

We all have our bad body image days – I know I’m certainly not immune. These body image resolutions from Megan and David Roche were exactly what I needed to hear this week.

Agreed, state parks rock.

This also picked me up this week. Go to your town halls, people! And write and call your reps if they aren’t holding one.

Hmm, is anyone really surprised by this? Seasonal employees were some of those most affected by the hiring freeze, though some of that’s been reneged for the Department of the Interior. I’ll be interested to see how the military demographic reacts to the current presidency as it continues.

These comebacks to all your winter running excuses were what managed to get me outside yesterday.

This blog post on “Not All Men” is a long read, but it’s so good. I think the opening sentences alone stand to make an impact, but it really calls those with privilege to be true to their integrity and learn from their critics. It’s easier for you to read to get the jist rather than have me try to explain it because it’s packed with good stuff…so read it!

These lessons on aging from a 105 year old cyclist are awesome! I’ve seen firsthand the impact that staying active at low levels makes on one’s longevity.

I’m really on board with the movement to abandon bombers for high ABV, small batch beers. Prairie does this with their various Bomb! variations, and I think it’s the perfect way to do this sort of thing. One 12oz bottle of this type of beer is really two drinks anyway, and I never come away unsatisfied. Also, uh, drinking an entire bomber of this destroyed me one time, so I might be a little biased.

This profile on Rahawa Haile, a black woman who did a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, combines a lot of my favorite things: trails, good literature, and critically examining activities through the lens of intersectionality.

Happy Friday everyone! If you’re in the Mountain West, stay warm! If you’re east of here, well, uh, I’m sorry about those 85+ degree days.

Weekend Trip – Colorado Springs

One of my favorite things about living where I do is the ability to take easy road trips to all sorts of amazing outdoorsy places. The President’s Day weekend meant that I finally had a little bit of a reprieve from work, so my husband and I decided to head out and hit the trails in Colorado Springs for a few days.

We’ve driven through Colorado Springs multiple times now, and it’s always been somewhere I’ve wanted to see more of. We booked an AirBnB on the southwest side of town and it ended up being perfect. We were basically fifteen minutes from everywhere we’d wanted to check out, and our room literally abutted Bear Creek Park. After sleeping in on Saturday morning, we both hit the trails for a run.

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I didn’t take my phone with me, but here’s basically what it looked like. I got in almost six miles of dirt goodness.

After we finished our run, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed west to Manitou Springs at the advice of our hosts. We wanted to do something kind of touristy, but not kitschy, and walking all over town to try every different mineral spring fit the bill. Out of all of them, Twin Spring was our favorite – lightly effervescent, absolutely delicious. My least favorite was Seven Minute Spring, since I thought it tasted the plainest. My husband would probably disagree. He particularly disliked Iron X Spring, since it basically tasted like pennies. Apparently, the iron taste was incredibly popular back in the early 1900s to the point where they had to drill a larger well for that particular spring though. Shows you how times have changed.

Manitou Springs was hopping (as to be expected with 60 degrees and sunny in February)! It is very much a tourist town; it reminds me of going to the Oregon Coast growing up. Besides the families and young couples, we also saw a ton of runners and hikers gearing up to do the Incline. This hill is on an old cog railway and goes basically straight up.

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After walking the entire length of town and back, we took a quick stop for ice cream. I can’t remember the name of the place we stopped, but they had a big sign reading “voted best ice cream in town” and the snickerdoodle flavor was killer. We also grabbed a small sampler at Manitou Brewing. The Deception, a dark cream ale, was a real standout. We both definitely want to go back and spend more time in Manitou Springs – the hiking west of town looked amazing, and I can probably bribe my husband to do the Incline with some more ice cream.

Following our stop in Manitou Springs, we made the quick trip over to the Garden of the Gods. These red rock formations are absolutely stunning, and I wish we’d made some time to hike the trails over there. We were pretty tired between our run and walking all over Manitou Springs, so we stuck to the main paved trails and took tons of pictures, so prepare yourselves.

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That evening, my husband planned a brewery tasting tour for us based on his own research and discussions with our AirBnB hosts! A word of caution before I dive in: it will seem like we went to a lot of places and drank a lot of beers. And on the one hand, we did! But on the other, we stuck to sharing 4 oz sampler trays and made sure we stayed hydrated and well-fed. We also made sure to take Lyft or walk. There’s a right way to do a tasting tour and a wrong way to do it, and if you’re going out specifically to get drunk, you’re probably doing it the wrong way. Be safe and make sure you can still taste every beer you try!

Our first stop was at Trinity Brewing, and I don’t think we had a single bad beer! The standout for me was probably Awaken, their chicory coffee stout. All of their beers were really creative without being zany, and you could tell the brewing team really put a lot of thought into the beers. It wasn’t just “let’s see what we can sour or what fruit we can toss in this beer.” The grain bills were really creative (lots of use of oats!) and the barrel-aging and souring was very purposeful. My husband took a lot of notes to help cultivate ideas to bring back to work.

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Trinity’s flight also comes with water and Irish cheddar. Goofy husbands sold separately.

Next, we went to Iron Bird Brewing. Again, more awesome dark beers. Their Black Auger Stout was delicious, and they had a chocolate rye porter on in rotation that was one of my favorites. I also really enjoyed the Deathbot Wit. But the pizza! The pizza was killer. Not that the beer was bad at all, but I love me a good pizza.

Afterwards, we went up to Great Storm Brewing. Honestly, this was my least favorite spot, and I don’t think we finished a single beer. It had nothing to do with the beers themselves – I tried a peach sour that I really liked – but all the beers were too heavy for what we were feeling at that point in the night.

Lastly, we checked out Bristol Brewing in the Ivywild School and split a sampler tray. We hadn’t been planning to come here, but apparently our hosts talked my husband into it, and I was blown away by their Red Rocket Pale Ale. Bristol didn’t do anything fancy, and it didn’t need to – it just made damn good beer. This was our last stop and the closest to our AirBnB, so we walked it home after finishing our sampler tray.

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Our flight at Bristol. Can’t wait to come back here.

The next morning, our feet were tired, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go hike in Red Rock Canyon Open Space after driving by it the day before. My husband was blown away by the views, as was I. This was a great spot for a hike – not too challenging, and a good mix of trails and views. The incline does take some sharp juts up and down when you go in and out of the canyon, but nothing as intimidating as the Incline! We both definitely want to come run here the next time we’re in town. More pictures coming your way.

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Before hitting the road, we stopped in at Urban Steam for lunch. My husband really enjoyed his cappucino, and my hot chocolate was delicious as well. The food was also creative, but missed the mark a little bit. I had a caprese-style waffle with an egg, which was tasty, but the egg came poached instead of fried (how I ordered it) and was to the side of the waffle instead of on top. My husband’s omelet was good, but a little underdone. This would be a great spot to come to do some work and grab a coffee, though. They’ve definitely put a lot of work into their coffee program, and it shows.

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Finishing the weekend with quality cocoa (#sundayvibes)

So, that wraps up our first visit to Colorado Springs! We’re already making plans to go back – there are so many more trails we want to check out. Enjoy the week, friends!

Friday Things

One of these days I’ll actually get a post up on time. I’m going to blame it on the busy season at work. We’ve stolen away to Colorado Springs for the weekend, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some R&R.

No real adventures to post about lately, mostly due to the aforementioned busy season and a tweaked nerve in my right foot. I did manage to get out on the dirt roads by Vedauwoo last weekend and get pelted with sharp, tiny hailstones. We also ran a 5k the weekend before that I had a draft post written about, but it got eaten by the internet, so I’ll give you the condensed version: you lose a ton of fitness when you don’t run for almost 9 months, but if the race is small enough you can still place.

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Swag. I don’t really need another pint glass,but it’s better than a cheap plaque.

Anyway, here are some links for your weekend:

I’m proud of Wyoming for managing to get outdoor enthusiasts and hunters on the same side. I know that the Wyoming Outdoor Council is partially responsible for bridging this gap. We’ve all got to work together for conservation.

At the same time, I’m disgusted with Texas. Part of my job ensures that children have access to special education services they need, and a critical part of that is having the school, the parents, and the doctors work together.

This article does a good job illustrating how complicated energy issues can be. While I’m happy that coal is on the way out, the Najavo are getting a really raw deal here (not surprising, but still, ugh).

I made this recipe for pumpkin pecan baked steel cut oats a couple weeks ago, and even my oatmeal-averse husband was into it. Great with vanilla yogurt on top.

I really loved this article on reclaiming the image of what a runner looks like. All bodies are perfect, and you should never let the mass media’s sculpted image of what an athlete is “supposed to look like” slow you down from pursuing what you love. I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff about Kelly Roberts lately, and the more I learn about her, the more I like her.

My husband’s breakout Valentine’s Day gift was this amazing goat’s milk salve. It has a soft, whipped texture, is not greasy, and just the tiniest dab works wonders. It also smells like citrus cake, which may not be everyone’s jam, but I’m into it.

So I’m not into this whole Pokemon Go thing, but apparently Blissey is ridiculously overpowered. To this I say: have you never played an actual Gameboy/DS Pokemon game?

Trail Running Blog of the Week: her posts are sporadic, but I have to give some love to Liza Howard. Her blog makes me nostalgic for the Texas trail running scene, but more than that, her writing is incredibly hilarious and real. Her life looks like life for the rest of us…except I don’t win marathons or ultras.

 

 

Brewsday Tuesday – Odell Friek

Brewsday Tuesday is a feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, Friek from Odell seemed pretty on theme. On fleek? On Friek? It’s official: I’m no longer a cool teen.

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Friek is a “lambic style” ale blended with tart cherries and aged on oak barrels. Just before blending and bottling, Odell adds fresh raspberries for color and flavor. I’m not entirely sure why Odell labels this “lambic style.” Maybe it’s not truly spontaneously fermented? It’s considered in other places to be an “American wild ale.” I know they brew it with wild yeast, but I can’t really tell what that means.

Regardless of what they call it, it’s still a good beer. It pours a lovely deep red. You definitely get a ton of that red fruit smell up front, and it’s sour, but not overwhelming. Surprisingly drinkable, but krieks range a lot on that front – I’ve had some that taste like red jolly ranchers, and some that only taste like, well, sour.

 

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The at-home edition

The oak barrel was the greatest surprise to me. Now, I’m hit or miss on barrel-aged beers thanks to a particularly unfortunate karaoke incident. However, the woodsy oak notes give this a hint of nuttiness and vanilla in the finish. It’s warming and lingers ever so slightly. Odell definitely found a way to set this beer apart with the oak barrel treatment, and it does not disappoint.

If you’re gonna pair this, go for super dark chocolate. I mean, this is a Valentine’s Day beer review, was I really gonna suggest anything else? Seriously though, the earthy, bitter cocoa flavors of 70% dark would be right at home with this beer, especially with that nutty vanilla note from the oak barrel. Pairing with cheese is more difficult, since kriek usually isn’t great with cheese. However, I could see this working well with a plain, super fresh chèvre. Straight up, no baguette, no cracker.

One final note: I live spitting distance from Fort Collins, so I had no trouble tracking this down. That being said, it still set me back about $20, and the further away from the Front Range you are, the harder to find and more expensive this beer will be. Just a cautionary note.

Happy Brewsday Tuesday, friends! Hope you enjoy Valentines, Galentines, Dudentines (is that a thing? it is now) and generally just celebrate love and kindness. The world can always use more of it. Cheers!

Brewsday Tuesday – Melvin 2×4

Brewsday Tuesday is a weekly feature where I talk about a craft beer I’ve had lately. In honor of National 2×4 Day (2/4/17) this past weekend, this week’s featured beer is 2×4 from Melvin Brewing. 

Now, I’m weird about IPAs. I’m fairly picky about which ones I will and won’t drink. Anything that’s too bitter or has too much grapefruit pith flavor is straight out. I’m not a huge fan of those featuring “cat pee” flavor (more Yellow Rose for everyone else) and I think anything with Sorachi Ace tastes like drinking Pine Sol. But anything juicy, dank, or tropical? Hell yes. Give me your Mosaic and Meridian hops all day. This means that I tend to enjoy double and triple IPAs far more than your basic IPA (for simplicity’s sake, let’s not get into the dozens of style variations).

Basically, that was a long-winded way of saying I love 2×4. Melvin Brewing is based out of Alpine, WY and absolutely blowing up right now. It’s easy to see why – not only did they win two medals at the World Beer Cup recently, they also make fantastic beer. I love seeing local (okay, local-ish, I live about five hours from Alpine, but it’s still a Wyo brewery) spots do well. The next location for craft beer to blow up? Wyoming. I’m serious, if you want to open a brewery, come here. Our young population is booming, real estate is cheap as dirt, and there are some laws going though that should make it way easier to get a microbrewery license. 

Ahem, anyway, 2×4. This is an amazing, clean, citrusy and juicy double IPA. It pours a beautiful deep orange and drinks super easy. You would never be able to tell that it’s almost 10% ABV, it’s that smooth. Obviously, this means it’s a rather dangerous beer, probably best for consuming at home. 

Not my best phot, but you get the idea. 

This would be absolutely killer with sweet and sour food. Think orange chicken or pad Thai, something along those lines. As far as cheese goes, I think this would do well with a creamy, soft cheese that’s not too salty or too unctuous. 

If you didn’t celebrate 2×4 day this past weekend, pick up a 4-pack and celebrated on your own. Cheers!

Trail Guide – Barton Creek Greenbelt, Part 1

While I don’t miss living in Austin overall, there are three things I do miss about Austin: the beer, the food, and the trails (in that order). Trails are only last because it’s not like we’re hurting for trails up in the Front Range. However, between the short days and the wind chill in the single digits, it’s hard not to long for Texas winters.

This time last year, I was hitting the Barton Creek Greenbelt at least once a week to train for Saddle Blazer. In honor of many dirty, rocky miles logged out there, I’ve decided to put together a comprehensive guide to this awesome little trail that runs through the heart of Austin.

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Not mine.

Part 1: Barton Springs to Spyglass, Mile 0.0 – 1.25ish

The best parking to hit up Mile 0.0 is just outside of Barton Springs (2201 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX, 78746), across the street from Zilker Park. Parking may be ample, but the best time of year to hit this trailhead is definitely November through March, and be sure to get there early. Any later than that and you’re competing with folks who want to soak in Barton Springs or hang out at Zilker Park. On a drizzly January Saturday, you can expect to have the parking lot mostly to yourself.

The first part of the Greenbelt is a mix of rocks and dirt. The terrain isn’t too technical or challenging, though there’s one pretty soft dirt climb that you can really sink into if you’re unprepared. It also tends to be pretty empty on winter weekend mornings. Later in the year, you’ll encounter more people – families, dogs, other runners – but this first stretch of the Greenbelt is wide enough that I’ve never had any issues with high traffic. This also isn’t the most scenic part of the trail, though you do pass through some nice shaded areas and get to gawk at the crazy mansions of the people who can apparently afford to live right next to the Greenbelt.

Just before you hit the Spyglass trailhead, you’ll pass the access for Campbell’s Hole on your left. Apparently, this is a popular place to swim when it’s warm, but I would only want to stop in here for a quick dip.

With its proximity to both Barton Springs and Spyglass, I imagine it gets rather crowded. Overall, if you’re looking for an escape from urban life, this isn’t the part of the Greenbelt for you. It doesn’t feel terribly remote or secluded unless you go early, and the scenery wasn’t compelling enough to make me seek this stretch out. I actually couldn’t find any photos of this section of the trail – I certainly didn’t take any, and a Google search turned out to be a bust.

However, it does have one major draw: if you’re looking to run the whole Greenbelt as an out-and-back, you don’t have to finish on a killer hill (more on that later). It also connects pretty easily to the trail around Town Lake if you wanted to link up the two systems for a longer run.

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Like so.