lamps, merry monks and el caminos

Last night we took a snowy trail run through Eagle Creek in the dark. It was one hell of a run– a brilliant way to ring in December and the first snowfall of the year.

We did about five miles, finishing up right around 6 p.m. My light little shoes held up surprisingly well — they seemed to grip the trail just fine and I didn’t twist any ankles. My toes were a little cold for the first half mile or so, but just until I got warmed up.

I had so much fun. I’ll shut up about it here in a minute, but seriously. You gotta try it.


(Don’t ask me why I always look all messy and disheveled after running and Kate looks like she just stepped off a runway in Paris.)

I still need new trail shoes. The ones I have now are Pearl Izumis and I like them all right, but my right heel (yeah, only the right one) slips unless I lace up extra tight; and if I do that I lose feeling in my toes. I love the new, lighter shoes I’ve been wearing, so if anyone can recommend a nice, light trail shoe with decent traction and waterproofing, I’m all ears.

I got home and celebrated with an ice pack on each knee and one of these:

Weyerbacher Merry Monks’ Belgian Style Golden Ale, courtesy of my buddy DBR.

I actually learned (after drinking it), that it’s a bottle-conditioned ale, which means they add a little sugar and yeast just prior to bottle, extending the shelf-life and allowing the beer to evolve and mature as it ages. Basically I should have cellared this one at 55°F and waited a year. Oopsie.

But it still tasted fantastic. A LOT of flavor going on here. Someone on Beer Advocate described it as cloves and bubblegum, and I really can’t do any better than that. It’s sweet and spicy, tangy and pungent. I’m not always a fan of Belgians and tripels, but this one was just right.

It made me feel worldly and sophisticated, like I’d just stepped off the wintry slopes of Belgia.

And, I don’t usually do two-fers (for free) but here’s another beer I tried this week and haven’t had a chance to blog about yet: El Camino (un)real Black ale, an all-Cali collaboration between 21st Amendment, Firestone Walker and Stone Brewing. I picked it up at Binny’s in Chicago last weekend.

It’s a jet-black, roasted, hoppy hybrid ale with fennel seeds, Mission figs, and pink peppercorns.

I KNOW, HUH?!

Fantastic. 9.5 %ABV/80 IBU; monster flavor.

Not everyone shares my affinity for black ales, but they’ve sorta become my obsession du jour.

Anyone else like black ales? Trail running through the snow in the dark? What ARE you obsessing over right now?

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20 thoughts on “lamps, merry monks and el caminos

  1. Re: trail shoes. I could use some too (lightweight ones), so if you figure it out, let me know, k?

    Re: snow. I kind of miss it. 😦 When I lived in Ohio, I used to looooove winter running on the trails. So quiet and pretty.

    Re: black ales. Do black IPAs count? Because I thought the one I had a couple of weeks ago was just awesome. I need to try more!

    Re: your ass. Well….duh.

    • It’s seriously not that bad once you get out there and warm up. And since I divorced my gym, I don’t have much of a choice!

      I bought a box of maple leaf cookies two days ago and it’s already half gone. ULS???!

  2. How gay… in a merry kind of way!

    Don’t worry about aging the beer. I’m pretty sure it was sitting on the Total Wine shelf for quite a while.

  3. I think I’m too much of a pussy to attempt trail running in the snow. Can I run through the snow with a beer? That’s more my speed. Sweet head lamp.

    • I was like that until I made it my life goal to try every beer on the planet. But looks can be deceiving — that golden ale was actually pretty heavy; whereas the black ale went down super smooth and easy.

  4. I’m not sure why, but few people seem to bother with trail shoes around here. I showed up to my trail running group the first day thinking I’d look like n00b-tastic with my road running shoes, but everyone else was wearing normal running shoes too.

    Of course, now that the snow has started, we all bring our little ice-stud pullovers too. Do you have any of those? I love them way more than yaktrax. This trail run sounded great!

    • Ooooh I’ve never seen those! There were a couple days last year when we were running on snow over a layer of ice. (There’s a peninsula that goes out over a reservoir and it tends to get extra windy and freezy out there.) I’ll have to check them out!

      Also I think of everyone in Alaska as just being total badasses, like, “trail shoes? PFFFFT. We don’t need no steenkin’ trail shoes!”

  5. Love the photo- you don’t look all messy- that headlamp is The Bomb.
    I have a headlamp but it’s not as cool as yours.

    So about the beer. I’m a rahtard and can’t remember the exact one but I had an AMAZING stout by Deschutes Brewery at Biketoberfest in Marin. I don’t know if that counts as a black ale, but it was a black beer and I went back for 2nds, 3rds and a 4th i believe….

  6. I don’t do a load of trail running, but I always find the trail runners too clunky to do real mileage in them. I wear them for hiking, though, and yard work. Every winter I think about getting new ones, but the trainers seem to hold up with our pansy-ass, WASPy Northeast winters.

    A headlamp, on the other hand, would be money. Especially for camping. Because holding out my cell phone to find the tent flap? Was embarrassing.

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