Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foam Fest 2012: Beer Drinking Report

After Mass last night, we left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa and raced off to attend Foam Fest 2012 at the Colorado State Fair.  This was the second year in a row that we've gone to this beer festival, and it will likely earn a permanent spot on the calendar.  While Pueblo only has one Microbrewery that comes to mind, the Festival brings in brewers from around the State.  For thirty dollars (plus the $10 gate admission), you can sample around 60 different beers from about 25 different brewers.  And while they do provide free hot dogs and chips inside the beer garden, a better bet is to head  out to the main fairgrounds and indulge from a very large variety of food (Funnel Cakes and Nachos anyone?).
During the last 12 months since I last attended the festival, my knowledge and appreciation for beer has grown.  This is due in large part to my own experiences brewing beer with Mr. Beer, (it may be the easy-bake oven of home brewing, but it's still a lot of fun) and my acquired taste for Hops laden beers.  I now know more about the brewing process, the different ingredients, etc. At any rate, I came to the festival with the intention of sampling the beers in a more sophisticated manner.  That lasted at least twenty minutes.  Here are some thoughts from this year's festival including a list of my favorites.
Don't drop your cup!
The "dropped cup" correlation-  Don't drop your commemorative plastic cup at Foam Fest! Whenever a cup hits the ground, the whole place erupts in a collective groan (I'm pleased to say that I have not dropped my cup at this event).  There is an interesting correlation between the number of dropped cups and the lateness of the hour.  In the beginning, you might hear a cup drop every 20-30 minutes.  Near the end of the night, it happens in  one to two minute intervals.
You will grossly underestimate how much you've had to drink- Just because the "pours" you get are small (about 3-4 oz), doesn't mean you aren't drinking a lot of beer.  Consider that you might sample 3 to 4 beers during a 10 to 15 minute period (and that's if you are taking your time).  At that point you've had anywhere from 9 to 16 oz. of beer.  Over the course of an hour, you've now had 36 to 64 oz. (3 to 5 beers).  Foam Fest lasts four hours, so I think you get the point.  Plus,  you are not drinking Bud Light.  Most of the beers at the festival are at least 5% ABV.
Fair Food will help with the above- Nachos, Indian Tacos, Gyros, Deep Fried Twinkies, Giant Turkey Legs, Funnel Cakes, Deep Fried Snickers Bars, etc. will absorb some of the effects of all that beer drinking, just don't get sick!
Zora Pale- My personal favorite
The Best Beers of the Night- I had one "hands down" favorite last night, and several that I enjoyed a great deal.  The Best sample last night was the Zora Rosemary Oatmeal Pale from Strange Brewing Company.  The beer had an almost rich buttery taste and while you could taste the Rosemary, it didn't overpower the rest of the beer.  This beer was a little more full bodied than a typical pale ale, and it had an incredibly smooth finish.   They also had a Cherry Kriek Beer that won gold in 2011, and while I'm not a fan of the "fruit beer," this one was enjoyable, Melisa's favorite of the night.  More tart than sweet. 
The Oskar Blues Brewery won a Gold Medal last night for their Deviant Dale's IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBU's).  What can I say, I like those bitter, hoppy beers, not something I would have said a year ago! They also had the best selection of bumper stickers and were even giving away beer "cozies."  (We discovered that these cozies wound up in receiving larger pours, as they obstructed the view of the person pouring the beer).
At the Del Norte Brewing Company they had a Mexican theme going.  Craft beers in the Mexican style are remarkably rare, which is surprising given the long history of quality beer coming from that country.  Their Manana Lager was a Mexican Amber of excellent quality, and I'll give them extra credit for brewing something unique from many of the other breweries that were present.
Honorable mentions go to Amica's Green Chile Ale, the beers from Pateros Creek Brewing, and the Vanilla Cream Ale from San Luis Valley Brewing Company.
Mmm . . . Not so much- I generally find the beer at Shamrock to be quite enjoyable, and I did like the White IPA that they poured last night.  Not quite as enjoyable was their Pilsner which was a little bit of a let down.  I had tried to order it last week while having dinner, but they had stopped serving it at that point.  I was excited that I was getting a chance to try it again, but    there seemed to be just a slight skunky aroma that I didn't agree with.  For me, the standard on Pilsner beer is set by O'Dells Double Pilsner, and Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner.  However, the Shamrock Brewery produces many great beers.  Their seasonal 3rd Street Stout (made with coffee from Solar Roast down the block) is a fine, fine beer.
Elk Mountain Brewery in Parker won a medal for one of their beers last night, but I doubt it was their Kolsch.  This beer had a very disagreeable taste.  It was in fact, the only beer that I "dumped" last night.  I won't condemn all of their beers however (they did win something last night after all).
This morning, as I write this, I'm nursing a bit of a hangover, which is something I haven't experienced in quite some time.  For the most part, I'm ready for bed after a couple of beers.  I guess it's just part of the territory when it comes to Foam Fest.  And who knows, maybe by the time dinner rolls around, I'll be ready for a fresh brew.  Cheers!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Ride

Since my triathlon season is "officially" over, and it's unlikely that I will do another until next Spring,  my weekends have looked a lot different than they did throughout the course of the last several months.  I did do a 90 minute non-stop swim yesterday morning, but that was mostly because I was feeling great after several days of rest, and the pool was so calm and serene (when do you ever get to swim outside in a pool all by yourself for more than an hour?), I just couldn't bring myself to stop.
Classic Trek Mountain Bike
With school starting in a couple of weeks, my early morning adventures have switched from bike rides and long runs out on the road, to strategic planning, professional development, and the minute details that go into launching a new school year.   All of this while sitting at Starbucks at 6:30 in the morning (Sigh).
Maya with her "game face"
Nutrition Option: Peanut Butter on a Spoon!

Melisa "trekking"
 So this morning at breakfast we discussed the best way to spend our day, and decided that a family bike ride would be a lot of fun.  I was more than willing to trade a typical bike workout for some time with the family.  Melisa's mom and step dad even decided to join us out at the Pueblo Nature Center for our ride!
Last Minute Repairs
We set out from the house sometime after twelve.  Now that we have three mountain bikes, plus the trailer, it required two cars to get the family out there.  Still, it's nice to have a vehicle where I can put the seats up, and fit all four of the bikes inside.  I'm disappointed that they've stopped producing the Honda Element and I plan on getting at least another 100,000 miles out of this one if I can.  It's really a great vehicle for the Family/ Multisport Lifestyle (Another Sigh).  When we arrived at the nature center, we discovered Alan working on Mom's front tire (flat).  They have two older mountain bikes, and while the bikes are still in great shape, this one had a front tire issue.  Adding to the challenge was the fact that between the two of us, we had pumps, patches, and a tube, but no glue (or none that was still fresh enough to work).  Fortunately, there is a place that repairs bikes down at the Center and Alan was able to get a new tube which got us under way in only a matter of minutes.
This is fun!
But Tiring!
The Nature Center is a great place to ride bikes with a family.  There are plenty of shady spots and the path is wide enough to allow for frequent stops without blocking the trail completely.  It is also very flat through a 4-5 mile portion which means you don't have to work very hard while riding.  Today the weather was also very mild which was a big change from most of the weather we've had this summer.  We really meandered along and enjoyed the scenery and the company as we rode.  Along the way, there were several deer, and other wild life.  
 We even saw two people on these very funky recumbent tricycles.  I think the guy on the first one thought he was Mario Andretti as he cruised by going way too fast for the trail.  Oh well, I guess it's hard to slow down sometimes when you get the wind in your face. 
Go Speed Racer!
  These rides are most relaxing as there's no hurry, and you can really appreciate the uncomplicated pleasure that riding a bicycle induces.  The pace is slow enough to visit, and with my partner attached to the back, we had plenty of opportunity to do just that.  We reached the turnaround in our little journey, and then stopped at a nearby fishing pond for a small picnic.  

Many, many, many years ago, Melisa and I received a backpack "picnic basket," which we had brought along today.  Inside we stuck fruit, peanut butter, cheese and crackers, root beer for the kids, and a "bud light margarita" for the grown-ups! 

Mid Ride Picnic
 We found a shaded picnic table just off of the fishing pond and just spent a few minutes catching up and enjoying the day.
Nature's Bike Rack
 After our picnic, we slowly made our way back down the trail. I would imagine that we didn't ride more than about 8 miles or so, but like I said, it ain't racing season anymore, so it didn't really matter.  With Fall just around the corner, I'm looking forward to more days like this one.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jump right in . . .

Last night Mama Joyce agreed to take the girls so that we could go out and do some birthday celebration with friends.  After some delicious Mexican Food at Nacho's (Yes, Michelle Obama ate here on her last visit to Pueblo), we headed over to the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center for Festival Fridays.  I'd not been before, but it's cool that Pueblo has live summer concerts.  We will definitely be back next summer to check out The Martini Shot they play at this event.
This morning I woke up with the intention of heading over to the Country Club to do a little swimming.  Saturday and Sunday mornings are the best time for swimming laps.  The pool is deserted and it's great to swim all by yourself.  However, when I stepped outside about 6:30, there was a cool breeze and the sky was cloudy.  Swimming would have been fine, but going for a run sounded better.  I decided to join my wife who was meeting a friend for a six mile run over at Dutch Clark Stadium.  However, when we arrived, there was a small crowd at the stadium.  Turns out they were holding a 5K race in support of the Pueblo YWCA and the Centennial H.S. Cross-Country Team.  For $25, I was in!
When we towed the line at the start, I found myself racing against about 20 high school students amongst a few others.  I decided it would be fun to see just how fast I could do the race.  With a length of only 3.1 miles, it seemed like nothing compared to last Sunday, and the HITS triathlon out in Sterling.  At the start we went out fast, and it took about a half-mile to work my way to 3rd place.  The eventual winner of the race had flown off of the starting line and was easily a minute ahead of us by mile one.  I settled in behind another runner and figured I would stay in that position and see what happened.
We hit the one mile mark at about 6:30, and I was pleased with how I felt considering that I hadn't done any real speed work in the past couple of months.  We continued on and before I knew it, we were at 2.5km and turning around.  The runner right in front of me kept a comfortable, yet quick pace, and I continued to sit just behind him.  A couple of times he surged slightly, but I never broke contact and stayed within 3-4 yards the whole time, at least until the end. 
The course ran from Dutch Clark down onto the nature center and was an out and back event.  Coming back, we hit the hill at the bottom of Dutch Clark and I was finished.  Not with the race, but I had no juice for a final kick.  I struggled up the hill and then another hill.  The runner in front of me began his kick and was well ahead of me by that point.  I cruised across the parking lot to the finish line, still in 3rd place.  My time: 20:38.  Not bad for an old guy!