Monday, December 29, 2008

Beer Review of the Week: Big Sky Brewing Biere de Noel

A few weeks back, Linsey Corbin was in town for a photo shoot. I heard that her husband worked at a brewery in Montana, so I somewhat-jokingly said that I wouldn't put her in the magazine unless she brought beer. Linsey was already traveling with a bike in tow, so I really didn't expect her to lug some beer down to San Diego as well. However, since I'm somewhat of an alcoholic, at least as far as triathletes go, I was kinda hoping she did. And she did.

Upon her arrival I was handed a giant bottle of limited edition Big Sky Brewing Co. Biere de Noel. Hand-written on the back was "No. 109 of 204", which means this stuff is about as hard to come by as the new Litespeed Blade. I had been meaning to drink it before Christmas (being as it's a Christmas-themed beer and all), but I've been on the road and away from my fridge. So, when I got back to San Diego tonight, I decided a double-pint of really strong brew was in order. The Big Sky Noel boasts almost 9% ABV, which feels like a lot more when you've been drinking on a plane all day...not that I'd ever do that. Basically, if the Grinch had this shit, he wouldn't have been nearly as big of a dick to the poor children of Whoville.

As for the finer details...

The Noel definitely is not short on flavor notes. If your palate is only used to Natty, Keystone and Icehouse (AKA, you're a college student), it may be a little much. It's a Belgian Dark Ale, which means two things: It's robust and it gets you lit. True to its Belgian heritage, the Noel is loaded with spice, but low in bitterness. The tame bitterness means it finishes smooth, but the strong notes of bourbon, oak and smoke linger in the palate.

And as for the ratings...

Calories: * I can't give you an exact calorie count, but if you're looking to get ripped during the off-season, this shouldn't be your brew of choice.

Antioxidants: *** Belgian Dark Ales are some of the most antioxidant rich beers on earth, so it's ideal to drink immediately after a hard long as you plan on doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

Refreshment: 1/2 * This is not meant to be a refreshing beer by any stretch. It's meant to be sipped slowly while you're sitting next to the fire and trying to get buzzed enough to deal with your in-laws.

Taste: *** I probably wouldn't give the Noel three stars if I were drinking it on a sweltering summer day in the Everglades, but the uber-spicy flavor is perfect this time of the year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On Simon and Chrissie...

I have to admit I was a bit stunned when I heard Chrissie had left Camp Cliff to train under the recently-retired Simon Lessing. I've heard a lot of talk since this news broke--everything from, "Her career is doomed", to, "She'll beat Crowie at Kona next year." OK, maybe that's a bit embellished. My take? Chrissie will set a new course record in Kona next year and go on to win as many more titles as she seems fit (which I'm guessing is about three). Here's why:

Sutto (Brett Sutton) remarked on more than one occasion that the hardest part of his job (with regards to Chrissie) was keeping her from overcooking herself. I think Simon is just the guy for this job.

Last spring, I was e-mailing with Simon regarding my own training. I noted that I was injury prone, but was still trying to get my run mileage up to around 50 per week. He thought this sounded fine, but that I should do it by upping my frequency instead of the mileage of my long runs. I dug up his e-mail and this is what he had to say with regards to my personal training:

"Keep your long runs at a maximum of two hours. Beyond that, you're going to do more damage than good. I typically run for 20 miles or two hours; whichever comes first."

I reminded him that I would never be able to run 20 miles in two hours, but I gave his ideas a try. That e-mail was from March 5th, and I haven't run more than two hours since then. I figured I better listen to a guy who has five ITU world titles to his credit. I'm running faster than ever and have been [relatively] injury free all year. The guy knows his stuff.

So how does this apply to Chrissie? Endurance definitely isn't her problem. If you've ever seen Chrissie at the end of an Ironman, you know that 140.6 miles ain't much for her. There are only two things that can stop her from winning four or five more world titles: 1) Injury; and 2) Losing speed as she gets older.

I think Simon's less-but-just-enough method (if that's indeed how he trains Chrissie) is ideal for her. And, if she incorporates a bit more speed training than she has in the past, who knows how low that Kona record can go.