Connecticut Brewers Fest 2014 at Two Roads Brewing Company

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Connecticut is becoming a hot bed for craft breweries.  They seem to be popping up everywhere and each one has some very unique offerings.  Last night one of my favorite local breweries, Two Roads Brewing Company, hosted the Connecticut Brewers Fest where over 20 breweries came together under one roof for an epic tasting!

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Two Roads is located in a huge 100 year old factory in Stratford, CT.  The first floor houses the brewery and the second floor is home to huge tasting room and event space. Many of the details of the original building were kept intact and you get the feeling of stepping back into the industrial era when you walk through the doors.   

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After checking in, I received an awesome glass to commemorate the event and use as my tasting glass for the evening.  I headed into the first room where there were about 12 to 15 tasting tables set up.  The first brewery I saw was Thimble Island Brewing Company out of Branford.  I’ve enjoyed their American Ale on many occasions, so I decided to try the Coffee Stout this time and YUM!  This is a beer made for the colder months ahead and served with a good beef stew.  I was off to a good start.  

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I moved on to try a Cannoli Ale from Shebeen Brewing in Wolcott, Arch Amber from the Hartford Better Beer Co. and the 203 Lager from a new brewery opening up in Branford called Stony Creek.  I enjoyed them all, except that the Cannoli Beer was a bit sweet for my taste…kind of like a scotch ale.

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I was happy to find one of Connecticut’s newest breweries and a personal favorite of mine, Black Hog Brewing Company.  You might recall that I attended their opening back in August and have been excited to try their new concoctions ever since.  Here they were sampling a new Rosemary Dunkelweizen which I had never heard of before, but the rosemary peaked my interest.  I was happy to find this to be a delicious dark wheat beer with many herbal undertones.  Can I have a whole pint please?

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I moved into the main tasting room where there were about 10 more tables set up, as well as the giant Two Roads bar where you could taste their entire selection.  This room also overlooks the brewery floor where people were still hard at work bottling.  Seriously, this place is massive…

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As I’m sure you can tell by now, I prefer the darker, maltier beers to the hoppy IPAs.  IPAs are really big among craft beer lovers, but I just find them a bit to bitter for me.  There was a large crowd gathered around the Beer’d Brewing Co. table (love the name!) which meant they probably had a great selection.  However there were only IPAs available to taste.  I tried the L.I. Connection which I was told was the maltiest of the bunch, but I didn’t really enjoy it as I expected.  But Beer’d did take the prize for best logo and taps 🙂

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I sought out a few more beers I might enjoy and found quite a few good contenders among the other breweries.  There was the Octoberfest Ale and Season of the Witch from Broad Brook Brewing Company in East Windsor, Weed Amber Ale from the newly operating Weed Company in Cheshire, and one of my favorites from the night Emily’s Chocolate Coconut Porter from Firefly Hollow Brewing Co. in Bristol. Oh man was that delicious!!

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My last stop was to the Two Roads bar to finally get a taste of their Rosemary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale.  I had see the poster for the beer earlier in the year and had been looking forward to trying it.  I’m not a huge pumpkin fan but this was really good.  Had more of a vanilla cinnamon flavor to it…big win!

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Before leaving I checked out some of the merchandise from the Two Roads shop and from the CT Beer Trail table.  Yes, there is a Beer Trail in CT and yes, you should definitely check it out!  There were a lot of fun shirts but I showed some restraint…

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On my way out I took a look at the three food trucks that were set up outside for the event.  The Local Meatball, Bounty and Lobstercraft.  Two Roads has a different food truck visit each day and you can bring it all inside to enjoy with your beer…pretty cool.  The hot buttered lobster roll was hard to pass up, but I had dinner waiting at home so I kept on walking…sigh…

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This was a really fun event and kudos to Two Roads for hosting all of these breweries that are essentially their competition.  It goes to show how great the brewery community is here in CT.

Do you have any local breweries you enjoy in your areas?  What is your favorite beer?

**I was invited to attend this event but was not required to write a review.  All opinions are my own and I  just LOVE good beer**

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Amanda Allen – Proving Fitness and Well-Being Can Begin At Any Age

What things come to mind when you think of the fittest people in the world?  I would bet that a 43 woman would not be in that list and that’s because you haven’t met Amanda Allen.  Amanda has won the CrossFit Games Masters Division (40-44) for two consecutive years and is here to prove that fitness and well-being can begin at any age.

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Amanda’s story isn’t that of a typical athlete.  After years of struggling with alcohol addiction and depression, she decided it was time to make a change at the age of 34. Amanda dove head first into a new adventure and became a World title triathlete.  From there, she took on the sport of Kneeling Canoeing which had recently become an Olympic event.  She devoted herself to the sport with the hopes of making the Olympic Team and turned CrossFit while training as a way to increase her strength.  She did not make the cut, but the story doesn’t end there.  At the age of 41 with only six months of training under her belt, Amanda qualified for the CrossFit Games and placed 19th among the fittest women in the world, some of which were half her age.  AMAZING.

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Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Amanda has continued to get stronger and better at the sport.  Not only has she won the Women’s 40-44 Masters Division at the CrossFit Games in 2013 and 2014, she signed with the National Professional Grid League team the Philly Founders, which has brought her to the States from Australia for an extended stay.  Since the coach of the Founders is also the Owner and Head Coach at my gym, CrossFit Milford, we have been lucky enough to have had her training here for the past few months.  

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Amanda was awesome enough to sit down with some of the female athletes at CFM to talk about training, nutrition, and overall mental health one Saturday afternoon and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear what she had to say.  She shared her journey to the CrossFit games, training techniques and nutrition regimens.  She talked about the “controlling the controllables” which are basically nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery and perception.  We learned how to best fuel for workouts, new recovery techniques such as floating, how tracking your menstrual cycle can help improve performance and a ton of other useful information specific to women athletes.

While all of this information was wonderful and what I had expected out of the seminar, I found that what resonated with me the most was Amanda’s outlook on self empowerment and positivity.  We have 100% control over our mindset and how we choose to live our lives, so why not choose a positive outlook.  She reinforced that being selfish isn’t a bad thing and that in order to become successful and truly happy we need to empower ourselves.  We should strive to find inspiration everyday and in turn inspire others.  She has even begun her own “Positivity Project” by writing down 3 positive aspects of her life every morning to get her in the right mindset everyday.  

None of this would have been possible without CrossFit.  Amanda says that it is the most empowering thing she has ever done and sees how it changes lives around the world.  I know it has changed mine.  It has helped Amanda become mentally, emotionally, spiritually and overall physically stronger everyday, and I couldn’t agree more!  

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

Photo Source: Amanda Allen

What a privilege to chat with a professional athlete and feed off of her energy for an afternoon.  While much of her nutrition and competitive training advice was a bit extreme for my goals, her advice on self empowerment and positivity is something that I can start working on right away that will make a HUGE difference in my life.  I am making an effort to fill my life with positive people and to cut out all of the negative shit.  Coming to the realization that being selfish isn’t a bad thing can be difficult to embrace and for others to understand, but you can’t be there for others if you don’t take care of yourself first.  Setting priorities and goals are what got Amanda to the top of her game and if I can harness a fraction of that determination, who knows where I can go!         

To learn more about Amanda Allen, visit her website and her Facebook page.  She also has two books that are on my must read list for the near future: Eat, Perform, Win and The Time of My Life.  But right now, you should check out this great video of Amanda in action as she trains for the 2013 CrossFit Games…

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The Disney Fit Challenge is Almost Here and I’m Feeling Frustrated

Hard to believe that the Disney Fit Challenge is only 5 days away.  I signed up for this thing 6 months ago…oh how quickly time flies!  While I’m still slightly excited for the event, I have more feelings of disappointment with the level of disorganization and lack of information that Disney has shown, particularly in the last 6 weeks.  For a company with the high level of resources and experience in planning events of this nature, this is turning out to be quite a mess.  

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First was the schedule change that was announced 6 weeks ago.  This wasn’t just a small change to the timing, but a change to the ENTIRE event.  It was moved from a one-day event with your choice of competing on Friday or Saturday followed by the finals on Sunday, to a full two-day event with mandatory workouts on Saturday and Sunday.  Like many other people, I signed up for this event and booked my travel back in March and this puts a wrench in travel plans.  Walt Disney World is a destination.  They had to expect people were coming with family and friends for a longer vacation and not just taking part in the event that weekend.  This was a big fail on their part. 

The next disappointment was the announcement of the workouts.  Not only did they wait to release them until less than 2 weeks before the event, they first consisted of things that those of us in the CrossFit community had never heard of before and also were so vague that it left many people with a laundry list of questions to be answered.  I’m in the scaled female division so let’s take a look at a few of those WODs.

Disney-Fit-Challenge-Scaled-Female-Challenge-1Right off the bat, my questions were:

  1. What is the height for the wall balls?
  2. What is the time cap?

Obvious questions that you would think would be clarified right off the bat.  Also, I had never heard of a “Cluster” before thankfully that was originally clarified as a “squat-clean-thruster or power-clean-thruster.”  The odd thing about this WOD is that wall balls and thrusters are essentially the same movement.  Typically you would see thrusters paired with burpees or pull-ups, and wall balls paired with toes-to-bar or box jumps.  This is just seems repetitive.  Moving on…

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So I’m wondering…

  1. What the hell is a hurdle?
  2. Are knees-to-arms like knees-to-elbows? Do we have to touch our arms?
  3. Again, what is the time cap?

I am VERY interested to see how many people in the CrossFit community are hoping hurdles at their box.  I have NEVER heard of this and for someone who has trouble jump on boxes, you now want me to hop a hurdle??  Beyond confused.  Overall, the challenges are very odd and nothing like scaled versions of competitions I have ever seen before.  Nothing is varied and we are seeing moves like box jumps, wall balls and sprints repeated through various workouts. Plus, there is hardly any weightlifting involved and that makes me pretty sad.  

I quickly learned that I was not the only one scratching my head about these things as the Facebook event page blew up with similar questions.  The most disappointing thing about this is that Disney Sports isn’t addressing ANY of our concerns in the group.  They are answering our individual questions by phone or email and have since released updated athlete guides for the event that answer some (not all!) of our questions and concerns, but the lack of communication has been horrible.

Finally, we are now 5 days out and the heats have not been released for the events.  Yes the times have been released but I still have no idea which one I’m in, meaning I could be competing in event #1 anytime between 8:15 am and 11:00 am on Saturday.  That’s 3 hours!

I’m trying to remain positive about this whole experience and hoping it won’t be a complete mess when we get there.  I know my friend Kat, who isn’t a Disney freak like I am, was really looking forward to this event more than the actual Disney trip (shocking I know!!) and she is feeling disappointed that she is traveling all the way to Florida for something that is turning out to be highly disorganized.  Fingers crossed that once we get there everything will fall into place and we will have a blast.  I mean we have a monorail crawl planned and the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is going on, so how could we not??  Lapu Lapus anyone??

 Anyone else find all of this strange and feeling frustrated??

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Help Save Lives AND Win a Pair of Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0 Custom Kicks!

Remember last year when I took on Grace at the Barbells for Boobs fundraiser?  I raised $420 to help people gain access to proactive screenings and diagnostic procedures to prevent breast cancer.  Then I lifted 95 pounds 30 times in 6 minutes and 42 seconds to show my appreciation to everyone who donated!

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Well this year I want to kick it up a notch and so does Barbells for Boobs!  I was inspired by my friend and fellow CrossFitter Megan, who survived breast cancer at an early age because of early detection.  Here is Megan kicking Grace’s ass last year!

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This year, Barbells for Boobs is giving fundraisers that reach $1,200 in donations a killer pair of Custom Reebok Nano 4.0!!  No seriously!!  Check these beauties out!!

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And guess what…I want YOU to have them!  That’s right, if I get to the $1,200 mark, I will be raffling off these shoes to one lucky donator.  And don’t worry, they will be in your size.  I will order the winner’s size!  So here’s what you need to do…

  1. Donate a minimum of $15 to my Barbells for Boobs donation page by October 31st.

  2. After you donate, come back to this page and leave a comment telling me who or what inspires you.  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to let me know you did both and you will get 5 entries into the raffle!  

  3. Get 5 additional entries by tweeting about this giveaway and liking us on Facebook & Twitter!

A couple of rules: I will be matching all donation names with entries.  Anyone who enters the giveaway without donating will automatically be disqualified.  The blog post comment is mandatory to enter. All other entries are optional.  

Pretty easy right?!?  Remember this raffle will ONLY happen if I get to $1,200 in donations, so the more you donate, the closer we get to those awesome shoes!!  Let’s help save some lives people!!

I will announce the winner on November 1st, which is also the day that I will be tackling Grace for the second time.  I’m doing this for my mom, Megan and all of those who have suffered and will sadly suffer in the future from this hateful disease.  My goal this year is to get it done in under 5 minutes…can I do it?!?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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5 Years Ago Today…

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I married my best friend. 

We had the PERFECT day.

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I gained a HUGE new family.

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I had a special dance with my Dad.

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I smashed cake on B’s face.

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We wore Mickey Ears.

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We had saw the most beautiful sunset. 

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We ate, drank and danced the night away!

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We ended the night with a beach bonfire.

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We realized how lucky we are to have amazing family and friends.

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I never realized my life could get any better than that day, but 5 years later it just keeps getting better.  It is amazing how fast time goes by, and I still couldn’t be happier to be married to my best friend and the most wonderful man on the planet.  He continues to be my champion, my rock and my hero.  Yes, he drives me crazy sometimes and I know I sure drive him bonkers at times.  We’re not perfect, but we have found our perfection.  I can’t wait to see what the next 5, 10, 15, 20+ years have in store!

I love you B!

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