A Fat Tuesday with Beer in Dreamland

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This upcoming Tuesday is Mardi Gras! I don’t know about you, but I come from a land where every bakery has a line to the parking lot full of people waiting for their custard-oozing doughnuts. Whether you participate in Lent or not, we can all use an excuse to include some calorie rich sweets and good beer in our diet, right? Just for a day…

Let’s take a look at some popular traditional sweets consumed during Mardi Gras. We’ve got a beer to pair with all of ‘em!
But first.. what is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras always falls on a Tuesday, and is the culmination of the 2 week Mardi Gras season, usually accompanied by parades and carnivals. Catholics have been gorging the whole time, and Mardi Gras is the day to really make it count before Ash Wednesday, the first day in the season of fasting. As is the case with many widely celebrated holidays, Mardi Gras supplies reason to party. Unique to this holiday: see how many beads you can collect and get in touch with your French side.
King cake is a doughnut shaped cake flamboyantly decorated by purple, green, and gold sugar and frosting. The cake’s dough is somewhat cinnamony and the frosting is sweet, sometimes with a slight lemony taste. The best part of all? A porcelain or plastic tiny baby is hidden inside the cake! Whoever gets the piece with the baby has to produce the cake next year. Those packs of tiny plastic babies at party supply stores finally make sense. King cake pairs well with our Red Tail Ale, which has a harmonious malt and hop balance. Citrus notes from American hops complement the frosting’s light lemon flavors.
Paczki’s are Polish doughnuts filled with jelly, custard, or some sweet filling. It’s common in the midwest to get down with a paczki on Fat Tuesday—save the king cake for the southerners. Pair a cherry-filled paczki with our Imperial Stout for a marriage of cherry and chocolate flavor decadence. You’re definitely going to want to give yourself a minute or two to process this fried pastry and full-bodied, 10% ABV beer duo. They don’t call it Fat Tuesday for nothing!
Little round cookie treats with a layer of marshmallow, sandwiched between layers of graham cracker-like cookies coated in chocolate define moon pies. Throwing them from Mardi Gras floats to parade goers has made them a hallmark Fat Tuesday treat. Moon pies aren’t too heavy and go down pretty easy, much like our Black Hawk Stout. The crispness of our stout washes down the drier graham cracker layer. Black Hawk Stout’s malt personality is heavenly with the sweet marshmallow center.

 

What are you giving up for Lent? Just taking advantage of another reason to drink beer and eat all the baked goods?

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This Beer Was Made for You and Me

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Today, let’s look at a classic American style beer. American Amber Ale is brewed with two row malt and the addition of caramel or crystal malts, which lends it its beautiful reddish color and sets it apart from pale ales.

During the resurgence of the microbrewery movement in the 1980’s, American brewers were producing beers that had attributes of both pale ales and brown ales, but weren’t quite one or the other. To Americans, calling these beers that had an amber hue a pale ale felt debatable, despite their similarities. Most of our current beer styles got their origins from European countries. These brews were not as pale in color as the pilsners that dominated the beer market, but our European counterparts were not just referring to color when they called their brews pale ales. At first a color descriptor, the American Amber Ale soon became a formal style name. What else makes this beer American? The use of American hops.

Give American Amber Ale a go if you are a new beer drinker. It isn’t quite as bitter and assertively hoppy as IPA’s, or as dark and heavy as some stouts. With refreshing, citrusy hops balanced by the dominant malty sweetness, American amber ale is a safe go-to beer style at the pub. And for those of you who are not new to beer, choosing an American amber ale is just patriotic. Next time you’re throwing one back remember that you’re honoring a piece of our part in the craft brew revolution.

So, what is Mendo bringing to the table?

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Red Tail Ale is a brilliantly smooth, medium bodied American Amber Ale brewed traditionally with two-row malted barley, hops, and our own exceptional yeast strain. Amber in color with a caramel aroma, this ale has a taste that is complex and invigorating. Our Red Tail Ale makes a great reference for the style, is very drinkable, and pairs with just about anything. Some American faire to go with it: burgers, sandwiches, roasted chicken, barbecue, pizza.

Do you have a soft spot for amber ales? Thinking of grabbing some to go with dinner tonight?

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“How Do You Know So Much About Beer?”

 

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These days, everyone has access to a plethora of styles of beers made by an endless amount of breweries. Not all of these are created equal. With that access to beer, comes increased access to the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions about the beers consumers are dropping their cash on.

Local Breweries
With an appreciation for handmade goods and support of smaller, localized companies at the heart of their monetary values— millennials are drinking the craft brew kool-aid. Breweries can be designed so patrons may see behind the scenes and marvel at the shiny, stainless equipment that their pint was born in. To be so close to the brewing process and able to discuss the nuances of the beer with those who made it, consumers are having valuable conversations with the team that creates their beer.

Beer Festivals
Droves of breweries bring their best brews to beer festivals to allow drinkers to try smaller portions of beers. With the ability to try new styles of beer, or compare the same style done by various breweries, drinkers can contemplate and discuss the finer points of what makes a beer distinct and pleasant. It was at a beerfest that I discovered that I really love the acidic tang of sour beers.

Homebrewing
Homebrewing is a firsthand way to learn about beer styles, and it has been steadily gaining popularity (1.2 million homebrewers in the US!). Anyone with an interest in ferments and fun can start brewing at home inexpensively. If not you’re not homebrewing, then one of your friends is.

Books and Online Resources
If you head to your local book store, you’ll be sure to find a book or two about beer. It could be an instructional on home brewing or a consuming graphic novel on the history of beer. Furthermore, if one is really feeling a beer they can whip out their smart phone and be on a brewery’s website, describing what is fizzing on their tastebuds.
All of these things are lending themselves to the base knowledge of the American consumer. If your friend takes a swig of their first craft brew and decides they’re jumping on the beer enthusiast bandwagon, there are so many ways they can speed up the newbie to connoisseur process. Read a book. Talk to brewers. Buy your beerfest ticket. Brew at home.

It would appear that there is no reason not to know the basics. How did these things help you learn about the many facets of beer? Were there any other essential components to your informal beer education?

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This History of Happy Hour

neon-170182_1280Happy hour, a well-loved American tradition, originated in the 19th century as a common slang term among the US Navy used to describe the time allotted for entertainment, including activities like wrestling, chorus singing, and boxing.

The phrase started being used in relation to drinking in the Prohibition era, when a ban was put in place to avoid the production, transportation, and buying and selling of alcohol, beginning in 1920. The started as a result of a long and hard-fought campaign by people who characterized drinking alcohol as evil. Even though the ban was successful for a short period of time, many drinkers ignored this law.

Drinkers soon flocked to bars and clubs, using the term “happy hour” to talk in code about their tradition of drinking before dinner. After spending a huge amount of money enforcing the law against alcohol, the federal government experienced a huge drop in tax revenue. By 1933, many businesses crumbled under the suffering economy, and workers were leaving the workforce to illegally produce and serve alcohol, making a tax-free earning. The constitution was modified and thus ended the era of prohibition.

So, the next time you gather with your friends to grab a cup of cold beer, you might want to raise your glass to “prohibition era” and relish in the fact that the American people simply wouldn’t stop drinking.

And so, while the ban was lifted, the term “happy hour” stuck around. The resurgence of drinking in the time before dinner made its comeback in the mid-1970s, even while alcohol consumption was dropping drastically as strict laws were made against drunk driving.

Interestingly enough, the discounted costs associated with happy hour are currently banned in twenty-six states. This includes Massachusetts, even though Boston has the reputation of being “the drunkest city in America.” We’re willing to bet that even in states where the discounts are banned, the happy hour tradition is still alive and well.

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Wondering How to Pair Your Pale Ale with Dinner?

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You can hardly go wrong with a pale ale, as much cuisine lends itself well to this well-loved type of beer.

The Belgium beer tradition is outstanding as it has a close relationship with food and flows well with all type of dish and desserts, setting the precedence for the trend of food and beer pairing. Grilled meats, and vegetable and meat stews are complemented best with dark Belgian ale. Bright Belgian ale is better combined with spicy foods like turkey meat or fried pheasant.

English ale goes wonderfully with meat pies, hamburgers, and a classic British fish and chips. Another go-to combination is Indian Pale Ale with spicy dishes.

When you want the best fit for light meals like seafood or salad, German ale is the best option. It goes well with a variety of dishes, including grilled chicken and pork, and salad. Weizenbock should be taken with roasted pork, beef or wild poultry. Kölsch beer, which is ale that is fermented at lager temperature, flows well with lighter food like shrimps, salad and crabs. You can also have it with eggs and bacon because of this particular beer’s sweetness, as it serves as a perfect combination with the salty taste of a hearty meal of eggs and bacon. Hybrid Dusseldorf Altbier is another German beer that goes well with the popular Mexican-American cuisine, like a stuffed Mexican Burrito or a rich Mexican quesadilla.

Light ale is a perfect fit for Indian cuisine, fish, poultry dish and meat, as the bitterness of the plant from which it is brewed contrasts perfectly with the flavor of grilled dishes. You should also consider tasting it alongside meals featuring blue cheese, burgers, and meat pies. Foods like chicken, seafood and spicy meals pairs extremely with American amber ale. Alternatively, American wheat ale tastes better with vegetarian dishes, sushi, and green salad. Heavy and hearty food such as game or roasted beef fits nicely with strong light drinking ale. Due to the persistent flavor and sweet aroma, Strong and hot wine from Barley balances well with mold cheese.

Stouts are ideal for drinking with smoked meat, stewed meat or even meaty soups. Stout also makes a great combination with nuts, especially peanuts and coconut. Porters are amazing with smoked meat like pork, steak bacon or sausage. If you want to really complement dessert with a stout, opt for coffee or chocolate based desserts, as they tend to complement the taste of coffee flavors or chocolate desserts.

We hope this simple guide can help you feel confident the next time you’re hosting a meal, or if you’re simply interested in experimenting with different flavor combinations. Have fun finding your favorite combinations – there’s nearly an infinite number of ways to play around with our basic suggestions!

Click one of the links below to find some of our favorite beers and meal pairings!

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Craft Beer Lovers: Quit Hating on Millenials!

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Millenials may keep the craft beer market alive; I propose we leave them alone.

The craft beer industry has experienced a 14% growth in revenue in the last year, while the total beer industry only experienced a 4.6% growth.  The large growth in the craft beer industry can be credited to millennials, who form a significant percentage of beer drinkers. A whopping 43% of millennials said they highly respect the value, uniqueness, and flavor associated with craft beers, and that’s why you’ll find more millennials at bars where craft brew is served.

Millennials take a lot of heat – they’ve been called lazy, ignorant, whiny, and a whole slew of other negative descriptions, but their interest in beer tells a different story. This generation has a unique mindset. They’re well-educated and understand the value of trying new things, in fact, most millennials drink beer with the goal of investigating the uniqueness, authenticity and flavor of each new beer they consume. Restaurants, local establishments, and other vendors have found that, if they want to maximize their profit with the younger crowd, they should serve craft brews.

A defining characteristic of millennials is their desire to be individual and unique rather than “going along with the crowd.” More so than the generations before them, they value experiences over material things. They opt for craft beers rather than bland commercial beers because of the strong sense of identity that goes into a more authentic and innovative brand of beer.

Millennials have a huge impact on the beer industry, causing craft beer business to boom. Even a tiny brewery has the capacity to produce two to six million barrels in a year. This generation recognizes the importance of supporting local breweries’ uniquely crafted beers. They also love the higher level of alcohol found in these one-of-a-kind brews. A market growth of 9.3% can be expected in the coming year.

Perhaps other brands, markets, and industries can benefit from observing millennials’ habits. This generation is demanding locally-sourced, unique, and fun brands.

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Does Your Favorite Style of Beer Reflect Your Personality?

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Mindset Media, a market researcher that focuses on psychographics, concluded that with so many brands and choices associated with beers, it must have a certain link to consumers personality. It conducted an online survey of 2,600 showed amazing results. They found, for example, that people who patronize domestic beers instead of craft beers are generally in the middle of the road, financially speaking. They have enough be able to drink, but not as much as those who prefer foreign beer.

The survey also revealed that people who drink a wide variety of beers differ from those that drink only one kind of beer. Those that readily sample from a variety of brewers are often passionate and open minded. A preference for imported or craft beers tends to correspond with social people, as well as perfectionists. And who are the rebels? Frequently, it’s the domestic drinkers.

Your favorite beer style explains a lot about you even before you’ve had a few too many. It may be possible to deduce the type of clothes you wear, the kind of house you live in, or even the type of car you drive, all from your beer preferences. Sensible, grounded, and practical people may gravitate to certain brands, while spontaneous risk takers will probably drink more of different brands.  Mindset Media also found that abstaining from beer or frequently changing your beer-drinking style can also offer clues about your inner workings.

Overall, craft beer drinkers are prone to being open minded and freely discuss the varying tastes found in beer. They pursue interesting and curious experiences as they easily give up on missed opportunities.

So, what are we saying? Non beer-drinkers don’t loosen up nearly as much as their beer-drinking counterparts. They tend to be more ordinary, obedient, and balanced.

Beer drinkers are definitely more fun.

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5 Ways Drinking Beer is Good for Your Health

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Next time you enjoy a nice cold brew, pat yourself on the back for contributing positively to your health. There are multiple ways beer can actually make us healthier!

Beer minimizes the risk of stroke and coronary disease

Beer contains a significant amount of important vitamins, which it gets from its yeast, barley, and wheat. Research shows that moderate consumption of beer lowers the risk of stroke by twenty percent and minimizes coronary disease by forty percent.

Beer prevents cancer and age-related diseases

Beer contains just as many antioxidants as red wine, and almost five times the amount found in white wine. Antioxidants helps prevent cancer and other age-related disease, so drink up!

Beer reduces the risk of heart disease and blood clots

Another important benefit of beer is the increase in cholesterol level in the bloodstream. The vitamin B6 present in beer inhibits homocysteine, an amino acid which contributes to heart disease. Alcohol in general also reduces the risk of blood clots. Want to minimize your risk of heart disease and blood clots? Research shows that people who drink beer are subjected to better protection from homocysteine than people who drink other types of beverages.

Beer for stronger bones

The high level of silicon present in beer, especially pale ale, improves bone health. Studies have shown that drinking beer twice in a day helps to improve the bone strength in the elderly..

Beer is a rich source of vitamins

Beer was first used in Egypt, years ago, as the solution to homeopathic problems several years ago, as it contains a significant amount of phosphorus, vitamin B2, B2, B6 and B12, potassium, protein and calcium.

While too much beer has negative effects associated with it, beer in moderation can do wonderful things for your health. So the next time someone pipes up in a conversation that red wine is healthy, make sure to let them know that beer is, too.

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The Love of Craft Beer

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Traditional and hand made products have their own uniqueness that we all appreciate differently, yet are desperate to try. Stil, products which are handmade and customized are hard to come by in this modern world. When we drink a decent craft beer, we’re tasting classic craftsmanship. Good craft beers bring with them the effort, joy and happiness exerted into the production of every bottle.

Craft beers don’t taste in a specific manner, Each one has flavor and a unique taste making you always derive satisfaction in the uniqueness even though you don’t like the taste of a particular paint or bottle. Craft breweries produce great beer and a variety of options for people who like trying out new things and cannot go a whole day without thinking about the taste of their next beer.

Craft beer’s unique taste as well as its unique flow with common meals makes craft beer a perfect drink. We loves to complement a meal with the taste of an daring drink; craft beer provides a better solution to compared to other mass produced beer with a set in stone production that just doesn’t express individual style.

Most advertisements for beer marketing on television are centered around people having fun in a bar or beach, ignited with loud music, joy, and total celebration. However, the personality of a craft brewery is distinct, as noted not only in the way they represent their creations but in the beauty of their bottles, the uniqueness of their flavorful beer and the choice of their recipes.

Half the fun of trying a new bottle of craft brew is admiring the supportive nature of the brewer’s visual sense. Each label is unique, well thought out, and daring. As someone who likes trying new things, every time we create something new at Mendocino Brewing Company, I’m dying to try it. This anticipation is one of the biggest reasons to love craft beer.

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A Brief Look at Hop History

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While beer has been around for over 5,000 years, hops haven’t been used in the mash tun for nearly as long. Before hops were used as preservatives, strong aromas, and a reason for us to argue over internationals bitterness units, hops were a medicinal plant used by the Romans. So how’d they become so popular that their flavor and worth is so frequently discussed?

Let’s start with their medicinal properties. While hops are mostly used in beer, people all around the world continue to use these potent buds as they were used hundreds, maybe thousands, of years ago: to relieve anxiety and promote healthy sleep. Hops are packed full of a lovely chemical compound known as dimethylvinyl carbinol, and this compound is likely responsible for the sleep inducing effect of the plant. The Cherokees were using hops  as a sleep aid for centuries and in some areas, people filled cloth pillows with hops to act as a sleep aid.

Then in 1150 AD, the Abbess Hildegard Bingen in Germany praised the preservative nature of hops and lamented that it made the “soul of man sad.” We’d like to argue, but perhaps, for some of us, this still holds true.

Later Henry VI is said to have made distinctions between beer and ale and claimed that ale could not contain hops, but that beer had no restrictions in terms of ingredients. While there were arguments about what was purest, ale tended to reign supreme. Still, many drank a hoppy beer all whilst the Catholic Church pushed to keep production low. Why? Finical ties to ale production, of course!

As the 1900s dawned, the Pale Ale was born (and the India Pale Ale soon after). There are plenty of myths surrounding the addition of hops in excess to beer in the name of the British army occupying India, but the jury is still out.

As science progressed, Americans began racing to create the perfect hop, and even universities got in on the action. In 1971 the University of Oregon and the US Department of Agriculture worked together to create one of the most popular and prolific varieties of hops: the Cascade hop. These days, the American Pale Ale, brewed from the aforementioned cascade variety, are essential ingredients for any craft brewer.

Popularity of hoppy beers have ebbed and flowed with time and some argue that the age of the ultra-IPA has passed. While hop production continues to rise to meet the growing demands, we don’t think it’s time to shun the IPA lovers just yet.

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