What Makes a Stout a Stout?

dark beer

“I don’t like dark beer,” said every new beer drinker ever. At some point, however, for those of us who later dare to venture into the world of dark beers, there are plenty of tastes and varieties to discover, and myths to dispel.

Today we’re discussing stouts in particular, learning that not all stouts have a thick mouthfeel that you’ll need to chew to get down, and you can drink one knowing it doesn’t necessarily have a higher alcohol content than the lighter classes of ale. Let’s break some of these tall tales, and check out what sort of stouts Mendocino has got to offer.

Where’d Stouts Come From?

Playing off one another during the late 1600s, a stout was first known  only as a stronger porter at a then whopping 7-8% alcohol.

What’s in a Stout?

A basic stout is made up of what all beer is created from, but with a higher un-malted roasted barley content. Malt, barley, hops, water, and yeast. That’s it! However, these days there are a variety of stouts available and Mendocino Brewing Company has created quite a few.

Stouts from Mendocino Brewing

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  • Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout: Generally all black in color with a coffee-like aroma, a classic Irish-style Dry Stout is dominant in its malted flavor and will have indiscernible hop notes. Our Black Hawk Stout maintains that traditional Irish with a low alcohol content at 5.2% ABV. This creamy drink is subtle and a great stout to try out for your very first foray into the world of dark beers.

 

 

 

  • Imperial Stout: Know for it’s variable amount of roasted grains and fruity esters, the Imperial Stout was born out of the Barclays adaptation of their stout for Russian consumption. Increasing the alcohol and hop content for the preservation during the long journey to Russia, today’s Imperial stout has a high alcohol content and a rich, dark amber color. Our Imperial Stout is surprisingly dark and complex with toffee and coffee flavors. This heavy-hitters hits the bar at 10% ABV.
  • Oatmeal Stout: Before modern day agriculture, beer was a nourishing part of IMG_2147many families’ meals. The oatmeal stout especially was considered to be a therapeutic tonic especially in Scotland. Mendocino Brewing’s Redwood Oatmeal Stout is has a bold chocolate flavor profile and is a perfect addition to a berry based dish like the Scottish dish Cranachan or dark chocolate cake.

 

Are you a stout drinker or have I just now convinced you to get out and try one of our flavorful brews?

 

 

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Cold Weather Brews to Kick Off the Season

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This time of year means darker nights, cold weather, and lots of time trying to stay warm. We knock back darker beers, putting our focus on heavier brews that feel nourishing during the chilliest fall nights. It seems as though the beer we drink has a bit more of a kick to it during the Fall and Winter too, perhaps a way to help us hibernate through these tougher months. Beers with higher percentages of alcohol by volume often seem a little heavier to the belly and a lot more complex to the taste buds and our suggested cold weather brews are not different.

Redwood Oatmeal Stout

Our Redwood Oatmeal Stout is sweet but not in a way that tastes fake or overpowering. Just a well-balanced mess of nutty and caramel notes.  With a perfect use of hops, the brew has a surprisingly dry finishing, encouraging your take another bit of that chocolate wonder. Sure, you could enjoy this stout alone as a dessert itself, but life is short. Paired with a slice of heavenly chocolate cake or fresh berries, the RedWood Oatmeal Stout is seriously magnificent.

Black Hawk Stout

Generally all black in color with a coffee-like aroma, a classic Irish-style Dry Stout is dominant in its malted flavor and will have indiscernible hop notes. Our Black Hawk Stout maintains that traditional Irish with a low alcohol content at 5.2% ABV. This creamy drink is subtle stout which welcomes you into the world of dark beers on a cold, dark night.

Imperial Barley Wine Ale

At a whopping 11% ABV, this Imperial Barley Wine Ale is a vigorously strong brew. Plentiful notes of sherry, malt, and an initial flavor of deeply rich molasses. Perfect for drinking around the fire, this drink is meant to be enjoyed without attempting to pair it with a food. Rather, this ale is meant to be savored on its own for the truly unique palette it offers.

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3 Quick Beer Inspired Costumes You’ve Got to Try

Halloween is only a few days away, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be celebrating all weekend long. Again, if you’re like me, getting a costume together can be really aggravating. I love celebrating, but I’m an adult. I’ve got a job that keeps me working 50 hours a week. I’ve got responsibilities that keep me tied up until I need to climb into bed or faint. But these long hours and to-do list the size of my arm are just more reasons we all need Halloween weekend. If you don’t have time to slave over a costume, here are some quick costumes inspired by my favorite thing: beer.

Duffman

dufflaban2There are a lot of great Simpsons inspired Halloween costumes that involve beer, but I like Duffman because you can easily get away without painting your skin yellow or wearing ping-pong balls over your eyes. Pull out a sky blue tank top of a t-shirt and use electrical tape or a sharpie (if you’re okay with ruining the shirt) to write out “Duff” on the shirt. Pair with some tight red undies over blue leggings and you’re ready. Add a beer koozie belt, which you can pick up from Amazon Prime and have in time, and you’re all set. Oh, don’t forget to fill your belt with Mendo brews, okay?

 

Sexy Beer Bottle

Since all of our costumes apparently have to be sexy these days, why not a sexy beer bottle? Throw on a tube dress and print out the logo of your favorite Mendocino Brewing Company beverage, top with a yellow hat if you’ve got it, and voila! A no effort Halloween costume that’s also fun.

Redneck Couple Costume

sadasI love this couples costume. Not even a little cheesy, spot on, and easy to throw together. Ladies, wrap your hair in beer cans like the picture, or a beer cap necklace. Throw on a dirty t-shirt, some daisy-dukes and head out with a beer in hand and you’ve got yourself a really fun costume.

What did we miss? Do you have a better idea for a couple’s costume? Let’s hear it!

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Beer and Business: Is Your Drink Order an Indicator of Your Business Endeavors?

beer and business

We’ve all been there. You’re at the bar, and you’ve been looking forward to diving into your White Hawk IPA, but when you order it after someone else, your friends give you a hard time. “Come on, that’s no fun. Try something new,” they say. So you order something else simply to seem compliant and adventurous. Or, perhaps it’s even more likely that you hear your friend ordering the same brew as the one you wanted, but you want to be distinct, so you change your order before speaking. Who wants to look like a copy-cat? And so you act like the drink you’re ordering is something you actually wanted.

There’s actually a solid psychological explanation for why you begrudgingly shell out cash for a drink you don’t even want when you’re with your friends. Consumer psychologists Dan Ariely and Jonathan Levov recently conducted an experiment in which they studied the way other people’s decisions within a group influence the individual’s decision in the context of ordering drinks. They gave patrons the option to try one of four types of beer: a lager, wheat beer, amber ale, or pilsner. Some groups ordered verbally, while other ones wrote down their orders on a piece of paper. Ariely and Levov found that the people who wrote down their orders were much more satisfied with their beverages, while those who ordered aloud were less happy—they had forgone what they really wanted in order to differentiate their drink from the others.

So why do we make decisions that we aren’t even happy with? The group believes that each consumer’s decision is interdependent on the others’ decisions and influences the collective enjoyment of the group. Ariely and Levov state that this ambivalence “is a consequence of the recognition by both the group and the individual that they are interdependent for mutual goal satisfaction, and that this interdependence represents a conflict that necessitates compromise.”

But this group psychology isn’t limited solely to selections made in a bar or restaurant. This kind of decision making spills over into any sort of group context, including business interactions. It’s normal to make distinctive decisions just because you want to be positively viewed, but are you hurting your business by doing so?

Maybe you give into a deal you aren’t 100% sold on because a few competitors have declined it and you just want to seem fresh and different. Perhaps you’re offered a solid contract, but you pass on it because everyone else is doing that sort of thing and you just want to stand out. Look back over some of the mistakes you’ve made in your business, and ask yourself if you made these choices due to an interdependent group psychology. Stick to your gut, it’s a strong indicator of what your work really needs.

If you do find yourself making choices you are totally sold on, don’t beat yourself up, because it’s perfectly normal, but by trying to identify group think and the way it might hinder rather than help, you can learn to trust your instinct and help your business flourish even more.

beer and business

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Judging Beer Like an Expert

For the beer nerds among us, judging the quality of a brew is so much more than just a gut feeling about its taste. Beer sampling is an art, and much of it boils down to knowing your stuff and trying lots of beers. Here are a few things that professional, certified beer judges like Herz look for when testing a beer’s quality.

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The Importance of a Beer’s Appearance

Professional beer judges know what to look for when it comes to a quality brew. They try to lock-in on the specific coloration of the beer; honey, amber, brown, etc. They also discuss clarity and whether or not the beer is hazy, crisply clear, or turbid. My favorite part of challenging a beer’s appearance? Take a good look at foam retention and lacing at the head of the beer. This refers to just how well the foam lasts at the top of the glass and whether or not there is a ring of foam still clinging to the top of the glass after it’s been drank. 

Smell is Almost Everything

Some beer experts will tell you that the worth of a beer is based 90% on aroma. Malts, hops, and even specific yeasts create a fun mix of smells whether floral, fruity, or even skunky. Good brewers know what they are doing when they create recipes to bring out the perfect mix of fragrances.

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Mouthfeel (A Weird Word with a Simple Meaning)

Strange sounding in name, obvious in meaning. Basically a decent beer judge takes special notice of how a beer feels while you drink it. Extra fizzy? Soft and subtle? Every beer has its own unique feel while you drink it, and its normal to enjoy some “textures” more than others.

 

Think You’d Make a Good Beer Judge?
So, just how do you become a beer judge? Julia Herz suggests that you start by closely paying attention to the beers you’re drinking and really considering the elements we’ve mentioned so far. The next step is to check out the Beer Judge Certification Program for more information on how to become a fair, educated beer judge. Soon you’ll be judging away at beer competitions near and far.

Personally, I think I’d make an excellent official beer judge. What about yourself?

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Toss Back a Few Mendo Brews and Get…Smarter?

Beer

People might say that they drink to “dumb themselves down.” And, as I’m sure many of us can attest, drinking definitely does correspond with far-more-asinine-than-usual behavior, but what would you think if you heard that drinking beer can actually make you smarter?

Just recently, Psychopharmacology published the results of a study finding that there is a relationship between beer consumption and empathy. In the double-blind, random-order, cross-over study, researchers from University of Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, asked sixty subjects to consume beer and then complete a few tests. Thirty of the beers were alcoholic, while the other half were not. The amount of alcohol in each person’s drink was proportionate with their size, or enough to raise their blood alcohol level by about .4 grams per liter.

In one test, researchers showed subjects pictures of faces representing six different expressions – surprise, anger, fear, happiness, disgust, sadness – and asked them to name the emotion. Alcohol-drinking participants were faster at identifying happy faces than their alcohol-free counterparts, the scientists found.

In addition to being able to more readily pick out positive facial expressions, test subjects demonstrated a larger desire to be with other people in a happy social situation. The effects varied from person to person, but they were greater in those who had previously demonstrated a higher social inhibition.

The final aspect the study touched on was the relationship between sex and alcohol. It found an increase in ability to view sexual images amongst the participants who consumed alcohol, and this upsurge was higher amongst women than men. However, it’s important to note that just because the subjects were more tolerant of sexually explicit images does not mean that the alcohol caused them to be more interested in sex. It’s also important to remember that these findings are based on the results after one beer. Alcohol consumed in larger amounts was not studied.

So, the next time you feel like you can’t wait for a drink while you’re standing awkwardly at your cousin’s wedding reception, know that there’s some solid science behind your desire. Not only does alcohol serve as an excellent social lubricant by lowering inhibitions and encouraging socializing, but it may help you pick up on emotionally nuanced facial expressions of the new people you’re talking to.

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Here’s a Toast to Meaningful Conversation Sparked by Games and Craft Brew

group-drinking

Remember those outrageous parties in college? Even if the details are fuzzy, most of us probably share those hilarious, downright ridiculous experiences from our early twenties.

But it seems like the further we drift away from our college days, the less creative we get with our drinking and, in general, time spent socializing. We’ve grown up, and our tastes have refined. So what if we’ve outgrown watered down beers and mass produced training wheels (about time!) and moved onto craft beers? This doesn’t mean that we have to sit around stuffily drinking with our friends, talking about the same things night after night.

Playing games as a group is a fantastic way to help people get past surface-level pleasantries and partake in more meaningful conversation—the real reason we gather together in the first place!

beer gamesWe love Sparked, a new game for women consisting of 250 cards printed with unique discussion starters. The goal of Sparked is to help women bond with and encourage each other while having fun.

The cards are grouped into six categories: love, passion, opportunity, happiness, adventure, gratitude, inspiration, and generosity.  Players use a ‘Magic Wand’ to randomly select a card. There will be a question to answer, an activity to complete, or something that the whole group must do together. You’ll be sipping on your beer and most definitely won’t be bored. Can men enjoy this game too? Have some fun finding out.

Throw a ‘Suits and Six Packs’ party and play the Beer Flavors Game. It gives you an excuse to dress to the nines…kind of like fraternity toga parties used to allow you to wear nothing out in public but a tie-dyed sheet. Men wear suits, and women get all glammed up.

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Have everybody bring a six pack of different craft beers. Pour a sample for everyone, and have them write down three descriptive words about the beer. It can be anything – “hoppy” to “creamy” to “sweet.” Give players points when their adjectives are identical to others. If two people write the same word, they each get two points, if three people use the same adjective they get three points, and so on. Only (and only) when you’ve tasted the entire selection can you add up the points to declare the winner. Bonus? Send them home with the leftover beer, if there is any.

So what if you’re a little older and more mature…don’t limit yourself to dull, repetitious night after night of the same thing! Your friends will thank you for it.

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Oktoberfest is Hop Season

Now that Oktoberfest is ripe upon us, hops are falling from their vines, ready to be turned into crowns of bitter scents. Yet, hops are more than decorative necklaces to pair with your pretzels at beer festivals. If you’ve ever brewed your own beer or even thought of doing so, you’ll have heard of growing hops so that your homebrew is built from the ground up.Hops are conical floral buds from vines that are used in India Pale Ales and other “hoppy” brews. Not only are the vines and large, deeply green leaves beautiful, hops create bitter flavors and amazingly sweet and flowery aromas. You’ll probably have noticed some of these elements in any of our beers from the

Earlier this month, we have spent plenty of time discussing Cascade hops so by now you should get the idea that hops are conical floral buds from vines. They’re used in India Pale Ales and other “hoppy” brews to add a little complexity to your beverage. You’ll probably have noticed some of these elements in any of our beers from the Imperial Collection or our Organic Collection. Alright, so while you sample a few of these excellent beers, let’s talk about how to grow your own hops for your next batch of beer.

Hop Rhizomes: When and How to Get Your Hands on Them

March and April are the prime months to purchase and plant hop rhizomes, which are really just root-like sections of the hop plant. You can order your rhizomes all over the internet and in different varieties. I like Midwest Supplies, but my favorite option is getting local roots from hop growers who are cutting back their rhizome crowns.

When and How to Plant Your Hop Rhizomes

As soon as the soil can be worked (whether it’s cold out or not) it’s safe to plant your rhizomes. Choose a south facing wall with hanging rope (coconut husk rope does the best), fence, or pre-strung trellis for your future vines to climb up. Plant your rhizome either vertically or horizontally but covered in roughly one inch of dirt. If you want to get really technical, your rhizomes will grow best in soil with a pH of six to eight.

Caring for Your Growing Hops

Once your hop vines become established, they really don’t require a ton of maintenance, however, first-year hops lack a decent root system and therefore need more attention. Firstly, water your hops frequently, never letting them stay dry for too long. The best method here is to just water them and then let the soil dry out and water again. If you fail to let the soil dry out between waterings, your rhizomes may rot.

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Harvesting Hops from the Vine

Hop harvest is when Summer turns to Fall (that’s right about now!) or when you pinch your hop cones to find a sticky, almost powdery yellow resin on the tips of your fingers. This is lupulin, and it’s the good stuff! When this shows up in abundance near the start of Fall, you’re ready to pluck and place hops on a drying surface (like an old window screen).

Drying and Storing Your Hops
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I like to keep our hops in a vacuum sealed bag and then place them in the freezer for later use. Then, I crack open an Imperial IPA and get ready for my next batch of homebrew.

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Mendocino’s Anniversary Ale

193169_681626333607_254640_oLast week, if you’ll recall, we discussed the wonders of the Cascade Hop, its beginnings its flavors, its signature and classic aroma. Citrusy notes frequently compared to grapefruit, the chemical compounds found in Cascade hops are so strongly aromatic that they are often used by perfumers and those working in the food industry. An intricate fragrance, the Cascade hop also has hints of spice, mild heat, and floral earthiness. Usually used as a bittering hop, this ingredient maintains its soft flavor. It’s no wonder we’re so obsessed it. So, it only makes sense that, as of yesterday, the latest Mendo Brew is a Pale Ale, the beer of the Cascade hop.

Our Anniversary Ale is Driven by Passion and High Standards

correct-anniversary-ale-bottle-083116-copy-2Time’s flown by since Mendocino Brewing Company began back in 1983. As the first brewpub running in California after the end of the Prohibition era, we invested immediately in quality ales and a joy for craft brews. For 33 years, we’ve perfected our skills and mastery over the art and science of brewing. We’re true pioneers in the craft brewing industry and our Anniversary Ale shows it.

A classic pale ale, our latest beer is single hopped, honoring the traditions of American brewing. When the USDA developed the Cascade hop in 1971, brewers were enamored by its multi-dimensional brewing properties: flavorful, aromatic, bitter, and palatable. However, encompassing those Cascadian qualities in our Pale Ale is only half of what makes this beer the solid drink that it is. The pale roasted malts provide a mellowing, equal balance to this drink’s bittering hops, creating the robust and amiable drink that our Anniversary Ale is-a seriously drinkable and refreshing brew.

To the countless beer nerds or low-key fans, who’ve sipped, chugged, and relished in the refreshing nature behind our beverages for 33 years, the Anniversary Ale is for you. Crack open a bottle. You deserve the best!

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Cascade Hops: Taste the American Pale Ale

cascade hopsCascade hops are well known by brewers from all over the United States and that’s because their flavor is considered to be quintessentially American. Released in 1971 by the USDA, the Cascade hop began it’s humble beginnings on the west coast, and boomed in popularity soon after.

These budding beauties are lusciously bright great, ripe with bright yellow dust beneath each delicate petal, a good sign that they are bursting with flavor. The Cascade hop is in full bloom this time of year, if not beginning to dry up and fall from its branches. Now is the time when Pale Ale released from the states, especially the West Coast, are fresh and full of the irresistible aroma of these specialty hops.

The Flavor Profile and Aroma of the Cascade Hop

Often compared to grapefruit, the cascade hop has a citrusy scent not easily forgotten. The chemical compounds in this hop are so pungent that they are often used by perfume manufacturers. A complex scent, the Cascade hop also has hints of spice, even a touch of heat, but nothing so intense that it would scare a simple palette. Used as a bittering hop, but subtle enough to taste the smoothness of its flavor. Finishes with a floral taste. Basically, it’s delicious!

Does the Cascade Hop Have Superpowers?

The Cascade hop isn’t known for its flavor profile and powerful scent alone. It’s also a hardy crop with a natural resistance to fungus and disease. This alone makes the Cascade hop a favorite among brewers who won’t have to worry their shipment of hops will arrive to sickly to throw into the wort. There is a done side to this strain, however. They’re inability to store for long periods of time sometimes deters brewers who can’t brew fresh hops right off the bat.

Find Cascade Hops in These Mendo Brews 

We’ve got plenty of brews with cascades in them here at Mendocino Brewing Company. Look for the below beverages to see just what I mean. On this list, you won’t notice a new brew being released on September 13th, 2016, that is bursting with this Cascadian flavor.

Eye of the Hawk is an excellent, rich bodied ale that is brewed to perfection. "Eye" is coppery reddish-amber in color and its unique taste is the result of a judicious mix of caramel and pale malted barley, balanced with Cluster, Cascade and Saaz hops. This gives the Eye its luxurious flavor, substantial mouth-feel and that slightly dry finish. Eye of the Hawk has garnered a cult following that is enviable.

Eye of the Hawk is an excellent, rich bodied ale that is brewed to perfection. “Eye” is coppery reddish-amber in color and its unique taste is the result of a judicious mix of caramel and pale malted barley, balanced with Cluster, Cascade and Saaz hops. This gives the Eye its luxurious flavor, substantial mouth-feel and that slightly dry finish. Eye of the Hawk has garnered a cult following that is enviable.

cascade hops

Blue Heron Pale Ale is a delightful, medium bodied smooth ale, with a distinctive crisp mouth-feel and a fresh hoppy finish. It is brewed using premium two-row Pale malted barley, generous amounts of both Cluster bittering hops and Cascade finishing hops and our own special proprietary yeast strain.

White Hawk Select IPA is a traditional India Pale Ale. We’ve blended American West Coast Cascade Hops with a very generous dose of English Fuggle Hops. This combination makes for a very aromatic character, as well as a truly authentic English flavor which you must taste to believe. “Hopheads” will love this brew!

White Hawk Select IPA is a traditional India Pale Ale. We’ve blended American West Coast Cascade Hops with a very generous dose of English Fuggle Hops. This combination makes for a very aromatic character, as well as a truly authentic English flavor which you must taste to believe. “Hopheads” will love this brew!

Imperial IPA - This full bodied Imperial IPA is brewed with massive amounts of premium varieties of hops such as Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe and Crystal and paired with a rich blend of luscious Munich, caramel and 2-row pale malts. The result is a perfect balance of luxuriant malt and heady, exhilarating hop flavor. After primary fermentation is finished, we dry hop our Imperial IPA with copious quantities of the above mentioned hops. It is then cold conditioned for a few weeks. The result is an outstanding and unforgettable hop aroma. Starting with an original gravity of 20 Plato and finishing at 8.0% alcohol by volume, this Imperial India Pale is a hop tour de force!

Imperial IPA – This full bodied Imperial IPA is brewed with massive amounts of premium varieties of hops such as Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe and Crystal and paired with a rich blend of luscious Munich, caramel and 2-row pale malts. The result is a perfect balance of luxuriant malt and heady, exhilarating hop flavor. After primary fermentation is finished, we dry hop our Imperial IPA with copious quantities of the above mentioned hops. It is then cold conditioned for a few weeks. The result is an outstanding and unforgettable hop aroma. Starting with an original gravity of 20 Plato and finishing at 8.0% alcohol by volume, this Imperial India Pale is a hop tour de force!

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