5 Health Benefits of Art

Creating art is a fun creative outlet. Aside from being a creative activity, creating art is very beneficial for your health. Here are just a few ways art is beneficial for your health!

  1. Relieves Stress

Whether you’re painting, sculpting clay, or drawing, creating art is extremely relaxing. This relaxing state is great for people who are stressed. In some ways, creating art is like meditating. People often get lost in a meditative trance while they create art, which allows them to stop overthinking about stressful things in their life.

  1. Creative Thinking

Creative thinking occurs during every step in the process of creating and viewing art. When you create art, you learn how to freely express yourself in a creative and unique way. On the other hand, viewing art allows you to creatively think of interpretations and stories behind specific art pieces.

Creative thinking is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, creative thinking stimulates general healthy brain activity. Also, creative thinking will help you become a quicker, more efficient, and unique problem solver.

  1. Sense of Accomplishment

There’s nothing better than feeling proud of yourself after creating a unique piece of art. Even if the artwork you create isn’t up to par with a masterpiece from a famous artist like Picasso, you should still be proud of yourself that you finished a one-of-a-kind art piece.

Feeling accomplished also improves confidence and self-esteem, which is beneficial to your emotional health.

  1. Increases Brain Activity

Like previously stated, creating and viewing art increases brain activity. When you create art, cells in your brain connect in ways they haven’t connected before. This increases critical thinking and overall intelligence.

As for viewing art, your brain is stimulated at a higher level than it is during other mundane activities. In other words, your brain is forced to create new cell connections, which enhances plasticity.

  1. Eases Chronic Condition

Overall, art has been proven to ease chronic health conditions. After all, therapists often use art as a way to treat their patients. Art promotes freedom of expression and creative thinking in a safe and effective way. This allows patients to develop self-identity and take their mind off the ailments of their illness.

The Art of Tree Pruning

As if I don’t have enough on my plate with home brewing and all, I decided to take up a new hobby last month!

Our landscape has been a bit overgrown lately, and I’ve been developing my green thumb skills to spruce things up a bit. Or, downsize rather. A good friend of mine owns a tree service company in Charlotte NC and he paid a visit to our property. He’s actually the one who pointed out that our landscape needed a little love and he taught me a little bit about the art of tree pruning.

Why is this important and relevant to brewing beer, you might ask? Well, we grow a lot of plants and trees on premises and we use the fruit, herbs, and flowers to flavor the beverages we brew. (As a matter of fact, we’ve been looking into starting a hop farm someday, so this is definitely a skill we’ll need to have. But that’s another post for another day.) Regardless, when your backyard looks like this, it’s definitely time to take up gardening as a hobby …

overgrown yard

We had some bigger trees that were in desperate need of pruning. Good thing Drew brought his tools and decided to give us a lesson! I learned a lot of interesting things and will be applying this going forward to ensure we always have a healthy landscape and a good supply of healthy plants to cultivate for brewing purposes. 🙂

Why should you have your trees pruned?

There are many reasons, but the main ones are: to clean up your landscape, to bring life back to a weakened or dying plant, or to promote flowering. Failing to prune your trees can result in their health being compromised or make landscape maintenance a horrible and dreaded chore for you in the future. It’s best to keep up with pruning every so often to ensure these things don’t happen.

Tree pruning promotes growth.

Sounds weird, right? But have you ever heard someone say that cutting your hair will make it grow faster? I think the principle is similar here. Plants by their very nature prefer to grow in an upward direction. It’s how they respond to gravity and light. The top of the plant is called the “leader” and it prefers to remain higher than all other branches, which are called laterals. In order to do so, it produces a hormone that prevents the lateral branches from growing. When the leader is pruned or cut, it starts the growing process.

There are 2 basic pruning methods.

A thinning cut, which is considered the best method, consists of selecting and removing a single branch all the way back to a lateral stem. The reason why this method is preferred is because it encourages even growth at all levels of the plant instead of just at the top. The second method is known as the shearing method which involves cutting all branches. This starts a cycle of raging hormone production that causes excessive growth and creates a dense cover over the tree that shades the interior part. The tree then becomes more susceptible to disease and pests and will eventually decline—unless the cycle is broken.

While shearing can be an effective pruning method for winter, it still necessitates thinning immediately afterwards to allow for proper light and airflow.

In short, for your trees to be healthy, you want them structured properly. This is the art of tree pruning. It is both an art and a science and a balance of both is essential to a healthy foliage canopy.

That basically sums up the knowledge I gained over the last few weeks. If you have more questions about tree maintenance, our friend Drew at TreeBien Tree Care is a professional Charlotte NC arborist and a great resource! Check out his website and feel free to give him a call.

The History of Beer Glasses

Early breweries were frequently prohibited to offer free beer or other benefits to their customers, but found that providing free beer glasses was a great way to compensate clients as well as additionally to advertise for themselves. At some point, artists for the breweries started doing thorough etchings on the sides of the glasses or steins and even established an approach of shooting enamel paint onto the beer glasses. These enameled glasses continue to be some of the most uncommon beer antiques, although they were made later compared to the others.

The development of glass might have been one of the most important facet of the means beer glasses are made today. As beer glasses ended up being more prominent, customers might in fact see what they were consuming and demand a lighter and more appealing look and taste. This resulted in the purification of beers; individuals not wanting the coarse pieces that were commonly found in the earlier beers of the breweries. With this brand-new, much more aesthetically pleasing wave of beer glasses, it felt like beer steins got on the escape.

Beer has been with the human race for a very long time. As beer itself changed, expanded, and also boosted, so did the way in which we drank it. The earlier vessels utilized for alcohol consumption included earthenware, pottery, wood, and even sewn-together items of natural leather. As time went on, man saw tiny improvements in the quality of their beer glasses. Early Europeans living during the time of the Bubonic plague saw the production of beer steins, which had a confined top to maintain flies from getting into in the mixture and making the person unwell.

The development of glasses continued and produced a range for all kinds of different beers. It was initially made use of to fit the top of a Martini shaker, however bartenders quickly found that as the brew moved out of the beer faucets, the pint glass was the best vessel because it allowed for some of the carbonation to be launched and allowed the aroma of the beer to be a lot more noticeable.

5 Reasons to Avoid Macro Brews

If you’re new here, you may have noticed that we’re into craft beer. Our craft beer journey started several years ago and we have never looked back.

For many reasons, microbrews are so much better than macro brews—those being your popular mass-produced brands like Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc. Those big boys are trying hard to survive in the midst of a booming craft beer industry these days. They’ve come out with all sorts of gimmicky products in an effort to measure up, like this one for example:

bud-light-platinum

Hard as they try, these wannabe’s just aren’t cutting it, and we recommend avoiding macro brews altogether, for many reasons. Here’s 5:

#1. Support local business. Big, mass-production breweries like Anheuser Busch shouldn’t be allowed to take more business away from smaller companies, especially when the quality of their beer is watered down in an effort to increase profit margins. If you like the idea of supporting local business, craft beer is for you.

#2. Appreciation above over-consumption. Macro breweries make their money by using cheap, low-quality ingredients, mass-producing substandard beer, and pushing over-consumption on the market. People don’t drink Bud Light to appreciate it. They drink it to get drunk (in most cases.) If you’re drinking craft beer, chances are you’re doing it for appreciation. Brewing craft beer is a unique art. The final product usually pairs well with food and is best appreciated in smaller quantities.

#3. Unnatural ingredients. There’s a reason why craft beer tastes better. Microbreweries don’t use chemicals or unnatural preservatives in their brewing. Therefore, it’s also much healthier for you. Some macro brews contain harmful additives like caramel coloring and corn syrup. (Gag me with a spoon…)

#4. Lower ABV! If you are looking to get a buzz, you won’t have to drink nearly as much craft beer to get there. Macro brews have a lower ABV, usually around 4-5%. On the other hand, some craft beers have an ABV of 10 or even 12%—as much as a bottle of wine! Again, it’s all about appreciating the beverage, not consuming as much of it as humanly possible just to get drunk and pass out.

#5. Taste. Ever heard Bud Light described as “piss water”? Yeah, in our opinion, that pretty much sums it up. Macro brews just don’t taste good. That’s all there is to it. You’re gonna get a much better selection, a higher variety, and great taste from craft beer than you will from crappy mass-produced beer. There’s a reason why you have to shove a lime wedge into that bottle of Corona to make it even remotely palatable.

The Heart of Brewing Beer at Home

The heart of brewing beer at home is the exhilaration, the satisfaction and the fun developing your personal batch of tasty beer could bring. What changes home brewing enthusiasts to life long makers of craft beer is the obstacle of always discovering new blends, new approaches and brand-new ways to make their craft beer even more delicious than the last set.

For others, that moment of awareness that home brewing might be an entirely new world could have taken place when you initially were exposed to “genuine” craft beer, as the home brewing fanatics call it. That is when you tested a mixture that was not made by the huge retail microbrew makers like Budweiser, Coors or Miller and you found just what beer tasted like when it came directly from the brewing process to your glass. That might likewise be the day you found out just what a fantastic diversity of draft beer kinds, tastes and also structures there were. And also for many when you understand that you can discover a variety of beers that is nearly as extensive as in the wine globe that it is typically extremely challenging to go back to dull old pasteurized beer once again.

If you are about to “make the jump” to come to be a homebrewer yourself, you are about to step into a full and rich world that is complete with culture, practice, as well as new friends and affiliates. You will not just take up the leisure activity of brewing craft beer, you will certainly “come to be” a house brewer which is an one-of-a-kind individual.

Can you bear in mind the minute you initially understood in your head to take up developing your very own craft beer in your home? When excellent craft beer is made, for many people it is a tour of a brewery or some various other behind the scenes exposure to all that takes place. Before that turning point, you might have never also thought of craft beer being made at all. Yet when you understood that not only does beer undergo an interesting transformation from grains and malts to this delicious brew you enjoy but that you can make your personal craft beer if you intend to, that is when the idea of becoming a homebrewer started to come true in your mind.

It’s a fantastic craft that you will certainly never ever be sorry for capturing due to the fact that brewing beer at home could provide decades of enjoyment and satisfaction. It also provides something else as great: excellent tasting beer.

It isn’t really tough to “define” home brewing due to the fact that the term is self informative except to go on to say that it is totally possible for you to make high quality craft beer right in your own house with a small financial investment in tools, the base active ingredients that are readily available as well and also the love and patience it will take to discover the craft. You might be shocked as you come to recognize that you actually really enjoy the process brewing beer at home.

The Health Benefits of Drinking Craft Beer

Craft Beer and HealthBelieve it or not, when done in moderation, drinking beer can have similar health benefits as drinking wine. It is also important to note that craft beer can be much more healthier than it’s corporate beer counterpart. Craft beer is done on a much smaller scale and more often than not is brewed using premium ingredients. So, sit back and crack open that which is good for what ales you!

Beer contains vitamin B6 which is considered essential for healthy brain function, increased energy and immune system health. Studies have shown that beer drinkers have more vitamin B6 in their blood than non beer drinkers and double the amount of those who drink wine. You will also find that beer contains a healthy dose of silicon which is great for bone health and leaves the beer drinker with stronger, denser bones.

Craft beer, in general, can be much more healthier for you than it’s corporate beer counterpart. Being done on a much smaller scale craft beer contains ingredients of a much higher quality. Surrounding the craft beer movement is a mindset of using all natural, quality ingredients. Some of the bigger name brands of beer can contain artificial coloring agents, processed sugar, or even GMO grains so it is important to know what you are putting into your body.

So, let us know discuss the health benefits of my favorite ingredient found in beer….. HOPS! Hops (Humulus lupulus) contain xanthohumol which is a flavonoid compound that has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. Hops are also a cousin of the cannabis plant and share’s some of it’s anti-cancer properties. Feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping? Well, drink a hoppy IPA and put your worries to bed! Hops have a relaxing quality and have been known to ease anxiety.

And so there you have it…. beer is healthy for you. But do not let this information go straight to your head and start pounding beers on a daily. One thing I love about the craft beer movement is that it reinforces appreciation over abuse. Everything in moderation… even moderation. Too much of anything can be a bad thing.

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Ales vs. Lagers (And Why I’m an Ale Guy)

Ale vs LagerDespite the very many varieties of beer out there now a days when it comes down to it there are only two types, lagers and ales. The component that divides beer into these two categories is the yeast that is used to make the beer. Lager yeast is top fermenting and ferments at cooler temperature where as ale yeast is bottom fermenting and ferments at warmer temperatures. For the longest time lagers ran supreme is America with the market being controlled by large corporations spitting out copious amounts of yellow, fizzy beers. Then, the craft beer revolution happened.

The dawn of the craft beer movement brought diverse ales to the forefront of the industry. The environment was primed with creative collaboration and sparked a wave of imaginative ales bringing us flavors in beer we did not know was possible. It would seem the old world run by monotonous, corporate lager beers is dead and gone. We have come to the new age of ales… a brew world order.

The lack of diversity in lagers draws me to favor the rich, wide varieties of ales. Now, I have tried some craft lagers that I have enjoyed and sometimes certain situations, like mowing the lawn in 90 degree weather, calls for a nice crisp and refreshing lager. For me personally those occasions are extremely rare and you are more likely to find me with an ale in my hand.

For me, lagers carry with them the stigma of being crappy corporate beer. To me they represent the thought process on wanted to slam as many beers as fast as possible to get hammered drunk. Sure, in my teenage years I once held this mentality but I am older and wiser now, I think. I have come to appreciate beer and I enjoy it’s flavor. That reminds me of the saying, “People who drink light beer don’t like the taste of beer they just like to pee a lot.” When you boil it down I guess for me it comes to appreciation over abuse, leaving the old world behind and growing wiser with the passing years.

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Beer & Food Pairings

beer and foodWhen it comes to pairing beer with food it is important to remember that there are no rules to follow and to experiment and have fun. That being said there are some recommendations to help you explore the endless pairings and possibilities to be had. When exploring what beers to pair with different food no one knows what you like better than you so stick with what you enjoy but at the same time don’t be afraid to try something new… you may just stumble upon a new favorite!

It is my personal preference to go with contrasting flavors more often rather than picking out commonalities when pairing. For instance bitter with sweet or sweet with sour. Sometimes it can be fine to pair similar flavors with each other but you have to be careful as too much of something can diminish you flavor pairing experience. For instance, if I was going to eat a spicy dish I may want to stay away from pairing it with a jalapeno beer and instead go with a more crisp, refreshing beer to offset the spiciness. Choosing to go with contrasting flavors when pairing beer with food can bring out different flavors in your beer or food that wouldn’t have tasted otherwise. However, the occasion often arises where I completely ignore this suggestion.

Choosing which beer to enjoy with your food can also be decided by matching similar flavors together. If you go this route you may find yourself having a Framboise Lambic with desert, a pumpkin ale with pumpkin cheesecake, or a smoked amber with some backyard Bar-B-Q. Sometimes going with this method can result in to much of one particular flavor and diminish the range of flavors you can experience with a dish.

Though there are no rules to strictly follow, and I encourage playing around with flavors, there are some constants to keep in mind. Beer pairs very nicely with cheese, contrasting flavors brings out complexity, and only you know what works for you. So, pop open a bottle or can, try something new and have a little fun. CHEERS!

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How I Got Into the Craft Beer Scene (and Why I’ll Never Look Back)

Craft Beer SceneIt would be easy to say the reason I got into the wonderful world of craft beer is because of the wide range of flavors, styles and because craft beer just down right tastes better. Sure, those things are definitely all reasons but I would be reducing and simplifying if I were to say those things are the only reasons. How I got into the craft beer scene seemed to be the path of least resistance and was something that was destined to be.

Confession… I started drinking at a pretty young age and of course being young and dumb (and knowing absolutely nothing about beer) I started out drinking watered down, domestic lagers. It was the only thing I knew of beer since my dad drank Bud Light or whatever else was on sale at the time. Throughout the years of my teenage angst I ran through all the big name brands staying loyal to each one for a short time as my palate would change and my liking for each one would fall away.

As my palate and wisdom developed and matured I stumbled across some craft beer from Rogue Ales at the ripe age of nineteen. The next couple of years I enjoyed craft beer here and there but the spark for the flame of my desire was not yet ignited as I was only interested in whatever would catch me a buzz with the money I had in my pocket at the time. But, in my early twenties something happened that amerced my everything into the consciously creative craft beer scene.

At the time I was working in the food and beverage industry and had just been fired from a fining dinning restaurant uptown. Luckily, I had a friend who was the general manager at this little hole in the wall restaurant that was just getting in on the ground floor of the craft beer revolution in the city. He was very knowledgeable on craft beer and was one of those hardcore craft beer supporters, you know, the type that will travel to wait hours in line for the specialty release beers.

Working in this restaurant and being apart of the beginning of the amazing craft beer revolution in this city was something special. My knowledge of beer grew and so did my appreciation for the craft. As my appreciation for craft beer grew my desire to abuse beer in the form of over consumption waned. No longer was I able to drink light, domestic lagers not only because my palate could no longer stomach them but also because of the attached mentality behind the yellow, fizzy beers. Corporate beer is all about quantity over quality, it sacrifices character for increased profit margins while pushing over consumption on the market. Corporate beer gives you more, crappier beer for less money… isn’t that sweet?

The craft beer scene became something more than a new, trendy hobby for me… it became a movement! As I started to become the person I was created to be the more my love for the craft beer scene engulfed me. It became my fight, craft brew Vs. corporate beer. For me, it is a battle in a much bigger war being played out on the world stage. The craft beer revolution is about freedom over enslavement, collaboration over competition, and creative diversity over monotony. The lines are drawn, the stage is set and I was hooked… amerced in the craft beer scene and I’m not looking back. It’s full steam a head.

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Beer in Review: 5 Refreshing Microbrews For Summer

sea-sunny-beach-holidaySummer time… a time to sit back and unwind… but first you must decide on a beer to drink. Of course we all know of the criteria a summer beer must meet: not too heavy, refreshing and low on the ABV scale. Lagers are typically the go ahead play here but if you are like me and prefer ales that are light, refreshing and yet flavorful here are 5 ales that are the most invigorating on a hot summer day.

Westbrook GoseWestbrook Brewing Gose

Weighing in at 4% abv this German styled sour wheat beer hits every mark of a great summer beer. It is brewed using coriander and salt giving it an interestingly refreshing flavor. Coming out of Mt Pleasant, SC Westbrook Brewing has created the perfect beer to have in hand while your feet are buried in the sand!

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This fruity, dry farmhouse ale weighs in at 6.8% abv and 35 IBU. It is light and refreshing with notes of citrus and mild pepper. The complexity of this wild animal of a beer will have your taste buds intrigued and lips questioning “what was that and can I have some more?” This beers ability to be light, refreshing and complex all at once makes it one of the best farmhouse ales in the U.S.

OB PinnerOskar Blues Pinner

Can I be blunt? I absolutely love IPA’s and I am a self proclaimed hophead. IPA’s are my go to style of beer and lucky enough there is one for every occasion. This throwback IPA is well balanced with hops and offers a fruity, citrus taste upfront and a pine and earthy finish on the back end. At 4.9% and 35 IBU this American IPA is perfect for any hophead to slam on a summers’ day.

summer solsticeAnderson Valley Summer Solstice

Things that make you go “hmmm….” This beer will leave you baffled as the taste profile is not what you would expect from the look of this brew. Known as a “cream soda for adults” this summer ale is exactly what the doctor ordered. It has a creamy mouth feel yet is surprisingly light and refreshing. Weighing in at 5% and only 6 IBU this beer offers sweet, caramel notes coupled with a bit of spice while maintaining drink-ability which makes this interesting ale a top choice for refreshment on a summer day.

Jam SessionNoDa Brewing Jam Session

This local summer favorite is well balanced with citrus hops and a strong malt flavor. It offers a hint of grapefruit with a slight bitterness that complements the malt backbone well. It is light and refreshing and mixes strong flavor with drink-ability quite well. Weighing in at 5.1% abv and 31 IBU this American Pale Ale is perfect for a summer lake day in Charlotte, NC.

 

 

 

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