Seasonal Beer Primer – Fall

Fall is arguably the best season of the year. The leaves change colors and nature’s aesthetic improves drastically, the heat is gone allowing one to wear more than shorts and t-shirts, and holidays like Halloween (my personal favorite) and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. However, the true reason Fall is by far the best season of the year can be summed up in one word:  beer.

Fall means Oktoberfest, a German celebration ushering in the new season.  It’s also a two week long long period where almost all of Germany’s populous gets extremely drunk on amazing beer. Unfortunately, we’re not in Germany, so doing the same as the Germans isn’t entirely feasible (or legal). However, Oktoberfest does mean that some of our nation’s biggest breweries will be rolling out their seasonal beers, which typically fall into one of two different categories:  Oktoberfest or Pumpkin Ale.

From the end of September through mid-November, I make it a point to get my hands on as many different Fall beers before the season is over. Whether it’s an Oktoberfest or a Pumpkin Ale, I suggest you do yourself a favor and grab a six pack.  Listed below are the beers I’ve tried, and I encourage you to do the same before Winter gets here.

  1. Sam Adams Oktoberfest – I could go on about how great this is, but I think its commercial could do it more justice.
  2. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale – An absolutely delicious beer, it tastes like pumpkin pie in a bottle. Plenty of pumpkin, cinnamon, and spice flavors, but not overpowering. In my opinion, this is the best pumpkin ale out there this season.
  3. O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale – Following Schlafly, O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale is slightly less intense in flavor, but it’s a good substitute if your local store is out of Schlafly.
  4. Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale ranks as the least intense of the Pumpkin Ales, but it’s still a good alternative to the first two.
  5. Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat – This has been rolled out by Anheuser-Busch to replace the lackluster Jack’s Pumpkin Spice beer that rears its ugly head every Fall. It’s really not a bad non-craft beer, infinitely better than its predecessor, and has more flavor than anything you can pick up for the price.
  6. Blue Moon Harvest Moon – Similar to Shock Top, it’s a domestic Belgian White put out by a big name brewery (Molson-Coors). I wouldn’t recommend one over the other, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
  7. Southern Tier Imperial Pumking – From what I’ve read on it, it’s a very take it or leave it beer. I didn’t think it was anything too special.
This is by no means the definitive list of Fall beers. There are still quite a few beers out there that I haven’t been able to find. One that I will recommend without trying is Dogfish Head Punk’n Ale. This is the company that rolled out the 60-minute, 90-minute, and 120-minute IPAs, arguably some of the greatest beers of all time. If their seasonal is as good as their regular production, this could be an excellent fall brew. It only comes in four packs, but from what I’ve heard, it’s entirely worth it.
Keep in mind, these beers are meant to be enjoyed, not consumed at a rapid pace to reach intoxication. Buy a new six pack each week and enjoy one beer each day; you’ll appreciate it a lot more. Toward the end of the season, I recommend buying a six pack of each of your favorite beers and saving it for a few months. The flavor will mellow with time, giving you your same beer, but with an even better flavor.
Happy drinking.

The Importance of Physical Fitness

There was a point in time when America was revered as a physical and intellectual powerhouse. We were seen as the great liberators, purveyors of freedom – big brother, if you will – to other nations under oppression from a ruthless regime or an intolerant government. A short time after 9/11 and the start of the war on terror, this all began to change. These days, all you have to do is get on YouTube and read the comments under any video to realize the way other nations perceive us has changed drastically. You’ll see things posted from citizens of other nations along the lines of “ignorant American”, “go eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger, fat American”, and other colorful sayings that paint Americans in a less than stellar light.

What the rest of the world sees...

I work in the service industry, at one point in a very large, chain seafood restaurant. The majority of the food on the menu was deep-fried; the small amount that was grilled was drenched in unhealthy oils or butter. Each shift, I watched as my more-often-than-not disgustingly obese restaurant guests shoveled down handfuls of deep-fried, tasteless food. This was after they struggled up the thirty or so steps that it took to actually get inside the restaurant. It’s a frightening and very sad sight. Coupled with the fact that I live in one of the most unhealthy states in the union, it does cause for serious alarm. According to Reuters (2009), “26% of the population is now fully obese.” That was two years ago, and I doubt things have improved. Awesome.

I always stress the importance of continual mental and physical growth through my writings, as well as in my own life. When you chose healthy eating habits and engage in physical activity, you are not only doing yourself a favor by ensuring a long and healthy life, you’re doing your country a favor by helping to restore its image. I currently have a fraternity brother working abroad in Spain, and he is frequently asked if all Americans are fat, or with what frequency we consume McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Don’t help feed this stereotype. Instead, feed yourself healthy food, and put down the XBOX controller and get yourself into the gym.

The biggest excuse I hear from people for not exercising is that they don’t have enough time. That’s because they don’t make time for it. I do. And it only takes me six hours each week.

I am huge proponent of the StrongLifts program (you can find the entire pdf on the SL website for free – www.stronglifts.com), which puts me in the gym three times a week (typically, MWF). It focuses on high weight and low repetitions for a full body workout, which is great news for guys, as this yields the largest possible testosterone release. This essentially yields higher results in less time, but the goal is to find what works for you so you’ll stick with it. I also suggest finding an adequate cardio plan that you can stick with 2-3 times each week to keep your cardiovascular health in check. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, and that’s largely due to the fact that the majority of Americans don’t live healthy lifestyles.

As far as healthy eating is concerned, there are a few key ideas to keep in mind. If you are engaged in a solid workout regimen, you should be consuming 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound you weigh. This will encourage muscle recovery and growth. Protein also acts as a thermogenic for your body, which speeds up your metabolism, which in turn torches body fat. You should also be eating a decent amount of fruits and vegetables, while staying away from any overly processed foods. Some of the best things you can keep in your kitchen are chicken breasts, whole wheat bread, lean cuts of beef, whey protein, skim milk, oat meal, cottage cheese, and various fruits and vegetables. A tip on vegetables – buy them frozen. They’re not only cheaper and last longer, but they’re flash frozen as soon as they’re harvested, thus preventing excessive nutrient loss.

Additionally, focus on eating six small meals instead of three large ones, as well as consuming a gallon of water each day. Again, this will keep your metabolism peaked. If that seems like a lot of work, keep in mind it’s much easier to pick one day a week and cook for the remaning six days than it is to lose ten (or more) pounds.

I encourage you to live a healthy lifestyle if you aren’t already, as the benefits are endless. Yes, you’ll feel better, look better… but you’ll also live longer. And who doesn’t want that? Right now, our country is in a tough spot. Our economy is defunct, bipartisan leadership continuously prevents any progress from being made, and we’re constantly paranoid about another terrorist attack that we’ll probably never see. As individuals, there’s not much we can do to alleviate these issues. But we can work to put to rest this stereotype of our country being overweight and unhealthy. So get in shape. For America.

A Gentleman Handles Conflict

Despite our best efforts to get through each day with minimal hassle, conflict is an ever present entity that manifests itself in many forms. Whether it’s traffic, forgetting to put the toilet seat down for your significant other, or a coworker that’s unhappy with his own life so he takes it out on you, conflict will always be in a gentleman’s life. How he chooses to deal with it, however, is his own decision. Here’s what I recommend:

1.  Always keep a cool head in the situation.  Letting emotions take control is not what a gentleman does.  Emotions cloud judgment and inhibit rational thinking patterns.

2.  Remove yourself from the situation.  While it seems easy to simply address the problem then and there, it will be hastily addressed, further complicating matters.  If need be, find a facilitator that can act as a mediator between you and the other person.

3.  Listen to what the other person is saying.  Too often in our culture we find ourselves simply waiting for our turn to speak.  If you sincerely pay attention to the concerns one is expressing, you may realize something about the situation that you hadn’t before, as well as why this altercation arose.

4.  When it is time to speak, do so without ad hominem attacks (insulting one’s character).  That does nothing but make matters worse, and makes you appear childish.

5.  Offer a sincere apology if you are the offending party.  If not, accept the apology of the offending party.  The key goal of any conflict resolution is to deal with the problem swiftly, and in a way that both parties can coexist peacefully once a resolution has been reached.  It does you no good to hold grudges against another person, nor does it benefit them.

Conflict will always be present in your life.  Use of these techniques should make it more manageable.