Monday, March 10, 2014

7 American Organic Beers to Help Ring in St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is a day to pause and reflect on the great accomplishments and sacrifices made by Saint Patrick, who toiled for more than three decades shamrocking the paganism out of the Irish, turning them into good Catholics. It's a day for quiet reflection … wait, who are we kidding?  St. Patrick's Day is all about being able to drink beer. Given the holiday's association with the color green, it makes sense to consider the environment, so we've scoured the market for the best organic beers brewed within the continental 48.

Peak Organic Brewing Co.

The Peak Organic Brewing Company is a small company located in Portland, Maine, that cares so much about organic beer that they put it in their name. They focus on small craft brewing and use all high-quality organic ingredients for the 10 or so beers they have in rotation at any one time. I'm a fan of their Pale Ale, though their limited edition winter release King Crimson and their Espresso Amber Ale would both be great choices for St. Patty's day.

Eel River Brewing

California-based Eel River Brewing Company is another brewery that does everything organic. The company started brewing back in the '90s and has been winning awards for its beers ever since. In 1999, the company came out with the country's first certified organic beer, Organic Amber Ale. These days, their brewmasters are brewing seven organic beers. I've had the Blonde Ale, a nice crisp beer that went nicely with the pub food I ordered it with. The lightness of the beer would lend itself nicely to being dyed green — just don't tell the folks at Eel River, who might not be too excited about its organic-ness being sullied by food color Green #7.

New Belgium Brewery

New Belgium Brewery should be familiar to any green-leaning beer drinker. The company has a long history of being greener and have taken steps to slash their energy consumption, treat their own wastewater on site, use wind power, and even create their own electricity on-site using methane given off as waste in their brewing process. Their Mothership Wit is actually their first organically-produced beer and would go nicely with a good Irish cheddar.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada is easily one of the greenest breweries that doesn't make all of their beers using organic ingredients. The company does a lot to green up their environmental footprint including drawing energy from their own private solar panel farm, recycling nearly everything that comes into their office, like the New Belgium Brewery, they process their own wastewater on site to generate methane which they burn to create electricity. They do have one certified organic brew though, the Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale, which goes the extra step by being made with hops and barley grown on company grounds.

Bison Brewing

Bison Brewing has been making small craft beers in Berkeley, California since 1989 but has deep roots in the brewpub industry through its original founder Bill Owens, who helped lead the charge to legalize brewpubs in California in the 80s, which caused a wave of similar laws being passed across the country. All of Bison's nine beers are certified organic and they take the extra step of offsetting their CO2 footprint. Their IPA and Single Hop IPA are particularly good for celebrating ol' St. Pat as they're not too heavy and can be thrown back all day long (responsibly, of course).

Lakefront Brewery

The Lakefront Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin used 100 percent certified organic ingredients to make their Organic E.S.B. brew. Lakefront has been making beer in Milwaukee since 1987 and was started by two brothers whose rivalry spurred friends and family to encourage them to turn their hobby into a business. Russ Klisch, the owner of Lakefront Brewing, has been encouraging local Wisconsin farmers to grow organic hops so he doesn't have to import them from New Zealand. The Lakefront Brewery's tour is infamous because they give out the beer at the start, not the end, of the tour.

Brew Your Own Organic Beer

Why buy when you can brew? Homebrewing beer combines the craftsmanship required to bring in a really good brew with the payoff of having a bunch of really good brew to drink. And even if you end up with less than really good, it's still beer, which, like pizza, can rarely ever be truly bad. Seven Bridges Cooperative's Brew Organic website offers a full range of ingredients and equipment needed to make your own batch of organic beer. Homebrewing your own organic beer takes the benefits of organic and ads in the qualities of homemade and local. What's not to love about homemade organic local beer?

14 Vegan Cheeses That Will Make You Forget About The Real Thing

1. Baked Almond Feta

Yum! This perfectly creamy-meets-crumbly treat can be extra posh when served with olive oil and herbs. Get the full recipe at Maple Spice.

2. Roasted Garlic and Sun Dried Tomato Vegan Cheese

Rawmazing’s perfect appetizer uses a cashew base. Snag the recipe here.

3. Almond-Covered Cheddar Cheese Ball

There are a good handful of ingredients in this cashew-based recipe that appear to create a magical amalgam because the result is a cheddar-esque spreadable that’s actually sharp. Get the full recipe at Vegedout.

4. Vegan Parmesan

BRB, Googling ALL the pasta recipes now. Get the full recipe at Ezontho.

5. Raw Vegan Dill Cream Cheese

It’s not just any old cream cheese, it’s made with dill. Get the full recipe at Flourchild.

6. Smoky Vegan Cheddar Cheese

You can slice or spread this spicy cheddar variety. Get the full recipe at VegKitchen.

7. Black Pepper and Herb Vegan Goat Cheese

A cashew base that gets covered in crushed peppercorns, dill, and rosemary. Get the full recipe at A Profound Hatred of Meat.

8. Buffalo Mozzarella

The texture on these “mozzarella” balls looks just perfect. Get the full recipe at Veggie Wedgie.

9. Vegan Brie

SoooOOoooOO creamy. Get the full recipe at Peaceloveveganfood.

10. Vegan Blue Cheese

The secret ingredient in this is fermented tofu. Get the full recipe at Melomeals.

11. Vegan Feta

Tart flavor comes from lemon, while coconut flour lends that slightly crumbly texture. Get the full recipe at Including Cake.

12. Simple Almond Cheese

All you need for this is almonds, water, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Get the full recipe at Rawmazing.

13. Herb Cashew Cream Cheese

Finally! Your vegan answer to Boursin. Get the full recipe at In Vegetables We Trust.

14. Ricotta-Style Almond Cheese

Here’s a vegan ricotta that doesn’t require soaking or a blender. Get the full recipe at Chel Rabbit.

[via Buzzfeed]

Monday, March 3, 2014

7 Ways to Revel in an Eco-Friendly Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras will be in full swing this week, and while it may be a traditional festival of excess, that doesn't mean it has to be wasteful. There are a lot of simple ways you can enjoy the Carnival and keep your eco-friendly wits about you. Hit the jump for our top 7 ideas!

Recycle your Beads

Mardi Gras ‘throws,’ the trinkets thrown by Krewe members from floats to parade goers, have a pretty rich history. Modern throws however, are largely made up of cheap plastic strings of beads, which end up littering the streets or thrown into trash cans. Some groups have started recycling these beads, such as Arc of Greater New Orleans, who follow parades with their “Catch and Release” float. The group encourages parade-goers to throw their beads back. Arc then sorts and resells the beads to Mardi Gras Krewes, reducing cost for the Krewes and wastage for everyone. The money Arc earns from sales goes directly back to their non-profit work. If you find yourself catching beads in a city where it’s not so easy to recycle, you can always try your hand at recycling them into colorful art work.

Regift Collectable Throws

In amongst the masses of plastic beads, you might be lucky enough to snag some more collectable throws. Traditional glass beads, commemorative doubloons, customized beads, decorated coconuts and all manner of flashing LED toys are just some of the items you might catch — and no, you really don’t need to remove your clothing to get them. If the trinkets aren’t your thing, there’s almost certainly a kid around too short to catch the throws, pass them along to those who’ll enjoy them and they’ll be far less likely to wind up in landfill.

Bring a Reusable Cup

If you’re celebrating Mardi Gras in a City with more liberal open container laws, such as New Orleans, bring your reusable cup. Chances are you’ll patronize more than one bar on your Mardi Gras travels, and while commemorative plastic cups are a treasured throw from various Mardi Gras Krewes, you certainly don’t need to collect (and throw out) a different cup from each bar you visit.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

It’s pretty important to stay hydrated through Mardi Gras Festivities, but waiting in line to buy bottles of water is neither environmentally friendly or a fun use of your parade time. Bring a reusable water bottle with you and you’ll be free to focus on the party, plus you’ll be surprised how many establishments provide Cambros of water for you to fill up your container with. It’s free, and often the line is much shorter than the one for more adult beverages.

Make your Own Costume

This is a bit of a Mardi Gras no-brainer. While it’s perfectly possible to pick up feathered masquerade headgear around a lot of parades, Mardi Gras is the perfect opportunity to channel your creative side and make a bright, fabulous festive outfit of your own. Dig through your own closet for any big-mistake purchases, embarrassing 80s relics or unwanted hand-me-downs and go to town. Check out thrift stores for gaudy colors and feather boas. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can turn your old newspapers into Mardi Gras masks. There are no rules to Mardi Gras costuming, so run wild and reuse.

Ride a Bike!

With any Mardi Gras celebration comes large crowds, and very often a certain amount of festive drinking. Bring your bike instead of your car, and not only will you find it easier and safer to get around, you’ll also avoid guzzling gas in traffic jams. If costume making got your creative juices flowing, you can even think about decorating your bike! If you’re joining Mardi Gras on vacation, look around for bicycle rental, and perhaps consider taking a bike tour while you’re there.

Support or Join a Green Krewe (Or Start One of Your Own)

This one’s a little more ambitious and takes a little more planning than other items on this list. Eco-aware Mardi Gras Krewes are beginning to pop up, and they have a lot of ground to cover. Aside from from the proliferation of plastic throws, Mardi Gras floats are often largely made of paper mache and crepe paper, and pulled by tractors or trucks. In New Orleans Krewe of Kolossus made their floats from recycled trash and other salvaged materials, while new-comer Verdi Gras make their beads from newspaper and salvaged wood in an effort to create a greener Mardi Gras less dependent on imported plastic goods. Chattanooga’s smaller Mardi Gras celebrations come complete with pedal-powered floats. In most cases, anyone can join a Mardi Gras Krewe, though membership dues vary wildly. There’s huge room for growth in the push for a green Mardi Gras, so if you can, jump in and support those who are working towards a greener Carnival!

[via Inhabitat]