Safe Riding: Getting Home in One Piece

While it can be good to watch how much you drink, there might be some days where you have a bit too much. In these cases, you’ll need to figure out how to get back home. However, there’s a few options to use for safe riding. That way, you can avoid even thinking about doing any drunk driving…

Safe Riding: Avoid Drunk Driving

Designated driver

The designated driver concept is perhaps the best way to practice safe riding. The idea is pretty simple, but highly effective. One person will remain sober while everyone else will drink. Then, this sober person will handle the driving duties and get everyone home safely.

The nice thing about designated driving is that it’s something everyone can do. In fact, most people tend to rotate responsibilities in order to keep things fair. One person who drank previously might become the designated driver next time. Plus, it’s also a great way to hang out with friends while trying to cut back on your drinking.

Ride sharing

Recently, ride sharing apps have become handy for practicing safe riding. These apps allow you to have someone come pick you up at nearly any location. This makes them especially handy for if you find yourself accidentally drinking too much, and not having a designated driver on hand.

Of course, much like a taxi, you’ll have to pay a fare in order to ride. These fares can go up during busy days, like the weekends. Therefore, keep this in cost in mind as part of your budget when going out. Still, paying these prices is always better than driving drunk.

Calling someone you know

If you find yourself in need of a ride, and don’t have access to other options, then it’s time to call someone you know. This could be a friend you know, or a family member. Hopefully, they’ll be able to come to where you are and give you a ride.

Keep in mind this can be tricky, as they might be busy themselves. Plus, it is somewhat inconvenient for the person you’re calling, so it helps to try and repay the favor somehow. Therefore, the best thing is to have a surefire safe riding plan set up beforehand.

Wine Making: From Grape to Glass

Wine is a very popular drink choice for many people. However, many of them don’t actually know what goes into the wine making process. The process is actually quite interesting, and pretty different from other drinks such as beer

Wine Making: Start to Finish

Grape picking & crushing

The first part of the wine making process involves picking the grapes. Many vineyards these days use machines to speed the process up, but some still do their picking by hand. Workers will then place the grapes into containers, and ship them off further into the vineyard.

Once the grapes arrive at the wine production centers, workers will help crush them. Usually, workers will sort out any bad grapes, and send the rest to the aptly named destemmer, which removes the grape stems. Finally, workers toss the grapes into a crusher, which removes the skins and seeds and presses the grapes into juice. The exception is with red grapes, which go to the vats with their skin intact.

Grape fermentation

After a vineyard has grape juice, they need to ferment it as part of the wine making process. Fermenting itself is a relatively simple process. At its core, it involves converting the sugar in the juice into alcohol. How that is done depends on the wine being made.

For both red and white wines, vineyards will add yeast to kick-start fermentation. However, for red wines, the process will cause their skins to rise up to the top of the vats. Due to this, workers will “press” the vat a bit to keep the skin in contact with the grapes.

Aging

Before being sent to a bottle, there’s one more wine making step that occurs: aging. Again, while aging may seem simple, it actually has a lot of variables. For instance, vineyards have to figure out what how long to age the wine, the type of container to use, potential wood barrel types, and many more factors.

However, once a wine has aged, then a vineyard can bottle it. Most “common” white wines are ready after a few months, while “common” red wines tend to need around 12-18 months. As for more expensive wines, vineyards will age them for years and years at a time.

Original Gravity: Homebrew Science

If you’re into the homebrew scene, you might hear a lot of talk about gravity. Of course, this doesn’t refer to the Earth’s gravity, but rather the gravity of your beer recipe. The most important of these is the beer’s original gravity, which plays a crucial role in how you beer will turn out…

Original Gravity: Why It Matters

What it is

The original gravity (OG) in brewing is a measure of the fermentable and un-fermentable substances in the beer wort before it ferments. This seems like an odd thing to measure as a brewer. However, it actually is important for figuring out the ABV of your brew.

Still, you can’t do this with the OG alone. You’ll also need your beer’s final gravity as well. Final gravity is calculated after your wort has finished fermenting. Then, you’ll take these two numbers and compare them to find your beer’s ABV.

The PPG

Finding out your original gravity will involve having to do some math. Thankfully, it isn’t all that difficult. Firstly, you’ll need to determine the points per pound per gallon (PPG) of your grain. Often times, suppliers tend to have this information available online or on the packaging.

Once you have this number, then you can find the OG by multiplying the amount of extract by the PPG, and dividing that number by the batch size. Still, don’t forget to consider how efficient your batch is, as most are around 80%. To get a closer OG, multiply your estimated efficiency along with the PPG and extract, and then divide by batch size.

Calculating ABV

After you have found out your original gravity, then it’s time to brew the beer and calculate it’s final gravity. Once you have these two numbers, you can find out your brew’s ABV. Due to the math you did earlier, this calculation is now very simple.

First, subtract your FG from your OG. Then, multiply that number by 1.05 (which is the weight of ethyl alcohol). Next, take that new number and divide it by your FG. Lastly, divide this number by .79 (the density of ethyl alcohol), and you’ll end up with your beer’s ABV.

Hops: How Brewers Use It

Hops are one one of the crucial ingredients in any beer brew. However, many people don’t fully understand what exactly they do, or how to use them best. Better understanding the role these ingredients play can help you really appreciate them, especially if you brew yourself

Hops: What Role They Play

The plant itself

Hops themselves are a just the cone-shaped flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus. In fact, these plants are cousins of the cannabis plant (without any of the THC, of course). These plants tend to grow the best in moist, temperate climates where they can freely climb up trellises or other similar stakes.

Due to the special climate required to grow them, most of the plant’s production occurs in Europe, near the 48th parallel line. Germany, for instance, produced around 39,000 tons in 2017. However, the U.S. has become the largest single producer, producing over 44,000 tons that same year.

Usage in beer

Beer brewers didn’t always use hops as a beer ingredient. While we consider them essential aspects of any brew nowadays, in the past they weren’t even considered to be essential. Instead, brewers used something called “gruit” for extra flavor, which was a combination of different herbs and spices.

However, in the Middle Ages, hops began to become more commonplace in brews. Brewers found that these plants added an unique bitterness to the beer’s flavor, as well as new aromas. This is due to the “alpha” acids in the plant, which they release when they are boiled during the brewing process.

Modern usage

These days, modern brewers have evolved their usage of hops considerably. For instance, they might use “dry hopping”, which is when they add them in during the beer’s fermenting stage. They may also might make “fresh hopped” beers, which use recently-picked hops rather than dried-out versions. It all depends on what kind of style they have in mind.

A good way to taste how brewers use this ingredient differently is by trying regional beer variants, specifically East Coast vs. West Coast IPAs. East Coast IPAs tend to be more balanced in terms of bitterness and malt. Meanwhile, West Coast IPAs tend to be very hoppy, and as a result, pretty bitter in taste.

Smoking Drinkers: Alcohol and Nicotine

The idea of smoking drinkers has been around for a long time. Smokey bars have been pretty common in films or T.V. Plus, many people claim they only smoke when they drink. As it turns out, it somewhat makes sense why these two things go together for some people…

Smoking Drinkers: Is There Such A Thing as Social Smokers?

Nicotine 101

To understand smoking drinkers, it helps to first understand nicotine. Nicotine is a very addictive substance which you can commonly find in tobacco products. Cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, and more recently, e-cigs, are all products that contain nicotine. In fact, the CDC estimates that over 50 million Americans use some kind of tobacco or nicotine product.

Of course, there’s a reason why so many people chose to use these products. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. When nicotine is inhaled by someone, it quickly sets off a chemical chain reaction. A person’s heart rate increases, their blood pressure rises, and their brains release dopamine. However, this can quickly get out of control.

Nicotine addiction

Nicotine’s addictive properties also help one to understand smoking drinkers. It’s very easy for a person to develop an addiction. These addictions can lead to irritability, anxiety, and problems with focusing. Plus, not to mention that an addiction is pretty pricey considering the cost of nicotine products.

However, these are just some of the short-term effects. Over time, smoking or using tobacco products could lead to cancer and other health issues. Some might think e-cigs circumvent these risks. However, not only are they costly, they could present their own unique health risks, as well as other ones which have yet to be discovered due to how new they are.

Alcohol and nicotine

Alcohol and nicotine can be a pretty unhealthy combination which can lead to smoking drinkers. Each of these chemicals can cause a person to want to use the others. Many drinkers tend to smoke while drinking, and many smokers will drink after they smoke.

There’s a few reasons for why this may happen. For starters, both nicotine and alcohol activate similar pleasure centers in the brain. This can lead a person to want to “double up” and do both. There’s also the fact that alcohol lowers a person inhibitions. This makes it more likely for them to smoke at places like parties, even if they usually don’t.

Homebrew Beer: DIY Drinking

These days, craft beers seem to be the new popular trend in the beer-drinking world. However, another area which has also been picking up steam is homebrew beer. At first, you might not think making beer yourself is all that doable. However, you might end up surprised at the outcome…

Homebrew Beer: What To Know Beforehand

Know the law

Of course, before you start venturing into homebrew beer, it’s important to know what the law says. Since 2013, homebrewing is in fact legal in every state. Still, it comes with some certain stipulations. For example, you’ll have to get the right paperwork from your state or county, and pay any applicable taxes before you start brewing.

Most states will allow someone who is 21 or older to brew 100 gallons every year. If you have two or more adults in your household, this can go up to 200 gallons. However, keep in mind that it’s illegal to sell any beer your brew yourself. You’re making it solely for your own personal usage.

Equipment

There is a lot of equipment that’s needed for homebrew beer. You’ll need a fermenter for the beer to ferment in, as well as an airlock to vent the carbon dioxide. There’s also the brew kettle, where the actual brewing takes place. Then, there’s the burner to boil the brew, and siphons to move things from one area to the next.

Plus, you’ll also need things like cleaners, thermometers, and other additional items. As a result, it can get a bit pricey to get all the pieces on your own. However, many places sell starter kits that have all the equipment you’ll need. This gets rid of the headache of making sure you have all the right parts.

Ingredients

While the equipment for homebrew beer might be complicated, the ingredients are not. There’s only four that you’re going to need: hops, grains, yeast, and water. Hops will help add bitterness, as well as aroma to your beer. Grains help give your beer added flavor, color, and body.

Yeast is the ingredient that produces the alcohol in the beer as it eats the sugars in the brew. Of course, water is also important, as it makes up 90% of the beer itself. Remember that you’ll want to get some good quality ingredients. After all, if you’re going to drink it, you’ll want it to be good!

Cutting Back: Limiting Your Intake

If you’re worried that you’re drinking a bit more than you should, you might want to think about cutting back. However, you might not be sure what to try to achieve this goal. As it turns out, there’s a few different strategies you can try to limit just how much you drink…

Cutting Back: Setting Goals and Limiting Alcohol

Set a goal

One way to cut back on your drinking is by setting a realistic goal for yourself. Often times, people will drink too much because they lose track of just how much they’ve had to drink. This makes it easier for them to accidentally have too much. However, having a goal in mind can keep your drinking in check.

Along with setting your goal, make sure to count each drink you have. That way, you know exactly how close you are to your goal throughout the night. Even if you start to sober up, remember your goal, as you don’t want to end up drinking more than planned even if you don’t feel drunk.

Space your drinks

Another good idea for cutting back on drinking is to space your drinks. A common problem for some drinkers is having too much alcohol in a short span of time. Due to it taking a couple minutes for our bodies to feel the effects of alcohol, this can cause some people to over-drink and end up much more intoxicated than they planned.

However, spacing your drinks with some water can help with this. For starters, it’ll prevent you from drinking too much in a short span. Plus, it’ll also help to keep you hydrated while you drink. Generally, it’s a good idea to wait about an hour after your last drink to have another.

Do something else

One way to work on cutting back on your drinking is by just avoiding these situations in the first place. If you constantly find yourself at places with alcohol, then it might help to do something else instead. You might be better off spending some time in a space where you won’t be tempted to drink. Whether it be a hobby or something similar, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few nights off of drinking.