Monday, July 25, 2011

DIY Ginger Beer

Back in May I wrote about how I made my own lime cordial for making gimlets. I mentioned how I found the recipe on the New York Times Magazine website, and while reading some of that author's archives, I came across his recipe for ginger beer. It can be found in his article entitled "Case Study: Cloudy with a Chance of Ginger."

Now, I have never been a huge ginger fan, though I do like ginger ale. The Dark & Stormy is always a popular summer drink, and having tried it with some store-bought ginger beer, I was not really impressed. However, I decided that maybe if I could make my own, I would like it better. So, I followed the author's recipe and gave it a shot.

It's really a pretty simple recipe. It involves grating ginger, juicing a couple of lemons, and making some simple syrup. All of these ingredients are combined, along with some yeast and filtered water, in a bottle, and put in a dark place to ferment. All of the amounts can be adjusted to your individual taste, so that it you'd like it a little sweeter or spicier, or a little less sweet or spicy, you can change it.

I originally had a bit of a problem in that it seems that the yeast didn't properly ferment the first time. After a couple of days I mixed up a little more yeast, this time letting in bloom in a bit of warm water before adding it to the bottle. It's important to keep an eye on the bottle for a few days in that the CO2 generated by the yeast will eventually cause the bottle to swell. If left unmonitored, it could burst, but this shouldn't be a huge problem.

After letting it ferment for a good 24 hours, I put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and, after straining it, moved it to a glass bottle. It ends up being slightly carbonated, which is nice. I mixed it with some dark rum, a squeeze of fresh lime, and the resulting drink was delicious. If you're a fan of ginger, or of Dark & Stormies, I'd highly recommend giving this one a shot.

Buffalo & Company leather koozies and sunglass straps

Buffalo & Company has quietly been getting press on various blogs, including Red Clay Soul, primarily for their t-shirts. While some of their t-shirts are pretty interesting, since I don't wear t-shirts, I haven't really paid much attention to them. However, the other day I came across two of their products that really caught my attention.

The first is their leather koozie. I've never seen anything like it, but it really makes a lot of sense. The leather would certainly keep your hand warm (though I can't comment as to how well it would keep your drink cold), but it's sure to pick up a great patina over time. It's available in two colors, Dark Walnut and Tobacco, and both are stamped with Buffalo & Company's logo.

At $30, the price is a bit steep and they're definitely one you want to keep your eye on. However, they would make great gifts, especially for people who already have a big koozie collection.

Similarly, Buffalo & Company also offers leather sunglass straps. These are something I've really never seen before. I'm not actually sure how practical they'd be in that they maybe get annoying to wear on the neck after a while and they may not be great for constant exposure to water (especially salt water). However, they really are unique and, again, might make a great gift for someone.

Oakleaf & Acorn

Back in May I went to a launch party for Warhorse Workshop that was sponsored by Bearings Guide, Billy Reid, and a store called Oakleaf & Acorn. Oakleaf & Acorn is a store located in Braselton, GA, and the store's owner, John Rich, brought most of his merchandise down to the party and was there to talk about his store and its goods. John was a great guy and spent a while chatting with me and showing me some of the pieces he brought.

Back in June, I had to run up to the outlet mall in Commerce, GA, and stopped by John's store on my way back to the city.

Now, let me stop right now and say something. I think that most people in the know would agree that Sid Mashburn is probably the best, most interesting men's clothing store in Atlanta. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Oakleaf & Acorn is probably the best non-clothing men's store in the Atlanta area (though they do also have clothing).

The store is located in downtown Braselton, which is just one exit north of Chateau Elan. Without traffic, it probably takes about 40 minutes to get up there from downtown Atlanta. The store itself used to be the town post office and barber shop. Since then, the dividing wall has been torn down so the shop is basically just one big room. However, it densely packed with all kinds of treasures. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let the images below speak for themselves.

It should be noted that John is constantly rotating the stock and decorations, and I was up there last week and things had been changed around a bit from two months ago.

Currently, Oakleaf & Acorn has offerings by the final companies:
  • A S Batle Co.
  • Baxter of California
  • Beekman 1802
  • Beetle & Flor
  • Billykirk
  • Brothers Galleon
  • Cause and Effect
  • CB I Hate Perfume
  • Farm Tactics
  • Filson
  • Lonesome Pine Game Calls
  • Himilayan Trading Post
  • Hitsman
  • Marvin D. Poole Knives
  • Olaria Studio
  • Otis James
  • Raleigh Denim
  • Sebago
  • Southern Proper
  • Shuron Eyewear
  • Stripling's Beef Jerky
  • Warhorse Workshop
  • YMYL
If you live in Atlanta, or are traveling down I-85, a trip to the store is a necessity. John is a great guy and will be glad to offer you a bourbon, a cold beer, or Coca Cola and spend sometime showing you around the shop. He's a teacher, so when the fall rolls around, be sure to drop him an email to see if he's going to be in the store during the week, though he's usually there on the weekends.

If you can't make it to the store, John has an online shop which is two years old now and can be found here. He's currently offering a 20% discount on everything in the store, so if something on the site piques your interest, now may be a good time to grab it.

The contact info for Oakleaf & Acorn is as follows:
5117 Hwy 53
Braselton, GA 30517
john at


I think everyone can agree that koozies are essential. And most people (most people with taste, at least) will agree Croakies are great. Why did it take so long for these two items to get together?

Well, some modern-day genius has finally invented the Doozy. Basically, it is a combination of a koozie and Croakies. You put it around you neck, you put your can or bottle in it, and you're good to go.

As ridiculous as this concept is, it really is pretty practical, especially once tailgating season rolls around. While you're grilling, now you don't have to find a place to put down you beer. If you're playing an intense game of cornhole, you have both hands free to help nail your throw. They're available in a variety of colors, and custom printing options are available so you can buy one for everyone in your office. You can get them for cans or for bottles.

A camo one is available that would certainly come in handy in the dove field.

Additionally, a "We Are Alabama" bottle version is available, with all of the proceeds going towards recovery from the tornadoes earlier this year.

The can versions are only $5.99 and the bottle versions are $6.99. These seem like a great price, and they're cheap enough to pick up a couple since your friends will inevitably try to steal them. Your Yankee friends will probably think they're stupid, but those of us from the South will get it.