From port-barrel-aged ales to plummy porters, and champagne-corked sparklers to mulled treats, there are plenty of festive brews with which to see out 2016
Relegated to the bottom of the festive booze hierarchy, beer tends to gets a bad rap at Christmas. Unfairly so, because seasonal beers can be so much more than cans of lager that accumulate dust at parties while everyone guzzles eggnog. Belgian breweries have been turning out unabashedly sweet, spicy winter ales for centuries, and now everyone else, from craft breweries to supermarkets, has followed suit.
While anything that tastes like the boozy run-off from Christmas pudding is welcome at my dinner table, the best festive beers should also have a sense of occasion about them. Or at least the potential for pantomime drama, whether that comes from tapping a mini-keg without it detonating, or attempting to mull a bottle of cherry beer (from experience these are activities best attempted before, not after, drinking an 11% stout).
Here are some of the best traditional and not so traditional Christmas beers to enjoy this year.
WASHINGTON — In the summer of 2008, Andrea and Andrew Hauser of Elkhart, Indiana, were confidently planning out their lives. They’d bought a home the year before, and in August, they found out they’d be having their first child.
Then it all started to unravel. By that fall, the recession sweeping across the country had struck Elkhart and almost flattened it. The city was a major hub for the RV industry, and as the U.S. economy fell in on itself, not many people were interested in buying luxury vehicles.
The Hausers, who worked in the industry, weren’t spared. Andrea lost her job first. Three weeks later, while driving back from a trip to spend Thanksgiving with family in Georgia, Andrew got a call saying that his company was going out of business.
Plenty of others were in the same boat. Andrea’s brother and father were soon jobless, and she estimates that eventually, 75 percent of their friends were without work too. They’d have parties where they’d eat, play cards and exchange bleak jokes about the economy. The Hausers got by on unemployment insurance. But half of it was going to the $800 a month Andrea had to pay for COBRA coverage, since her pregnancy meant that she couldn’t afford to go without health insurance. They cut back elsewhere, shopping for cheaper groceries and never going out for dinner.
“It wasn’t the end of the world,” Andrea recalled. “But it was easy to feel like we were going to experience what our grandparents experienced during the Great Depression.”
But gradually, things started to get better. In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill. The benefits would take a while to trickle down to Elkhart, but one change came quickly to the Hausers: The government now covered two-thirds of Andrea’s COBRA costs. “If that had not happened, we would not have been able to pay our mortgage,” she said.
Soon after, Andrew got a job. So did Andrea’s brother. The country’s economy was improving, the RV industry was coming back and jobs were coming back with it.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel back Elkhart in a swing that certainly seems like a victory lap. He stopped by the town several times during the 2008 campaign, and Elkhart was the first city Obama visited as president, back when the local unemployment rate was hovering over 17 percent. Currently it is 3.8 percent, one of the lowest jobless rates in the nation.
But while Obama is expected to spend the day touting his economic successes and the resilience of Elkhart’s residents, it won’t be a mutual lovefest. Even many people there whose lives were tangibly improved by his administration aren’t starry-eyed fans of the president.
Andrea, now 33, can’t recall whether she voted for Obama in 2012. She’s not planning to vote for his likely Democratic successor, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, saying she’d prefer a third-party candidate. Andrew, who said he believes Obama deserves more credit for the work he did in turning around the economy, nevertheless didn’t vote for Obama or his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, four years ago. Like his wife, he isn’t too pleased with his choices in 2016 either.
“It’s hard. It’s difficult. I would like to give him a little sense of encouragement,” Andrew, also 33, said. “Personally, I can’t say [that] everything about him, I’m all about. But I’m also not a type of person who thinks our president should get bashed every time for one reason or another.”
The Hausers are not a microcosm of Elkhart. They applaud the work done by Obama and plan to attend his event on Wednesday. But as Jackie Calmes of The New York Times recently reported, much of the rest of the city, which is reliably Republican, is far more skeptical of the president.
Still, the Hausers’ story underscores a larger problem that has vexed this president since his earliest days in office: how to reap tangible political benefits from his economic policies, or, failing that, how to succinctly explain the ins and outs of those policies at all.
According to data gathered by ProPublica, Elkhart received nearly $170 million in funds made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — about 2 percent of the $8.7 billion sent to the state of Indiana as a whole. But when asked for thoughts on how the stimulus had helped them, many recipients said they were unaware they’d even benefited from it.
“I did not receive a loan through the stimulus program, sir,” said an official with Namacle LLC, a company that appears to manufacture gun parts. In fact, Namacle received two loans through the Small Business Administration, for a total of $350,000, via money made available by the Recovery Act, according to ProPublica’s data.
The official confirmed the SBA loans but declined to say what he’d used the money for. “That’s private information,” he said.
I did not receive a loan through the stimulus program, sir.A recipient of a Small Business Administration loan made possible through the stimulus.
Not all stimulus beneficiaries flat-out denied having gotten money through the program. But most seemed completely unaware that the loans they received or the grants they were awarded were made possible by that bill. A receptionist at Goshen Chiropractic Center PC, which got a $119,000 SBA loan, said she “certainly didn’t recall” the company getting that money. A manager at McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk, a restaurant that received a $213,000 SBA loan, said she hadn’t been there long enough to know about the money McCarthy’s received in 2009.
Leanne Brekke, who used to run Indiana Micro Metal Etching company, said she didn’t know the SBA loans she received — more than $500,000 in total — were made possible through the Recovery Act. Brekke used that money to buy the company, she explained. But she sold it a few months ago out of concern that taxes and the possibility of a forced minimum wage hike would make her business unprofitable, if not completely untenable.
“I’m not a big President Obama fan,” Brekke said. “I’m voting for Trump.”
There are any number of reasons — besides sheer confusion — as to why Obama doesn’t get more credit for his economic agenda in places like Elkhart. For one, the stimulus wasn’t a universal success. PBS reported that even as jobs came back to town, “the average take-home pay in Elkhart-Goshen had dropped 22 percent — down from nearly $74,000 in 1999 to almost $58,000 in 2014.”
Three relatively high-profile electric car ventures fizzled in the town despite high expectations. And while unemployment has gone down, it’s debatable how much of that is a result of the president’s legislation. The Recovery Act didn’t prop up the RV industry, after all. But it did spark an economic turnaround strong enough to breathe new life into the luxury vehicle market.
“The connection between what the government intervention did and the rebirth of the RV industry, the explosion of the RV industry, is not a direct connection,” said Kyle Hannon, president and CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “There probably is a line, but it is not a straight one.”
“The types of stimulus projects you have here would be redoing a runway, which is a big project,” Hannon went on. “But we don’t have a commercial airport. Most citizens won’t touch that airport. But I can’t say it was a bad idea. We had five chamber members who got business from that project.”
The White House doesn’t dispute the idea that the president has fallen short in the selling of his agenda. Though Obama’s approval on the economy has been consistently high in recent months, there is a reason he is traveling to Elkhart. He wants to convert the still unconverted.
“Elkhart is not Obama country but he believes engaging in a constructive way with people who disagree with you is not only a vital part of democracy, but one that there is far too little focus on today,” Obama’s communications director, Jennifer Psaki, told The Huffington Post. The president, she added, wants to discuss “not only how far we have come, but where we go from here.”
Obama certainly has fewer fans in Indiana than when he first started showing up there. In the 2008 election, he squeaked past Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the Hoosier State 49.8 percent to 48.8 percent. Four years later, he lost the state to Romney 54 percent to 44 percent. Few expect Clinton to best Donald Trump in Indiana come November.
“There are a bunch of Republicans here. Let’s be honest, it’s Indiana. It’s a very Republican area and conservative in many ways, so it’s going to be hard to sway their opinion,” said Andrea Hauser. “There are certain social issues that I think people can’t get past.”
And so while Obama would love nothing more than to turn a tale of a saved city into a springboard for Democratic votes, he’ll likely make limited progress this week. People don’t always vote with their pocketbooks, as Hauser pointed out. Sometimes, in fact, they don’t vote at all.
Take Elijah Wiggins, who completed advanced technical study coursework using ConnectED-donated software at Elkhart Area Career Center while he was in high school. ConnectED is an Obama-led initiative to outfit schools with next-generation broadband technology. It allowed Wiggins to learn how to draft 3D models. The coursework led to an internship and then to a part-time job, which he still holds today in addition to studying at a local community college.
“Honestly,” he said of Obama, “I don’t think he gets a whole lot of credit for everything that he does. I know a lot of kids who didn’t realize that our software was donated or that he was even working to help us out with it.”
This will be the first presidential election in which Wiggins, who turned 18 this year, is allowed to vote. But he won’t be casting a ballot.
Got a bloated belly? Theres a tea for that. And also one for the jitters, insomnia, even crippling period cramps. It turns out that herbal brews can help remedy more than a few common health complaints. Read on to find the right sip to ease your discomfort.
Fennel tea is a hero to the digestive tract: It contains a compound that relaxes gastrointestinal spasms, allowing gas to pass and relieving bloat, according to Healths nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD.
Chamomile tea may help calm your jitters before a stressful event. Certain compounds in the herb bind to the same receptors in the brain as drugs like Valium. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center found that people who suffered from generalized anxiety disorder experienced significant relief from symptoms after taking chamomile supplements for eight weeks, compared to folks who took a placebo.
Try: Yogi Comforting Chamomile tea ($18 for 6 boxes; amazon.com)
For trouble sleeping
Lavender tea may be just want you need to nod off. Research shows that just the scent of lavender has slumber-induce properties: It has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Try: Traditional Medicinals Organic Ginger tea ($21 for 6 boxes; amazon.com)
For stomach pains
Peppermint tea calms the muscles of the GI system, aiding digestive processes. But if your pain is the result of acid reflux, best to skip peppermint tea. It also has a relaxing effect on the lower esophageal sphincter, which may allow more stomach acid to slip back into the esophagus.
Try: Yogi Purely Peppermint tea ($23 for 6 boxes; amazon.com)
If you live in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, a gigantic winter storm is about to screw up your weekend plans.
On the bright side, a snow day is one of the best excuses for ultimately getting around to tackling your Pocket or Instapaper queue. Need some inspiration? Here are 12 fascinating tales we’ve published over the past year to get you started.
Recently nominated for a National Magazine Award, Cherkis’ in-depth investigation is a wrenching look at Kentucky’s heroin epidemic and why existing therapy standards are falling short. It’s also a true example of how journalism can make a difference. Since the story was published, nation parliaments, Congress and the Obama administration have all taken steps toward getting opiate junkies the medication they need to save their lives.
For years, the women publicly accusing Bill Cosby of assaulting them were dismissed and silenced — and many more remained in the shadows. By the time many of Cosby’s alleged victims came forward, receiving strength in numbers as the public finally acknowledged the earlier accusations, the statute of limitations on their cases had run out. Now, those women are pushing to make sure other women don’t face that same legal barrier.
Jon Stewart didn’t need to get anywhere near politics ever again after leaving his post at “The Daily Show” last summertime. But instead of retreating to his New Jersey farm, Stewart went to Capitol Hill to help 9/11 first responders lobby to get their health benefits reinstated. Once there, he saw firsthand the ugly and demoralizing reality of 21 st century politics.
Blake exposes how DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, poisoned an entire city — and tried to cover it up. “DuPont misled as many people as they could mislead as for as long as they could, ” said one resident whose cows began succumbing after the company set a landfill near his farm.( This tale also earned a National Magazine Award nod .)
A decade after its release, the makers of “Brokeback Mountain” look back on the produce of a movie that now holds a key place in LGBT history. The cast and crew reflect on how the story of two cowboys who fall in love first jumped from the page to the screen, what it was like to cinema the movie and, perhaps most poignantly, their memories of Heath Ledger, who died less than three years after the film was released.
In 1969, Sister Cathy Cesnik went missing and was afterward found dead on the outskirts of Baltimore. While some researchers suspected clergymen at the Catholic school Cesnik taught at were behind the brutal murder, police determined it nearly impossible to investigate someones protected by the powerful church, and the case eventually went cold. Decades afterward, the school’s alumnae began connecting the dots between Cesnik’s murder and widespread sexual abuse at the hands of the school’s priests and other humen in the community. Those females are now determined to find out what really happened to the nun who tried to protect her students.
Flint’s water crisis is now national news and a federal emergency, with many pointing fingers at Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other leaders in the state. However, federal authorities are also deeply involved in the problem. Delaney and Lewis detail the ties between Flint’s contaminated water and a similar issue that plagued Washington , D.C. in the early 2000 s — and how in both cases, it took action from outraged citizens to make a difference.
In Papua New Guinea, witch hunts aren’t a metaphor or a relic from the past — they are a brutal, fatal reality. People, mostly girls, accused of sorcery are publicly tortured, murdered or deposed from society — and in a grotesque 21 st century twist, the outcome is sometimes shared on social media. Russell’s story is a horrifying but gripping look at “an island caught between the ancient world and 2015. “
The Ebola outbreak that left thousands dead in Western africa is now over. But what happens when the next outbreak breaks out? In this story, Almendrala details how American hospitals are attempting to answer that question — and how the Ebola scare exposed major flaws in the ways U.S. hospitals treat infectious diseases.
This investigation, reported with the Chronicle of Higher Education, found that public schools are pumping billions of dollars from mandatory student fees into athletics — basically, having the student body subsidize the growing cost of operating sports programs. As coaches’ wages soar and universities draw up blueprints for stadiums that seat tens of thousands of fans, many of these schools are cutting academic programs and raising tuition. This data-driven piece looks at exactly how much schools were ready to sacrifice to achieve success on the field.
For many victims of sexual assault, reporting violence to campus officials is a difficult and painful process in and of itself. But when the risk of being discipline for doing so is added, speaking out becomes even more challenging. Kingkade examines how schools’ misguided approach to addressing such allegations is contributing to the culture of silence and effectively sets victims on trial.
The massive gas leak in Porter Ranch, California, is on track to be one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Here, Ferner and O’Connor find out what the residents of this Los Angeles neighborhood are going through, and explore how much is still unknown about the leak’s health impact on both Porter Ranch’s residents and its environment.
If you’re a parent then you’ll no doubt be familiar with the back pain associated with carrying those awkward baby car seats. But a lot of that pain could be avoided if you just knew how to carry it right. Many people hook their arm through the handle and carry it in the crook of their elbow, but as you can see from the video below, there’s a much easier way to do it.
“It’s not going to hurt your shoulder, it’s not going to hurt your hip, and you’re not going to have to use your knee to swing like I had to do with my two [kids],” explains Dr Emily Puente of the Bridge Family Chiropractic in Mansfield, Texas. “Someone taught me this before, and it’s been the greatest thing.” The video has already been shared over 50k times since Puente uploaded it to Facebook, and it’s easy to see why when you watch it. Scroll down to see for yourself. It might just save your back.
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said those words in his famous “I Have A Dream Speech” in 1963. Now, 52 years later, he might be heartened to know Mississippi is making progress.
Mississippi ranks third out of the fifty states and the District of Columbia for the amount of racial progress it has made over time, according to a recent WalletHub study. Georgia ranked as the top state for racial progress, while New Mexico came in second.
The study looked at 10 historical indicators in each state (things like homeownership, median income and poverty rates) for both black and white people, then compared the gap between them as a measure of inequality. States whose gaps shrank the most over time were deemed to have made the most progress.
In terms of racial integration alone, Hawaii was found to be the most unified, followed by New Mexico, Texas and Maryland. Hawaii also had the second-lowest gap in median annual income between black and white populations, the lowest gap in the poverty rate, and the lowest gap in the rate of business ownership.
From a policy perspective, what sets the more successful states apart, and how can that be implemented elsewhere?
“Racial inequality takes place in employment, housing, education, policing, in accessing affordable quality health care, and in many more arenas,” Meghan Burke, an associate professor of sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University, explained in the report. “States are bound to vary in those inequality levels because of the different demographics, economies, and policies.”
“However, one thing seems clear: race-conscious and proactive, intentional policy to create and sustain equal opportunity is always better than policies favoring the free market or those that are color-blind in other ways,” she added. “Pretending racism and inequality doesn’t exist, or that it can be solved through individual (market) choices, will only continue to grow these already-deep inequalities.”
Race-conscious and proactive, intentional policy to create and sustain equal opportunity is always better than policies favoring the free market or those that are color-blind in other ways.
The handful of experts interviewed in the report largely supported that basic premise, though they differed in their assessments of how much progress the country has actually made.
Nearly all agreed we must prioritize — and fund — quality education, and remove a wide variety of barriers to homeownership, which traditionally has been the greatest builder of wealth for American families.
“Because wealth can be transmitted across generations, what has occurred in the past still reverberates in the present,” Margaret Anderson, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, explained in the report.
“Bank redlining, predatory lending practices, and the greater likelihood of racial minorities receiving subprime loans means that they have been unable to accumulate assets (mostly in the form of home ownership) to the same extent as whites,” she continued.
We’re still a long way from realizing the vision laid out in King’s dream, but we’re making progress. Or, as he said, more eloquently:
“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”
Many of us depend on caffeine. Some of us can’t even start our day without it.
Whether you get your daily caffeine fix from coffee, tea, or a canned energy drink doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s still a stimulant with some positive and negative effects.
For starters, caffeine attains most of us feel more alert and awake. But while it can keep us focused, too much can also backfire. And the committee is also affects everything in our bodies from our digestion to our metabolism and vision.
Caffeine hijacks this natural process by simulating adenosine in the brain. It latches onto the receptors designed for adenosine, pushing them out of the way. As a outcome, were left feeling more alert and awake.
This is why your morning cup of coffee can abruptly turn into two the more receptors you have, the more caffeine you need to plug them up.
It boosts our mood .
As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine doesnt just boost alertness, it can also improve your mood and is even associated with a reduced danger of depression especially when consumed in the form of coffee.
Even though too much of any stimulant can induce people anxious and irritable, a mild dosage has been shown to boost mood. This is due to the same adenosine-blocking consequence that makes you feel alert. By blocking adenosines relaxing impacts, caffeine lets dopamine and glutamine, another natural stimulant being developed by your brain, run wild, making you more alert, less borne, and providing a mood boost.
But pumps up our adrenaline levels, which can leave us irritable .
Adrenaline is the hormone behind the fight or flight reaction. It tells us either to stay and face a threatening situation or flee the scene. Unfortunately, while a burst of adrenaline can be helpful for trenching someone chasing after us or defending ourselves in a fight, the aggressive hormone does no good when were trying to handle a more delicate situation like negotiating in a meeting or responding to a text.
Caffeine arouses our brain cells, which tells our hormone control center the pituitary gland that theres situations of emergency. The pituitary tells the adrenal glands( located above the kidneys) to flood the body with adrenaline.
In this excited state, were great at operating and fighting but we also tend to be more irritable, anxious, and far more emotionally-charged.
It improves our memory .
Caffeine has been shown to improve certain types of memory in some( but not all) analyzes, especially the ability to rememberlists of wordsand straightforward information. Some research shows that it helps those memories stick in the brain as well, making it easierto recall that info at a later time.
One recent survey indicates that extroverts get more of a working-memory boost from caffeine than introverts. This may explain why some studies find a more significant effect than others. Stephen Braun, the author of Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine, explains that individuals reactions to caffeine vary greatly: while person or persons might thrive on a high level of caffeine, itll make another person unable to get anything done.
One of the common reasons people use caffeine is to help them focus on a chore, and no wonder: one of the more clear mental effects of caffeine is a boost in the ability to focus, especially for someone who is fatigued.
However, most people are familiar with caffeine jitters too if you ingest too much of it, its hard to focus on anything.
But perhaps only after it’s hooked us .
Some research been shown that for some people, caffeines perceived benefits arent genuinely benefits at all.
For some, these studies suggest, all of the benefits of caffeine from better mood to improved memory and attention span may simply be the result of a new dosage of caffeine temporarily reversing the effects of longer-term withdrawal from the drug.
It might tamp down your appetite but only for a short time .
A cup of coffee likely blunts your appetite for a brief hour, but theres little to no evidence that making caffeine a regular habit can keep hunger stabs at bay or help with weight loss.
Most examines looking at caffeines effect on appetite have either been too small or only done in animals, building it hard to say their effects would apply to people more broadly.
It helps some medicines work faster .
If youve ever had a killer migraine, youve likely tried Excedrin, an over-the-counter medication marketed specifically for these kinds of rare, severe headaches. What you might not know is that in addition to traditional pain alleviating ingredients like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, Excedrin contains caffeine.
Theres some evidence that caffeine, when be included with certain pain-relieving drugs like acetaminophen( the main active ingredient in Tylenol) and aspirin, helps those drugs take effect quicker, last longer, and increases their effects.
For example, a 2007 examine of 24 people who took either caffeine and the painkiller acetaminophen, either drug alone, or a placebo found that those whod taken the combination of( as opposed to either one alone) saw a stronger decrease in pain symptoms that also tended to last longer.
It’s one of the best athletic performance enhancers out there .
The most commonly used psychoactive medication in the world caffeine is also one of the more common performance-enhancing medications used in sports.
The reason? It works, provided you carefully calculate the right dosage and dont use too much of it in day-to-day life.
If you can tolerate it, it seems to be the upper objective of what you can have to improve performance, exert physiologist Matthew Ganio told The Atlantic. If dosed correctly( and if it isnt merely returning a caffeine junkie to a baseline level ), it provides just enough of a boost that athletes watch notable performance gains.
But it sticks around in our bodies for a long time .
Ever wonder if that late afternoon beaker of coffee( or that evening espresso) is going to keep you up at night?
It takes about 5 or 6 hours before half of the caffeine youve ingested wears off so a couple beaker of coffee at 4 p. m. could leave you still feeling the effects of a beaker of coffee by 10 p.m.
If thats enough to keep you up, plan accordingly.
Caffeine can give you heartburn .
While a warm cup of coffee might seem allaying if youre stressed out, it may have negative effects as well. Not merely can that adrenaline burst increase nervousnes levels, caffeine also raises acid levels in your belly. This can lead to heartburn and can be especially bad if you suffer from ulcers.
And it’s the most commonly used psychoactive medication in the world .
One of the things thats most rarely discussed with regard to caffeine is that it is, in fact, a drug. It has psychoactive impacts, changing the route we feel and interact with the world around us.
Its the most commonly usedpsychoactive drug in the entire world, which is probably why we dont think about it as a drug. Yet think of how many of us cant or wont get through a day without it( this novelist included ).
Harvard neuroscientist Charles Czeisler thinks that caffeine, be included with energy, let humans to escape natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness, violating them free from the cycle of the sun, basically enabling the great transformation of human economic endeavor from the farm to the factory, according to a look at this miracle drug in National Geographic. It enables the modern world.