Ah, beer. That nectar of the gods, that hops scotch, that oh-so-potent potable…today on International Beer Day, we cheers to YOU. Now we’re not here to claim cicerone status, but the Toads have been known to enjoy mighty good beer and yes, we have a kegerator in the office (which definitely gets used more than our fax machine). We’ve also been on the road as part of our national Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Tour, so we’ve had the pleasure of stopping into some of America’s best breweries. We checked in with Drew, Rob, and Rachel (our trusty captains and volunteer beer tasters) for their favorite beers across the states:
ALABAMA – Good People Brewing in Birmingham; according to them, the first micro-brewery in the state. They host Birmingham Mountain radio in the brewery, so check them out while you’re drinking. Say hey to the owner, Mike—he’s a good dude.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Birds Fly South Project in Greenville (Pronounced “Green-vull” by the locals); tons of beers on tap and a great grass field to chill with your dog. Bonus: Epic food trucks, like Golden, Brown and Delicious.
NORTH CAROLINA – Vecino Brewing in Carrboro; Vecino means “neighbor” in Spanish, so they’re staying true to the name by supporting local non-profits and hosting lots of fundraisers. Dave, the owner, is an awesome guy.
PENNSYLVANIA – Victory Brewing (a few locations). I went to the one in Kennett Square; great food (pretzels on point!), wash it down with a Golden Monkey, a spiced Belgian-style ale.
Rachel and Rob’s picks:
MAINE – Maine Beer Company in Freeport; “A Tiny Beautiful Something” is their signature pale ale for a reason.
VERMONT – Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery in Burlington, VT ( the Little Birdy is delish), and Fiddlehead Brewing in Shelburne, VT (Awesome hazy NEIPAs and according to Rachel, “the Ghost Hits is hands down best beer I’ve had on the tour so far”).
OHIO – In Cleveland, Platform Beer Co. is great (go there after hitting up the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame!). In Columbus you’ve got lots of options: Antiques on High, North High Brewing, and Seventh Son are all great and in the super cool Short North Neighborhood.
Basically, we love beer almost as much as we love sustainability. If you’re like us, you’ll want to wear your heart on your sleeve. This 100% organic cotton tee can help.
And we’re still on the road, headed west through the Midwest and into the Pacific Northwest. So where should we grab a beer?? Follow along on Instagram and send us your favorite beer recs by messaging or tagging us @toadandcoclothing.
So you’ve got your organic cotton apron and your bamboo utensils and you stopped buying plastic-bottled beverages a decade ago. You’re off to a stellar start! Here are a few more ways to turn your BBQ/cookout/tailgate/meet-and-eat into a sustainable Iron Chef spectacular.
Gas vs. Charcoal – We’ll stay out of the flavor debate, but we’ll pass on the facts about these fuel sources: Charcoal briquettes are typically made from a combination of lighter fluid, sawdust, and other chemical additives; when burned, charcoal briquettes can produce 105 times more carbon than propane and nasty little air pollutants called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Propane, on the other hand, does come from non-renewable fossil fuels but produces fewer and cleaner emissions. So propane is the way to go, BUT here’s the catch: if you can find true charcoal (generally called lump or chunk charcoal), this fuel is made from a non-additive hardwood material and burning it is carbon neutral.
Cookin’ With the Sun – If you’re in the market for a zero emissions option, go for a solar grill or oven. Solar grills are a renewable take on the traditional “electric” grill, while solar ovens magnify and maximize sunlight to do the actual cooking. Science is so cool.
FOOD & DRINK
Get Local – There are about a million and one reasons to buy local food. To name just a few, buying local: reduces your carbon footprint thanks to short-distance transportation, supports local farmers, stimulates biodiversity in your ecosystem, and generally sidesteps all that plastic packaging you find in chain grocery stores. Co-ops, farmer’s markets, farm carts, community gardens, local grocery stores… we’d bet there are tons of great options near you.
DIY Dips – Do you know how easy it is to make hummus? REALLY easy. Say buh-bye to single-use plastic tubs and hello to your new party trick. Google your favorite dip recipes (we like these for hummus, salsa, and green goddess dip) and put that food processor to work. Twice as much dip for half the cost and 0% the amount of plastic. Wins all around.
DIY Chips – Potato chips, pita chips, tortilla chips, bagel chips, kale chips…there is literally no end to what you can slice and bake. Pick your base, toss with olive oil and salt (or other spices if you’re feeling, well, spicy) and bake low n’ slow. (Addendum: If you’re like our copywriter, Daisy, and “just loooove Doritos,” just make sure to repurpose that empty Doritos bag and reuse it as a trash bag. But also, the internet even has a DIY Doritos recipe… so no excuses).
Chill Properly – This one is tricky, but we understand ice is useful (hello, margaritas). When buying ice, opt for one big bag instead of multiple smaller ones. Reuse the bag as a trash bag or dry out before recycling (BTW, here’s a quick rundown on what’s recyclable and what’s not). If you have a bucket or a cooler to keep cold, fill it with cold water and ice packs.
The Bottle and The Can – We know you know, but it’s a good reminder: Cans and bottles are the best materials to recycle, with clean plastic next, but avoid juice boxes or things that come in cartons – they’re coated with a thin film on the inside that renders them unrecyclable.
SUPPLIES & MATERIALS
Plate & Wipe Responsibly – Skip single use plastic or styrofoam and look for paper plates and napkins that are made from recycled materials. When you’re done, toss in the compost or the fire. Don’t have a compost? Make one.
Get Real (With Real Utensils) – We challenge you to avoid single-use materials (even if they’re compostable and made out of corn oil…). Use the utensils you’ve got and ask a friend to bring all their utensils, too. If you host often, hit up a local thrift store and get a bunch of cheap utensils as a backup BBQ set.
Bees Have Your Back – Ditch plastic wrap if you know what’s good for ya! We’re big fans of reusable beeswax wraps that come in all different sizes and keep your leftovers just as fresh. You can find them in lots of stores now (even in Trader Joe’s), or you can make them yourself – just be sure to the get beeswax beads from a local store, not delivered via the interwebs!
Raise a Cup to Mother Nature – Say it with us, “No more plastic cups!” Grab a 12-pack of mason jars (about $8 at the grocery store). Or just ask your friends to BYOC – tell them it’s just like camping.
There’s nothing more gratifying after a long hike than a plate full of tacos and a cold cerveza. Trust us, we Toads are experts. With half of HQ born and bred Californians and the rest happy transplants, we’ve got this state pretty well covered. If you find yourself in the Golden State, here’s where we recommend heading. And we know you know, but stay on trails and pack-in-pack-out. Save your reckless abandon for the taquerias.
Torrey Pines State Park – Easy trail along the Pacific coast with a glimpse of the rarest pine tree around.
The Taco Stand – Tacos al pastor, Mexican street corn, mango chile paletas. YUM.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Willow Hole Trail – Big rocks and an oasis; great spot to see wildlife like big horn sheep.
Algobertos Taco Shop – Hole in the wall taqueria with burritos bigger than the front door.
Bronson Canyon – Part of LA’s Griffith Park, so hike up to the Observatory and channel James Dean.
Ricky’s Fish Tacos – There are 3 options: fish, shrimp, and special. Get all 3.
Horn Canyon – Crisscross streams toward an epic pine grove with distant views of the Channel Islands.
Ojai Tortilla House – Cash only, handmade tortillas daily. Buy some to go if you know what’s good for you.
Rattlesnake Trail – Named for the twisty nature, not the inhabitants. Moderate to the meadow, then steep for .5 miles to the top. Good views abound.
Mony’s Tacos – Great salsa bar (hello pistachio salsa) and 5 minute walk to the beach.
Old Cove Landing Trail – 3 of the 34 miles of trails in the Wilder Ranch State Park. Bonus: Wheelchair and stroller accessible!
De La Hacienda Taqueria – Carnitas are bomb, but so is the veggie burrito. Something for everyone!
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Trail – 4.4 miles through the oldest trees in the WORLD. Like 5,000+ years old.
Taqueria Mi Guadalajara – A sedentary taco truck with bizarro hours and delish barbacoa.
East Ridge Trail – In Redwood Regional Park; you can see SF on a clear day then hike down into the redwoods.
Mariscos La Costa – Cash only so you know it’s legit. Great ceviche tostada.
Golden Gate Park – Start at 9th and Lincoln, mosey through the Botanical Garden, loop around Stow Lake.
Melted, gooey cheese. Golden toasty bread. Maybe some roasted jalapeño, a healthy heap of pork belly, a fig jam spread, perfectly crisped bacon. Yes, we’re talking about the grilled cheese sandwich and yes, the possibilities are endless.
There’s no better place to show off the versatility of this practically-perfect-in-every-way sandwich than at our annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown – a battle among Toads, family, friends, and community members for the coveted Golden Spatula Award.
This year at our seventh annual, competition was tougher than ever. Here’s how it works: Everyone gathers in the Toad office backyard to watch our competing teams duke it out by whipping up their tastiest recipes. First sandwich off the grill goes to the judging table and the rest go to the salivating crowd (there’s a Peoples’ Choice Award too, so feeding the audience is equally as important!). If you can’t wait for the chefs’ creations, you can tide yourself over at the Make-Your-Own-GC station. And because nothing pairs with a grilled cheese like tomato soup and a cold one (or two, or three), we’re lucky that longtime partners Organic Soup Kitchen always show up with the soup and local fave Topa Topawas there to keep the beer flowing.
When the sun sets, and panini presses are turned off, there can only be one Golden Spatula winner (OK, and a few runners up because we love to spread the celebrations). Congrats to the following teams!
All That Jazz: UCSB Bren School, Kimcheeze for Sheezy
Peoples’ Choice: Alpha Resource Center, Pesto So Gouda
Golden Spatula (Best Overall): Toad’s Guin and Helena, Frankenfromage
AND we asked realllyyy nicely and got Guin and Helena to share their mouthwatering secret recipe with us. Get your aprons ready (and fair warning, this is some seriously gourmet stuff)!
What you’ll need:
-Equal parts Gouda and Gruyere
-5 sweet white onions (we used Vidalia)
-White wine (mostly for the cooks)
-Kerrygold butter (It’s the fancy-pants kind and so worth it)
-Half and half (or cream)
-Fresh flat leaf parsley
Chop, and then caramelize the heck outta the onions in a pot. Simmer 2 hours, de-glaze with 1/2 cup sherry and 1/2 cup white wine (the rest is for drinking, remember?). Cook down for 2 minutes, add a splash of beef stock, and a few thyme springs. Remove 2/3 of cooked onions (should be super brown for maximum tastiness), add to blender, and blend into a puree. Set aside.
Pour remaining beef stock into onion pot, add bay leaf, leave to reduce and simmer for a good long while. Salt and pepper. Set aside.
Grate all that cheese. Make a roux out of 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup flour, slowly add milk and half and half, (3 parts milk x 1 part half and half) until your reach nappe consistency. Teamwork really helps here—one whisking furiously while the other adds ingredients. Next, a handful at a time, add grated cheese until incorporated. Keep whisking until creamy and salt to taste. Add onion puree to cheese mixture. Once combined, pour mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment. Allow to cool then toss in the refrigerator until solidified (most likely overnight).
Next, chop parsley. Slice bread (we like the slices thick), butter the outside like there’s no tomorrow, crust outside of bread with parmesan, cook parm-side down on in a buttered pan using low heat. Remove chilled cheese loaf from fridge, slice 1/2 inch thick, place on top of bread, and sprinkle with parsley. Top with a second slice of parm-crusted bread and wait until it gets super golden brown and tasty tasty looking on both sides. Don’t flip it too early. Here’s how you’ll know it’s done: It should be a rich brown color, and if you tap the bread and it makes a low hollow noise, you’re good to go.
Remember the beef stock we set aside? Pour into cute little bowls and use as au jus for your cheese masterpiece!
And while we’ve got you in that grilled cheese spirit, we asked two of our esteemed Toad judges for their favorite full belly-approved Toad items to wear while chowing down on the good stuff.
“I’m a big fan of the Mission Ridge Lean Pant. They’re so comfortable you’ll think you’re eating your grilled cheese at home on the couch. And if I’m grilled cheesing it up in the summertime, I’m all about the Lounge-Out Cord Short—because classics like cords and a tasty grilled cheese were meant for each other. And also, stretchy draw-cord waist. Enough said.” – Danny, Sr. Sales Ops
Spinach, kale, avocado, Guinness—A few of our favorite health foods. OK maybe we’re using the word “health food” a little freely, but we do have proof that it’s good for you (just like the old advertising slogan says). So this St. Patrick’s Day, fill your pint glass with the good stuff. Sláinte! (Which btw, is an Irish Gaelic saying for “cheers” and literally translates to “health.” Coincidence? We think not).
1) Antioxidants make it heart healthy
Move over, red wine. A 2003 study claimed that a pint of Guinness could cut the risk of blood clots forming in the arteries, while other beers didn’t have the same effect. You can thank flavonoids, a plant-based antioxidant found in certain drinks and dark chocolate, for this heart healthy benefit.
2) Iron does a body good
Though Guinness only contains .3 mg of iron per pint, most adults don’t reach their recommended 9-18 mg/day, so we say every sip counts! There was even a time when Guinness was given to post-op patients and pregnant women, and as recently as 2010, it was given to people after they donated blood to help replenish their iron levels.
3) It’s considered a “light” beer
Don’t let the color fool ya. A Guinness only has 15 more calories than a Bud Light and 5 more calories than the same amount of skim milk. Plus, you’re going to feel a lot fuller after a Guinness than a Bud Light (thanks to the CO2 and Nitrogen carbonation that leads to its thick, creamy texture), saving yourself from the extra food calories later. Drunchies beware.
4) It’s good for your bones
Beer contains a plant hormone called phytoestrogen, which is key to building dense bones, plus has calcium and dietary silicon, important for growth and development of bone and connective tissues. Studies have shown moderate beer drinkers to be less likely to have osteoporosis and lower risk of hip fractures. Of course, like with anything, moderation is key – overindulging can have reverse effects.
5) It’s relatively low on alcohol content
When comparing to other beers, Guinness has a lower ABV (4.2% compared with your average beer at 5%). So for party goers and bar frequenters, Guinness leans on the more responsible side.
6) It will make you the life of the party
If Elle Woods taught us anything, it’s that endorphins make us happy. Light to moderate drinking triggers these “feel good” chemicals in your brain (though as many of us have probably experienced, overdoing it will have the opposite effect). So on St. Patrick’s Day, help yourself to a pint or two of Guinness, and enjoy being the most fun, social, happiest friend at the party. Bonus effect: It will make everyone around you more fun and attractive too.
7) It contains folate, fiber, and ferulic acid
Guinness contains more folate, a nutrient we need to make DNA, than any other beer. And it’s high in barley, which makes it one of the beers with the highest levels of fiber (while Bud Light and most other light beers don’t contain any. Thank u, next). High levels of barley also equal high levels of ferulic acid, which is associated with improved immune function. And all that fiber and ferulic acid lead to a couple of other benefits too…
Not to sound like a broken record, but have we told you about the benefits of fiber? It’s really good for you. And the soluble fiber in beer can help reduce LDL (aka “bad” cholesterol) – plus it has a variety of other health benefits like promoting healthy blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
10) It helps hydrate post-workout
Maybe the most surprising of them all, one study showed that people who drank a post-workout pint of beer were more hydrated than those who drank water. Probably why a beer at the top of a hike feels so right.
So there you have it. A little bit of science and a little bit of Irish luck. Either way, feel good this weekend when you reach for that creamy, malty goodness.