Trending Up: Getting Wood

woody
These were hip before any of us were hip

Hipsters are returning to the woods. Not in the Emersonian or Thoreauesque way but in the use it for everything way. Think of wood as the all-pupose reuse material of choice. We’ve covered this before so it’s time to actually call it a thing. Forget environment destroying metal for your bike frame, try bamboo. Bamboo is the hipster wood-of-choice these days. It’s sustainable, versatile and the slobby pandas who use it for food are obese and could use a bit less snaking material. Sure, using wood to replace structural material is all well and good but, as we know if its not over the top its not a hipster trend. We suggest replacing other things in your life with wood. Nothing says eco-awareness like using a wood bowl in the microwave. There’s no better way to get that smoked flavor on your ramen than covering the glass turn plate in your microwave with some chips you’ve shaved off your roommate Theo’s ancient familial hickory rocking chair.

Of course, demon plastic is your main target. The best way to replace it with wood is to build disposable hand hewn boxes for EVERYTHING! This is going to cost a ton of money and time but when you pull a finely mitered sandwich shaped box from your oak back-box and slide the top back to reveal the alpha sprout sandwich you’re having for lunch it will cause murmurs in the break-room. Don’t forget to smash it immediately after you’re done eating and bring a new one the next day.

The height of being a “woodie” is of course, wood underwear. Splinters be damned, this is for real and you cant go half way on this. Now, don’t lame out and make your spruce skivvies by constructing them from small panels lashed together with leather, it’s time to breakout the chisels and do it right! You better whittle and wear some one piece tighty woodys or go home and hang up your wooden castro hat.

Trending Up: Turning Everything into a Frickin Game

pawn
We’re all just pawns

They call it “Gamiification“, and if you ask your MBA buddy Theo, that means “the application of game methods and elements to traditionally non-game activities.” You know it as the progress bar on your favorite professional connections website, or getting a digital badge for making digital badges.

Gamifiication is fire bolt hot right now. Go to any uber-borg CRM conference and mention Gamification and they’ll give you a fist full of drink tickets and let you party with Green Day. The root of it is that hipsters don’t mind working if they can pretend it’s actually playing. How else would you be interested in getting more “fit” unless you were also actually, and by actually we mean virtually, doing a cholesterol destroying trek on the great wall of China? This all dovetails with the hipster-illennial desire to have everything be super-epic-awesome. Nothing says “I’m a warrior hero” like total dominance of the terrifying “Quest to Print Only Double Sided Paper / Attack of the Ink Goblins” scenario that the printer admin in IT (the one who wears a utili-kilt) came up with to encourage workers to print less. You can beam with glory when he perches the Yoda plush toy on your cubicle wall and, handing you a can of unicorn meat, proclaims “Savior of the Trees you are!”

So to bring this to the next level, which you LIVE for, go find a copy of Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life. One from the 70’s will be at the next estate sale you hit up this Sunday (half price because it’s under $50) when you’re out with Cedric and Jasmine. Now it’s time to get all artsy-crafty. Change EVERYTHING to represent your co-workers and office situations. Re-write all the event cards to be about the most uncomfortable office politics you can imagine. Faithfully recreate the ups and downs of work day in your collab. Make it AS TRUE AS POSSIBLE, this is going to have to hurt or the irony of playing Life, about work, at work just wont be bittersweet enough. Now, at Monday morning’s needless scrum, reach into your re-purposed blue plastic Ikea tote – now messenger bag – and throw down your “The Game of Work.” Your friends will love this. At first they’ll see the little 3D playing pieces (made from re-purposed tiny cheese wax) and coo … “Cute” and “Hey you got my handlebar mustache just right!” (they wont even get the waxed mustache made of wax subtleties but that’s okay, some irony is best left to enjoy alone, in silence) … then start playing. Each person gets one turn every half an hour … this way it kind of folds into the day. Watch as things get really tense as Life-Work-Game all blend into a tepid tapioca of reality and illusion. Award “workpoints” for mundane stuff like answering emails and cleaning the tea pot. Everyone will go home engaged and confused, laying in their futons at night, strategizing on how to win at the game of their life, at work. You will love this.

Fermenting: Pico-brewing

Short brim, small beer, nuff said
Short brim, small beer, nuff said

Micro-brews have been bhut jolokia-hot since the mid 80’s and show no sign of going anywhere but up on the hotness scale. Talking about micro-brews, of course, is even hotter. Presently you get to impress your friends with knowledge of hop varieties, yeast strains, grain bills, roasting, malting, milling, the lovibond scale, specific-gravity, attenuation rates, flocculation, the IBU scale, head retention, mouthfeel, dry-hopping, etc. etc. etc. Of course you got a 100% on your indie band or craft-beer quiz. The problem here is that all hipsters are into micro-brews and every self respecting hipster is a homebrewer that has at least three 5-gallon batches (including a coffee stout) under their belt. So how the heck can you impress anybody on the subject anymore? I mean you could go all out and make an amazing brewkettle out of a reclaimed keg, or an electric HERMs system, but let’s face it, Kevin is probably already slaving away on a project like that in his garage with a borrowed angle grinder.

When you can’t go bigger on a supertrend like micro-brews and homebrewing you have to go the other direction … smaller. This is a solid opportunity to multi-trend because, as we’ve outlined, tiny food is stupid-hot right now. Truth be told, on the surface there’s not really much to this one … you just brew a really small batch of beer. Of course how you brew it and more importantly who notices you brewing it are the most important details. You could probably go as big as a couple of liters, but to really impress you should brew only a single pint. Either play it safe and cask condition the only universally accepted hipster style of beer, an IPA, or go bolder with a Russian imperial stout. Many hipsters will love this because “Russian,” “imperial,” and “stout” are three of the top ten hipster words to use right now, rounding out the list are “paleo,” “crossfit,” “organic,” “artisan,” “heirloom,” “croudsource,” and “bodymod.” … but I digress.

On to the brewing. Make sure it’s a busy day in the neighborhood and invite a friend over to be your “assistant to the brewmaster” (use that exact title.) If you’re feeling confident don some lederhosen, but at the very least you should accessorize with a traditional Bavarian alpine hat, it has a short brim and we all understand the importance of that. Setup your brewstand somewhere in the middle of your driveway and make sure that no trees or shrubs block the view from the intrigued onlookers. We’re going to keep it simple today with a partial mash extract batch. Don’t use your usual 6.5 gallon stainless steel brewkettle, use the smallest pot in your apartment. (Of course you live in an apartment, mortgages are for slaves.) Your brewstand should be nothing much more than a coleman camp grill. Steep your specialty grains in an actual tea bag. With this small of a batch it would be easy to overdo the 40L caramel malt. Once you’ve steeped at 162F for at least 40 minutes, bring the now wort up to 212F for your liquid malt extract and bittering hop addition. As with the specialty grain, you need to go light on the hops. Two individual cascade hops should be good here. Boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with your no doubt self-whittled hickory mash paddle. Turn the heat up to encourage a few hot breaks to coagulate proteins. Next, add your flavoring hop and wait another 10 minutes. Finally, add your aroma hop and rest. Extra points if you build a tiny immersion wort chiller to get the wort down to 70F quickly, but you can just add some cold water and probably will go this route because most of your wort from this pico-brew has boiled off. Pitch some obscure yeast strain that nobody has heard of.

small beer: check beret: check
small beer: check
beret: check

After brew day let it ferment for about three weeks and plan a tiny food party. If you took our advice and already did that (kudos) fear not; just send a pigeon to Ike, Theo, and Matilda inviting them to your house for a sampling. When they arrive have the pint/secondary fermentation vessel in the center of your reclaimed wood coffee table along with four shot glasses. Before you uncork (never cap) your pico-brew explain the benefits of smaller batch sizes and educate them on the metric prefix scale and be sure that they know pico denotes 0.000000000001 the size of the typical macrobrew batch. Speaking of that, it’s nowhere near ready to drink, but you could use this event as an opportunity to show off your macrobrew cellar. Pour each guest a 3oz serving and allow it to breathe. Note the head retention. As you bring your masterpiece to you lips inhale sharply through your nose. Swish it around a bit like a seasoned taster and comment on the fruity esters from the Belgian yeast strain and the noble hop profile. Look around at your guests, satisfied, and remark “for me, anything more than a 3oz serving cuts into the appreciation of the craft.” They will eagerly nod in agreement and probably say something using the phrase “right-size” and the word “mouthfeel,” even if they don’t know why.