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Gift Lab: Decoding the Perfect Pour

August 26, 2014

Kris, Danny, & HTML Glasses

Product: HTML Beer Glasses

I first saw UG’s HTML Beer Glasses in our warehouse – a shipment had just arrived and a few units were pulled out for our Receiving team to quality check. I had no idea what they were for. Honestly, my first thought was, “Why would anyone want a beer glass with weird printing on it?” Then one of the guys explained to me that the idea behind the printing is to help create the perfect pour – ah-hah! That made a lot more sense. So, feeling a bit like an idiot, I researched the seemingly-simply-but-actually-intricate-act of…pouring a beer.

HTML Glasses on Instagram | UncommonGoods

My initial thoughts: I will likely learn way more about foam than I ever imagined. I will be able to pour a prettier beer, but with little effect on actual taste. I will take regrettable pictures of myself and co-workers “testing” various possible scenarios.

First step – Grab up various coworkers and head to our friendly neighborhood watering hole.
Second step – Make contact with helpful bartender, Mike. Tell him of our educational needs.
Final step – Drink and make merry!

We headed to the Irish Haven in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for their weekly “Taco Tuesday” night. Despite the busyness, Mike was quite cheerful about both discussing our cool glasses and letting us know how they worked. He poured an IPA into one of our HTML Glasses and a Belgian Wheat beer in the other. Both poured perfectly in line with the glass’s indicators, though we were quick to note a difference after the pour.

HTML Glasses Full | UncommonGoods

Taking a tall drink by bar light is great; taking photos by bar light, not so much.

Turns out, given the height and shape of these glasses, they should be used for ales or lagers. The tall, thin style will keep them colder longer, and the relatively light head those beers come with will be well-showcased by the lean shape. Lighter beers will evaporate more quickly. Something like a good quality ale will work fine in this glass, but when you go lighter, like the Belgian we tried, it will evaporate too quickly and the head will be lost. If pouring a “sturdier,” heavier beer, it would make sense to have a wider glass, as this will allow the beer to breathe more. Those beers tend to have heavier foaming characteristics anyway, so one has to worry less about the head evaporating.

HTML Glasses | UncommonGoods

Mike explained that the quality of the beer also matters. The better the beer, the better the pour, the better the taste. If we poured a typical American ale into one of these glasses, it would likely not retain a good amount of foam on top, regardless of the quality of the pour or the quality of the glasses.

Beer, in all its forms, is wonderful. But if you want to get the perfect pour of high quality lager or ale, these glasses will show you the way with style.

The Uncommon Life

6 Heatmaps: Beer Guzzlers, Baby Makers, Hipsters & More!

August 16, 2013

Bryan, our Business and Analytics Associate (aka the guy who’s computer screen always looks like The Matrix to most of us) recently stumbled upon a Gothamist article  regarding Yelp creating a hipster heat map. (Yes. You read that right. A map tracking hipsters. You probably haven’t heard of it.) It’s a map where a digital inkblot pops up and becomes deeper in color on a certain location where reviewers would mention the word “hipster.” Williamsburg was, of course, the deepest and biggest blob Yelp found. But to their surprise, there was a pretty hefty dot on 28th and Broadway, not the most hipster-esque place one would think of. To see if he’d run into any surprises himself,  Bryan decided to have a little fun and create his very own UncommonGoods heat maps using items purchases in select product categories. The topics he touched on were baby makers (baby), beer guzzlers (beer), lovely newlyweds (wedding gifts), and of course he wasn’t about to skip the holy hipsters (hipster).

BEER GUZZLERS: Beer products for our beer lovers.

It’s no surprise that Hoboken and Turtle Bay are full of dudes (and dudettes) who love to chug the brew. They’re prime places for up-and-comers in the business world to start their commute to the financial district. Who doesn’t need a cold one after a long day in finance?


Fargo-Moorhead is also home to a bunch of beer lovers. We figure the extreme temperatures in NoDak and MN are to blame. Hot in the summer? Cool off with a frosty mug of ice cold beer. Freezing in the winter? Enjoy the magical warming properties of alcohol.


LOVELY NEWLYWEDS: Wedding gifts for the lovebirds out there.

Philly sure knows how to put a ring on it. The city of Brotherly Love has couples falling in love left and right.


BABY MAKERS: Baby gifts for the lil’ ones.

San Francisco: the land of love, or just a whole lotta lovin’?

baby makin 3

For all its remoteness, there’s a lot of baby makin’ (or gift-buying) going on in North Pole, Alaska.


 HOLY HIPSTERS: Gifts bought under our “hipster gifts” category. 

Williamsburg loses the hipster crown and hands it over to the Fort Greene & Park Slope area. Want to tell them or shall we?




This post was, appropriately, written by Emily (an “I’m not a hipster” hipster), Bryan (a newlywed), and Cassie (a beer lover originally from Fargo-Moorhead.)

The Uncommon Life

Our Homemade Beer Tasting Brew-haha

June 13, 2013

Some believe that Plato said, “It was a wise man who invented beer.” While Plato probably never actually said that, and we don’t know who exactly came up with the ingenious idea to turn cereal into booze, we do know how to make beer. Or I should say, we learned, thanks to our exclusive Craft a Brew Beer Brewing Kits.

To make sure our educational experience was comprehensive, we decided to test each of our new home brew flavors by comparing them during an in-office beer tasting; but first, we had to wrangle some brewers.

The Brewers

Warehouse Operations Coordinator Bradley cooked up a batch of Southern Bourbon Stout, Product Development Associate Sarah celebrated her home state with the Texas Chipotle Amber, Marketing Analyst Kira revisited beer making by giving the West Coast IPA a try, and Marketing Analyst Matt tapped into his inner lumberjack by bottling some Vermont Maple Porter.

The goal was to keep this competition fair and balanced, but Brad did make an attempt to pick up some bonus points by adding a personal touch to his finished product. Kira went another route and, knowing that the way to a beer judge’s heart is through the stomach, brought some homemade pretzels. (She insists that these were for the purpose of palate cleansing between sips, and were no way intended as a bribe.)

There is also some suspicion that two of the contestants may have been in cahoots.

While it wasn’t too hard to get the brewers on board, recruiting judges was almost too easy. (Apparently, people jump at product testing opportunities when they involve delicious adult beverages.)

The Judges

Copywriter Stephanie, Director of Marketing Brian, and Systems Administrator Paul agreed to sample the goods.

With beer flavor checklists in hand, the judges tried each carbonated creation. Here are some beer basics discovered during the tasting.

West Coast IPA
Kira’s brewing tip: “Be Tall. It’s hard to pour things!” You have to place the strainer on top of a funnel on top of the carboy, so a step stool (or a short table) may be required to help shorter folks make beer with ease.

Judges’ Notes: Stephanie said “it definitely smells like an IPA,” but upon tasting said that this IPA “isn’t super hoppy.” She commented on notes of “citrus” and described the flavor as “75 degrees and sunny.” The beer was served cold, though. Just for clarification, the IPA could be described as tasting like a summer’s day.

Brian agreed that the beer “tastes like California,” and said that it may be a good choice for someone who doesn’t love IPAs, since it’s not too “IPA-ie.”

Texas Chipotle Amber
Sarah’s Brewing Tip: “It’s a weekend project, because it does take a while to set up.”

Judges’ Notes: Brian called this brew “ridiculously good,” “smokey and spicy,” and “interesting.” Paul agreed with the interesting comment, and added that it was “fresh,” and had “a hook…not a gimmick.”

Stephanie also called out the unique spiciness of the beer, and said she was a fan of the “big, bold Texas flavor.”

Southern Bourbon Stout
Bradley’s Brewing Tip: “Malt, grains, and patience.” He also reminded us that his kit took a little longer to brew, on account of the extra step of soaking oak chips in bourbon to infuse the beer.

Judges’ Notes: Paul was near-ecstatic about the subtle, unexpected sweetness of this stout. He described it as “almost like eating cookie dough.” Brian agreed that it was sweeter than expected, but said that though the smell was intense, like a “shot of vanilla,” the actual taste held a “multitude of flavors.”

The judges agreed that the bourbon taste was there, but it wasn’t overpowering.

Vermont Maple Porter

Matt’s Brewing Tip: “Read the instructions before you start, and make sure to sanitize everything.” Matt’s tip came about after a bit of a brewing faux pas. It turns out, that his inner lumberjack was actually neglected–he forgot to add the maple syrup.

Judges’ Notes: “It’s hard to judge accurately without the syrup,” said Stephanie. But, despite the porter’s syrup-less-ness, she called it “creamy,” “very malty,” and “smooth drinking.”

Brian didn’t appreciate the deviation from the recipe. “Matt’s renegade style often gets him in trouble,” he said. “This is another example of that.”

Paul was also unhappy with the not-maple porter, and decided to add some syrup after the fact. This improvisation is not recommended.

When the flights were finally empty, the judges all agreed on a favorite. While the Bourbon stout was a close second and “equally as good [taste-wise as the winner],” according to Brian, the champion was the Texas Chipotle Amber, which is “more memorable.”

Sarah took home the prize (which is the knowledge that she chose the beer kit the judges liked best) and all involved in our brew-haha finished the remaining spicy chipotle, (sans) maple porter, subtly sweet stout, and refreshing IPA.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Stay Chill & Kick Back Cold Ones

June 11, 2013

I was already familiar with the Corkcicle, but was excited to hear of the introduction of the Chillsner— a stainless steel tool you freeze and then put in your beer, juice, or soda.

My hope is that my beverage remains cold, even if I get distracted playing video games.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about using the Chillsner. Also I was a little nervous my lips would get stuck to it, due to the Chillsner’s time in the freezer. So on the first night, I put the product in the freezer for an hour. (The instructions call for 45 minutes.) I took it out and stuck it in the bottle, but not following the instructions, I spilled some of my beer because I didn’t take a sip first. Stupid physics.

The first attempt worked pretty well, even though I purposely put the Chillsner in a warm beer, and it cooled it pretty quickly. Yum.

The next night, the Chillsner had been in the freezer for 24 hours. My lips still didn’t get stuck. Also I made sure not to spill my beer. It kept my chilled beer chilled as I nursed it for an hour and a half. Normally I don’t take this long to drink a beer, but sacrifices must be made in the name of science.

Overall, I was pleased. My beer stayed cold for much longer than I was used to. I look forward to using the Chillsner this summer.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Beer Tasting Tool Kit

June 14, 2012

When most of us are confronted with the prospect of working over the weekend it often involves shuffling plans and muffling expletives. Luckily, at UncommonGoods we treat it like any other weekend and turn the mundane into a festival of flavor and fermentation. What follows is our rigorous “testing” of the Beer Tasting Tool Kit.

With this Beer Tasting Tool Kit my friends, colleagues, and I will be able to distinguish the difference between dunkels and doppelbocks, lagers and lambics. If not, we will have a good time trying!

We assembled a team of 8 imbibers to evaluate a cornucopia of beers springing from Brooklyn to Bavaria and beyond. The kit includes numbered paper bags for each bottle to encourage blind taste tests. Maybe it was this brown-bagging or the lack of a spit bucket, but this was surely no wine tasting garden party. With a pitcher of water and plenty of snacks on hand, we were ready to get started.

Adhering to the kit’s main tenets of “See, Smell, Sip, Swallow,” we began with the bag labeled #1. After each sampling we filled out tasting cards, measuring the levels to which we detected specific flavors (Creamy, Bitter, Hoppy) as well as notes related to the 4 S’s (Stephanie noted one beer’s smell was akin to “shoes” whereas I found chocolatey hues!). Comparing our notes after each round was as much fun as tasting the beers (some of which were downright painful…I’m talking about you Mr. Double IPA).

We were learning a lot and every new pour made us thirsty for more, but unfortunately, the game came to its inevitable end when we ran out of beer. Perhaps most telling was the fact that our palates need some refining—we were all over the map in describing the taste impressions of each beer. But with further studying of the kit’s super informative fact book and a few more sessions of Saisons and Scotch Ales we will all be beer-tasting connoisseurs!

The Uncommon Life

10 Ways to Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 12, 2012

Whether you’re Irish by blood, have the luck of the Irish, or just love a good celebration on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll probably be going green on March 17. Of course, we’re all about celebrating another kind of green here at UncommonGoods. So we figured, why not take a double-edged approach with these green (and green!) goods.

Wearing green on St. Paddy’s will prevent you from getting pinched, but you don’t have to go overboard. Adding a few green accents to your outfit is a great way to show your Irish pride. (1.) Heli Belt’s are handmade using leftover fabric from tatami floor mats and (2.)Ellen Thurmond’s Tree of Life–Renewal necklace features green peridot on hand-shaped recycled sterling silver wire.

Whether you plan on dying your hair green or skipping the food-coloring-infused shampoo, a (3.)Recycled Glass Barrette will look lovely accenting your locks.

Once your perfect St. Patrick’s Day outfit is complete, you can start the party. Serve up green beer in (4.) Recycled Beer Glasses, which also happen to have a slight green tint, since they’re made from glass from car windows. And, if you prefer a mixed drink or something alcohol free, your beverage of choice will look nice in (5.) Protect Our Earth Glasses. These recycled Bordeaux bottle glasses were even called party “must-haves” by

When it comes to your centerpiece, take a cue from the lush landscape of the Emerald Isle and add a little vegetation to your St. Pat’s. Fresh-cut flowers aren’t always the greenest choice, but our (6.) Moss Terrarium Bottle is a fun DIY alternative. If your thumb is far from green, visit Local Harvest to find sustainably grown blooms and show them off in a (7.)Recycled Wine Bottle Vase, or skip the flowers all together and go with a handmade recycled glass (8.)Four Seasons Globe to ring in Spring.

The centerpiece won’t be the most enticing thing on the table, though. Celebrate with a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage, then use the (9.) Fresh Air Compost Collector to save the cabbage hearts and other unused portions for composting. And for dessert? These Beer Mug Cupcakes from I am Baker are too cute not to make.

From green beer to cupcakes that look like green beer, you don’t need luck (or a pot of gold) for your St. Paddy’s Party to be a success. But, the fun can only last one night, so don’t forget to take a few photos to capture the evening. Fittingly, your favorite will look fabulous on display in one of Margaret Taylor’s handmade (10.)Recycled Ceiling Tin Frames.


How To Make It: RSVP NOW

February 23, 2012

Ever wonder how to quit your day job?

RSVP now: our first How To Make It design event is coming up on March 6, at the Rabbithole Studio in DUMBO!

Get business advice from our great guest speakers: Tina Roth Eisenberg (Swissmiss, Tattly), Jeff Davis (Vinylux), Nickey Skarstad (Etsy), and Anna Rabinowicz (RabLabs). We’re going to have a great talk about how to make money, while making what you love.

Now we know space is limited and not all of you live in Brooklyn, so we’re making our very first event as open as we can. If you’ve got a question for one of our panelists, leave it here in the comments or tweet @uncommongoods with the hashtag #howtomakeitUG. We’ll be live-tweeting throughout the event and be posting video. Even if you can’t be with us in person, we hope you’ll join us online!

But for those of you who can make it, we can’t wait to see you! We look forward to hearing more about your creative design goals, getting together for a beer and baked goods, and having a great discussion about how we all can be more successful at making what we love.

Gift Guides

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Guys

January 18, 2012

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and while chocolates and flowers are nice, we know that some fellas would probably prefer valentines that can’t be devoured and won’t wilt in a few days. These great gifts for guys are uncommon ways to show the special man in your life just how lovable he is.

Custom Map Cufflinks
If there’s a place close to his heart, you can help him wear it on his sleeve. Whether it’s the place you first met, a landmark where you shared a romantic moment, or another special location, these custom map cufflinks are an elegant gift with a personal touch.

Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays
Perfect for the dashing gentleman, who isn’t afraid to use his hands, Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays each feature a half-phillips screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver, a thread cutter, and a bottle opener. Thanks to these sleek little gadgets, your Mr. Fix-it doesn’t have to sacrifice style.

Ball Park Color Top Pens
Maybe you’ve had a great times at a ballgames together, or maybe he’s just a huge fan of a certain team. Either way, this gift is sure to be a home run. Made from the wood from salvaged stadium seats, these pens are officially licensed Major League Baseball collectibles. Each also includes a certificate of authenticity.

The Buck Stops Here Money Clip
Cash might not be a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but a stylish way to stash that cash is definitely acceptable. Featuring a vintage 1984 twenty-cent commemorative stamp, this money clip tells him that your search for your one-and-only is over. The buck has stopped, and your relationship is right on the money.

Seven Deadly Sins Shot Glasses
Maybe he’s a bad boy, and you’re okay with that. Giving him this set of seven sinfully delightful shot glasses tells him that you like his wild side.

Cast Iron Tool Bottle Openers
Although they look and feel like the real deal, these cast iron tools are actually hand-forged bottle openers. If your guy is handy with a hammer, ready with a wrench, or prepared with pliers, let him know you appreciate his DIY home repairs and can-do attitude with a tool he can use as he kicks back and relaxes while enjoying a bottle of his favorite beverage.

Wood Tie
He has everything you look for in a partner. A sense of humor, great style, and he isn’t afraid to be a little different. Sure, silk ties are nice, but a wood tie is a way to show him that you really do like his uncommon look.

Fire Hose Wallet
Made from retired fire hoses, these sturdy wallets are a clever way to show your guy that he’s your hero.

Frog Prince Paperweight
You knew that one day your prince would come. Now that he has, you can thank him for giving you your very own storybook ending with this pewter paperweight. Of course, your Prince Charming wears many hats–so why shouldn’t he have fun changing the crown on his?

Pick Punch
You could give him a gift card…OR you could give him a device to help him actually use the leftover plastic when he’s spent the gift cards he got for Christmas. The Pick Punch® cuts functional guitar picks from credit cards, gift cards, and similar sheets of thin plastic, so it’s a great way to show your Valentine that he rocks.

Looking for more gift ideas for the ones you love? Check out our Top 10 Gifts for Husbands, Gifts for Boyfriends, Gifts for Wives, and Gifts for Girlfriends.

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