The 40 Essential Albums To Own on Vinyl
Putting together a list of the essential albums to own on vinyl is not only impossible, it’s hugely stressful. I’ve done at least 30 variations; adding albums, taking off others, rearranging bits and pieces, or changing my mind altogether and taking it from the top.
There are sure to be some controversial takes, and there’s a swath of genres, records, and artists who didn’t make the cut, but I’ve only got one set of ears, a personalized palate, and a tight deadline.
Before you take a look at the list, here are some rules: these are in no particular order, there are no live performances or compilations, no more than one appearance by an artist, and the album has to physically sound good on vinyl. I’ve made it this far, but now I need a drink and a lie down.
1. Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)
This is my favorite album. I remember dancing around the lounge room with a literal boom box, and a massive set of headphones listening to The Boy in the Bubble, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and You Can Call Me Al, picturing the film clip with Chevy Chase.
Out of all of my father’s albums, Graceland is my favorite, both for its scope and its sheer enjoyment. Whether it’s the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Orchestra singing together perfectly, or the amazing South African session musicians involved in its creation, Graceland is a fantastic album and a must-own for any music lover.
2. Led Zeppelin - IV (1972)
Sprawling, decadent, and powerful, Led Zep’s untitled fourth studio album is their best. It features a short little ditty called Stairway to Heaven, the sexually charged Black Dog, Mordor LOTR–style The Battle of Never More, and epic Misty Mountain Hop.
Most superstar bands don’t have four songs as good as this in an entire career, let alone on one album. Now, please excuse me, I’ve got 7.5 minutes to kill listening to Stairway…
3. Nas - Illmatic (1994)
Nas was a 17 year old still in high school when his debut album Illmatic dropped. The record is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time (it’s firmly in my top three) and was announced as one of the 2020 recordings selected for inclusion on the National Recording Registry.
It turned Nas into a star and brought attention back to the East Coast after the dominance of gangster rap in the West.
4. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
You can’t make a list of essential vinyl albums without Michael Jackson, and Thriller is all killer, no filler. It’s disappointing the way things ended for the King of Pop, but Thriller reminds us that we were lucky to hear the brilliance of Michael Jackson.
There’s a reason it’s the greatest selling album of all time.
5. The Black Keys - Thickfreakness (2003)
This living, breathing behemoth from the Ohio two-piece brought hipsters out from their garages in droves. The pumping piston drums of Patrick Carbery – who laid the tracks down on an eight-track in 14 hours – are a yammering foil for singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach’s dirty lashes of the axe and pedals, while his lyrics scrounge around like he’s digging into the couch creases looking for loose change.
I saw the Black Keys live when touring this album – it was all sweat, beards, and beer. I swear I couldn’t hear shit except for Set You Free for a week after.
6. Sade - Diamond Life (1984)
Honestly, you could pick any of Sade’s six albums for this list, but for mine, it has to be their debut Diamond Life. Merging soul with R&B and jazz elements, it’s got a bit of everything that’s great about 80s music.
Smooth Operator and Hang On to Your Love are incredible compositions, with Sade Adu’s vocals completely mesmerizing.
7. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)
These days, you could release this cerebral Beach Boys album by saying: “There are goats on the cover,” and make a badass meme campaign.
Pet Sounds revolutionized recording music, although nobody in 1966 seemed happy to spend their money on it, given that it was vastly different from the 10 Beach Boys albums that came before.
It wasn’t until the UK got a hold of it that the production and sound engineering side of the Pet Sounds record got its due respect, and everyone realized the music was awesome too.
8. Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On (1971)
1971s What’s Going On is arguably the greatest album of all time from any genre. Rolling Stone has it at the top of their 500 Greatest Albums, and for good reason.
What’s Going On is a narrative concept album that tells the tale of a man’s return from Vietnam. If you’re unfamiliar with the brilliance, pain, and tragedy of Marvin Gaye, take 53 minutes out of your day to watch this documentary. It’s time well spent.
9. NWA - Straight Outta Compton (1988)
I scored this on cassette from my big brother when I was going into high school (on the other side of the 90-minute marvel was 2 Live Crew). A decade older than me, he didn’t say anything much about it except for, “Listen to this and don’t tell mum. Ever!”
Straight Outta Compton ushered in the gangsta rap era. Without NWA, the rap landscape would be very different; less realistic and raw, less creative, edgy, and honest. It certainly wouldn’t have been better.
10. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Bowie ushered in a new era of rock and pop fusion by creating different characters in his music and an amazing level of theatricality to his work.
Ziggy Stardust helped bridge the gap between the declining hippy culture and stadium rock with a burgeoning live music scene where the show was just as important as the music.
11. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
She might have gone off the rails, but Lauryn Hill is still one of the greatest female vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. While that’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon, I can always put this album on and remember how talented she is.
A melting pot of hip-hop, soul, R&B, and pop, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a phenomenal record from a once-in-a-generation artist.
12. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Not being able to incorporate a greatest hits compilation album is hardest here. Folk legend, visual artist, and bourbon bottler Bob Dylan is not only brilliant but also prolific.
Any of 10 studio, live, or compilation albums could take this space, but for pure end-to-end quality, his seventh studio album Blonde on Blonde may be the finest.
13. Outkast - Stankonia (2000)
“They are threateningly talented individuals” – Cee Lo Green
Outkast’s Stankonia took rap music and threw out the rule book. They turned hip-hop into something interplanetary (and the South into a stronghold), where freedom of expression, musical innovation, and pure enjoyment melded with traditional rap bangers and everyday struggles.
14. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (2012)
I’m not much of a dance music guy, but Daft Punk is cool, whether the helmets are on or not. If you throw this on the Technics (careful, it’s hard to get in non-collectible form), things are going pretty well.
Twan’s cool vlog about the making of Random Access Memories – Daft Punk’s most critically acclaimed album recorded over the course of four years – is well worth a watch for anyone who wants to know more about this chart-topping album that gave us the massive hit Get Lucky.
15. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)
Great jazz music is made for being enjoyed on vinyl, and Kind of Blue is the greatest of jazz music. Put it on your player, settle in, and let Miles take you somewhere else for a while.
Check out the making of this classic album by watching this fantastic documentary (apologies for Bill Cosby’s appearance).
16. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
I’m going to come clean: I AM NOT a Radiohead guy. I can appreciate their music, its complexity, skill, and vision. But it’s just not my thing. I’m sorry.
This clip explains brilliantly why Kid A is so vital and so vivid for many music fans, something I could not articulate.
17. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
This one might be a little controversial, but this is Kanye at his artistic peak. Coming off the poor reception of 808s & Heartbreak (an underrated album and my second favorite Kanye record) and dealing with problems in his personal life, Kanye hit studios across the world and created a masterpiece.
All of the Lights. POWER. Runaway. Blame Game. Monster. This album is not only chock full of hits but features some of the best rap verses Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross have ever spit.
This is a reminder of a time when Kanye was the center of the world for his musical abilities and not his private life.
18. Bjork - Post (1995)
Another choice some might not agree with, but Post is an exceptional album from Icelandic goddess Bjork.
It’s hard to describe what this album sounds like, but if you imagine every genre of music baked in a cake and topped with Bjork’s fascinating soprano as the icing, then you have Post.
While known for spawning the hit single It’s Oh So Quiet, there is much more to this album.
19. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers (1993)
The debut studio album from the New York Collective is a stone-cold classic. Wu-Tang Clan announced themselves with gangsta rap’s signature braggadocio, plus a fusion of spare beats from the RZA threaded with Kung Fu samples.
Nine distinctly different voices and perspectives from inner-city New York can be heard, all with amazing lyrical flow and a willingness to experiment with beats, tempo, and personality.
The album gave birth to the highest-grossing hip-hop group of all time and ushered in an era of merchandise, film, and music production that still sees the group active and innovating today.
20. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)
The Rumours album from Fleetwood Mac showed that copious amounts of drugs, sex, and alcohol, and relationship breakdowns (there were two couples in the group who both split before recording), could be great for creativity.
Rumours sold more than 10 million copies in the first month alone, while singles Go Your Own Way, Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, and Don’t Stop all made the US top 10 charts.
Disfunction has never sounded so good.
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21. Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)
While the film doesn’t quite hold up, the album remains an absolute banger that mixes power-pop, shredding guitars, funk, and psychedelic influences into an almost perfect tracklist. This is Prince at the peak of his powers.
22. The Clash - London Calling (1979)
London Calling is what happens when a punk band develops their music into a force that reflects the uncertainty, angst, and disaffection of an entire generation. London was a mess in 1979, with heroin, unemployment, political, social, and racial tension ripping through the city (and all of Great Britain).
While their classic punk sound was still readily apparent, The Clash’s third album harnessed reggae, roots, rock, ska, and heavy metal elements into a soup of powerful, politically, and socially aware set of tunes.
23. The Roots - Things Fall Apart (1999)
The Roots (yeah, Jimmy Fallon’s Band) proved you could make a killer hip-hop album with a live band. Things Fall Apart is a socially conscious album that still found resonance with the gangsta rap set and old school b-boys, which at that time was difficult to accomplish.
It features Black Thought’s lyrical dexterity and boxer’s delivery, mixed with great production and special guests like Mos Def, Erika Badu, Jill Scott, Eve, and Dice Raw.
24. Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)
Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and lesser-known bands such as Mudhoney and Temple of the Dog, brought Seattle’s grunge sound to the rest of the world. After the commercial success of their debut Ten, Pearl Jam opted to mix harder and more aggressive rock with Eddie Vedder’s iconic vocal range on their sophomore album.
They eschewed releasing any singles despite having a handful that would’ve certainly made it into the top 10. It remains their most influential album and one that moved beyond grunge into another realm.
Fun fact: They wrote Daughter on the tour bus!
25. The Beatles - White Album (1968)
Another band where their entire back catalog could have appeared on this list, The Beatles White Album gets the nod. 30 tracks including classics Back In The U.S.S.R., Helter Skelter, Blackbird, and George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps make up this influential double album.
26. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
If I didn’t put this album on here, my sister would kill me. While many contemporaries looked outside, Pink Floyd focused on inside the mind with intense and dystopian fervor.
Dark Side of the Moon, much like Pet Sounds, transformed record arrangement, production, and recording, while the music itself was damn good to listen to as well.
Dark Side took out a lot of the long instrumentals and solos Floyd was known for while still maintaining a cinematic quality. Their audio innovation added the sonic effects that bands ever since have been copying.
27. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
“It ain’t nothing but a Compton thang.”
I don’t have too many contemporary musicians on this list (let’s face it, music now is made for a digital age, and I’m considered OLLLLLLD), yet Kendrick Lamar is an exception.
Lamar mixes old school gangsta sensibilities with furiously developed production on this coming-of-age concept album. To Pimp A Butterfly may be a stronger album, but I’ll argue forever that Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is more influential and essential.
28. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
I can still remember, nearly 30 years later, exactly where I was when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died.
If I hadn’t heard Nevermind, and especially Smells Like Teen Spirit, I wouldn’t have paid attention to the hype this band created. It’s hard to put into words just how much Nevermind impacted not only music but youth culture.
29. Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full (1987)
The rap game changed once Rakim took the Mike and Eric B got on the turntables. Other rappers focused on changing things (KRS One), talking tough (Big Daddy Kane), and the drug epidemic in New York (Slick Rick) – Rakim focused on being better than everybody else
They took the socially conscious early hip-hop and added elements of cool that to this day remain unchanged, and gave us Paid in Full, which is still firmly inside the top 10 rap albums of all time.
30. (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Seriously, if this album came out now – with all that media stoushing with fellow Brit Pop legends Blur – the internet would have broken. While Liam has turned into an epic storyteller and entertaining parent, for most of their career the Gallagher brothers have been considered complete and utter knobs (Noel still is).
The fact remains, though, that with the possible exception of dance music stars such as Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, and the Chemical Brothers, no one had a bigger impact on British music than Oasis did throughout the 1990s, which has carried over into pop-rock music today.
31. Metallica - Metallica (The Black Album, 1991)
While old-school metalheads point to this as the moment Metallica sold out, in reality, it’s the band taking the next step in their evolution and proving heavier music has its place in pop culture.
The album is full of classic tracks. Enter Sandman is a grinding stadium rock offering. The Unforgiven a heartfelt ditty. Through The Never a reminder of Metallica’s thrash past. Then there’s Nothing Else Matters, an emotional power ballad about expressing and opening yourself up to others.
It might have pissed off their core fans, but Metallica topped the charts and has gone on to sell over 25.2 million copies worldwide, turning the band into the face of modern metal and gaining them more fans than they lost.
32. The Highwaymen - Highwayman
Waylon Jennings. Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash. Kris Kristofferson. Four of country music’s greatest stars joined forces as The Highwaymen, a country supergroup.
The result is a fantastic outlaw country album showcasing the distinct qualities of each man’s voice. Opener Highwayman sets the scene for a collection of country covers (including two Cash originals) perfect for a road trip through the great US of A.
33. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Few political bands have managed to sell millions of albums and sell out stadiums without deviating from their beliefs like Rage Against The Machine.
Despite their success, or possibly because of it, the LA foursome has been a driving force in alternate rock for almost three decades. Merging rock with rap before nu-metal was a thing, Rage has a distinct sound thanks to vocalist Zac de la Rocha’s biting lyrics and Tom Morello’s unconventional guitar playing.
Rage Against The Machine is a Molotov cocktail of hard-hitting raps, brain-damaging guitar licks, slick bass lines, and thumping percussion. I can still remember headbanging in my room to Killing in the Name. Good memories.
34. The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation
Before becoming household names with the release of Fat of the Land, The Prodigy lit up clubs and raves with tracks from their sophomore release Music for the Jilted Generation. The record is a big “fuck you” to new laws introduced against rave culture that fuses elements of trance, techno, and jungle.
The album contains a raft of eclectic samples, from films such as Star Wars: A New Hope, Poltergeist III, and Smokey and the Bandit, across 13 tracks fueled by Liam Howlett’s production. Their Law, Poison, and Voodoo People are all huge tunes, but for me, it’s No Good (Start the Dance) that showcases the brilliance of The Prodigy.
35. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Both Joy Division albums should be part of any vinyl record collection, but if you had to choose one, I lean towards the Manchester group’s seminal debut Unknown Pleasures.
Four decades on and this album remains one of the greatest releases of all time. It’s responsible for creating the post-punk genre and has influenced almost every modern rock band ever formed.
Every song is a hit, from the droning bass of Peter Hook on opener Disorder to vocalist Ian Cutis’ fractured vocals on She’s Lost Control. This is an album addressing themes of angst, industrialism, epilepsy, and heartbreak brought together by Curtis’ pained baritone.
36. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
Recorded mainly in a villa in France, the making of Exile on Main St. is the stuff of legend. Keith Richards was in the depths of heroin addiction and Mick Jagger often missed sessions, but somehow when the band did manage to get together they created magic.
The Stones’ 10th album is chock full of incredible songs that merge rock and blues with soul and country, resulting in arguably the Stones greatest ever record.
37. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
After finding success with gangster rap group NWA, Dr. Dre proved he was a master of the art form with the release of The Chronic.
Creating the blueprint for g-funk, Dre blessed hip-hop fans with a classic album all about blunts, 40s, and attractive ladies. He also introduced the world to a then 18-year-old Snoop Dogg on hit Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang.
While the lyrics pose a problem in the current world, the beats still hold up, with Dre cementing his status as a hip-hop legend.
38. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
Besides Adele, Amy Winehouse is the greatest female vocalist to come out of the past two decades. Possessed with a deep, soulful croon, you can feel Winehouse’s pain and sorrow on tracks such as Rehab, Addicted, and the glorious title track Back To Black.
A troubled figure who couldn’t beat her demons, Back To Black stands as Winehouse’s legacy – an emotional collection of soul, jazz, and pop songs that’s the biggest insight into her life we will ever get. RIP.
39. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
You could put any number of Springsteen albums on this list, but for mine, it has to be Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is an exploration of the working class in America, with Springsteen fully embracing his love of rock and roll.
From the driving opener Badlands to the sax-heavy The Promised Land and the tale of a down on his luck loser on album closer Darkness on the Edge of Town, this 10 track record is a compelling masterpiece.
Springsteen would go on to release records that charted better and produced bigger hits, but this remains a touchstone in his career.
40. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
The godfathers of metal, Black Sabbath have released 19 albums over a 50-year career. Picking their best isn’t easy, but Paranoid stands the test of time. There’s not a bad song on it, from the demonic War Pigs to lo-fi Planet Caravan, this album highlights everything incredible about this band.
If you only own one metal album, make sure it’s Paranoid.
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The 15 Best Belgian Beers To Try in 2021
Belgian brewing is iconic for its tradition and style, featuring a dazzling array of quality options that are considered the ultimate in craft beer enjoyment. While you’re unlikely to find thirst-quenching, easy-drinking Belgian lager, their beer is famed for its traditional methodology. From old family recipes, sour and fruit beers, and Saison and wheat beer, through to strong ales brewed by Trappist monks and abbeys, there’s a beer for everyone.
If you are a newcomer or beer enthusiast looking to find amazing quality crafted beer, Belgian artistry will be keeping you busy for a long time (and that’s before you get to the Belgian-inspired beer being crafted in the US).
The following collection of the 15 best Belgian beers offers a great roadmap to finding your favorite tastes. There will be some you love, and others you won’t enjoy, but all offer an interesting experience.
1. Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet
If you’re looking to delve deeply into the world of quality Belgian beer, make sure that Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet is right near the top of your list. Launched in 1996 to great acclaim, Brouwerij Tripel is brewed to an authentic beer recipe dating from 1679. A “Tripel” is made with three times the malt in the wort, which results in a markedly higher ABV (8.4%).
Regarded as one of the world’s finest Belgian beer styles, Tripel Karmeliet (Dutch for “Triple Carmelite”) is a golden-colored Belgian beer brewed by the highly regarded Brouwerij Bosteels beer brand. A feature of this triple beer style is the fruity flavor, which is provided by the uniqueness of the yeast. It offers banana and vanilla flavors mixed crisply with citrus aromas.
2. Chimay Grande Reserve Ale
It seems great-tasting beer is the Lord’s work. Chimay makes a commanding argument for being “the Champagne” of Abbey beer and is arguably the most popular Trappist beer in the world. A Trappist brewery does not create a set style of beer. It denotes that the beer has been brewed at a Trappist Monastery. There are only 11 in the world that are entitled to carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” label on their beer.
All Trappist ales and beers must be brewed in strict adherence to rules established by the International Trappist Association. The beer must be brewed in a Trappist monastery and should be brewed either by Trappist monks or under monks’ supervision.
This bottle is aged for up to five years upright in a cool environment within its Trappist brewery before being bottled and shipped. Chimay Grande Reserve is the premium of Trappist ales (although all varieties are delicious examples of Belgian beer), offering an intense floral aroma, a rich body, and complex citrus notes that move forward into a long, full-bodied finish.
3. Hoegaarden White
Belgium’s most popular wheat beer, Hoegaarden White is popular for aficionados and novice European beer drinkers alike. Hoegaarden White is smooth and creamy, offering a light refreshment at odds with its cloudy appearance. Its sweet yet slightly spicy flavor profile and bubbly carbonation make Hoegaarden a great complement to seafood dishes and sharp hard cheeses.
4. Orval Trappist Ale
Orval Trappist Ale is a sensational beer that rivals the Tripel Karmeliet for overall quality but at a slightly less punchy 6.2 % ABV. Orval is a lovely amber color, with a fruity and slightly acidic aroma. The flavor strongly features the bitterness of refreshing hops contrasted by fruity flavors that yield a long, dry finish.
My advice would be that when you get the chance to try an Orval Trappist Ale, you do so knowing it won’t be your last – it’s one of the best Belgian beers on the market and one you should look at tasating at every opportunity.
5. D’Achouffe La Chouffe Belgian Blonde Ale
This Belgian ale suits many different palates yet comes in at a hefty 8% ABV. It’s similar to a Belgian IPA (India Pale Ale) but less hoppy, crafted by “mythical elves at the microbrewery Brasserie Achouffe in the Ardennes Mountains.”
La Chouffe is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and bottle conditioned. It features a pleasant, fruity flavor spiced with coriander, with only a little hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste. If that’s not enough to get you over the line, the craft beer company’s mascot is a gnome named Marcel who rides a unicycle on the bright yellow label.
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6. Delirium Tremens
Classified as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, this bad boy comes in at 8.5% ABV. This intricate beer is gold in color with a creamy light head featuring a tremendously complex fruity ester (the fruit flavor created in the process of fermentation).
Delirium Tremens (known as the shakes to you and I) is a light, refreshing Belgian Pale Ale for a brew with such a strong alcohol profile. It has a big body, a creamy sweet mouthfeel of caramel malt, and little bitterness in the fruit beer’s aftertaste. DT is a great option for the Belgian pale ale enthusiast seeking hefty alcohol content without the overwhelming hoppiness of an Imperial IPA.
7. Cantillon Fou Foune
This delicious sour beer is different from “normal beer” because it’s fermented through spontaneous exposure to wild yeast (Brettanomyces yeast) and bacteria native to the Zenne valley in Belgium. Cantillon Fou Foune is an apricot lambic beer brewed yearly by Cantillon (bottling usually commences in August), using approximately 300 grams per bottle of organically grown French apricots.
The unique brewing process gives the beer its distinctive flavor: dry, vinous, and cidery, with an extremely tart aftertaste underneath oaky lambic and subtle apricot. While difficult to find at times, the Fou Foune from Brasserie Cotillon is a brilliant Belgian Beer style recommended for the fully committed beer lover to indulge in the very best of sour beer brewing.
8. Duvel Belgian Ale
Duvel is bottled at an ABV of 8.5% and offers a unique take on the popular strong Belgian style ales. Duvel Belgian Ale is blonde in color and refreshes crisply like a Pilsner, yet possesses the flavor, strength, and depth of a more complex craft beer. Pilsner malt is used to create the lovely golden color it pours, while Bohemian hops and a unique yeast strain add character and intensity to the beer.
9. Blanche de Bruxelles
Traditionally, farmers brewed witbier to showcase the quality of their crops. Blanche de Bruxelles is naturally cloudy (not unlike a hazy IPA from your favorite craft brewery) thanks to the 40% wheat content that is used in its brewing. Blanche de Bruxelles possesses the aroma of coriander and bitter orange peels, which are added during the slow brewing process.
The resultant wheat beer yields an unfiltered bottle, re-fermented with yeast and brewing sugar. The orange flavor is also noticeable on the palate of this traditional witbier, which has a markedly lower ABV than some of the others on this list (4.5%).
10. Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze
Drei Fonteinen is the only remaining traditional geuze (also spelled gueuze) blend in Belgium that uses 100% spontaneously fermented lambic beer aged in oak casks with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. Because the young lambics are not fully fermented, the blended beer contains fermentable sugars, which allow a second fermentation to occur and makes for a well-balanced sour ale/farmhouse ale.
Oude Geuze is a beautiful golden beer when poured. The flavor is very sour and tart with notes of lemon, orange peel, and apple which moves into hints of spices and hops through the bubbling carbonated finish. The beer lover new to sour ale is likely to miss out on the subtle layers this Belgian brew offers, but an established sour drinker will fully appreciate the depth of character a traditional gueuze possesses.
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11. Westmalle Trappist Dubbel
Westmalle Dubbel is a classically dark, reddish-brown Trappist beer that’s had a secondary fermentation in the bottle (hence the name Dubbel). It’s attractive in the glass, with a creamy head and the fragrance of malt. It’s rich and complex on the tongue, featuring a soft mouthfeel augmented by herby spices and a fruity yet slightly bitter finish. If you are looking for a quintessentially Belgian dark beer made by Trappist monks, this quality bottle is hard to go past.
12. Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale
Saison Dupont has been an integral seasonal beer for the famous Dupont Belgian brewery since it was first crafted in 1844. It’s a lovely coppery blond in color, strong in yeast and malt aromas, with a hint of grasses and lemon on the palate, and an ideal amount of bitterness at the tail. Considered a benchmark seasonal beer, Saison Dupont is a top-quality Farmhouse Ale made for thirst-quenching refreshment.
13. Leffe Brown Ale
Leffe Brown is an authentic dark abbey beer that rivals any of the brown ale popularized in the United Kingdom. It offers a rich, slightly sweet flavor that comes from the use of darkly roasted malt in the brewing process.
There are the enjoyable flavors of caramel, chocolate, and a hint of coffee in the lush flavor profile, and Leffe Brown Pours creamily into a traditional chalice. While it’s not a beer style where you will wish to drink 10 of them in a sitting, it’s easy to appreciate the tasty dark flavor of Leffe Brown as an after-dinner sampler.
14. Gouden Carolus Classic
Named after King Charles V, this unique dark beer could almost be classed as a stout, yet is categorized as a Belgian Strong Ale bottled at 8.5% ABV. Gouden Carolus Classic is fresh and enjoyable, particularly when paired with a variety of strongly flavored dishes, cheeses, and pate.
Its richness is contrasted nicely by the bitterness of hops that helps augment a slightly sour profile. While not my style beer of choice, Gouden Carolus Classic can certainly be a great companion for feasting or enjoyed after dinner with a nice cigar.
15. Pauwel Kwak Belgian Ale
Pauwel Kwak Belgian Ale gets its name from a famed 18th-century innkeeper and brewer who crafted a beer for carriage drivers. These days the beer is brewed by the Bosteels brewery in Buggenhout.
This complex Belgian strong ale is amber in color with beautiful foam and a slightly sweet malt character. The sweet yeasty aromas are enlivened by the taste of coriander and a glimmer of licorice flavor on the palate. You’ll often find this Belgian beer served in the tremendous hourglass style glass and wooden frame first created by Pauwel Kwak, so it makes for an impressive experience at a bar or restaurant (or if you are a devotee enjoying the beer at home).
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The 15 Best Sean Connery Movies of All Time
Sir Sean Connery, best known for his role as the original 007, worked in the film industry for over 50 years. His career, and legacy, have been the envy of many Hollywood actors and filmmakers. Between an Academy Award, multiple BAFTA awards, and three Golden Globes, Connery is not only a fan favorite but a favorite of critics as well.
Known as “the Greatest Living Scot,” Connery has worked with some of Hollywood’s most talented filmmakers, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, John Huston, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, and many more. So without further adieu, here is our list of the 15 greatest Sean Connery movies of all time!
1. Dr. No (1962)
The original James Bond motion picture, based on the Ian Flemming novel of the same name, Dr. No sparked the secret agent genre that prospered in the 1960s. Connery slipped into the role of 007 as easily as Bond slips out of his clothes.
The trademark 007 “gun barrel” sequence, as well as the classic Bond theme, all began here with Dr. No, a film that set up and launched the entire franchise. Connery would go on to play 007 for the next 20 years (with a 12-year break between his penultimate and final performances), and to this day is still regarded as the best Bond by movie nerds. Dr. No is the film that not only launched the 007 series but also propelled Connery into the spotlight as an action hero and leading man.
2. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989)
While some consider Raiders of the Lost Ark to be the ultimate Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, Star Wars) film, others say that Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is better, largely due to Sean Connery’s role as Indy’s father, Henry Jones, Sr. Connery is so well cast it makes you wonder who else could’ve even attempted to pull it off.
The Last Crusade sends Indy into the path of the Nazis as he searches for the original Holy Grail, which his father devoted his entire life and career to finding. Watching Ford and Connery bicker back and forth is part of this film’s charm, making us wish they could have starred opposite each other at least one more time. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is not only arguably the best Indiana Jones film, but also one of the greatest adventure crusades of the past 50 years.
3. The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
A technicolor adventure film adapted from a Rudyard Kipling novella, The Man Who Would Be King follows ex-British Army sergeant Daniel Dravot (Connery) as he and Peachy Carnehan (Sir Michael Caine, The Dark Knight) set off to explore 19th century British India, only to end up elsewhere when one of them is taken for a god and made king.
This film is completely wild as Connery and Caine (who play masterfully off one another) explore jungles, fight incredible battles, travel through the various elements, before finding themselves in an unknown land where their lives change forever. Oh, and Christopher Plummer (Knives Out) plays Rudyard Kipling himself!
The Man Who Would Be King is an unusual tale filled with danger, suspense, and lots of adventure, making it one of Connery’s trademark films.
4. The Untouchables (1987)
Based on the book of the same name, The Untouchables tells the fictionalized true story of 1930s Prohibition-era Chicago in which Bureau of Prohibition agent Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner, Yellowstone) works alongside Connery’s Jim Malone to take down mob boss Al Capone (an incredible Robert De Niro).
This masterpiece features some of the greatest performances you could ask for from Costner and De Niro, but it’s Connery who steals the movie as “Jimmy” Malone, a cop who adamantly opposes all the Prohibition-era corruption. One criticism is that Connery’s accent is too pronounced, but this writer would say that’s part of his charm. The Untouchables is an exciting thrill ride that will keep you wanting more, especially more Connery, even as the film closes out.
5. The Hunt for Red October (1990)
James Bond isn’t the only government agent-led spy franchise that Sean Connery sparked into existence. The Hunt for Red October is the first in the Jack Ryan series of films based on the spy novels by Tom Clancy. While Connery doesn’t play the famed agent himself, he does portray Captain Marko Ramius, the CO of the Red October.
Set during the late Cold War era, the film follows CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock) as he deduces the motive of a defective Soviet naval captain (Connery) in order to prevent an all-out war. Connery’s Captain Ramius is probably the most interesting character in the film, with a cloaked motivation that keeps the plot moving. The Hunt for Red October not only launched the Jack Ryan film series but also pushed Connery back into the spotlight as the 90s began.
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6. Time Bandits (1981)
The first in Terry Gilliam’s (Monty Python) “Trilogy of Imagination,” Time Bandits is a British fantasy film about a young boy, Kevin (Craig Warnock, To The Lighthouse), who accidentally joins a bunch of time-traveling dwarfs as they search for treasure to steal from different historical eras. It’s a trip.
Connery’s role as the Mycenaean-Grecian King Agamemnon is unlike any secret agent or spy we’re used to seeing the actor portray. The fierce warrior-king not only adopts the young Kevin after the 11-year-old saves his life, but he also fights a horse-headed man to the death, which is worth watching the film for. Time Bandits is a charming feature that captures the realities of childhood with plenty of laughs.
7. The Rock (1999)
From Transformers legend Michael Bay, The Rock stars Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage (The Wicker Man), Ed Harris (Apollo 13), William Forsythe (Raising Arizona), and Michael Biehn (The Terminator) in an action-thriller that follows an ex-con and a chemist as they lead a counter-strike against a renegade general on Alcatraz.
Known as not only one of Michael Bay’s best pictures, but one of Connery’s as well, The Rock has Connery and film legend Cage face-off against Ed Harris with some of the most extensive and impactful action sequences and explosions that are trademarks of Bay pictures.
The Rock is one of Connery’s best non-Bond action roles out there. Not to mention, when else have you seen Connery sing in a shower?
8. From Russia With Love (1963)
Speaking of Bond, the second film in the 007 series (released only one year after Dr. No), From Russia With Love follows Bond as he is sent to Turkey to protect a Soviet consulate clerk (Daniela Bianchi, O.K. Connery) who has defected, all the while SPECTRE has set their sights on Bond after the events of the first film.
This picture did even better financially and critically than the first film and helped seal the character of James Bond in the cultural consciousness. Plus, in this one, Bond actually boards the famed Orient Express (coincidently, Connery would later star in a Sidney Lumet adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express in the 70s). From Russia With Love is one of the most beloved James Bond pictures and features some of Sean Connery’s greatest work.
9. The Name of the Rose (1986)
Did you know Sean Connery starred in a historical mystery drama where he plays a fictional Franciscan friar named William of Baskerville? Well, he did just that in The Name of The Rose, a film based on the book of the same name. As the friar, he is summoned to solve a deadly mystery in the medieval abbey.
The deaths surrounding this mystery relate to the signs mentioned in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation and the plot of the film also deals with accusations of witchcraft, poisoning, false confessions, and so much more. Connery’s role as the friar may be a little unconventional, but it works and manages to be one of his best. The Name of The Rose asks and answers the question, “who, in the name of God, can get away with murder?”
10. Finding Forrester (2000)
One of Connery’s last leading roles before his retirement from acting, Finding Forrester follows a young, black teenager (Rob Brown, Coach Carter) who befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Connery), who helps him refine his writing and makes him come to terms with his own identity.
Directed by Gus Van Sant, Finding Forrester feels a lot like the director’s greatest hit, Good Will Hunting, in that a young man is mentored by an elder who sees potential in him that his peers cannot. In one of Connery’s most profound roles, one cannot deny the power and impact that taking an interest in someone may have on their future. Finding Forrester is a heartfelt look into the life of a young man who needs direction, and an old man who needs a purpose.
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11. Goldfinger (1964)
The third Bond film, both in the series proper and in Connery’s filmography, Goldfinger is often considered the greatest (or at least one of the greatest) of the Bond films. The plot follows Bond as he investigates a gold smuggling ring led by the titular villain (played by Gert Fröbe, I Killed Rasputin).
This one also features Bond opposite Goldfinger’s personal pilot, the famed femme fatale Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, The Avengers television series), who has become infamous among the 007 fandom. As always, Connery delivers as Bond, whose tongue-in-cheek humor eventually became a staple of the series. Goldfinger is a classic that, while dated, manages to withstand the test of time. Plus, it’s the first Bond picture to win an Oscar, so that’s pretty cool.
12. Highlander (1986)
An adventure fantasy film, Highlander is an 80s classic that follows the adventurous Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes) as he becomes “The Highlander,” one of the immortals who are part of a never-ending war throughout time.
Sean Connery co-stars as another immortal, Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, Connor’s mentor who teaches him the ways of the Quickening. It’s the only role outside of James Bond that Connery has played more than once, although the sequel is only for die-hard fans.
Highlander is a fantasy epic that has spanned generations, in no small part due to Connery’s own excellence.
13. Outland (1981)
A soft remake of the 1950s Western High Noon but with a science-fiction twist, Outland stars Connery as Marshal William T. O’Neil, a lawman who has discovered a drug-smuggling conspiracy, only to find himself marked for murder, with no help from anyone else.
Instead of taking place in the Wild West, Outland takes place on a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon of Lo. The suspenseful atmosphere (or lack thereof) of outer space makes for some gripping action, character work, and timeless lessons of loyalty, truth, and what it means to do the right thing. Outland reminds us that even in the deepest reaches of space, the ultimate enemy is still man.
14. Medicine Man (1992)
Connery teams up once more with director John McTiernan (The Hunt for Red October), this time following him to the Amazon rainforest. After a pharmaceutical company sends a biochemist, Dr. Rae Crane (Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos), into the Amazon to find the reclusive researcher Robert Campbell (Connery), things get a little dicey.
While Medicine Man might sound like a straightforward picture, there are enough surprises, subplots, and dramatic conflicts to keep you engaged as Campbell and Crane make their way through the indigenous lands in search of a miracle cure for cancer. This journey is heightened by the fact that they are racing against the clock to find the cure as commercial loggers attempt to destroy the area it’s believed to originate from. Medicine Man reminds us that industry and progress can often ignore the small miracles that we can find in nature.
15. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
This is Connery’s final Eon Productions picture as James Bond, although not his last, with the Scot returning to the famed role in the non-Eon movie Never Say Never Again some 12 years later. This film features Bond as he faces off against his archenemy Dr. Ernst Blofeld (Charles Gray, You Only Live Twice), whose plans include using diamonds to build a space-based laser weapon to destroy Washington D.C. and hold the world at ransom.
Seeing Connery’s Bond face off against the head of SPECTRE one final time is a real treat. Diamonds Are Forever is still one of the most memorable 007 films, even if its campy tone has been heavily criticized.
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The 50 Best Hobbies for Couples To Enjoy
Finding new hobbies as an adult can be challenging. Chances are, by the time you reach adulthood, most of your interests have been pretty well established. And finding hobbies that you can pursue as a couple? That’s even harder.
Yet every strong couple needs shared interests. You need to find things you’re both passionate about, and perhaps just as importantly, things you both enjoy. Having fun together is one of the best ways to keep any relationship going strong.
If you and your partner are looking for ways to deepen your connection, to enjoy each other’s company, to share an adventure, or pursue a common goal, these are 50 great hobbies every couple should consider.
Getting out in the great outdoors is a source of renewal for many of us. For couples, it can be a way to bond in a wild setting and to share a mutual passion for the outdoors. A lot of couples make camping at a favorite destination an annual tradition, and there’s something really cool about getting to share it year after year.
Whether you’re a “tent couple” or an “RV couple,” there’s nothing quite like a campfire and a night out under the stars to keep the romance alive.
Few hobbies are as beneficial to your mind, body, and spirit as yoga. It’s a perfectly good solo hobby for anyone, but for couples, it’s an even greater opportunity to share not only your fitness goals but your mindfulness. Yoga is also a great tension-reliever and stress-reducer, which is something every relationship needs from time to time.
Gardening is fun, calming, and stress-reducing. Gardening as a couple is also a great exercise in teamwork. It’s an opportunity to work on your communication and enjoy the satisfaction of working toward a common goal. I would offer up a metaphor about how tending a garden requires the same care and attention as a relationship, but I think you get the idea.
Plus, a well-tended vegetable garden can produce an abundance of healthy, home-grown food, which brings us to our next hobby…
A lot of great bonding happens in the kitchen. Cooking for your significant other is romantic in and of itself, but cooking together can be even better. Cooking as a couple is a way to work on your teamwork. It helps you focus on the simple joy in your life, and gives you some great memories to look back on.
You don’t have to cook together every night, of course, but try doing it once a week. If you’re both adept in the kitchen, consider taking turns being head chef and sous chef, so you each get a chance to take the lead.
Learning to draw can be a great activity for couples. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to be a great artist or even want to be a great artist. It’s more about harnessing your creative energy as a couple and sharing an experience together.
Doing a little sketching together around the house or out at your local park can be a great starting point, but consider taking a drawing class together. Life drawing is a great creative outlet. If you want to spice things up – or maybe just have a good laugh, depending on your drawing skills – you could even draw each other.
Chances are, there’s a local watering hole near you that hosts trivia night each week. Participating will keep your brain sharp, and more importantly, give you and your partner an excuse to hang out, laugh, and have a few drinks. Trivia also makes for a great double-date if you know another couple who are into it.
7. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is a great hobby for adventure-seeking folks, but it also doesn’t have to be a high-risk activity. Indoor rock gyms seem to be everywhere these days, offering you and your significant other an opportunity to have fun, get some exercise, and hone your rock climbing skills in a safe environment.
Few things feel better than helping others. That makes volunteering a great hobby that costs you nothing but brings rich returns. Talk to your significant other to find out if there’s a cause you’re both passionate about. There’s a good chance the experience of volunteering as a couple will bring you closer together, and make it an even more rewarding experience than volunteering on your own.
Putting together jigsaw puzzles is an activity that’s most enjoyable when shared. It’s a very couple-friendly hobby that keeps you sharp and gives you the satisfaction of completing tasks together. Maybe share a glass of wine and make it a puzzle night! Or, if you’re just interested in wine and don’t care much for puzzles, here’s another suggestion…
10. Wine Tasting
Going wine tasting is always an enjoyable way to spend time together as a couple. It’s a way to reconnect over some great wine in a beautiful setting, and it always offers an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs and break away from your routine.
If you don’t happen to live in an area where there are wineries nearby, you could always pick up a respectable bottle of wine at the store and have your own wine tasting at home. Or maybe head to a local craft brewery and sample a couple of beer flights instead.
It’s always hardest to stay active in the winter. It’s the season when most couples retreat into watching Netflix and eating snacks, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a simple solution: go play in the snow! Skiing and snowboarding are great couples’ activities for folks who like to stay active and don’t mind a little snow and cold. Plus, you get to cozy up with some hot cocoa or spiked apple cider afterward.
12. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is thrilling, relaxing, romantic – seemingly everything that you would want in a couple’s hobby, all rolled into one. If you happen to have a stable nearby, it shouldn’t be too hard to book a riding trip. Even if you’ve never done it before, horseback riding is a surprisingly accessible sport for beginners. You might just get hooked.
Investing isn’t as complicated as a lot of people think it is. It’s an enjoyable and potentially lucrative hobby for anyone, but for couples, it also offers an opportunity to pool your resources and work on your financial future together.
Keep in mind, you can start small. Investing doesn’t require a huge amount of cash to get started, and it doesn’t have to be high risk. Some couples use investments to fund future vacations or even their retirement.
14. Board Games
Games can be competitive, or they can be cooperative. Either way, they’re a lot of fun and a great date night option for couples looking to spend some quality time at home.
It’s worth keeping in mind that there are an incredible variety of board games out there that go way beyond what you played when you were a kid. You can choose from a great variety of board games for adults, including some that are… shall we say, a bit on the steamy side.
Maybe you’ve found a partner who’s as devoted to their physical fitness as you are. Or maybe one of you is a dedicated runner, and the other… needs a little motivation. Either way, running or jogging as a couple is an awesome way to spend time together and help each other stay on top of your goals.
Stargazing makes for a perfect date night. For some couples, it ends up being a full-blown infatuation. Of course, you can get a pretty simple (and inexpensive) telescope and some star charts to start out with.
Stargazing is also a great opportunity to spend some time outdoors. Parks and preserves far from the city offer the best views of the night sky with minimal light pollution, so don’t forget a tent and a two-person sleeping bag!
17. Interior Decorating
I don’t want to pigeonhole all you guys into your gender roles here, but interior decorating isn’t most dudes’ strongest suit. That being said, decorating a home you share with your partner really shows that you’re equally invested in the space and in your relationship.
It can be fun too! And taking an active role in decorating also means you’ll probably get to choose more cool dude stuff in your house. So there’s that.
18. Museums/Art Galleries
Touring local museums as a couple is a great way to invest in your mutual interests. Maybe you’re a history buff and your partner is an art lover, or maybe you’re lucky enough to already share some of the same fascinations.
Either way, you’ll have a great time exploring museums together. You can even start booking vacations around galleries and museums you want to visit of far-flung destinations.
From walks in your local park to heart-pounding ascents to remote mountain peaks, hiking can be almost any kind of experience you want it to be. Ultimately, it’s an experience best shared with someone you care about, which is why it’s such a great pastime for couples. If you both love spending time outdoors, then you can’t go wrong with a good hike.
Whether you’re already an accomplished photographer or you want to start learning photography together, this can be an engaging new passion and interest. There are countless ways to approach photography as a couple.
Start a joint Instagram account to show off your photos. Take turns being the photographer and the subject. Plan trips where you can shoot unique landscapes. The possibilities are endless.
Sure, you can always go kayaking alone. But your car has room for two kayaks on top, so why not take full advantage of it? Kayaking is a great hobby for couples who enjoy relaxing in the outdoors, but it can satisfy your lust for adventure too.
Think of gliding across a tranquil mountain lake, or surging down a tumultuous whitewater stream. Chances are, no matter where you live, there’s a place to get the ‘yaks in the water nearby.
If any hobby begs to be taken on as a couple, it’s dancing. It will give you both a lifetime of enjoyment, and it’s a great way to improve your coordination, stamina, and confidence. It’s fun too!
Learning to dance as a couple is also romantic as heck, and can bring a new level of intimacy and connection to your relationship. Choose any style of dancing that interests you – ballroom, salsa, hip-hop – and get moving.
The process of turning would-be trash into treasure is known as upcycling. It’s a hobby that suits couples who are crafty and environmentally conscious. If the idea of turning old glass jars into lanterns, or transforming tossed-aside wooden pallets into furniture sounds appealing to you, then this might just be your dream hobby.
24. Snorkeling/Scuba Diving
Right from the get-go, diving is a great couples’ activity because you already have a built-in dive partner. That certainly makes things easier. Plus, scuba diving and snorkeling are the types of activities that get you out of your comfort zone and may even propel you into some fun vacation planning. They’re great hobbies for couples’ who share a passion for nature and a desire to discover new things.
Much like cooking, baking is a hobby that builds closeness and cooperation in couples, and also results in some delicious things that you get to eat afterward. It’s a slightly different skillset thought, and it definitely requires a level of patience and attention to detail. But hey, these are things that every relationship needs, so why not get your hands in that dough and get to work?
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Scrapbooking is a fun, crafty hobby. Many couples have found that it strengthens their bond, and provides a tangible record of their memories together that they can enjoy for years to come.
A great activity that improves coordination and builds upper body strength, archery is something that anyone can enjoy. Plus, going to the archery range as a couple can be a lot more enjoyable than flying solo.
Some couples get some friendly competition out of it too, and there’s always something to be said for building a new skill together. Even if you’re starting out as a pair of total beginners, one of the things that makes archery so rewarding is that you can very clearly see your progress as you get better and better at it.
Maybe one of you entered the relationship with a particular interest, or maybe you’re fortunate enough to have paired off with someone who enjoys collecting the same oddball trinkets you do. In either case, creating a mutual collection is a great way to deepen your relationship and have some fun. It could be anything you’re interested in – stamps, records, coins, seashells, comics – you name it.
29. Home Improvement
If you and your significant other have gotten to the stage where you own a home together, then you should know that DIY projects around the house are an inevitability. It’s hard work, but it can be fun too.
Tackling painting projects and home remodels as a team can add to your relationship, give you a sense of co-ownership over the space, and allow you to crush every task more quickly than ever. Who knows, maybe you two will be flipping houses full-time before you know it.
30. Listening to Music
Remember when you were young and would dedicate a whole evening to sharing a bottle of wine – okay, maybe it was a box of wine – and spinning records? Rekindle that passion by getting back into music like you did when you first met.
That could entail dedicating a night each week to listen to your favorite records. Or you could start creating mixtapes and playlists for each other. There’s a lot of romance to be found in good music!
Need to blow off steam and release some tension? Get out there and whack a few balls around. As much fun as golf is by yourself or with friends, it can be even more enjoyable with your partner if you’re both into it. Whether you want to play 18 holes or just smash some golf balls at the driving range, it’s a great stress-reliever for couples.
32. Bike Riding
I know a lot of couples who took up cycling as an active, social distance-friendly hobby during the pandemic and have no plans of giving it up. The fact is, riding bikes together is a fun and active hobby for anyone, and it’s a great way to explore your city, town, or rural landscape together. Whether you’re into road cycling or mountain biking, it’s a great way for couples to get moving.
It gets harder and harder to find time to read as our lives get busier. And it doesn’t help that there’s a whole world of streaming TV and movies at our fingertips at all times. You might be more inclined to make time for books if you intentionally do it together.
Reading is also a great way to turn your quiet alone time as a couple into something more significant. Make it a point to discuss the books you’re both reading. You could even form your own “book club” in which you both read the same books and then talk about them.
Bowling seems to really be catching on with younger generations, which is great news because it’s a lot of fun, and definitely not just a game for your dad and his drinking buddies. Bowling can be a blast for couples and is a great double-date opportunity too.
35. Learning an Instrument
Learning something new together as a couple can be an enthralling experience that enriches your relationship (though you should really make sure you’re both equally into it, or it can end up being a frustrating experience). If you’re both game, why not give it a go?
Your partner can dust off the old violin they took three lessons on 10 years ago. You can dig out the guitar you totally know how to play. Pretty soon you’ll have a band going.
36. Going to the Gym
One of the best parts about being in a relationship is that the two of you can motivate one another. If you’ve ever had a gym membership, then you’ve probably noticed that the hardest part about getting in shape is actually getting to the gym. Who has the time? Working out together is a great way to stay accountable and meet your fitness goals as a team.
Have you ever been alone with your partner and noticed that you’re both mindlessly scrolling on your phones? You may be in the same room, but you’re not really “present” together. Consider meditation as a way to fill those quiet moments more mindfully.
Meditation is a great way to encourage focus and calm for anyone. But when taken up by a couple as a hobby, it can also be a way to connect and focus on being in the moment together.
38. Chicken Raising
Starting your own little mini-farm can be hugely enjoyable, and it also creates a sense of joint responsibility and accomplishment. You don’t have to start big, and you don’t need a lot of space. Plenty of folks keep a few chickens in a cozy coop in an urban backyard. Plus, you get fresh eggs as a bonus, and chickens themselves have a way of providing endless entertainment.
39. Martial Arts
There are a lot of experiences in life that are more powerful when shared. For many couples, learning a martial art is one of them. Martial arts are about focusing the mind just as much as honing the body, and embracing their practice can have benefits in every aspect of your life. Learning Karate, Judo or Jiu-Jitsu is also great for self-defense and can help you become a happier, safer, and more confident couple.
Tracing family histories can become an obsession. It’s a fascinating and often powerful pursuit and can be even more enjoyable when taken up as a couple. Of course, for some couples, the first hurdle is getting over that fear that you’ll discover you’re actually distantly related… but don’t worry, that hardly ever happens.
Some surfers prefer the solitude of embracing the ocean on their own, while others enjoy the camaraderie of catching waves with a surfing partner. If you fall into the latter category, surfing can become a hobby you both enjoy. And if you’re new to it, rest assured that surfing lessons are readily available, and it’s not as hard to get started as you may think.
42. Ice Skating
As much a sport as a hobby, ice skating has been involved in many a romantic winter evening. Granted, strapping on skates and stumbling out onto the ice for the first time can be intimidating. This is a great hobby for couples who are both beginners, but it can also be good if one of you is already a somewhat experienced skater who can show the other the ropes.
43. Pet Rescue
Be careful here… you might end up going down a rabbit hole. Countless couples have gotten immense satisfaction out of adopting a rescue dog or other animal. But for some, it becomes a passion that borders on obsession.
That being said, pet rescue is an incredibly rewarding pastime that tends to go far deeper than an ordinary hobby. Many couples end up becoming “foster parents” of sorts to pets that need a temporary place to stay until they find their forever home.
You may think of thrifting as a way to save money rather than a bona fide hobby, but don’t overlook how fun it can be if you and your partner both get a kick out of it. You can even turn it into a game. Who can put together the most stylish outfit for the least amount of money? Who can track down the craziest pair of shoes? You get the idea.
Okay, you’ve seen the pottery scene from the movie Ghost right? If so, then you don’t need me to tell you that getting your hands all up in that clay can be romantic as all get out.
Anyway, taking a pottery class as a couple can be a super fun way to get creative and enjoy the process of making something together. You might also want to get a pottery wheel in the privacy of your home in case things start to get a little steamy.
Racquetball is a fast-paced one-on-one game, and it’s perfect for active couples. It’s also a great option if you’re both competitive, and need a hobby that lets you both indulge in a little friendly competition in a controlled environment. Plus, you can play doubles if you know another couple who is also into racquetball.
47. Video Games
Look, if you’ve found a partner who enjoys video games as much as you do, then we’re talking serious soul mate material here. Put a ring on it, buddy!
Contrary to your parent’s assertion that video games would rot your brain, it can actually be an engaging and fulfilling hobby, especially if you happen to share an interest with a significant other. Whether you choose to be on the same team or play as adversaries, you want somebody in your life who can be the Princess Peach to your Mario.
Finding food in nature is a great survival skill to have, but it’s also a recreational activity for some. Plenty of couples have bonded over their shared love of hunting for wild edibles, and it can be a rewarding lifelong pursuit.
Of course, you really need to know your stuff before you go eating berries you picked in the woods. Unless one or both of you is already an experienced forager, start out by going on a few guided foraging trips with someone more seasoned who can teach you how to identify edible plants, mushrooms, and herbs.
49. Road Tripping
A passion for travel is a great thing to share. If the song of the open road calls to you both, you simply can’t ignore it. Many couples make an annual road trip a recurring tradition in their lives, while others say goodbye to traditional ways of life entirely, pack everything they own into a camper, and say, “see ya later.” You do you.
If you love going to concerts, and meet someone who loves live music as much as you do, then you’re in for a long life of musical adventures together. Going to shows regularly can be great for couples, and will give you a lifetime’s worth of memories. You may find yourself collecting concert tickets and band posters to fill your house with someday.
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What Is Tantric Sex? We Talk To an Expert To Get the Lowdown
If you’ve ever wanted to slow things down in the bedroom and get to know your partner on a deeper, more intimate level, then tantric sex could be just what the doctor ordered. Tantra, which means “woven together” in Sanskrit, is a genre of sexuality that celebrates sacred sexuality through slow, meaningful movements.
To talk all things Tantra, we’ve connected with sex expert, Susan Bratton, who gives us the rundown on what Tantric sex is, what its benefits are, and how to practice it.
What Is Tantric Sex?
“Tantric sex is a genre of sexuality that incorporates more reverential, slow, connected sexual experiences,” Bratton explains. “Often called Neo-Tantra or Red Tantra to delineate it from the Yogic Tantra practices, the hallmarks are a conscious approach to communication, more breath and eye contact, and active heart connection between lovers.”
To make things even more interesting, tantric sex also often incorporates ritual and spirituality into the experience, says Bratton. This is because much of tantric lovemaking focuses on “divine spirituality” and deeper connection. “Because orgasm is a blissful state,” says Bratton, “it can be used as a kind of meditation practice that allows lovers to touch source or Gaia or god in their union.”
Tantric sex not only focuses on divinity and the outer body but also incorporates every part of the body (especially the heart). Bratton describes tantric orgasms as extended full-body orgasms, which differ from the friction orgasms generated from direct stimulation of the clitoris or penis. In essence, tantric sex is “a slow, heart-connected approach to honor your beloved and building arousal and turn on overtime, while incorporating eye gazing, breath work and sensual touch create these heightened experiences associated with Tantric lovemaking.”
What Are the Origins of Tantric Sex?
Like learning any new practice (especially one with a long history), getting to know its roots and beginnings can give you great insight into the practice itself. “Spiritual sexuality originated in India and Tibet in the third and fourth centuries and continued to evolve with the Kashmiri Shaivists in the ninth and tenth centuries,” Bratton details.
But today’s modern Tantric sex was revolutionized by Osho or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a famous cult sex guru who really got the movement going in the 1980s. If you’re interested in learning more about the rise of modern Tantra and the devotees of Osho, Bratton suggests watching the Netflix documentary Wild, Wild, Country.
“Modern-day Tantra teachers have incorporated many of the concepts of Osho into their version of Western sexual enlightenment,” Bratton informs us. “Neo-Tantra continues to evolve through workshops and teachings often focused on Yoni and Lingam worship. The Yoni is the Sanskrit word for a woman’s genitals, Lingam is the male equivalent.”
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Three Benefits of Tantric Sex
Unlike a lot of other sex that’s goal is to hit peak climax, the core idea behind Tantric sex is the connection of hearts in divine sexual union. This ideology moves away from the performative, friction-oriented sex, illuminates Bratton, into a feeling of deep love and heart-opening appreciation for your beloved. Which is by far the biggest benefit to Tantric sex.
While opening up your heart can be incredibly scary and vulnerable in the long run, an open heart makes for a better, more fulfilling life. And the good news is that sex can help you get there. “Tantra is a practice,” assures Bratton. “You get better at opening your heart as you do it repeatedly. Tantra has the ability to transform having sex into being a spiritual, reverent experience of ecstatic bliss.”
By now, you may be clear on how Tantric sex helps build that heart-to-heart connection. But what do we mean by “conscious?” For Bratton, the notion of Tantric sex being conscious simply means there’s no hiding behind shame. This means that both partners can enter into a loving experience and openly speak their needs and desires in the loving security of trust they receive from the other.
“Creating a safe container for sex is a core tenet of Tantric sex,” says Bratton. “When partners think about their lover as being as important as themselves, they honor the partner in a way that is not always depicted in modern-day sexuality. This honor is a key part of Tantric lovemaking.”
Multi-Sensory Orgasmic Experience
We probably caught your attention earlier with the “full-body orgasm” discussion – which we had to include as a major benefit to Tantra practice. This sexual practice is meant to invigorate and integrate all of the senses for a full-body experience. “From eye connection to opening one’s heart – from Tantric breathwork designed to increase arousal – the senses are a vital part of Tantric lovemaking,” says Bratton.
“When people are asked to define Tantric orgasm, often they associate it with not coming. This is inaccurate,” assures Bratton. Over the years, a Tantric orgasm has been mistaken for semen retention, which is an ancient Taoist practice that conserves a man’s jing energy or essence.
“Tantric orgasms teach you how to feel orgasmic pleasure throughout your body, rather than sensation isolated in your genitals,” Bratton clarifies. “Expanding orgasm to a full-body experience by leveraging slow sex, heart connection, and eye contact along with rituals such as creating a sensual environment with candles or low lighting and sensual music are the core tenets of Tantric sex.”
The third core tenet of Tantric sex is genital worship, which essentially moves intercourse from being the main event to being a part of the overall experience. And, according to Bratton, this means putting more attention on genital worship, manual massage, and awakening the G-Spot for women and the P-Spot for men.
“The G-Spot is actually a secondary erectile system in a woman’s vulva called the urethral sponge. This area can hold emotion which is released through G-Spot activation or palpation,” explains Bratton. “Female ejaculation is often achieved through manual stimulation of the clitoris and urethral systems. All women can ejaculate, and all orgasms are simply learned skills for both sexes and across all gender expressions.” Tantric sex widens the pleasure palette by incorporating these additional types of orgasms.
“The Lingam massage is for men to enjoy hands-on penis pleasure,” says Bratton. “Too often men don’t get the genital pleasuring due to them.” (Which you probably agree with). So, slowing down and honoring a man’s penis and testicles as well as exploring his prostate for P-Spot orgasms is another aspect of the reverential nature of Tantric sex according to Bratton.
The Yab Yum Tantric Sex Position and How To Try It
The Yab Yum (sometimes known as the lotus sex position) is a classic Tantric sex position representing the divine union of masculine and feminine energies. Here, Bratton gives us her tips and tricks for the Tantric sex position. You’ll never want to have regular sex again.
How To Do It
“He sits upright with his legs crossed or if he’s flexible, with his feet together and knees butterflied open. He can support his back or knees with pillows, whatever makes him comfortable,” says Bratton. “Then she climbs into his lap and wraps her legs around him so her feet come together at the base of his spine. She’s sitting on his lap facing him, her legs over his. This is the open-legged Yab Yum position.”
Bratton suggests adjusting your position according to your body dynamics and finding your comfort zone so you can just relax and be together. If you can’t get comfortable in an upright position, modify the position by lying down and facing each other.
“Now synchronize your breath and feel what happens to your energy. Typically, a man’s lungs are bigger than a woman’s,” she explains. Women will want to breathe more deeply, and men will want to breathe a little more shallowly than usual so you can match your breath.
“You can either breathe in at the same time and then out at the same time or cycle your breath so one inhales as the other exhales and vice-versa. You’re face to face, very close as you breathe this way. You can even get so close that you’re almost touching or actually touching lips as you breathe together,” suggests Bratton.
“When you get the rhythm going, you’ll feel sexual energy start to fill your body. As you continue to breathe, imagine breathing all the way down to your genital area. This will really build up the sexual energy.”
The Yab Yum is a classic, must-try Tantric position because there are multiple forms of stimulation available when you’re so close, and, for Bratton, this is part of what makes it so pleasurable. “He can stimulate her breasts. She can stimulate his nipples. Either of you can initiate a deep French kiss.”
“She controls the thrusts in this position because she’s sitting down on his penis,” says Bratton. “That gives her good simulation for her clitoris, G-area, and perineal sponge. This can also be an anal sex position.” For some women, anal penetration actually feels better than vaginal intercourse, so do what feels best for you and your partner.
The Importance of Eye Contact in Yab Yum
For Bratton, one of the most special parts of the Yab Yum Tantric experience is the ease of making eye contact with your lover. “It’s a very connected position,” she explains, “perfect for slow, Tantric lovemaking.”
Not sure exactly what Tantric eye contact requires (or reveals)? Bratton explains: “When two people decide to consciously play with their sexual energy, it’s best to begin by simply looking into each other’s eyes with a very soft gaze. It can be a little edgy for some people, looking into a lover’s eyes. It’s such a powerful act of intimacy.” You’re naked and vulnerable. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice letting go.
Let go of any assumptions you’ve made about the person in front of you. Become curious about who your lover truly is. “Look past the personality and beyond all the stories you tell about them or they tell about themselves. Look into their eyes and just allow their essence to reveal itself.”
According to Bratton, Tantric sex can be a very meditative and informative experience since you’re tuning in with your emotions and mental chatter. Bring your attention back to yourself. Notice how you feel physically. Notice how your emotions are running. Notice if you have any mental chatter going on. She says to tune in to how these various aspects of your experience affect you.
If the eyes are indeed the window to the soul, what do you see through that window when you look at your lover? It’s been said that the heart is the doorway to the infinite. “I want you to start feeling into your own heart as you gaze into your lover’s eyes. What’s in your heart when you look at your beloved?”
How To Get the Most out of the Yab Yum Position
“You can take this practice to the next level by shifting focus and going back and forth from having your attention on yourself, to putting your attention on your partner as you breathe in and out together. Connecting your breath and breathing together is a beautiful way to deepen your connection. When you’re ready, you can add the element of touch. Reach out and take your lover’s hands. Or place your hand on their heart and bring their hand to rest on yours,” suggests Bratton.
If you want to dive in even deeper, Bratton encourages you to enhance your Yab Yum session by purposely engaging all five of your senses. You can do this by using aromatic oils, playing soft, sensual music, and even feeding each other. “Bring flowers into the room. Use body oils to bring your sense of touch alive and activate the sensual grid that is your skin. Get creative and find ways to delight all of your senses,” says Bratton.
According to Bratton, another way to play with sexual energy is to use intention to actually spread it through your body. Energy follows intention, so be very attentive when you’re making love. “Men, when you’re inside a woman, send your sexual energy down through your manhood and into her body. With intentional focus, she’ll really feel your masculine energy as you enter her sacred place.
Focus more on feeling her than pushing in and out of her or having her grind on your penis. It’s all about sending sexual energy into her yoni.” But the most important thing is remembering to have fun. “Sexual energy is exciting to play with and it can take you into even higher levels of pleasure,” says Bratton.
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