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Posted on February 24, 2011 in Culture, Science by Josh
From flickr user duane.schoon
The American Dietetic Association, which claims to be the “world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals,” is out promoting the health benefits of good beer.
While red wine is often touted as the heart-healthy libation, more evidence is showing beer has a great deal of nutrition and health-promoting qualities as well, according to an article published in the Winter 2011 issue of the American Dietetic Association’s member publication, ADA Times.
“Red wine enjoys a reputation for sophistication and health benefits, but as interest in artisan brewing gains momentum and emerging research reveals unique nutrition properties, beer is finding redemption not only as a classy libation with deep roots in many cultures, but as a beverage with benefits,” writes registered dietitian and ADA Spokesperson Andrea Giancoli.
Sure, you may get a bit of a beer gut if you over-do it, but there are clear health benefits to moderate beer drinking. So be sure to drink one or two each — for your health.
Posted on February 14, 2011 in History by Site Admin
From flickr user Mijla
Last September we wrote about the discovery of the world’s oldest drinkable beer, discovered in the Baltic. Five months later, the local government of the small island near where the beer was found has commissioned a scientific study to decipher the recipe.
Samples of the world’s oldest beer have been taken in a bid to determine its recipe – and brew it again.
In July 2010, a Baltic Sea shipwreck dated between 1800 to 1830 yielded many bottles of what is thought to be the world’s oldest champagne.
Five of the bottles later proved to be the oldest drinkable beer yet found.
The local government of the Aland island chain where the wreck was found has now commissioned a scientific study to unpick the beer’s original recipe.
Divers found the two-mast ship at a depth of about 50m in the Aland archipelago, which stretches between the coasts of Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea.
Imagine if this recipe was released to the public, giving homebrewers the opportunity to brew an ancient beer in their own homes.
Posted on January 20, 2011 in brewing by Josh
From flickr user davehunt82
Remember the book/movie Jurassic Park, where scientists managed to extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes trapped in amber that was millions of years old? They cloned the dinosaurs, opened a zoo of sorts, and then all hell broke loose, leaving us with the message that we should just probably not do anything like that in real life?
Well, one California scientist has done that anyway, but not with dino DNA. He did it with yeast. Then, as any rational person would do when they find themselves with some extra yeast, he brewed beer with it.
Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. has used Cano’s initial extraction of yeast to grow a much larger batch that fills a warehouse in Northern California used in the beer-making process.
“Our main beer is a wheat beer, and we also have a pale ale, but we’re really working on others, including an amber ale and an Oktoberfest,” Cano said.
Of those beers popular in the mainstream market, Cano compares the taste most closely to that of Blue Moon.
Despite initial skepticism from some about the taste the beer would produce, Cano says the flavor turned out surprisingly good and unique.
Critics have described the taste as one with lots of spice, resembling cloves, along with tinges of ginger and pineapple.
It’s a really interesting experiment. If I can ever get to California, it’s definitely on my list of things to try.
Posted on November 8, 2010 in History, Science by Josh
From flickr user Lord Jim
We’ve talked before about how beer is good for you and good for society, but is it responsible for society itself? Maybe, according to archeologists.
Some archaeologists have said that there is a possibility that beer may have helped lead to the rise of civilization.
Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains intobeer.
Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer, said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
It’s not so much the drinking that led to civilization as it is brewing. So homebrewers take pride.
Posted on October 28, 2010 in Science by Josh
From flickr user my_new_wintercoat
British and American researchers have determined that the smarter you are as a child, the more likely you are to drink alcohol as an adult:
Childhood intelligence, measured before the age of 16, was categorized in five cognitive classes, ranging from “very dull,” “dull,” “normal,” “bright” and “very bright.”
The Americans were revisited seven years later. The British youths, on the other hand, were followed in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Researchers measured their drinking habits as the participants became older.
More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children. In the Brits’ case, “very bright” children grew up to consume nearly eight-tenths of a standard deviation more alcohol than their “very dull” cohorts.
So, there you have it. People who read this blog and drink good beer are smarter than those who don’t.
Posted on October 5, 2010 in Science by Josh
From flickr user gonzales2010
A field of study called proteomics could lead to brewers and drinkers better understanding exactly what’s in their beer. That means brewers who hide things like corn or rice in their recipes, despite advertising higher-quality ingredients, could be caught. Discovery News reports…
Besides giving insight into what makes beer what it is, the technique could help beer drinkers learn more about what they’re buying. The findings could also help manufacturers detect contamination or make a foamier, clearer or otherwise better product.
“This opens up a completely new horizon in beer analysis in general, and also in the analysis of any beverage,” said lead author Pier Giorgio Righetti, of the The Polytechnic Institute of Milan. “We are now analyzing a lot of other beverages and finding a lot of surprising things that producers don’t know are in their beverages.”
“This could be great for consumers to track which grains a producer has been using that they are maybe not declaring,” he added. “It could also help brewers refine their products. Now that we know how many trace proteins there are, producers could eliminate proteins that give a bad taste to beer or enhance the amount of proteins that give a better perfume.”
Nobody wants to lose the art behind brewing, but there’s plenty of science that can make beer more consistent, better tasting, and higher quality. I think everyone has probably had beer from a “bad batch,” and something like protein analysis can help brewers understand exactly what can go wrong. It can also help drinkers understand if that new microbrew comes from someone who cares about brewing, or someone who’s trying to hide cheap ingredients in the name of profit margins.
Posted on September 30, 2010 in Beers, Science by Josh
PopSci reports on the first ever space beer, a beer brewed specifically for the challenges that come with drinking in zero gravity.
One of the problems experienced by astronauts is numbing of the taste buds, causing even the finest Earth beer to taste bland. Astronauts have been known to douse their food in hot sauce when on missions to make it tastier. According to Ben Corbin, PR director for Astronauts4Hire, this particular brew is a stout with all the naturally darker chocolaty flavors amplified for the astronauts’ less-than-refined palates.
The carbonation in beer also poses a problem for drinkers in space. Bubbles that normally rise up and escape from a beverage on Earth simply stagnate in microgravity. Without the buoyancy force that Earth’s gravity provides, carbon dioxide stays in the liquid and prevents astronauts from burping, adding additional discomfort to the lives of people whose fingernails already come off inside their gloves. To combat this, the carbonation of this beer will be lower than most. Since this is a stout, though, which naturally has less carbonation than lighter beers, not too much has to be sacrificed.
As the article mentions, space tourism is expected to be a growing industry, and if you’re on vacation, you’re going to want a beer. Personally, I’m glad they’re trying to solve this problem now, so the beer can get better before I actually go up.
Posted on September 13, 2010 in Culture, Science by Josh
From J. S. Müller on flicke under a CC License
If you’ve ever been in a bar, you know the smell: that dead, earthy scent beer gives off as it becomes stale and dries up.
If you’re Munich and you’re hosting Oktoberfest, you’ve got a lot of spilled, stale beer, along with portable toilets and food scraps, and and a that means a lot of smell. In the past, that smell was covered by cigarette smoke, but since Munich has passed a smoking ban, there’s concern about the smell overtaking the event.
But they have a plan: a smell-fighting super bacteria they can pour on the tent floors to eat the stench.
As Der Spiegel reports, three beer tent owners plan to pour a solution with special bacteria into the floorboards and aisles between tables and toilets. The bacteria, called “Elbomex,” is sold as a soil additive, the newspaper reports. Its manufacturer also promotes the bacteria’s ability to cover up foul smells found in wastewater treatment facilities, stables and compost piles, Der Spiegel says. All that remains is a faint scent of soil.
Ricky Steinberg, who owns the famous brewery Hofbräu, already tried it out and said it seems to work. Still, beer-tent owners are fearing the worst: “You hear from nightclub owners that the smell has gotten very bad,” Steinberg told Munich’s Merkur newspaper.
Other than Hofbräu, Oktoberfest organizers were keeping mum on which tents were using the bacteria. Apparently, festivalgoers will be able to smell for themselves.
Posted on August 25, 2010 in Gadgets, Science by Josh
From flickr user mrjorgen
Lautering user jimmywoods sent in a link related to yesterday’s post about the science behind beer goggles. He points out that the site How Stuff works has a remarkably detailed look at how breathalyzers function and just how complex they are.
The Breathalyzer device contains:
- A system to sample the breath of the suspect
- Two glass vials containing the chemical reaction mixture
- A system of photocells connected to a meter to measure the color change associated with the chemical reaction
To measure alcohol, a suspect breathes into the device. The breath sample is bubbled in one vial through a mixture of sulfuric acid, potassium dichromate, silver nitrate and water. The principle of the measurement is based on the following chemical reaction:
Go read the whole thing — those little devices are much more complex than I ever imagined they were.
(Also, if you’re ever driving and there’s even a hint that you may be over the limit, stop your car and find a taxi — don’t be a moron. Beer is good, but it’s not that good.)
Posted on August 24, 2010 in Science by Josh
From Flickr user Cayusa
Researchers in London have found the true cause of “beer goggles:” beer distorts your ability to see asymmetry in faces.
It turns out that alcohol dulls our ability to recognize cockeyed, asymmetrical faces, according to researchers who tested the idea on both sober and inebriated college students in England.
“We tend to prefer faces that are symmetrical,” explained Lewis Halsey of Roehampton University in London. That’s well established by previous research, he said.
The best part? How they ran the experiment.
“Over an evening Joerg, Richard and I went out to the university campus bars with a laptop and asked students to participate,” Halsey said.
This included students taking a quick breathalyzer test to confirm their alcohol consumption. The students were classified as either sober or intoxicated, then examined the images.
Twenty images of a pair of faces — one symmetrical, the other asymmetrical — and then 20 images of a single face were shown, one at a time, to 64 students. Participants were asked to state which face of each of the pairs was most attractive. They also had to determine whether each of the single faces displayed was symmetrical.
The sober students had a greater preference for symmetrical faces than did the intoxicated students. And it turned out that the sober students were better at detecting whether a face was symmetrical.
Any science that involves beer is science we can get behind.