Posts tagged “beer”

Progress with an escape hatch : "Beer Can" by John Updike

Cleaning up the server and stumbled upon this unpublished draft. Updike, sigh, swoon.

This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.

Science Friday | Beer Science: Crafting the Perfect Pint

Oregon has 171 breweries operating out of 70 different cities, and Portland boasts more breweries per capita than any other city in the country. Two Oregon brew experts—Leon Fyfe, a microbiologist with the Craft Brew Alliance, and Ben Tilley, owner of Agrarian Ales—pour over the science of craft brewing, discussing how yeast, hops, malt, and water come together to create the perfect pint.

Audio’s not live yet… but looking forward to it.

Beer in NYT: 1) Glaser on Modern Beer Art and 2) The Brothers behind Mikkeller and Evil Twin

The NYT has two interesting beer-related articles available online from the forthcoming (in print) NYT Magazine. The first is about the Bjergso brothers, two beer brewing mavens:

The number of phantom brewers is growing, and Mikkel, who got into the game in 2006, views this with a mixture of magnanimity and trendsetter’s pride. But he pays particularly close attention to one Brooklyn-based phantom brewery, because it is owned by his identical twin, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso. Jeppe started his brewery four years after Mikkeller began and, in an act of winking provocation, named the outfit Evil Twin. It is a smaller operation than Mikkeller, but similarly well regarded among connoisseurs. (Jeppe used to help Noma curate its beer selection.) The Bjergso brothers have opposite temperaments: Mikkel is reserved; Jeppe is an extrovert. And they are not on good terms, despite — or rather, because of — their shared infatuation with beer. They haven’t spoken to each other in more than a year.

Fun read, especially for beer aficionados.

A second, equally fun piece has Milton Glaser’s thoughts on some modern beer branding and labels.

“I have a theory that most of design, in general, is the creation of affection,” says Milton Glaser, the 84-year-old graphic-design legend, who created the I ♥ NY logo. When it comes to craft beer, Glaser, who also designed the Brooklyn Brewery identity, believes that it comes down to creating a label that looks quirkily amateurish — if not downright unprofessional. “The one thing you don’t want to look like is Budweiser,” Glaser says. “This creates a paradox: How do you deliberately create the illusion of not knowing what you’re doing when you actually do?” As he notes below, some companies do it better than others.

The New Yorker: Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer

As part of their Ideas of the Week series, the New Yorker mapped craft beer breweries and other beer related statistics. The interactive maps are particularly fun to play with.

As of March, the United States was home to nearly two thousand four hundred craft breweries, the small producers best known for India pale ales and other decidedly non-Budweiser-esque beers. What’s more, they are rapidly colonizing what one might call the craft-beer frontier: the South, the Southwest, and, really, almost any part of the country that isn’t the West or the Northeast. The interactive map below, based on newly released 2012 data gathered by the Brewers Association, illustrates this phenomenon and offers a detailed overview of the American craft-beer industry.

And now, some whimsy: Beer Labels in Motion

Surprising science: a mere taste of beer triggers joy

From Surprising Science, a blog at smithsonianmag.com:

Scientists have long known that part of the reason alcohol induces pleasure is that intoxication leads to the release of dopamine, which is associated with the use of other drugs (as well as sleep and sex) and acts as a reward for the brain. But new research suggests that, for some people, intoxication isn’t necessary: Simply the taste of beer alone can provoke a release of the neurotransmitter within minutes.

A group of researchers led by David Kareken of Indiana University came to the finding, published today in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, by giving tiny amounts of beer to 49 adult men and tracking changes in their brain chemistry with a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, which measures levels of various molecules in the brain. They chose participants with varying levels of typical alcohol consumption—from heavy drinkers to near-teetotalers—and even tested them with the beer they reported that they drank most frequently. Because they used an automated system to spray just 15 milliliters (about half an ounce) of beer on each participant’s tongue over the course of 15 minutes, they could be sure that any changes in brain chemistry wouldn’t be due to intoxication.

Paste Reveals "Top of the Hops" Winner

I was a little harsh of some of the selections along the way, but the exercise is fun. The winner is the Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, which Paste describes as “simply the best IPA in America.” Not sure I agree, but it is a damn fine beer.

Sixty-four IPAs began Paste’s Top of the Hops IPA Challenge, but there can only be one winner. After blind-tasting 60 pairs of American India Pale Ales through four rounds, four beers still had a shot at the Championship.

All 64 beers met our initial criteria—an IPA from an American brewery that was available year-round and maxed out at 7.5% ABV (meaning no Imperial or Double IPAs). Each round had seven judges, including Paste’s beer-loving staff, musicians we invited in to participate and Atlanta-area beer experts like CNN beer writer Nate Berrong, Kraig Torres of Hop City and Eddie Holley of Ale Yeah!, two of Atlanta’s best craft beer stores.

It’s been a fun project, especially in these final rounds where all four beers were simply exquisite.

NYTimes: How beer gave us civilization

…[T]hese same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization.

To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did.

We needed beer.

Read the whole article here.

via Vargo

The 20 most influential beers of all time

From First We Feast:

These days, we’re so spoiled with great beer that we barely bat an eyelash when we walk into a bar with 20 taps devoted to craft brews, or run to the corner deli to pick up a bottle of world-class Belgian beer to pair with our takeout pizza. With new local breweries popping up every day and far-flung imports hitting shelves from the likes of Iceland and New Zealand, the choices can feel overwhelming. But as we always say when someone tells us they love Kanye West but have never heard of Rakim: Respect the OGs, son!

As the beer market matures, it’s important to have a sense of context—to understand how we got here, and appreciate the trailblazers that took brewing to new heights (or dragged it so low that others were inspired to fight back). Of course, determining a beer’s influence is a tricky and subjective matter. Yet it is one that brings up a lot of questions worth asking: Which beers set the standard within their respective style? Which IPAs ushered in the era of the American hop bomb? What is the gateway beer that has converted the most newbies into beer nerds?

Their list:

Gablinger’s diet beer, Rheingold, New York

Blind Pig IPA

Westmalle Tripel

New Albion Ale

Fuller’s London Pride

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Pilsner Urquell

Anchor Steam Beer

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Ayinger Celebrator

Generic lager

Cantillon Classic Gueuze

Anchor Old Foghorn

Reissdorf K�lsch

Draught Guinness

Allagash White

Sam Adams Utopias

Saison Dupont

Schneider Aventinus

Of course, this article has created a minor brew-ha-ha (ha!). Martin Cornell writes a different (and better, in my opinion) list:

I mean, Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye is more influential in the history of beer than Bass Pale Ale or Barclay Perkins porter? Don’t make me weep. Allagash White trumps Hoegaarden and Schneider Weisse? (You may not like Hoegaarden or Schneider Weisse, but I hope you won’t try to deny their influence.) Gueuze, Saison and K�lsch are such important styles they deserve a representative each in a “most influential beers of all time” list, while IPA and porter are left out? I don’t think so. And the same goes for Schneider Aventinus: where are the hordes of Weissebockalikes? Sam Adams Utopias has influenced who, exactly? “Generic lager”? I see where you’re coming from, in that much of what has happened over the past 40 years in the beer world is a reaction against generic lager, but still … And I love London Pride, but it’s not even the third most influential beer that Fuller’s brews.

His list:

Spaten Dunkel

Pilsner Urquell

Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale

Parsons’ porter

Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout

Schwechater Lagerbier

Einbecker Ur-Bock

Paulaner Salvator

Anheuser-Busch Budweiser

Bass No 1

Schneider Weisse

Hoegaarden

Duvel

Fuller’s ESB

Newcastle Brown Ale

Tennent’s Gold Label

Fowler’s Wee Heavy Wee Heavy

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Blind Pig IPA

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Read the comments on his blog — they are hilarious and he’s extremely articulate in his refutal of other contenders.

Fun times. Makes me want a beer.

Guess which state has the most medal winners from the Great American Beer Festival?

Subtitle: Mapping the 2012 GABF Winners Using R

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) announced its winners on October 13. Lots of amazing beers from all over the US. They have a nifty search feature which lets you (1) find beers from specific states, (2) search by year of competition, (3) search by award - gold, silver, or bronze, and (4) search by keyword.

Like a true beer-loving nerd, I was curious to see which state won the most awards and to look at the geographic distribution of winners. I also needed to learn how to make simple maps using R for some work related stuff. The confluence of curiosity and need got me giddy… and set me to work. Turns out that making simple maps in R is… simple.

More on the details of the process in a few days (along with a table outlining the above data). In the meantime, revel in the beer mecca that is California.

Operation Teapot: The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages (March 1956)

In 1956, amidst concerns of domestic nuclear fallout, the FDA and Federal Civil Defense Administration undertook a study and released a report covering the exposure of commercially packaged beverages — including soft drinks and beer — to nuclear explosion.

Mind blown. This is real. Packaged drinks, like beer and soda in cans and bottles, were placed at varying distances from a nuclear detonation. Following the mushroom cloud, their fitness for consumption and taste were evaluated.

Typical of sci-yunce, they evaluated a number of metal can types and glass bottles (all closed). The cans were either 12 or 16 ounces; glass bottles ranged from 6-28 ounces. Various combinations of bottles and cans were placed between 0.2 and 1 mile from ground zero. They were either buried, placed on the ground, or embedded loosely in earth.

So what happened?

Most of the bottles and cans lived through the blast overpressures. Most of the container failures were caused by “flying missiles” of debris, severe crushing due to structural collapse, and falling from shelves.

The ones closest to ground zero were marginally radioactive. Of course, marginal radioactivity is concerning, but the scientists state

Even the most [radioactive] beverages were well within the permissible limits for emergency use and could be consumed upon recovery…

The induced activity of the beverage container, whether metal or glass, did not carry over to the contents… Radioactivity of contents did not vary directly with radioactivity of the container. The beverages themselves showed mild induced [radioactivity]… Beer by reason of its higher natural salt content exhibiting a somewhat higher activity than soft drinks.

My favorite part, though, is when they evaluate the taste of the beverages.

Representative samples of the various exposed packaged beers, as well as unexposed control samples in both cans and bottles, were submitted to five qualified laboratories for carefully controlled taste testing. The cumulative opinions on the various beers indicated a range from “commercial quality” on through “aged” to “definitely off.” All agreed, however, that the beer could unquestionable be used as an emergency source of potable beverages.”

This story and study came to light by way of a blog post by Robert Krulwich that referenced a blog post entitled Beer and the Apocalypse by Alex Wellerstein. In that post, Wellerstein linked to the full report.

Wellerstein summed it up well, “For me, the takeaway here is that the next time you find yourself stocking up on beer, remember, it’s not just for the long weekend — it might be for the end of days.”

White House Homebrew

From NPR:

Now comes news that Obama’s homebrew is packed aboard his campaign bus. At the end of his coffeehouse chat, the president had a bottle brought in for his new beer buddy. Watching this, the press corps who travel with the president were thunderstruck. And they wanted answers from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

Carney took flurries of questions about the beer. One reporter asked about transporting the homemade brew across state lines, in a line that drew laughter from the press pool: “Does the Treasury Department know about this?”

Carney was also asked, “Any other distilleries in the White House we don’t know about?”

“There’s a lot going on behind the trees on the South Lawn,” he said.

… Asked if he’d tried the White House beer, Carney said he had — calling it “superb” — and added that he thinks there are both light and dark style beers. But he wasn’t sure who is in charge of the brewing.

“Usually, when somebody hands me a beer I don’t ask how it was made. I just drink it,” he said.

See also this amazing picture of the President.

update: The White House has released the recipes for the two homebrews in rotation!

From ABC News Blogs: Cows beer

They’re smart. They’re organized. And they’re coming for your beer.

Police in Boxford, Mass., arrived at the scene of a backyard party on Sunday night to find six cows helping themselves to a table full of beer.

The cans of beer were left behind by the 12 or 13 young adult females who had been enjoying their Sunday night when the cows crashed their party in Boxford, a Boston suburb with a population of nearly 8,000, according to police.

“I could hear them [the partygoers] screaming in the backyard and I hoped they weren’t getting trampled,” Lt. James Riter told WickedLocal Boxford, which first reported the story.

“I saw one cow drinking the beer on its way down as it spilled off the table,” he told the site. “Some of the cows were also picking through the empties in the recycling bin. They just went in and helped themselves.”

Lt. Riter was first put on the cows’ trail around 9 p.m. when the department received a call that six cows were loose in the rural town’s Main Street area. Riter and his partner, officer Joseph Borodawka, drove behind the cows in their cruiser. But that sent the cows off the main road and into the surprised partygoers’ path.

An Economic Lifelife of Barley and Hopes

Deschutes County, Oregon may be Mecca for American beer aficionados. There’s Deschutes, of course, but also Cascade Lakes, Bend Brewing, Three Creeks, Boneyard, and Crux. Sounds pretty outstanding - and turns out all the craft beer making has had positive economic impacts. From the NYT:

While places like Seattle and Denver and Brooklyn and Delaware can claim impressive craft brewing scenes, and a weirdly large number of people nationwide now speak of hop fetishes and beer crushes, Bend is a per capita powerhouse. With 80,000 people surrounded by not much of anything — with no Interstate, no university, and the closest major city 160 miles away across steep and snowy mountains — beer has had room to make a difference.

And, from the Oregon Employment Department,

Eight brewers sold 106,115 barrels of beer, 27 percent of the total barrels sold in the state by Oregon breweries and brew pubs. In people terms, local breweries and brew pubs sold 222 pints per Deschutes County resident of legal drinking age in one year. This was more than six times the number sold by all Oregon breweries and brew pubs per Oregon resident of legal drinking age last year. Since 2005, Deschutes Brewery sold at least 20 percent of the state’s total taxable barrels concocted by Oregon breweries and brew pubs.

In Oregon, there were approximately 3,000 jobs at the 94 breweries and brew pubs that reported taxable barrels of beer in 2010. Not all of the 94 businesses on the OLCC list reported employment last year, but 80 firms did report. The reported jobs made up just 0.2 percent of the state’s total employment.

Deschutes County breweries and brew pubs reported 450 jobs in 2010. That is 15 percent of all of the brewing employment in the state. For a county that had 4 percent (one of every 25 jobs) of the state’s total employment that year, one out of seven jobs in Oregon brewing is quite impressive.

One wonders about the sustainability of the enterprise and the potential for dilution of quality by flooding the market with (delicious) niche products. That said, one of my favorites parts about my time in the Pacific Northwest was discovering small, local breweries that don’t sell their beers outside of a small geographic zone. In our increasingly globalized marketplace, it’s nice (and admittedly quaint) to be able to enjoy something at the site of its creation and nowhere else.

Recipe: GF Beer-battered fish tacos

GLUTEN-FREE, BEER-BATTERED PACIFIC COD TACOS

yes please.

Onwards on our quest to substitute non-wheat products in the foods we adore. Who doesn't love fish tacos? Who doesn't love fried?

The lady's gluten-allergy makes beer-battered fish tacos seem like an impossibility. Mais non - we found a way. Involving gluten-free beer [a misnomer, I know] and chickpea flour, sweet rice flour, corn flour, and millet flour. And a cast iron skillet with a half inch o'canola in it. And a small prayer to the great Salmon of Doubt [anyone who can tell me why that reference is appropriate today get's a kiss on the nose].

I ended the evening with a Mikkeller Warrior Single Hop brew while watching Mad Men. Delicious.

We battered some Pacific Cod in a combination of the above and a few other things [recipe after the jump]. We fried it. I made a quick salsa composed of fresh, local, organic tomatoes; cilantro; onions; and garlic. The mistress put together a cabbage slaw tossed with lime zest, lime juice, jalapenos, salt, pepper, and garlic. It looked like this.

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