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lifestyle //GOMmelier

Glory Be To Beer
Boiled flowers, fungi sex, dirty whirlpools and ant colony algorithms.
By Keith B. Hoffman

A
re you aware that one of your favourite already tackled some of our other ingenious grain. The yeasts had a fine time of exhausting
things to drink is a waste product from a delivery systems to enjoy ethanol—scotch, wine, themselves in reproductive bliss. The lucky farmer
sexual orgy of fungi? I thought not. Yes, rum, grappa, etc. Today, we investigate one of enjoyed the resultant, low-alcohol and barely
ethanol, sweet ethanol, is to yeast as you are to the most worldly and ancient of all alcoholic flavoured beverage on the next sunny day. He
your morning constitutional, with, obviously, far drinks—beer. suddenly found his wife more attractive and
more pleasing results. We humans cannot seem Eight-thousand years ago, a farmer left some even hilarious. Beer was born.
to function without yeast’s precious excrement, barley outside in a shallow container. It rained That liquid bread changed human society
and we consume it in myriad forms, from pure that night. The next morning the farmer thought forever. Some historians claim it was the most
(vodka), to dilutions in carriers such as the side his harvest was ruined as it was steeped in important driving force behind ending our
ingredients which make a Sex on the Beach, rainwater. Over the next days of neglect the barley natural nomadic tendencies. In other words,
Vesper Martini, Fuzzy Navel, and the imposing germinated and wild yeasts in the air wafted onto some believe that we need to thank beer for
Kookie from Black Dog. Your GOMmelier has the sugary liquid leeching from the sprouted civilization itself.

È Where it all happens. In such unremarkable surrounds a process takes place to create mankind’s favourite tipple: beer. Where would we be without it?

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GOMmelier // lifestyle

for further reading...


Should you be drinking wine or beer for better Often
health? For you beer aficionados, the news is with excellent
good. It turns out the scientific consensus is entertainment
now leaning toward either one. In other words, value, most fields
the magical “French Paradox”, that leads many of scientific inquiry
to believe that wine is the most healthful way employ someone
to imbibe, may not be totally accurate, ready to ask a far too
as alcohol itself is now thought to be the detailed question
cardiovascular protectant. about a given
Just to assure you that more serious subject. This often
science is going on, everyday, toward the manifests as the
further development of all that is beer, I point forcible ramming of
your attention to the following two articles: a fresh technological
“Enantioseparation of isoxanthohumol advance down the
in beer by hydroxypropyl-gamma- throat of an old
cyclodextrin-modified micellar electrokinetic question. While
chromatography”, and, “Preparation of novel the science and art
solid-phase microextraction fibres by sol- of brewing are indeed fascinating and complex, “We observed the beer drinking behaviour
gel technology for headspace solid-phase perhaps these guys went a bit far in their of 308 university students in several bar and
microextraction-gas chromatographic analysis explorations of fermentation methods: “Ant party settings. The following relationships were
of aroma compounds in beer.” Now then, rest colony system algorithm for the optimization of found: males drinking beer in bars consumed
easy, as you can see, the nerds are on it! Usually, beer fermentation control.” However, and much more than females, and stayed in a bar for a
this produces a good outcome. to their credit, they displayed a rare moment of longer time period; patrons drank significantly
Also, from the obviously underappreciated printed scientific humbleness, by concluding that more beer when drinking in groups and when
Journal of Colloid Interface Science comes an “the satisfactory results obtained did not require purchasing beer in pitchers versus cups or
article “Gushing in canned beer: the effect of much computation effort”. When ants finally bottles; and intervals between party arrival
ultrasonic vibration”. This beauty of a study starts take over the world, and learn to read, they will and first drink and between party departure
with the memorable line—especially for a peer- probably get a big kick out of that publication. and last drink varied inversely with blood
reviewed scientific publication—of “Everybody Finally, from the overstuffed files of the alcohol concentration.” Thank your lucky
has had the experience of a canned carbonated “Why was this study done, and who the hell stars that these researchers made such
drink overflowing and soiling their clothes.” paid for this?” comes some shocking ‘findings’: a set of startling discoveries!

Í The official rules for brewing


beer date back to the 16th century.

È A 15th century bishop takes a delivery of beer.

Water sanitation is something we take


for granted now in many parts of the world.
Thousands, to just dozens, of years ago this a mixture generally made of herbs such as gale,
was far from the case. Water-borne diseases yarrow, heather, rosemary and occasionally,
were a pestilent reality for all of our ancestors. either by mistake or malice, items such as toxic
Beer and distilled spirits, by virtue of containing nightshade. The gruit herbs functioned as
alcohol, were liquids that drastically quelled stimulants, versus the now, totally dominant hops
bacterial contamination. In the case of beer, (more on them in a second), which are actually
since it had lower alcohol content than wine depressant in nature. As more was appreciated
and distilled liquors, even more preservation about beer spoilage, contamination, etc., gruit
and decontamination efforts were needed. was phased out from around 1100 to 1516 when
Until roughly the 12th century, beer was Bavarian brewers dumped it and implemented
exclusively flavoured and ‘bittered’ with gruit— the Reinheitsgebot in 1516: the first official

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lifestyle //GOMmelier

the basics of
beer brewing

Get some barley, soak it in water and have


it germinate. Stop that germination by
roasting. Take that roasted barley, now called
“malt”, and crush via mechanical pounding
and grinding. Add warm water to activate
È Homebrewing in Japan. Beer’s international appeal has had a profound effect on civilisation as a whole. endogenous enzymes (proteins which break
the chemical bonds that keep other proteins,
sugars, etc. together) that will fracture the
complex starches into individual sugars—the
preferred food of yeast. Separate the resultant
liquid, ‘wort’, from the used-up barley, hose
down the residue with more water to make
sure you’ve captured all the free sugars.
To this syrupy wort, add hops and boil for
about an hour in order to sterilise and also to
release off some anti-bacterial (and flavourful
aromatic) compounds from the hops. Begin
‘whirlpooling’. The hop remnants, etc. are
È A pint of beer: a familiar sight the world over. È Modern brewing is becoming more scientific. collected in a giant cone of gunk which
is produced via the same spinning effect
rules for brewing beer, and likely the oldest (versus Scotch), etc., only select varietals of observed in the toilet. Discard the cone of
food purity law still being followed today. So hops grown near specific towns are known gunk and cool the liquid. Now add yeast to
hops, a flower with excellent antiseptic, aromatic as the “Noble Hops”. begin the fermentation of sugar to precious
and preservative qualities, filled, and disinfected, Hops come in an almost mystifying number ethanol, which takes from a week to months,
gruit’s shoes. of varieties, from the Nobles to “Columbus”, depending on your intended end product.
Hops paved the way for modern beer, “Magnum”, “Liberty”, “Nugget”, “Progress”, Filter out the yeast carcasses and other debris
by providing purity, aroma, and bitterness. “Tradition”, “Warrior”, and “Zeus”. Indeed, that have settled during the long sit. Possibly
Its antiseptic characteristics also made for a first I think one would be quite challenged to find ferment again and possibly add hops again.
in the history of beer: the ability to export. Hops another species of flower with such testosterone- ‘Condition’ the beer by storing for about a
contribute a needed bitterness, which balance laden names. week in a pressurised tank, execute a final
the sweetness that comes from malt, and also Your GOMmelier cannot help but wonder, filtering and package.
give modern beer a fruity and citrus-laden with the advent of proper refrigeration and sterile
nose. Along different stages of the brewing filtering, would not the civilized world now be
process, hops are added to achieve their varied better served by beer with stimulating gruit than
contributions. “Bittering” hops are used in the mildly depressant hops? Would not late-night
boil of the wort; “flavouring” hops are used only revelers be more lasting, physically nimble and
at the last stages of the boil; and finally, “aroma” cognitively fluent? Are the ancient days-on-end
hops can be added in the final minutes of the tales of beer parties never to be reclaimed?
boil. Much like the geographic nomenclature for I submit, here and now, for societal change.
sparkling wine (versus Champagne), whiskey We need to bring gruit back.

È Homebrew ready for eager consumption. È Tourists visit the Heineken brewery, Amsterdam.

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