Sunday, December 09, 2012

There is no magic to beer and food.

Drinking beer isn't like drinking wine. Red with red meat and white with light dishes. Beer and food go naturally together. Beer is a drink to quench the thirst and an experience for the taste buds. However, one defines the food that goes along for the ride is literally a smorgasbord. 

In these pictures are different beers, ales and lagers. When I go into a microbrewery for the first time I usually order something to eat and a bowl of chips or pretzels. Then I ask for their tasting sample menu. I usually chose six to eight beers and they come in short tasting glasses as in the picture to the right. It is fun. It is variety and I get to understand the focus of the brew master. It supplies its own conversation.
In case there are folks that want to try their hand at their own local brew for their own local crowd here is a website that covers all the basics.

The Knights of the Mashing Fork (KotMF) are a central Connecticut homebrewing club whose members are passionate about making and drinking great beer! Named after the first guild for brewers, the original Knights of the Mashing Fork was formed in Brabant, Belgium during reign of Duke Jean I or “Gambrinus”, the so-called King of Beer and inventor of the "toast" as a social custom.


The experience of the taste of beer can be discerned well if one pays attention. If one wants to be a connoisseur, as the brew masters are, it is the map of the tongue that is most important.

The sweet malt taste occurs on the front and mid tongue. 

Hop flavor is bitter and occurs on the back of the tongue.

The lingering after taste is important for beer. It should be pleasing and not bitter or sweet.

Samuel Adams commissioned a glass to be developed. I believe it was by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The concern of Sam Adams was the way their beer was delivered to the taste buds. 

The last time I purchased these glasses, they came in a box of four. And it works. The beer is delivered in a unique way that promotes taste. It is not a stunt or a joke. 

Try drinking a favorite beer with this glass and then take a few chips or pretzels to clear the taste and try it from another stein. There is definitely a difference.

The Sam Adams Glass has it's own webpage (click here).

Aroma and Body - The beer, not the girl.

I don't know one person in my life that has ever stated, "I wish beer were more stinky." And if the beer doesn't feel like something in the mouth, you may as well drink air.

Drinking beer is a savory experience. It alerts your senses to pay attention.

The aroma of malted barley is sweet and intensifies with with darker beers.

Hops are a pleasant, flowery, bitter aroma to balance the sweet smell of the malt.

Fruity aromas can add to the bouquet of the moment. It is always a good idea to smell the beer before and during the drinking. Smell is as much a part of taste as the actual swallow.

There is light and full bodied beers. Light feels like water. Full bodied is thicker and chewy. There is a range in between that light and full. The light in body is not about calories, it is about texture.


The color comes from the amount and type of roasted barley. There are golden color barley and there are dark color barley and all the ranges of color in between.

There are four official colors; golden, amber, brown and black. However, there are many patented names such as Chocolate or Caramel. A brewing company can name the beverage anything they want on the label to create interest, but, there are still standard 'measures' of quality.

Barley can be used for more than fermenting. It can be used for tea as well. As a matter of fact I can't understand why there aren't more Tea Parlors where specialty teas are brewed, too. But, there just doesn't seem to be the interest. Like anything else though it is a matter of building interest in a market even though there isn't one readily available.

Mugicha – Roasted Barley Tea

  • 1/3 cup uncooked Pearl Barley
  • 8 cups water
Put the barley in a large dry skillet and toast over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring the grains and shaking the skillet occasionally so that they toast evenly, until the grains have turned a dark rich brown color. Remove from the heat and pour out into a bowl or a paper towel to cool.
Bring the water to a boil in a pot, add the cooled toasted barley, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the barley continue to steep as the mugicha cools, for about 5 minutes.
Strain out the barley, pour the mugicha into a pitcher and chill, or drink hot.

Roasted Barley Tea, called Mugicha in Japan has great health benefits such as antibacterial, antioxidant, and anticoagulative properties. Mugicha can be a super source for phytonutrients that help with detoxification. Other benefits include:
  • Rich in fibers, vitamins B1, B2 and Iron
  • Quenches thirst and treats fever
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Moistens the skin
  • Calms the stomach
  • Treats distention of the stomach
  • Reduces stress
  • Effective at treating bladder infections when mixed with fresh ginger juice and honey
See, the culture of tea often considers health effects while the culture of beer simply focuses on social strength in bonding. So, if tea became more fun it would be more popular. Sure, sure health is important, but, what is the sense in marketing health if it isn't fun and popular. A ministry for health is fine, but, if the participants are few and far between what good is the ministry?

This is where it gets a little tricky and not to insult the old stalwarts, but...

Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Becks, Heineken, Kirin, Spaten and St. Pauli are not really ales. They might have a variety that is an ale, but, for the most part the 'off the shelf' variety is a golden lager that is brewed to be a little bitter.

Lagers are fermented at lower temperatures and are aged for a longer period of time. Smooth, crisp and fizzy tastes and aromes are characteristic.

The other spectrum of beer are lagers.

Now, San Miguel is an interesting brewery. It has been brewing lagers for over 100 years in the Philippines.

They have two kinds of lagers.

San Miguel Lager

A pale golden with a hint of pleasant hoppy aroma, medium boy balanced with smooth moderate bitterness and snappy clean palate.

The amount of hops used in the fermentation process has a direct effect on the flavor. There are beers with strong hops flavor and there are beer drinkers that prefer it. This is where microbreweries can adjust their product to their customers. Literally, a brew can be local to the palate of their particular customers and/or use exclusively ingredients found in the area. There is a real science to the thinking of local products. 

It goes like this.

Any ingredient not locally grown is pollution to the soil. If hops are grown locally there is a particular flavor that will be captured by soils all over the USA. 

How many soils are there in the USA? Ever look at a USGS Quadrangle map? There are many, many soils in the USA and they all have unique names. So, when one thinks about beer and their preference and the fact they have developed a taste for 'the local stuff' it is because that flavor is specific to the soil and water where the crops were grown. Yes, different soils can result in different flavors of hops. More acidic soils or more basic soils result in slight differences in crop flavor.

There is such a thing as Kobe Beef, yes? Why is it special? The beef steers are hand raised and feed a specific diet. They are even massaged. Now, if the handling of the beef made no difference why do it at all?

But, back to lagers. There are less varieties of lagers than ales. They also rage from golden to black with the other colors of amber and brown. They range in flavor from bitter to sweet. Most lagers are on the bitter side and tend to be golden or amber. However, San Miguel has a dark lager.

San Miguel Negra

A full bodied dark lager with a balance of bitterness of straight forward aromas of pleasant sweetish roasted malt bouquets pours with a creamy, frothy head showing excellent lacing. 
I realize this is not an American beer, but, American microbreweries should be striving to find the perfect dark lager for the palate of the USA.

This is where it gets interesting.

There are varieties of beer. And oddly none are really considered beer. Beer is really a generic name that includes all varieties. When one is getting down to brass tacks, there sincerely is no particular drink called beer. Well, there are things like apple beer and birch beer, but, that is a different topic completely.

There are ales. Ales are fermented at high temperatures and a fruity aroma are a common characteristic.

Ales are more numberous than any kind of beer. They have a range of color from golden to black. The other color designations are amber and brown. They have a range of flavor based in sweetness. The flavors are from sweet to bitter. 

The very darkest ales are considered stout. Guinness Stout is black and bitter. 

Mackeson Stout is black and sweet. Why is it sweet? Because it uses milk for its sugar. Lactose. Now, milk stouts use a special species of yeast called, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Milk Stout was originally begun in the late 1800s with whey left over from making cheese. It was actually a by-product of cheese making once found that whey fermented well into a beverage with a kick. 

Mackerson Stout became a beverage in 1907. AB InBev now owns the beer.

Malted barley are grains that are germinated. Sprouts.

The softer shell and available pulp of the seed allows fermentation.

But, the germinated seed does not stay succulent during the entire process. Once the barley has germinated it is dried. At least in the majority of times. There is such a thing as liquid malt barley.

Homebrewing is a really interesting topic. It requires some expertise in finding ingredients that work well.

“Homebrewing (click here) is the brewing of beer, wine, cider and other beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, through fermentation on a small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons.”

That is Eddie turning the malt with a traditional wooden paddle on a drying floor. (click here)

What is beer?

Beer is any fermented beverage made from malted grain, hops, water and yeast.

The primary grain used is malted barley.

There are other ingredients entertained from time to time to vary the flavor such as wheat, fruit and spices. There are sometimes beers made with corn or rice as adjuncts to appeal to a wide variety of consumers. Corn and rice also serve as a cheaper source of fermentable sugar. 

Oh, yes. Fermentation involves sugar as a source for the actions of the yeast. 

Both the Belgians and the Germans claim the right to Reinheitsgebot.

Reinheitsgebot is an official declaration limiting the ingredients beer can be made from. 

The Beligans claim a right to Reinheitsgebot back to the 1400s. 

The Germans state it was from the Purity Laws of 1516.

Reinheitsgebot is a law. It limits beer to four basic ingredients; hops, malted barley, yeast and water. The purity and quality of the ingredients along with the ratio of all the products produces a product sought after by many. The majority of Microbreweries abide by this law.

The Microbreweries like to think of their profession as a craft. As a matter of fact some call them Craft Beers, Specialty Beers or American Specialty Beers to discern them from imports.


Traditionally it is defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer annually.

When I think of microbreweries I think of small batches, attention to detail and home grown popularity. 

Some brews have grown so popular over the years they are produced in far more than 15,000 barrels a year. 

As a rule, the microbrewery wants the customer to enjoy the brew and not be offended by a price matching a fine wine. So, while they are more pricey than regular beers, they are affordable and lend themselves to social gatherings.

Top 20 microbreweries in America (click here)

By Eric Warren On April 28, 2009
1. Kettlehouse Brewing Company, Missoula, Montana
Known lovingly as the “K-hole” by Missoulians, this tiny brewery features an even smaller taproom where you’ll find locals of all stripes downing Cold Smoke Scotch Ale.
They don’t serve food, but the intensely hoppy Double Haul will usher in the perfect ending to a day of fly fishing the Clark Fork (a mere 200 feet from the front door) or exploring Glacier National Park....

Beer has a traceable history 5000 years old.

Fig. 1: Impression (click here) of a Sumerian cylinder seal from the Early Dynastic IIIa period (ca. 2600 BC; see Woolley 1934, pl. 200, no. 102 [BM 121545]). Persons drinking beer are depicted in the upper row. The habit of drinking beer together from a large vessel using long stalks went out of fashion after the decline of Sumerian culture in the 2ndmillennium BC.

It's Sunday Night

Time for something more lighthearted, like the Obama Economy. It is fun. It is interactive. It is citizen oriented and it is now!

"Beer" written and sung by Aaron Barrett

Songwriters: BARRETT, AARON

She called me late last night, to say she loved me so
It didn't matter anymore,
I say she never cared
And that she never will,
I'd do it all again
I guess I'll have to wait until then

And if i get drunk well, I'll pass out
On the floor now baby
You won't bother me no more
And if you're drinkin' well, you know
That you're my friend and I say
I think I'll have myself a beer

She called me late last night, to say she loved me so
But I guess you changed her mind.
Well I should have known, it wouldn't be all right,
But I can't live without her
So I won't even try...

And if I get drunk well, I'll pass out
On the floor now baby
You won't bother me no more
And if you're drinkin' well, you know
That you're my friend and I say
I think I'll have myself a beer

Maybe some day, I'll think of what to say
Maybe next time I'll remember what to do
She looks like heaven, maybe this is hell
Said she'd do it all again, she'd promise not to tell!

And if I get drunk well, I'll pass out
On the floor now baby
You won't bother me no more
She said,
It's okay boy cause you know
We'll be go friends and I say
I think I'll have myself a beer
I think I'll have myself a beer

Woohoo etc
Yeah yeah yeah


The counter measure could be a person deployment like a smoke bomb or tear gas canister. It simply needs to change the shape and/or chemical composition of the chemical weapon to render it useless.

There has to be a chemist somewhere in the world that can formulate an antagonist to these ancient chemical weapons.

A biochemist, although the antagonist doesn't have to be organic, so much as rendering the gas inert.

There has to be a reactive compound that will bind with loose gas to create an inert compound that will not enter the human body. It seems fairly straight forward to me.

Why can't there be a triggering reaction as soon as chemical elements are known to be in the air. 

Fluorine is a highly reactive attachment to the remainder of the molecule. I am quite confident a counter-measure could be developed rather quickly that is benign to human life and causes a reaction with chemical weapons to nullify the ability to kill people.

I realize a methyl CH3 is fairly stable, but, it is also reactive. It could be attacked from that region as well to create a molecule which retains its fluorine instead of allowing it to enter into a biological reaction to cause death of a human being.

This is the computer age. There is no reason why sensors could not be developed to release a counter-agent and stop the gas from being fatally distributed among people.

The doubly bonded oxygen can also be easily accessed to change the arrangement. It can be done and it needs to be done so these ancient war weapons can no longer be a reassurance to dictators that see himself as more important than the people that want freedom from him.