Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Arsenic and Old Ale

The beer you are currently drinking might contain arsenic. Try not to worry about it, as your tap water probably does also. Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral found in the soil. In many cases, it is in such low concentrations that it will not cause any health concerns. Even the Victoria Water Department tested for arsenic but didn't find any in our water supply. But some researchers were curious as to why some German beers contained higher amounts of arsenic than commonly found in water. In some beers, the amount of arsenic was higher than the 10 micrograms per litre limit set by the World Health Organization. It was determined that the arsenic was introduced during the filtering of beer. Many German breweries use a product called kieselguhr, or diatomaceous earth. This product was found to be a significant source of arsenic.
So what does this mean to craft beer lovers? Did mostly local, unfiltered beer. A simple and tasty solution. In an unrelated story, some people have mentioned that I look remarkably similar to Cary Grant.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Road Trip (Lighthouse)

In a previous life, I attended a few business seminars. One piece of advice that stuck with me was about entrepreneurial success. The speaker said, "When everyone is going right, go left for success." Luckily this was a free seminar, because the rest of the talk was rubbish. This beer mirrors that MBA level wisdom. When everyone is making palate burning IPA bombs, try something different. Adding fresh hops to an unchallenging beer style, such as the American brown ale, seems like a good idea. Note that I did not say boring; the Brooklyn Brown Ale is anything but boring. A fairly restrained malt profile would let the hop flavours shine.
This is Lighthouse's first attempt at a fresh hopped ale; I could be wrong about this. Rumour has it that Zeus was used to brew this fresh hopped ale. So what happens when you go left? I review this beer with a bit of trepidation as I will be having dinner with the brewer on Friday.

Road Trip = 7/10

The aroma is uncharacteristically calm when compared to other fresh hopped beers. The aroma is quite restrained in revealing its earthy citrus vapours. This aromatic tranquility allows the toasted nut and chocolate malts to be a part of this flavour party. Each sip follows the nose with a juicy mouthfeel. If you are looking for the usual wet hopped profile powerhouse, this brew is not for you. I found this beer refreshingly balanced. I also take issue with the bottle format; it is too small. Perhaps this is my failure, two bottles should have been purchased.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6.2%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Fun label art, but I would like to have seen a better description of beer flavour)

Glassware: There is no suitable glassware style for the American brown ale. The nonic pint or elongated tulip work nicely.

Food Pairings: Rich and roasted foods are idea here. Usually this means BBQing any land based animal. A pulled pork sandwich or poutine would be ideal choices. Rich mushrooms would also compliment this beer nicely. The thought of HUB's tofu Po Boy is making my mouth water.

Cellar: Don't you dare!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How often you drink can make you fat

Obesity is an occupational hazard for beer geeks. Alcoholic beverages do add extra calories to one's diet, but studies concerning alcohol drinking and obesity have shown mixed results. In the January 2013, edition of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism there is good news for beer drinkers. It appears that drinking frequency was inversely related to body mass index and waist circumference. In other words, if you drank daily you were less likely to be fat. Except if you were a heavy drinker, then you are still likely to pack on the pounds. This data was obtained from a dietary questionnaire of almost 8000 French men. Results were the same for both beer and wine drinkers. The researchers had a few ideas about their findings. Daily intake of alcohol might increase metabolism and reduce food absorption. Another idea was that binge drinking is linked with binge eating. Occasional drinking is associated with social events and we often eat too much at these events.

What does this mean for craft beer lovers? Don't binge drink at social events in France and you will stay skinny.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Does Beer Cause Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that raise your risk of developing all sorts of diseases, such as heart disease, stoke and diabetes. A few years ago metabolic syndrome (MS) was called syndrome X; I think the new name is much more inviting. If you box a trifecta in this horse race, things don't end well. For those who don't bet the ponies, this means if you have three of these risk factors your chances of developing health problems increases significantly.There are five metabolic risk factors associated with MS: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar.

So what does this have to do with beer? Researchers at the University of Navarra, Spain, looked into whether beer can increase your risk of developing MS. The researchers studied the diets of approximately 8000 graduates over 8 years. They were looking to see if beer, wine or spirits consumption contributed to the development of MS. What they found was that people who drank more than 7 drinks a week had a greater risk of developing MS than abstainers. A drink was considered to be 330ml of beer. Beer or spirit drinkers were at greater risk of developing MS than wine drinkers. Also, people who drank more on the weekends (a.k.a. binge drinkers) had a greater risk than those that drank less that 5 drinks on the weekend. If you drank more than 7 drinks a week, your chances of developing high blood pressure rose by 19%, high triglycerides by 107% and high fasting glucose by 54%. On the bright side, heavy beer consumption did raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Abdominal obesity didn't really change for the 7 down club.

The researchers noticed a trend with beer and spirit drinkers. Beer and spirits were associated with after-hours binges. It was also noted that the highest alcohol drinkers were more likely to be men, older, more physically active, smoke more and drink more sugar-sweetened soft beverages. Dang! This sounds like me, except for the smoking part.

So what does this mean for craft beer drinkers? The first is don't drink beer in Spain. Next is to keep consumption in moderation and don't go crazy on the weekends. For that safety of everyone, please keep your shirt on.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Year One Red Wheat Wine and an apologetic rant

I feel that I have not given a local brewpub it's deserved share of attention. They have released, and collaborated on, a fair number of beers this year. Very few have been reviewed on this blog; time for some catch up.

Year One Red Wheat Wine = 9/10

As the name describes it, a wheat wine is a strong brew made with wheat malts. As a barley wine is a strong brew made with barley malts. Clay and crew went one step further and used three yeast strains to ferment on yellow birch. This brew is surprisingly drinkable for a double digit ABV fluid. The alcohol is warming but not hot. All over the mouth are tastes of dried fruit, pears, tannins, white grapes and pineapple. All this on a creamy blanket of wheat. My getting a growler fill of this beer was not one of my brightest accomplishments. Get a bottle or share the growler with friends. I have no friends, so the pleasure and privilege is mine.

Glassware: Choose a -small- tulip for this sample. I went for the stemmed tulip branded by Urthel. The only reason for this is that I really like this glass.

Food Pairings: Some sort of fatty white fish would be in order. Loads of alcohol to lift that fat right off the tongue. Perhaps poached red snapper with cranberry sauce would be in order. This beer could go nicely with Camembert.

Cellar: Nope. Lacks striking complexity for suitable maturation. Drink it fresh.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 Somewhere in the double digits
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Growlers of wheat wine are awesome - for only $16)

This was the first cask to be tapped at GCBF 2013 and was performed by none other than myself. Thank you Sara at the Parting Glass Blog for capturing this moment. I think Clay is whispering, "don't screw this up, everyone is watching." Luckily I did not; not bad for a first timer.

Berliner Heist =7/10

This is an arbitrary number based on a vague memory. I had mixed feelings about this beer. One side was impressed be the fresh tartness and surprising amount of flavour in a low ABV brew. The other felt cheated that we did not get a true all brett soured beer. The Heist was served correctly with a variety of sweetening syrups to counter the tart and sour flavours. But, dang it, the beer drinkers of Victoria were ready for a truly sessionable sour beer. Perhaps it was only this drinker that was ready. Regardless, I got a growler full and enjoyed every minute of it.
In the near future, Moon Under Water will be serving another obscure low ABV beer: the kvass. I was on hand to see lots of dark rye bread being tossed into the mash tun. The small batch sample was very tasty. Look for this one in the near future.