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Beer's Seamy Origins

By Yellowbeard in Technology
Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:54:12 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I've realized that most people have no idea how this wonderful substance is created. Though many of us partake of it quite often, few realize what goes into beer brewing, and fewer realize how easily it can be done in your own home. Nor do most realize what they are really drinking, nor the cruel and unusual processes required to make this substance.

Hefting a glass of one's own home brew that is actually drinkable, even quite tasty, is so much more satisfying than buying a bottle of Budweiser. Brewing is actually pretty easy to do, and many people are amazed at the process involved.


Yeasts eat sugar. Just like our bodies, yeast converts sugars into energy. However, when yeasts do the conversion, they produce alcohol as well as CO2. Now, grain (a primary ingredient in beer) is mostly starch - not sugar, so how is beer made from it?

The parts of grain that we eat are the seeds. These seeds contain the genetic material required to make a new plant. But that is only a very small part of the seed. Most of the seed is starch, which, when conditions are right, gets converted to sugar to feed the newly growing plant fetus during it's first few days of life before it breaks through the soil into the sunlight and gets its chloroplasts operational.

The starch will only convert to sugar when the conditions are such that the plant "thinks" that it is in a good growing environment. So, warm, wet conditions are ideal. In order to trick the grains into converting their starch into sugar, brewers fist soak the chosen grains in water. This fools the plant embryo into converting all the seed's starch into much needed food. Brewers know this process is complete when the seed just barely begins to put out a first shoot. When they see this happening, they perform a sort of plant abortion, draining all the water, and fire roasting the baby plants to kill them and dry them out. They then grind the bodies of these helpless, incinerated plant babies into a powder called "maltose." Now maltose, as should be obvious, is quite different from flour. Flour is made by grinding still starchy seeds. Maltose is made by the above-described process. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE BEER FROM FLOUR. It's just nasty.

Now, we have maltose - one of the prime ingredients for this heavenly and inhumane beverage. At this point, I'll address a question many of you may be thinking: Why can't I just make alcohol from ordinary sugar? The answer: you can. Or from grapes, berries, or any type of fruit. However, these substances already contain lots of sugar at their inception. They do not go through the same starch to sugar process as grains, and the resulting sugars (sucrose, or dextrose, or one or several of a variety of roses), when fermented, result in quite different tastes from maltose, the beer sugar.

Humus Lupus, or hops, are the second key ingredient for beer (I'm leaving out water as a "key" ingredient as water is boring, and as long as you get clean, pure, Evian type water, you're in good shape). Hops provide a complexity to the taste of beer - specifically, the bitter taste that grown-up beer drinkers enjoy. According to this short history of hops, we can thank the Jews for first adding hops to beer . Although, according to this one they were first used in Asia 10,000 years ago. Which one is true? I don't really care. I just know they taste damn fine. Hops also help clarify the beer as well as acting as a bit of a preservative. The important thing for the reader to know is that hops are in the same family of plants as Mary Jane: Familia Cannabinacea. That's right! When you're drinking beer, you're consuming Hemp's first cousin. Hops don't actually do anything except provide flavor - they are not fermented or anything, but only add a leached "tea" effect to the final taste. It should be noted that hops are the reproductive parts of Humus Lupus. Yes, boys and girls, you're eating, err, drinking, sex organs. Mmmm, Mmmm!

Yeast, is the last, and most intriguing ingredient in beer. {Well, to tell the truth, this is only the last ingredient if you're in Germany, which takes beer so seriously that they have a purity law governing what can go into beer . Anywhere else, one is free to add things like berries and fruits to the beer (in relatively small quantities, for best results) for more complex flavors.} Now yeast is what makes the alcohol. When yeast, water, and sugar mix, amazing things happen. Specifically, Yeast eats sugar and urinates alcohol while degassing CO2. Did you know that your favorite beverage consisted of piss and farts? Yummy.

They key with yeast is: only use ones that produce good tasting beers. There are many yeasts running wild in the environment, and while letting the wrong yeast in your beer won't kill you, it can certainly ruin the flavor. Just like you want to control the ingredients in any recipe, controlling the type of yeast that produces your beer is very important. The wrong yeast will "skunk" your beer - basically, 99% of the time, bad yeast will lead to undrinkable piss and farts. We only want to drink the piss and farts of particular yeasts.

Yeasts eat maltose and piss and fart until they've so totally wrecked their environment that they can no longer live there (Sound familiar?). When they are all dead from their own wastes, we drink the result: beer.

Now that you've got the basics, let's go quickly through the process of making beer at home. First of all, you don't even have to get grain to sprout on it's own. You can buy pre-malted grains at your local homebrew supplier or at a variety of on-line shops. Because I am not an advertiser, and because you are all computer literate, I am not going to list them here. Find them with Google. Type in "home brewing." So buy some Malt, Yeast, and Hops and bring them home. (Following a specific recipe might also be a good idea. Try one of these books. I particularly like "Zymurgy" by Charlie Papazian. Or anything by Charlie Papazian, for that matter.

Boil some water along with the Malt and Hops. DON'T PUT IN THE YEAST. We're boiling it to kill all the microbes present and you don't want to kill your yeast before it gets a chance to piss and fart in your beer. The resultant stew is called "wort." Take the wort and cool it to about 75 degrees. This is the best temperature for yeast. Obviously, during the period between 212 and 75, other yeasts could get in there and get a head start, so you want to cool the wort as fast as possible. There are devices for this. Once you examine one, go home and build it. You can pay $45.00 to buy a wort chiller or build one yourself for about $15.00.

When the wort is at 75 degrees, throw your yeast in so it can start procreating and polluting it's new home. Now, at this point, you're going to want to make sure that no other, foreign yeast can get in your beer to fight it out with your tame yeast and ruin your beer. So you'll want to seal it up, right? Wrong. The result of sealing at this stage is that the yeast farts build up so much pressure in your fermenter (I usually use a glass carboy like you find on a water cooler) that you end up, not with a tame, well mannered 5 gallon carboy full of beer, but with lots of flying, high speed glass beer covered shrapnel. If you were fermenting in your closet, your clothes are now shredded and have an alehouse reek. If you were fermenting outside your closet, you may never be drinking beer again.

What you want to do instead is put a water lock (read Zymurgy) on your beer. This will let farts out but won't let foreign yeasts in.

The wort-becoming-beer mix will churn and burble for several days while the yeast whips itself into an orgy of reproduction and water sports. When it's done churnin', you know that all is quite on the Worten front. Voila! You now have beer. Don't drink it yet, though, it's flat.

To get it bubbly, you need whatever few yeasts still alive or merely dormant that have been bred up to the exceedingly high tolerance of their own waste levels now present in your flat beer to fart just a little bit more in a sealed environment. Add a half a cup of sugar (or, if you're hard core, maltose) to the beer and stir. Bottle it. Seal it. The tiny amount of fresh sugar will act as food for the few remaining yeasts that have not gone dormant in the presence of inordinate amounts of their own waste. They will fart some more, but in the pressure of the sealed environment (the bottle), the resultant CO2 will be forced into solution, only to come out when you pop the cap.

Pretty easy, huh? Try it at home. You can make good beer cheaper.

The next time you enjoy a bottle of suds, just think about the cruel and unusual process that goes into making it, enslaving, infantaciding and driving to war any number of species for your pleasure. The next time you see a man about a dog at the pub, just think about the fact that you just drank the same type of thing that you're producing. Funny how good it tastes, no?


Voxel dot net
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Favorite Beer
o Ale 37%
o Lager 13%
o Don't Know 3%
o Don't care 2%
o Don't drink 19%
o Something very un-beer-like and girly like Hard lemonade 6%
o Whiskey 16%

Votes: 187
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o this short history of hops,
o this one
o purity law
o these books.
o Also by Yellowbeard

Display: Sort:
Beer's Seamy Origins | 110 comments (88 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
DMCA (2.66 / 6) (#4)
by ritlane on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 05:34:01 PM EST

"Once you examine one, go home and build it."

If doing so requires removing, or opening any form of casing.....

nevermind, I was going to continue, but decided these jokes aren't funny anymore.

I like fighting robots
homebrewing (5.00 / 3) (#12)
by Lizard on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 05:58:13 PM EST

I've been homebrewing for almost 3 years now. It's a great hobby, you work hard and produce something that you can be proud of and share with your friends and family. You also develop a real appreciation for differnt flavors that will improve your ability to cook other foods as well.

If you are interested in brewing your own beer I suggest taking a look at Dave Palmer's book How to Brew it is published online at howtobrew.com. Also very much worth mentioning are Brew Your Own Magazine, and rec.crafts.brewing. Homebrew store catalogs are a very good source of information since they will have pictures of all the bits and pieces that the various other sources of information talk about. If you live anywhere near St. Paul, Minnesota I suggest getting a catalog from Northern Brewer their catalog is fairly complete and has lots of good information in it.

It is quite possible to get started in homebrewing and make excellent beers with an initial investment of less than $100. There is also a commonly repeated myth that you can save yourself money by brewing your own beer. However; I've found that when it comes to brewing, I get gadget itch and end up purchasing enough new gadgets, books, equipment and accessories to more than offset and savings I may have over just purchasing beer from a store, but this is my hobby and I wouldn't spend that money if I didn't get something more than just a cold drink from it at the end of the day.
Just Because I Can!

Is corn whiskey really easier? (3.66 / 3) (#21)
by Pseudoephedrine on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 06:37:44 PM EST

As I understand it, it's much easier to make cheap (note the absence of the word 'good') corn whiskey than beer. Is it? And if so, is it a good thing to 'cut my teeth on' before moving up to brewing beer?

And can anyone shoot me a reliable recipe? ;D

"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Wow (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by Yellowbeard on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 06:39:56 PM EST

When you get to whiskey, you're getting into distillation. When you're distilling, you're running the risk of going blind (unlike in mere brewing). I'd be reeeeeeaaaally careful. Have thought about it but haven't tried it yet. Not to mention it's illegal (not that I care).

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin

[ Parent ]
Why is one illegal and not the other? (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by Kasreyn on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:33:37 AM EST

Home brewing = creating alcoholic beverage at home.

Distilling = creating alcoholic beverage at home.

Can anyone tell me what the law sees differently about them? Not that I'm interested. As a non-drinker (nothing against you guys, have fun, it's just not for me), to me, alcohol is alcohol.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Potential side effects? (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by dcloues on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:01:35 AM EST

I'm not sure of the legal reasons (maybe it's a holdover from prohibition, where moonshine production was common?), but the potential for nasty side effects from distilling are enough to make me lose interest in it.

One problem with distillation is that if the person doing the distillation isn't careful, the resulting liquid might contain methanol. All alcohols are toxins, but they have a wide range of effects; methanol causes blindness. As far as I know, there isn't any danger of methanol production in home brewing.

"I'm a pacifist. I don't own a gun because if I did, I'm terrified I would use it." -- Unknown
[ Parent ]
Totally untrue (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:53:47 PM EST

One problem with distillation is that if the person doing the distillation isn't careful, the resulting liquid might contain methanol.

This is totally, egregiously, flamboyantly, ridiculously, and magnificently untrue. It is right up there with "masturbation makes you grow hair on your palms." The reason for methanol poisoning during Prohibition was that the sale of methanol was legal, and so moonshiners often added it to their product for a little extra "kick," along with other questionable substances like kerosone. If you don't put methanol in, you don't get it out.

Perhaps what confuses people is that the process of burning wood (which produces methanol, formaldehyde, and other goodies) is called "destructive distillation." More likely, people accept propaganda at face value.

Commonly associated with this propaganda is that you have to get the temperature just right. This is nonsensical enough that anyone with a 10th grade chemistry education should be able to figure out why. What does happen is that the fusel alcohols have a lower boiling point and boil off first. These can give you a headache, but they aren't methanol, and they aren't significantly more dangerous than ethanol.

I'm going on and on about this because there was an episode of Cops where they busted a homebrewer, showed an obvious immersion wort chiller to the camera, and said it was the coil of a still, giving the usual nonsense about methanol.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Wow. Thanks (none / 0) (#87)
by Yellowbeard on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:17:38 AM EST

You know, I has heard that methanol thing before, but could never figure out how you would accidently distill out methanol (as I knew it was a product of wood and not grain). Of course, I hadn't taken the time to look it up.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin

[ Parent ]
Not entirely untrue (none / 0) (#99)
by overphiend on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 01:38:46 PM EST

Methanol can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used).

[ Parent ]
Alcohol, alcohol everywhere and not a drop t'drink (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by DeanT on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:19:43 AM EST

Can anyone tell me what the law sees differently about them?
IANASL (I Am Not a Steenkin' Legislator), but I suspect it has something to do with possible explosive nature of mistakes if distilling is done wrong... or at least the perception of it.


[ Parent ]

Taxation (none / 0) (#68)
by darthaggie on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:13:58 AM EST

One is taxed, the other is not. You've never heard of the "Beer Rebellion" have you? perhaps the "Whiskey Rebellion" rings a bell?

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
Explosions (none / 0) (#72)
by ritlane on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:55:56 AM EST

I would immagine the distinct possibility of explosions in the distilling process is the reason.

To distill alcohol, you have to vaporize it. Alcohol is also flammable. So you are filling a confined space with a flammable gas. Any spark or other mistake could cause this to explode (not something you want in a residential neighborhood... I can just hear the "think of the children" cries now)

I would like to hear more from those in the know about this though, everything I know about this is from a highschool chemistry class and an episode of The Simpsons

I like fighting robots
[ Parent ]
explosions (none / 0) (#76)
by ethereal on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:49:16 PM EST

It sounds from the article above that you can get something pretty destructive going on if you screw up your beer-making too, though. Heck, there are plenty of things that are more explosive than either brewing or distillery equipment that are available to the general population.

I admit that I wouldn't like to live next to someone running a full-scale distillery on faulty equipment - that's as tempting as living next to a meth lab. But I see no real reason that a conscientious person couldn't do their own distilling without any more regulation than is required to do their own brewing. It does seem a lot like the heavy hand of government in this case.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Well, sort of explosive (none / 0) (#77)
by rantweasel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:16:45 PM EST

a beer brewing explosion would be caused by too much pressure as the gases in the fermentation tank expand. It's messy and foul, but much more likely is that the lib will pop off of the container, and you get a champagne-bottle effect with 5 gallons of wort. An alcohol distillation explosion would involve a spark or a flame igniting the fumes. But I think the illegality of it is due to the whiskey tax. There are limits on how much beer you can homebrew (200 gallons a year, I think?), and you are specifically only allowed to homebrew for personal consumption, no sales of your homebrew allowed.


[ Parent ]
Good Engineering (none / 0) (#82)
by n8f8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:45:11 PM EST

Like anything else it comes down to good engineering. Not to mention the ATF doesn't generally harass all the home chemists and scientitsts around. Or the hunters loading their own rounds.

Here are some general guidlines: http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Inn/5744/booze.html#7



Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Distilling != creating alcoholic beverage at home. (none / 0) (#98)
by overphiend on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 10:56:27 AM EST

Creating beer and whiskey follow a very similar process, except that when whiskey is done fermenting, instead of carbonating the result, it is distilled. A still is defined as apparatus capable of being used to separate ethyl alcohol from a mixture that contains alcohol. Technically beer in its simplest form is the result of fermenting Mash (a mixture containing sugar); this could be as simple as sugar, water and yeast. Spirits (alcohol) are the product made by boiling beer (fermented mash) and condensing and separating the vapors (distillation). The law allows for the production of 100 gallons per calendar year per adult of legal drinking age in a household up to two adults. So the difference is the actual distillation process, which is taxed and regulated. Keep in mind it is only illegal to distill alcohol; you are free to use a still for water or other substances as long at alcohol is not a by-product of the process. And contrary to what most people are posting it is not illegal because of the possibility of explosion. The main reason distillation is illegal is because the ATF taxes all distilled alcohol made in the US, as well as the fact that improperly distilled alcohol can be very lethal (not just cause you to go blind).
ps. sorry for the late response, i just got around to reading this article

[ Parent ]
Moonshine (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by localroger on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:45:07 PM EST

Distilling is about the same difficulty as making decent beer, though different equipment is used. Making mash is easier than making beer, but then you've got to distill it, which requires... a still.

There are a couple of tricks you need to know to keep fusil oils and whatnot out of the final product (when you distill, you concentrate stuff other than alcohol you don't want in the final product). The still also must be constructed properly, as it will be under pressure at boiling temperatures.

Oh, and it's illegal as hell, but I'm sure you knew that...

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Perfect (3.50 / 4) (#23)
by conraduno on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 06:46:55 PM EST

Now I finally have a solution to being 19 and not having a fake ID! :)

Funny thing is, I'm serious. This is a goldmine for underage drinkers. I'm going to start selling this stuff. And before anyone rants at me about the perils of underage drinking, let me assure you I can sufficiently argue my case. :)
haha. (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by rebelcool on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 06:51:43 PM EST

easier said than done :) brewing beer has alot of fudge factoring. if it were really that easy to get right we'd all be doing it.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Probably (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by conraduno on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 06:56:41 PM EST

I'm actually reading this book right now on it (just started a few minutes ago). It would be difficult, but probably not much more difficult than cooking an extravagant meal. IE, follow the instructions and you'll be fine. :) I'm just curious about the cost effectiveness of it, with Natural Ice and Pabst rivaling Albertsons A+ cola in price, I wonder if brewing your own could get any cheaper?
[ Parent ]
probably not. (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by rebelcool on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:23:25 PM EST

the breweries buy in bulk that you generally can't and have machines which crank out the same quality of brew each and every time. With homebrewing, you'll get neither. Each batch will be different.

People homebrew as a hobby, not to save money, and not even to create a better brew (though im sure with enough experience and time, you could get it better than most major labels)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Bang for the Buck (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by Lizard on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:06:46 PM EST

While you don't stand a chance of beating Natural Ice on the price of getting a buzz, you can make an excellent beer for pretty cheap. If you use a good recipie and good ingredients you should be able to make beer for about 50 cents per bottle that compares well with beer that retails for around $7 per six pack at liquor stores. While you probably won't brew the best beer in the world on your first few tries, you will should be able to make a very good beer and it will be something that you can be proud of.
Just Because I Can!
[ Parent ]
Homebrewing to save cash. (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by priestess on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:19:45 AM EST

The people who I know who've bothered with all the hassle of brewing at home have done so precicely to save money. There's probably less difference in the States but in the UK the tax on booze is so incredably massive that saving just the tax alone when you brew more than halves the price of the stuff you drink.

The 4Cough we brewed cost around 20p a pint, whereas even the student bar was charging over a quid back then.

My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
[ Parent ]
It ain't rocket science (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by ucblockhead on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:09:11 PM EST

It isn't all that hard, it mostly just requires the ability to keep things clean and follow a recipe. I've brewed two batches myself, and both came out decent enough.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Re: Perfect (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by Ian Clelland on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:37:01 AM EST

And here I thought Canada was the solution to being 19 and not having a fake ID :)

[ Parent ]
Underage Brewing (none / 0) (#67)
by imadork on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:55:34 AM EST

Actually, I knew somebody in High School who wanted to brew beer as part of his Advanced Science project. He approached it as a real project though, and proposed going into all the reactions that produce beer in painstaking detail, so they let him do it. The only restrictions they gave him was that nobody could drink the beer while the experiment was going on, and when it was finished, they wouldn't let him take it out of the school himself -- his dad had to come and pick it up.

However, he let the beer brew over the Easter break, and something happened to the system he used to hold the temperature of the beer. We didn't have to drink it to know that the stuff turned out pretty nasty. He probably ended up flushing it down the toilet.

I doubt they'll let a kid do that today at school. Damn, I can't believe I said that! I'm not that old! I'm not that old!!!! Ahhh!!!!!


Approximately 50% of us are below average..
[ Parent ]

This is what i did. (none / 0) (#71)
by beddess on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:35:24 AM EST

Yep, one of my teachers in high school told us that he was making his own beer. So I read up about it and found a local home brew store and bought a kit. Brewed the beer over april vacation, and towards the end of school and over the summer i was drinking beer i made myself. That batch came out pretty damn good, I managed to louse up a few later on though :(

[ Parent ]
It's legal (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by epepke on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 06:16:25 PM EST

It's actually legal in the U.S. for a person 18 or older to brew beer and drink the product. What isn't legal is to sell it.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
wrong information (5.00 / 3) (#26)
by jij on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:00:28 PM EST

<quote> They then grind the bodies of these helpless, incinerated plant babies into a powder called "maltose." </quote>

Well, no. Maltose (and other sugars) are produced by enzymes in the 'plant babies' (malt) when the malt is crushed and mixed with water at the proper temperature.

The article goes on from there with more statements which ar untrue, which I don't have the time or inclination to correct. Get your data correct, please. Have you actually read Charlie's books? Or any the other, far better homebrewing books out there?

Disclaimer: I am a homebrewer, and have been one for some 15 years.


"people who thinks quotes are witty are fucking morons" - turmeric

Ah there's the answer (4.50 / 2) (#48)
by KWillets on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 11:54:51 PM EST

It's funny, I was doing some research a few weeks ago on seed germination, and one source mentioned the problem with getting enough maltose for beer, but didn't give the solution. I was trying to germinate a bunch of garden-type seeds, so I didn't follow up on it.

The problem is that seeds convert their starch to sugar at a restrained rate during germination, so that young sprouts (malted barley) have most of their starch still intact. The solution, which you mention, is to germinate the seed to create the enzymes, and then crush the seed to mix the enzymes with the remaining starch.

Do people mix flour with the crushed malt? My guess is that the malt enzymes would work on the starch in the ungerminated seed, but I know little about botany.

[ Parent ]
You are, of course, correct. (4.00 / 2) (#56)
by DeanT on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:05:16 AM EST

There is some omission, some simplification, and some errors. Though I do think it's a rather entertaining overview. :)
Well, no. Maltose (and other sugars) are produced by enzymes in the 'plant babies' (malt) when the malt is crushed and mixed with water at the proper temperature.
Well, he did glaze over the malting process and skip the entire mashing and lautering processes, otherwise we'd know that conversion to maltose happens during mashing. He also didn't cover the various amylase enzymes and the effective temperature range of each.

I don't see that his article was really that far out. I get the feeling it was intended to entertain at least as much as inform.

I do think it accomplishes the authors purpose of entertaining and, perhaps, piquing some interest to read a beginning text on homebrewing.


[ Parent ]

Cost Effectiveness (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by conraduno on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:10:04 PM EST

I already mentioned this in an earlier comment, but I feel it merits it's own thread. What is the cost effectivness of brewing your own beer? Excluding the cost of buying the equipment, how much will I have to fork over for just the raw ingredients for, say, a 5 gallon batch? And are there ways to brew really cheap beer?

Just curious, this has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a poor college student. Nothing, I swear. ;)
Cost is higher to equal (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by enry on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 07:22:28 PM EST

And it's comparable to good beer (Sam Adams, don't even bother comparing price to Bud). Say 5 gallons (couple cases) for about $45 in the Boston area for the ingredients. Maybe another $100 for equipment and consumables (cleaner, caps, etc).

If you want cheap beer, go get a sixer of Bud and go cry in it. If you want a tasty beer and don't care about experimenting (it's REALLY hard to get bad germs in beer due to the alcohol content), then go for it.

[ Parent ]
Cost higher to equal? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by cafeman on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:40:39 PM EST

You must have some pretty cheap beer where you live! I pay around $30 a carton (24 bottles) in Australia. Making 25 tallies (equivalent to around 50 normal bottles) used to cost me $15. So, it worked out 30c AUD a bottle, 15c American. You must get some really cheap beer where you live!

The up-front cost for the equipment ran at around $60 ($30 US), but you make that back in about 2 batches.

I stopped because of the time it took - I worked out that at a normal wage, it cost me the same in time to make it or buy it. So, now I just buy beer. But if you're time rich, it's a great hobby.

"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"

[ Parent ]
But... (none / 0) (#107)
by driftingwalrus on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 08:24:36 PM EST

In real dollar terms, however, your time didn't actually cost you anything. It certainly didn't prevent you from working. So, instead of keeping the cost of labour you've chosen to give it to someone else.

How generous.

"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
Cost of leisure (none / 0) (#108)
by cafeman on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 12:55:31 AM EST

If you want to get really accurate, the time cost of leisure outweighed the cost incurred making the beer. The time did cost something - the loss of potential future increases in income through self-improvement. The time I spent making beer could have have been reinvested into updating and extending my skills, thereby developing future increases in income, leading to improved long-term wealth (which is what I did). The stuff I was learning also gave me more utility than making beer in addition to increasing my temporal value (as I enjoyed it more than sterilising and capping bottles).

And yes, the value of money is time dependant. Money now is perceived as being better than future increases in income (depending on the depreciation rate). But, when time is constrained, leisure time carries high potential utility. Taking my leisure time and using it for leisure (within which I include study in certain areas) was worth far more to me than the cost of a carton of beer. It was different when I was studying or woudl be if I was retired.

Economics is all well and good, but it depreciates future growth in favour of short term gains. Strategic decisions become hard to make under these pressures. A decision made with short-term focus can actually minimise long-term value. Hence, while my bottling beer may have allowed me to keep the cost of my previous labour, thereby giving me marginal increase in wealth, it would have hurt me in the long run. Buying my beer was therefore a strategic, long-term wealth maximising, and short-term utility maximising decision. Trying to maximise my wealth in the short-term by making my own beer would have prevented me from studying, thereby reducing my future earning potential. I was being rational, not generous.

Or it could have just been too much hassle. It really is easier just to go to the bottle shop and pick up a carton, you know, especially when you work full-time while studying.

"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"

[ Parent ]
$45 a batch? You're getting ripped off (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by georgeha on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:55:31 PM EST

Unless I'm making a fancy mead*, my 5 gallon batch costs are closer to $20-$25.

* with pounds and pounds of frozer raspberries, for example.

[ Parent ]

It all depends (4.50 / 2) (#35)
by eightball on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:46:18 PM EST

For 5 gallons

Let's assume that you will not be using sugar in the recipe (cheaper, but ultimately not worth it).

Essentially you can make a decent brew with:
6 pounds dried malt extract (DME) - ~$18.00
1 oz hop pellets - ~$2.00 generic yeast - ~$2.00

You need a pot to boil the DME and hops in. You may have this already, but may cost ~$30-40. You need a container to ferment the beer. If you go for plastic, you can get it for ~$10 or so. Glass costs ~ $20. If you are going to do this often, glass is worth it as it is much easier to keep sanitary..
Some tubing also helps, which you can get for a couple dollars.
Throw in a bottle of bleach for a couple dollars as well.

If you are careful and don't care about carbonation, you could be done at this point.

If you want to bottle: bottles can be free, so we will say they are (pick up at local bar for this). A dollars or so for caps and ~$20 for a capper.

There are a couple things left out (like bottling sugar), but for the most parts:

First batch of beer:<$80 (bottled $100)<BR>
Next batch: ~$22
Online stores may be the way to go. I have not tried it, but the prices look good.

If you go with all-grain, you can lower the 'malt' bill to ~$12 or 10 pounds of grains, but you usually end up spending the savings on whole leaf hops and specialty yeasts.

ps - I am currently drinking a 6 year old cranberry melomel (honey beverage with fruit), and it is excellent.

pps - Sorry for the formatting, I am not used to going on like this..

[ Parent ]
Cost==piss water (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by ehintz on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:01:31 PM EST

I found that I spend roughly the same for prepared ingredient kits at Beer, Beer and More Beer as I did when I was buying RedDog, Miller, Coors, IceHouse, etc... However, the beer which I am brewing is equivalent in flavor and variety to the expensive imports and microbrews. So, if what you want is simply to save money, forget it. If what you want is an enjoyable hobby whose side effect happens to be you drink tasty beer for pisswater prices, go for it. Be forewarned, it's an addictive hobby. There's always a newer cooler thing you'll want to spend money on. My most recent was converting my old 'fridge into a kegerator. Having 2 kegs of homebrew on tap is a wonderful thing.

Ed Hintz
[ Parent ]
relative costs in AU (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by spasm on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:01:32 PM EST

In Australia a can of pre mix (pre-made wort - just add water, sugar & the included packet of yeast) costs about $10-$12 & makes 25-30 750ml bottles. Add a buck or two for the caps.

Assuming you're using recycled bottles (you are such a pisshead your backyard is full of empties isn't it? if not, why are you doing this?) and you've already scrounged/bought/stolen the brewkit (plastic tub with an airlock - if you're DIYing, **don't** use a metal tub - this way lies poisoning and trips to hospital) this all works out at about half to a third of the cost of buying the equivalent volume of pre-made beer.

The real downside is spending several hours every time you brew cleaning out all the bottles. It gets really old really fast. The whole home brewing thing is kind of fun the first few times, and is a good option for keeping yourself in drinkable alcohol when you're a penniless college student / artist / whatever, but once you have an income and not a lot of time it loses a lot of its attraction.

[ Parent ]
Good, not necessarily cheap [in .au] (none / 0) (#101)
by Sharkey on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 11:13:06 PM EST

To make fairly average homebrew, using a water- cooler jug and a beer kit, it'll end up costing you maybe half as much as the cheaper CUB stuff. It'll probably turn out okay. If nothing else, it'll be good for the hazy end of parties ;-)

To make good homebrew will end up costing you roughly as much as 'standard' beer, but will be significantly fresher and tastier!

If you can't be bothered washing bottles, get a CO2/keg system sorted out. That costs a couple of hundred bucks though ...

I haven't got the keg sorted out yet, but I enjoy making different types of beers, and the bottle washing isn't that hard if you soak them first. Good homebrew shops can sell you bottle washer which will clean and sterilize without too much scrubbing and without leaving deposits behind to ruin the head.


[ Parent ]

Nice poll choices. (2.50 / 4) (#32)
by Mr. Piccolo on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:12:04 PM EST


Let's see, you left off Stout, Bock, Pilsner, Mead, and a whole bunch of others that oughta be on there but ain't.

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.

BITTER (none / 0) (#58)
by gromgull on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:16:13 AM EST

A man beer should be almost flat, slightly warm and have the PINT glass filled to the absolute rim so you are bound to spill some.

Yeah, and it should taste a bit like something out of the cat.
If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

[ Parent ]
or my favorites (none / 0) (#63)
by gauze on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:14:57 AM EST

cider and a list of other hard liquors. Tequila being #1 on my list right now.

There's nothing wrong with a PC that a little UNIX won't cure.
[ Parent ]
They're there, they're subsets (none / 0) (#78)
by rantweasel on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:29:35 PM EST

Stouts are ales, pilsners are lagers, bocks are lagers. Mead should have gotten a category, though. Tasty stuff.

There's nothing quite like a good cream stout or a scotch ale. Mmmm. And there are a few recipies floating around out there based on the chemical analysis of pottery shards (circa 700bc) done at the U of Penn. I don't know if any brewery outside of Philadelphia has brewed anything with those recipies, but if you get the chance, try it. 1/3 honey, 1/3 malt, 1/3 muscat grapes. It's somewhere between mead and beer, fruity but not overly sweet, and quite potent.


[ Parent ]

Interesting that you say this (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by Yellowbeard on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:11:18 AM EST

One of my other hobbies (ok, well, major fields of study, whatever) is Anthropology. Here's an interesting tidbit: It was traditionally believed that beer came about from a spoiled batch of bread , but several pieces of evidence (including some pot sherds that have beer residue on them that predate the earliest we believed bread to be around) point to the reverse - beer was invented first (you can even imagine the scenario: grainery+flood followed by drought. People drink out of the silo and Voila! Beer is born) and bread came about as a spoiled batch of beer. Just thought it was interesting. No absolute confirmation on this theory, though.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin

[ Parent ]
Thanks... (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by John Thompson on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:12:26 PM EST

For a umm... refreshing change of topic.

"Hops provide a complexity to the taste of be (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by Trollificus on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 08:53:34 PM EST

So THAT'S how they get the horse piss/cardboard flavour in there!
I had no idea.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL

Not to be too serious, but (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:34:17 PM EST

Cardboard flavor is produced when the water used to sparge the mash in the lauter tun is too hot.

Horse-piss, well, smell at least, is caused by too much fusel alcohol and esters, which can be caused by an infection of the batch or too high a fermenting temperature.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Hey (none / 0) (#89)
by Trollificus on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 01:26:02 PM EST

Thanks for the reply. I had a good laugh, only because I didn't expect a serious reply to a non-serious post. It was really informative, thanks. =)
I guess I really don't have much of a taste for beer. *gasp* I know. Sacrilege!
It was always an acquired taste in my eyes, and I never could get used to it.

"The separation of church and state is a fiction. The nation is the kingdom of God, period."
--Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of West Palm Beach, FL
[ Parent ]

There's beer, and then there's beer (none / 0) (#95)
by epepke on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:37:12 PM EST

Before deciding that you don't like beer, try some of the more exotic varieties out there. Framboise Lambic is a bit like a raspberry champagne. Samichlaus is almost like brandy. Guinness, of course, is coffee-like but contains no coffee. Mild ale is sweetish, not too unlike iced tea.

And, of course, there are the technical beers, like Sake (rice beer, with saccharification performed by a fungus), and the distilled beers, like Whiskey and Vodka.

But, yeah, the cardboard and horsey odors are known errors in the brewing process. There's another: skunking, where it smells like a skunk, but this is caused by improper storage and can be reduced by never using clear or green bottles.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Vodka isn't distilled from beer (none / 0) (#110)
by Bakunin on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 12:22:56 PM EST

Vodka is made from potatoes or non-roasted malt or simply sugar. There is no hops or other flavouring stuff added. The idea is that it should not taste of much else but alcohol. If it has a taste, it's not vodka.

[ Parent ]
Some side effects of homebrewing (none / 0) (#39)
by ehintz on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:10:56 PM EST

You can do nutty things like brew atop Mt. Whitney. The link includes some rather incredible pictures.

Or you can put your old crappy refrigerator to a more noble use.

Ed Hintz
What are you making if you leave out the Hops? (none / 0) (#40)
by gte910h on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:22:18 PM EST

Hops and me don't get along. I thought I was just a sissy, until I realized that a half a beer would make me puke. Doctor agrees. Also says its probbably good for my waistline.

But I would be interesting in making my own alcohol at home, and distilling just doesn't sound fun. What is fermented malt called?? --Michael

Try cider (none / 0) (#41)
by enry on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:42:12 PM EST

You can try wine or hard cider, but they're a bit harder as you can't boil the apple cider or grapes as it will break down the peptides in the juice and make the finished product cloudy. This means you have to make REAL sure that everything you use is clean, otherwise you risk contamination of bad yeast.

If you want to teach kids about fermentation and make a really good drink, try root beer. There is boiling involved, but you make a realy good non-alcoholic root beer using many of the same processes to make real beer. I have friends that hate alcohol, but love my root beer.

[ Parent ]
Mead (none / 0) (#42)
by ReverendX on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 09:53:43 PM EST

You might want to try mead. Honey, malt and yeast... kinda the proto-beer.

Being able to piss in an allyway is however, a very poor substitute for a warm bed and a hot cup of super-premium coffee. - homelessweek.com
[ Parent ]

Mead & More (none / 0) (#60)
by djotto on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 06:02:44 AM EST

Nice stuff. Drink either ice-cold or mulled with spices. I recommend it, but you can't exactly get drunk on it like you can with other wines... too sweet to drink more than a couple of glasses at a time.

I buy a case now and again, drink about half and give the rest away to foreigners passing through the UK (it's got "Britain's Oldest Drink" or something on the label. Suitably Olde Worlde).

For other non-hop home brews... well, there's ale (traditionally in Britain, an ale was an un-hopped beer. Hops were imported from Europe along with the German word for ale.

You could try fruit beers (Belgium is famous for these), or country wines (from rhubarb, silver birch, or all kinds of weird stuff). In the UK, you can also buy faux-spirits homebrew kits, that allow you to make whiskey- or gin-a-likes without distillation (wood alcohol is bad).

[ Parent ]
Mead (none / 0) (#93)
by jms on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:14:50 PM EST

I make mead, and let me just tell you that it's VERY easy -- almost too easy -- to get an entire party smashed on the stuff -- and I don't mean drunk, I mean SMASHED!

Women like it because it's strong and sweet -- in a wine cooler way. Unless properly informed, what they don't realize is that it can be up to 14% alcohol -- 28 proof.

A couple of guests at our wedding learned this the hard way!

I've tried a couple of options in making mead, and I've found that I get the best results by starting with distilled water (Control the variables!), adding Burton water salts, yeast nutrients, honey, and either Champagne yeast or Sherry yeast. The reason to use those strains yeasts is to maximize the dryness of the mead -- the main problem in making mead is that the honey contains natural preservatives -- and most beer yeasts will quit early, leaving the mead too sweet. Using those two types of yeast will result in a drier result.

One more interesting experiment I tried. I made a batch of mead, but instead of using honey, I used unfiltered Vermont maple syrup as a sugar source. Very interesting ... woody taste, highly alcoholic -- more of a "sipping/sampling" thing then a "session" beverage though. I considered it a success, although I haven't repeated the experiment. I called that batch "Maple Madness."

[ Parent ]
Just about anything... (none / 0) (#61)
by Dynamo on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 07:37:57 AM EST

Hops are a fairly recent addition to modern beer - All sorts of herbs and other flowers were used for centuries prior.

You could try sage, spruce tips, lavender, chamomile, or virutally any herb or flower you think might taste good.

Also, pronounced hop character is absent in fruit flavored beers as a rule, so you could go for some fruited ales, or german & belgian styles of sour wort fuit beers.

As a side note, you are the first person I've ever heard of that's allergic to hop resins/oils... What a bummer! (I'm a real hophead).

If you endevour to home brew, read about a technique called "krausening" - it's basically skimming the foam from the primary fermentation. This will remove most of the higher alcohols or "fusel oils" from the brew, and I'd be willing to bet that's the part that's making you sick.


[ Parent ]
Zima (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 04:39:35 PM EST

But I would be interesting in making my own alcohol at home, and distilling just doesn't sound fun. What is fermented malt called?

It's called "Zima," and it's pretty vile.

Hops are just a bittering agent, used to cut the sweetness of the beer. I imagine just about any bitter herb would work. I've wanted to try wormwood, but it's illegal to buy in the U.S. (Not in England, though, but I'm not about to risk trying to import wormwood into the U.S.)

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
wormwood (none / 0) (#91)
by bobkali on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 03:32:28 PM EST

Actually it's not illegal in the US. It's regulated as a food product and you may not sell food or beverages containing it, however it is available from some herb shops (mostly occult-type shops) and I am not aware of any laws prohibiting the import/export the raw herb (I have looked, but IANAL.)

[ Parent ]
Preservative qualities of hops (none / 0) (#92)
by jms on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:04:04 PM EST

Actually, hops are also a preservative. One of the beer varieties with the highest hops content is known as India Pale Ale, or IPA. The reason for adding extra hops was to help the British beer survive the long, tropical journey to India without spoiling. At some point in history, a ship loaded with IPA was unable to leave port, and the export ale was sold in England. Beer drinkers enjoyed the extra-bitter taste of IPA, and British brewers began producing it for domestic consumption.

[ Parent ]
You're right (none / 0) (#94)
by epepke on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 04:29:29 PM EST

Which is why Lambic uses hops that have been aged for several years. (I reproduce this process by throwing a leftover half ounce or two of hops into a basket. It makes the place smell nice.)

But then, on the other hand, if your beer needs preservatives, you aren't drinking enough!

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Ok, for all you hard core Home Brewers (4.33 / 3) (#44)
by Yellowbeard on Mon Feb 25, 2002 at 10:17:19 PM EST

And, for that matter, for everyone else:

Everything I say in this article is not absolutely, positively, 100% accurate. No, it just isn't. But I embellished a few things and moved some stuff around and seriously cut short several topics that I could have gone on about (and cited milly-ons and billy-ons of sources about) for days, but, look, I was interested in having the article also be entertaining.

As anyone who has read the comments can see, Home Brewers are seriously opinionated people (like almost any other hobbyists I can think of). There is lot's more to home brewing than I put above, and, no, I didn't even try to list every beer out there in my poll {as any true afficianado knows, it could take days, especially if I started listing weird stuff like cock ale (the bird, not the, uhhhh... yeah)}.

The point was education/entertainment, and I hope it accomplished that.

For those looking for cheap: I bottled for a while, then got sick of it and bought a home brew kegging system (the canisters that you used to use for coke at your old High School football concession stand, some tubing, and some CO2 containment/regulation stuff). After all this, I found that I was spending about the same for home brew as I was for Beer Wasteland beer (you know, you go to college on scholarship and you drink stuff like Sam Adams and other micro brews, then you graduate and move to the bad beer wasteland between college and a real job where the beer has to be cheaper and more plentiful), but it was (typically) better.

BUT, if you are looking for cheap, good, and reliable, I have found another way. The truth is that I don't brew all that much anymore, because I figured out (after buying all the CO2 gear) that I can buy kegs of good beer at wasteland (oh, wasteland price? no more than $3.50 American per sixer of 12 oz) prices and, not only is it cheaper, but I have BEER ON TAP, which impresses everyone.

If you want more info on how I did this and about what it costs, post comments here and I'll get in touch with you somehow. Maybe leave me your addy? I'm too new here to know the best way.

Thanks to all you serious, hard core home brewers for correcting stuff and generally adding a lot of body to a fluff piece.


"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin

It's typical to leave out some complexities... (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by DeanT on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 02:36:49 AM EST

when describing new concepts to a beginner. I had college professors do it a fair amount.
"I'm going to lie to you now to simplify the process, then later tell you the truth".

I liked that much better than
"It should be obvious to even the most casual observer"

For those looking for cheap: I bottled for a while, then got sick of it and bought a home brew kegging system
The kegging system for me is not about cheapness, it's about time savings. Think about sanitizing, filling, and sealing one 5 gallon 'bottle' instead of 48 12-oz bottles.

I particularly like "Zymurgy" by Charlie Papazian. Or anything by Charlie Papazian, for that matter.
Papazian has a very friendly style to his writing, and provides a good introduction to the beginner. Personally, I prefer Dave Miller's Homebrewing Guide, but own both of them.

All in all, a pretty good overview of the process.



[ Parent ]

I have been a college professor (none / 0) (#70)
by Yellowbeard on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:20:36 AM EST

Well, ok, a grad student who was teaching Anthropology. But you're right, that's basically where I got the concept. As to the cheap concept: I didn't mean to attach the cheap to the "bying a kegging system." Sorry - I can see how I screwed that up. I mean to make the jump to just going right for buying kegs instead of six packs. Thanks for calling my attention to that.

"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt." - Deniro in Ronin

[ Parent ]
Using Kegs (none / 0) (#83)
by DeanT on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:07:26 PM EST

As to the cheap concept: I didn't mean to attach the cheap to the "bying a kegging system." Sorry - I can see how I screwed that up. I mean to make the jump to just going right for buying kegs instead of six packs. Thanks for calling my attention to that.X
I wasn't trying to tear down your article, I was just noting that Corny Kegs are about reclaiming time in my brewery.

Gives me more time for drinking it. :)


[ Parent ]

Yeast and GE (2.00 / 1) (#62)
by djotto on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 08:27:18 AM EST

especially if I started listing weird stuff like cock ale

Y'know, that reminds me... would it be feasible to develop a strain of yeast that produces THC as a by-product of fermentation? Anyone?

[ Parent ]
THC (none / 0) (#74)
by Hadlock on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 11:43:00 AM EST

only problem with THC is that it's heat activated, so you'd either have to microwave your beer before drinking it, or have the yeast heat up the beer to levels that it activates the THC, assuming it is produced before that point. Neat idea, though.
i need a customer appreciation bat.
[ Parent ]
Well, that would mean... (none / 0) (#84)
by tekue on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:03:28 AM EST

...that you can't eat marijuana. Oh, that's just sad.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. --Tom Robbins
[ Parent ]
But nobody mentioned (3.66 / 3) (#50)
by Phage on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:13:12 AM EST

The use of a jet engine to cool your beer.

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.

Noble Sacrifice. (none / 0) (#51)
by phliar on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 12:37:38 AM EST

I raise my glass and doff my hat -- or rather, I would if I wore one -- to the noble sacrifices made by all those baby plants and micro-organisms. If there is god, she is benevolent and just -- the existence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae proves it!

Good article (we forgive you the liberties you took)!

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

If there is a goddess (none / 0) (#75)
by epepke on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 01:12:11 PM EST

Then she is Ninkasi.

(Ninkasi was the Sumerian goddess of beer. One of the oldest surviving written prayers is a prayer to Ninkasi that essentially consists of a recipe for beer. Anchor tried making some based on the recipe a few years back; apparently it wasn't all that great.)

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Tell me it's not so (none / 0) (#59)
by CaptainZapp on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 05:33:54 AM EST

Did you know that your favorite beverage consisted of piss and farts?

So, you're telling us that beer is designed by the same entities (disguised as "caterers"), that are responsible for the yummy "food" they serve aboard of commercial flights?

Thank you. (none / 0) (#65)
by Talanvor on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:38:29 AM EST

I'm now even more convinced never to drink a beer. Not that most of what else I eat/drink is that much better, but you painted the picture much too vividly.

Strange Federal Regulations (none / 0) (#66)
by n8f8 on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:51:45 AM EST

I thought about making a home brewing/distilling kit. During my research I came across tons of information on the arcane laws in the US on producing alcoholic beverages. Probably the most blatant Federal copporate protection I've ever seen. Sure its legal to produce wine and beer in limited quantities, but producing distilled alcoholic beveradges (that won't make you go blind) is illegal and heavily regulated. Unfortunatly home brewing and distilling will always be a niche hobby and the chances of forming any sort of lobby to change this is pretty much impossible.



Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
other reply (none / 0) (#73)
by ritlane on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:58:21 AM EST

please check out my response to distilling, posted elsewhere. I'm interested in your thoughts

I like fighting robots
[ Parent ]
Brewing beer... (none / 0) (#69)
by darthaggie on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 10:16:20 AM EST

...is much like making sausage. It's not a sport for the squeamish.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
Fish died to bring me beer... (none / 0) (#86)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:15:11 AM EST

Oh come on, they missed out the part about the swim bladders of fish!

One of the finings commonly used to filter beer is isinglass, the shredded, freeze dried, powdered swim bladder of sturgeon dissolved in liquid suspension (Another type of fining is made from Gelatin).

This is why many beers are NOT vegetarian!
This is of course entirely the vegetarians' loss...
"Information wants to be paid"
A third is seaweed, aka Irish Moss (none / 0) (#88)
by georgeha on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 10:52:56 AM EST

and that is what I use in my homebrew. My current batch has honey, though, which may offend vegetarians.

[ Parent ]
^etaria^ (none / 0) (#90)
by eightball on Wed Feb 27, 2002 at 02:26:30 PM EST

You may offend vegans. Almost as a rule, vegetarians could care less about bee spit.
If they did care, they are really vegans.

[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#102)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 12:36:09 AM EST

Vegans are the only real vegetarians. Vegetarians that aren't vegans are lactovegetarians, oevovegetarians or lactooevovegetarians.

Understandably, it is common to truncate and call all *vegatarians simply vegetarians.

But the vegans are the only ones that stay true to the etymology of the word.

[ Parent ]

Where does honey fit in? (none / 0) (#103)
by georgeha on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 12:12:45 PM EST

okay,or not okay?

[ Parent ]
Ask your local vegan (none / 0) (#104)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:33:32 PM EST

I've known self proclaimed vegetarians and vegans on both side of the issue. Whichever way they answer, you can be certain that it will offend half the people that claim to be vegan or "strict" vegetarian.

[ Parent ]
And What Is Geltin? (none / 0) (#100)
by Couch Commander on Thu Feb 28, 2002 at 02:20:04 PM EST

Boiled cow hooves! Yum.

[ Parent ]
Yeat does what? (none / 0) (#105)
by Ressev on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 10:58:33 AM EST

Your anthropomorphism is somewhat innacurate.

Yeast, does not 'piss' urine, people do. People do not 'piss' alchohol, people do. You might as well say we drink the blood of maple trees on our pancakes. Yeast gives off what are waste products to itself. Nothing more, nothing less.

Remember, your dung is dinner to a magot and scarab.
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain

lol (none / 0) (#106)
by Ressev on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:03:10 AM EST

meant yeast in the 2nd sentance of the 2nd paragraph.
"Even a wise man can learn from a fool."
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." - Mark Twain
[ Parent ]
wow (none / 0) (#109)
by punkamedic on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 12:19:48 PM EST

but don't it taste ace
Dog tossers for three generations
Beer's Seamy Origins | 110 comments (88 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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