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Showing posts from October, 2012

Dear Science, Are You Flavoring My Beer?

It's impossible for traditional crafts to exist in a vacuum, isolated from the innovations and discoveries of the modern world.  Brewing is no different.  It's a craft rejuvenated by home brewers returning to the traditions of the past, and entrepreneurs who followed their passions into a battle against Goliaths of commerce and misconception often romanticizing the individual artisan while celebrating the greatness created when the brewer's art embraced industry in Bohemia, Britain, and Germany.  The pace of scientific discovery and technological change has only hastened.  Today scientific discovery and technological improvements are influencing beer through its ingredients, brewing processes, and marketing.

Technological changes to beer ingredients are both the most frightening, and the most exciting sources of science driven innovation available to the modern brewer. While a good beer may be transcend the qualities of its components, it's difficult to artfully mask f…

Dear Science, What Have You Done?

This week, Nature published a paper entitled "A physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome".    Promotional Press releases were quick to link this achievement to potential crop improvements.  The London Press wasted no time in connecting the dots to beer.  "Improvements" are changes, and the craft beer community greets all changes with levels of skepticism that are, at a minimum, healthy.  Alan McLeod's Good Beer Blog saw the discovery as the beginning of sceince's impact on brewing, and was quick to expand the question of the relative benefit of genetically engineered barley crops into a broad challenge to science as a whole: Can Science Really Improve Beer As Known Now?  Science has contributed significantly to brewing throughout the history of the art, and provided the tools that allow us to best appreciate our ancestors beer styles and brewing techniques.

Firstly, Science must be defined as an actor if it is to have a positi…

Beer Destinations: Prague

Beneath a fairy tale skyline of spires, domes, and towers, a modern city of industry and commerce sits upon cobblestone streets and ancient bridges.Prague is a maddening riddle.Brilliant minds like Franz Kafka and Bohumil Hrabal relied upon surrealistic visions to make sense of it.Despite the city’s complex and frankly tumultuous history, there’s a millennia of brilliantly preserved architecture, miraculously spared the devastation of fire, war, and tasteless modernizations that have continuously reshaped many European cities.

Located between the noble hop fields of Žatec (Saaz in German) and Moravia’s cascading barley fields, Prague is within easy reach of the ingredients to needed to sustain a vital brewing scene. However, the city was not spared the 20th century’s assault on local beer culture.In the early 1990s, international breweries monopolized the city’s tap handles.Brewpubs were mostly forgotten, a novelty for tourists, at best. This Prague earned a reputation for drinking hol…

Centrifuges in Brewing

I clicked into a link to catch up activities at local brewery Jack's Abby, and was surprised by one of the ads on the site.  A Westfalia centrifuge?  Did clever ad AI figure out that I was a little interested in quoting a pilot unit for work?  Nope.  This ad was sold directly to the site.

It just seemed wildly out of place on a Craft Beer and Brewery website There's a lot of respect for tradition among craft brewers, and frankly not many large scale breweries where this type of equipment makes financial sense.  The captains of industry the defined so many styles in the Victorian era never would have imagined the insanity that is a continuous flow disc stack centrifuge.  I can barely comprehend it despite having worked with them for six years.  GEA Westfalia's video on Separation technology is fairly instructive, even if the music makes me giggle.

That's not to say centrifuges have no place in brewing.  They are nice pieces of equipment, and offer brewers a clarification…