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About

The Site

Collected notes, rambles, and general ideas related to beer and the intersection of brewing and science.  Beer proudly stands on the shoulders of tradition, and finds rejuvenation in both innovation, and convenient failings of memory. The beverage is too easy a canvas for marketers, and yet well suited for artisans. I am fascinated by the tension between business,  creative, and technological forces.

The Author

When Ben's not writing, researching, or otherwise experimenting with beer, Ben works as an engineer in the biopharmaceutical industry.  His position offers some opportunity to travel to lands with diverse brewing traditions.
e-mail: ben@beerthoughts.com



A few previously published pieces are included, and are so noted.

Greatest Hits

Nostalgia and New Ideas: Craft Beer Luminaries Find Ways To Stay Relevant

I'm not envious of the youngsters starting out in an era when good beer is available on every street corner.   Yes, things have never been more exciting in US Micro brewing but I feel the grip of  nostalgia.  New breweries are opening almost weekly.  New taprooms draw crowds to taste new, photogenic beers.  Novelty, at times, seems to surpass quality in importance to today's promiscuous drinkers.  Which isn't to say that we didn't get around in my day.  It's just that we didn't make such an effort to make an obvious trail, or tally our conquests.  Which were, admittedly, somewhat smaller in number.  Might today's craft drinkers missing some great beers from great breweries, in a quest for the next big thing, and a desire to avoid drinking one of dad's many microbrews?  The good news is that many are doing cool things to stay interesting, and remain in conversation. So many brewing luminaries of my youth are now ancient.  Great Lakes Brewing is 30. 

Session #134 What is a Beer Garden?

Beer Blogging Friday: The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, begun in March of 2007 by Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin . This month, Tom Cizaukas of Yours for Good Fermentables poses beer bloggers of the question What is a Beer Garden?  Is it a specific type of place, or is it a feeling?  It's not exactly an existential question, but it is something that baits a beer geek's sense of order.  Beer writers classify the beverage into hundreds of styles, with very specific and at times subtle distinctions.  We're all too happy to point out details that keep something true to style, and where it all goes wrong.  Maybe this comes from beer's Teutonic heritage.   Today's phrase of interest is appropriated from the German biergarten .  I'll approach my discussion of the term by starting with the root, exploring traditions and alternative terms in it's native tongue, and then expoundin

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