What Does 170-Year-Old Beer Taste Like?

Five years ago, divers off the coast of Finland found beer and Champagne preserved underwater inside a 170-year-old shipwreck. Being naturally curious, scientists wanted to know what the beer tasted like. When they sampled the beer, they found it foul-smelling and sour—so sour they couldn’t tell how it was originally meant to taste.

So the scientists subjected the beer to chemical analysis using the latest technology. The machinery cut through their the beers’ awful taste and revealed their molecular structure.

A56 and C49 turned out to clearly be different beers. C49 was much hoppier and thus more bitter. An analysis of yeast-derived flavor compounds—basically the stuff that gives beers its fruity and floral notes—also revealed rose and sweet apples flavors that were high in A56. C49 had a higher concentration of flavor compounds for green tea.

Some flavor differences may be because of how beer was brewed differently in the 19th century. For example, A56 contained much more of a compound called furfural, which is possibly the result of mash being heated over an open fire. Both beers, even when they were fresh, were also more sour than your average modern brew. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that brewers learned how to keep acid-producing bacteria out of beer. Until that breakthrough, pretty much all beer, including A56 and C49, was sour beer.

It’s only a matter of time—far less than another 170 years—before some brewery tries to reverse-engineer these beers and put them on the market.

The Friday Mash (ASCAP Edition)

On this day in 1914, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers was formed. This performance-rights organization takes in close to $1 billion in licensing fees, most of which it distributes to artists as royalties.

And now (cue the music)…The Mash!

We begin in the Verizon Center in Washington, where the Brooklyn Nets’ Mason Plumlee committed the ultimate party foul. He crashed into a courtside vendor, sending $200 worth of beer flying.

Researchers have found that if you’re seen holding a glass of beer, you will be perceived as less intelligent. It’s called “the imbibing idiot bias”: we closely associate drinking and dumb behavior.

The Louisville Courier-Journal asked local brewers how they name their beers. Just as they brew their beers differently, they follow different processes for naming them.

One beer trend that’s taking off this year is grocery store growlers. For example, several Kroger locations in Virginia are offering 32- and 64-ouncers with a choice of eight different taps.

China’s anti-corruption campaign has been a drag on the brewing indsutry. Government officials are refusing invitations to go drinking out of fear of being accused of taking bribes.

Drinking beer out of cans might endanger your health. Cans are lined with epoxy that contains bisphenol-A, a chemical that’s been linked to a number of serious ailments.

Finally, Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn has released a Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired beer. It’s fortified with ginseng to boost the sex drive, ginkgo biloba to get the blood pumping, and a mild nerve stimulant called damiana.

The Friday Mash (Railroad Tycoon Edition)

Two hundred years ago today, the state of New Jersey awarded the first-ever railroad franchise to Colonel John Stevens III, the inventor who constructed America’s first steam locomotive.

And the bar car is open!

Fore! We begin at the 16th hole of the Phoenix Open, where rowdy spectators celebrated Francesco Molinari’s hole-in-one by showering him with beer and other flying objects.

A Minnesota brewery found out that it can’t sell “Rated R” beer. Not because of violence or sex, but because the Motion Picture Association of America trademarked the phrase. Molson’s XXX is, presumably, still in the clear.

MillerCoors has installed 10,000 solar panels at its Irwindale, California, brewery. The new system will generate enough electricity to brew seven million cases of beer each year.

Blank Slate Brewing Company joined forces with Oskar Blues Brewery to brew “Cincy 3-Way Porter.” The beer contains cumin, coriander, allspice and cinnamon, which are found in Cincinnati-style chili.

Researchers in China have discovered that xanthohumol, a substance found in hops, contains anti-oxidants that may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

Ontario’s government plans some changes to its relationship with The Beer Store, the province’s quasi-monopoly. However, those changes won’t bring beer into convenience stores.

Finally, Yeti Coolers has invented a super-luxury koozie. The Colster, which retails for $30, wraps a beer in a stainless steel, double-walled, vacuum-insulated enclosure; and its “No Sweat” design prevents condensation from forming.

The Friday Mash (Liechtenstein Edition)

On this day in 1719, the Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire. A couple of fun facts about this tiny country: it is the world’s leading producer of false teeth; and its capital, Vaduz, is one of only two in the world that ends with the letter “z”.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Pennsylvania, whose incoming governor turned down an offer of free Yuengling for his inauguration. A state senator says the governor snubbed the brewery because of its CEO’s political views.

MillerCoors plans to offer a gluten-free beer. The beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, will be brewed with brown rice and protein from peas instead of barley.

A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to repeal a Liquor Commission rule banning pictures of children from beer labels. Founders Breakfast Stout’s label features a baby eating cereal.

The Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater, Florida, wanted a really distinctive tap for its Fowler’s Bluff IPA, so it hired Tangible Labs, a 3-D printing company, to fashion one.

A new South Carolina law that allows breweries to sell pints has given the state’s economy a $13.7 million boost. Twelve breweries have opened in the state since the law took effect.

Grease from that slice of pizza you just ate can kill the foam on your beer. It lowers the surface tension on the foam, which tears apart the structure of the bubbles and releases their gases.

Finally, an outcry from angry beer fans forced Lagunitas Brewing Company to drop its trademark suit against Stone Brewing Company. Lagunitas claimed that Stone’s logo for Hop Hunter IPA was too similar to the Lagunitas IPA logo.

The Friday Mash (Boxing Day Edition)

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain, Canada, much of the Commonwealth, and several countries in continental Europe. The origins of the name are unclear, but one thing is for certain: most people living in those countries get the day off from work. Cheers, everyone!

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly we begin in Canada, where Gerald Comeau is challenging the constitutionality of laws limiting how much alcohol one may bring across provincial lines. Comeau’s legal team thinks he has a good chance of winning.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has approved home delivery of beer by food retailers. The maximum deliverable quantity is 192 ounces, and the beer must be paid for with a credit card while ordering.

Russia’s economic woes could be bad news for beer drinkers. In an effort to keep bread affordable at home, President Vladimir Putin has slapped a tax on exports of barley and other grains.

Jennifer Wiley, a University of Illinois scientist, has found that a person with a BAC near .08 reaches a creative peak because he or she is less able to over-think during a task. A new Danish beer aims to help drinkers reach that intellectual sweet spot.

Dos Equis is America’s fastest-growing beer brand, thanks to ads featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” On the other hand, #2 brand Modelo Especial does very little advertising in English.

Zane Lamprey, the host of National Geographic’s TV show “Chug”, has developed a “drinking jacket”. It has a “beer koozie” breast pocket, a zipper that doubles as a bottle opener, and slip-resistant drinking gloves. And it comes in four colors.

Finally, Modern Farmer magazine answers your burning questions about beer-drinking donkeys. Heading the list: can donkeys get drunk? Answer: Yes*, but because they weigh more than 200 pounds, they require more than the average human.

* Ludwig would like to state for the record that he drinks responsibly.

The Friday Mash (Man on the Moon Edition)

On this day in 1972, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans, and Harrison Schmitt, returned to Earth. The craft’s re-entry marked the end of America’s manned lunar program. Cernan currently holds the distinction of being the last man to walk on the Moon.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in England, where the publishers of Original Gravity, a beer-centric magazine, have put Issue #1 online, free of charge. Enjoy!

The founders of Surly Brewing Company—Omar Ansari, a first-generation American; and Todd Haug, a death-metal guitarist—have done well, both for themselves and Minnesota’s beer drinkers.

Belgian scientists have found a way to keep beer from over-foaming. They applied a magnetic field to a malt infused with hops extract to disperse its anti-foaming agent into tinier particles.

Archaeologists have concluded that Iceland’s Vikings were more interested in drinking and feasting than in pillaging. Unfortunately for them, the Little Ice Age became the ultimate party-pooper.

A pair of brothers have invented something that makes it easier to enjoy a beer while taking a shower. Their Sip Caddy is a portable cup holder that can be attached to the wall.

Lance Curran, the co-founder of Chicago’s Arcade Brewery, loves comic books so much that he had comic strips drawn on the labels of its Festus Rotgut black wheat ale.

Finally, a woman attending a Philadelphia 76ers game wound up with a lapful of beer after an errant pass knocked the cup out of her hand. The way the Sixers are playing this season, she–and every other fan–needs some beer to deaden the pain.

The Friday Mash (”No Music Day” Edition)

No Music Day was introduced by Bill Drummond to draw attention to the cheapening of music as an art form. Ironically, it coincides with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph, which made all that music possible, on November 21, 1877.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Seattle, where a local television station claims the Seattle Seahawks are selling watered-down beer. The breweries deny that the beer has a lower-than-advertised alcohol content.

The East Side Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, raised quite a few eyebrows with Sunday Evening Beer and Hymns. Outreach pastor Evan Taylor said, “We like to rattle the cage a little bit.”

Within the MillerCoors LLC’s s State Street complex is a smaller, independent operation whose beer include a chocolate lager and one with pineapple-scentedd hops.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is making a batch of beer with 25 pounds of scrapple. Other ingredients include maple syrup, coffee, and applewood-smoked barley.

Add your liquidity joke here. Bradley Trapnell, a finance guy who’d worked for Fannie Mae, is opening a growler shop in his hometown of Highland Village, Texas. He’ll have 36 beers on tap.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but beer is harder to spill than coffee. According to scientists, it’s because beer contains foam, which acts as a shock absorber: the more foam, the less spillage.

Finally, San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company has released .394 Pale Ale. It honors Padres’ Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who collaborated with the brewery before he passed away last June.

The Friday Mash (Ludwig Returns! Edition)

Early this morning, Ludwig pulled out his lion phone and texted us. He said he’s on a plane home, and expects us to meet him at the airport. While waiting for his plane, we got caught up on news from the beer world.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Detroit, where Shawn and Aaron Gross will open Windmill Pointe Brewery next year. They’ll rely on bicyclists to provide the power in exchange for beer.

Paperwork is a pain, so the Minneapolis-based Colle + McVoy ad agency gives employees an incentive to turn in their time sheets—in the form of a pint of August Schell beer.

Your friends probably believe at least one of the ten persistent beer myths (myth #1 involves IPA’s origins). Jim Vorel of Paste magazine is here to debunk them.

The Force had better be with New York State’s Empire Brewery. Lucasfilm filed a “Notice of Opposition” to the brewery’s application to trademark “Strikes Bock by Empire.”

British public-health experts want alcoholic beverage labels to disclose the drink’s caloric content. They contend that heavy drinking is a major cause of obesity.

Mystery shopper Kyle Taylor says he earned $4,000 a month as a “beer auditor.” His job was to make sure retailers follow ID-checking procedures. And yes, he was over 21.

Finally, Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb reflects on the “dad beer” phenomenon. Brands such as Schaefer and Genesee Cream Ale are enjoying a revival thanks to drinkers toasting their fathers and grandfathers.

The Friday Mash (Earthquake Edition)

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed more than 60 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because it occurred minutes before Game 3 of the World Series, it became the first major earthquake to be broadcast on national television.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Melbourne Beach, Florida, where a house inspired by beer bottles is on the market for $2.95 million. And it’s built to withstand hurricanes.

Louiville mayor Greg Fischer wants beer to join bourbon as a tourist attraction. He’d also like a bourbon-barrel beer festival and the revival of Kentucky common beer.

Are you a beer aficionado? James Grebey of Buzzfeed.com has compiled a list of 21 warning signs. Warning sign #6: You have a very, very deeply held opinion about pumpkin beer.

Now that legal marijuana is gaining momentum, economists are looking at legalization’s effect on the beer industry. Some think higher spending on pot will mean less spending on beer.

The Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is blowing the whistle on Boston-area bars that take bribes from breweries. The practice is illegal, but violators are rarely punished.

Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, wants to brew beer in Detroit. He bought a 100-year-old former General Motors building, part of which will house his own brewery.

Finally, scientists have discovered that fruit flies love brewer’s yeast. A gene in the yeast releases a fruity smell that attracts the flies which, in turn, spread the yeasts to new habitats.

GABF Medals: Behind the Numbers

Breweries from western states, Colorado in particular, win a disproportionate number of Great American Beer Festival medals. Some observers believe western breweries win more medals because they make better beer. Others believe that their proximity to Denver gives them an advantage: it’s a lot easier to ship beer from Boulder than, say, New Jersey.

Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, offers a different explanation: Western breweries simply enter more beers. Watson calculated the number of expected medals per state, which is determined by both the number of beers entered and the categories in which they competed. (The second factor is important because it’s much harder to win a medal for an IPA than for a less-popular style such as dark lager.) He then compared the number of medals actually won to the expected number.

Watson discovered was that the actual medal count was very close to the expected number. From that, he drew two conclusions. First, no region of the country can claim it makes significantly better beer than others. And second, distance from Denver doesn’t keep states from winning medals; however, it does limit the number of entries. Which gets us back to the argument about proximity to Denver.

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