Bustin out the Beer!

19 Mar

Fact: I am of german descent.  Fact:  I am part Scottish too!  Fact: I like beer, especially a microbrew made from a small brewery.   And with spring and warm summer nights are coming up, lots of people will be drinking beer. Good thing beer is good for you!  Who knew?

Beer has been around for a long time.  It was a beverage of ancient Africa and Egypt.  Some beer that Egyptians made came from unbaked bread.  (Some beer today is known as a “sandwich” for that reason).   Beer pretty much stayed the same from the ancient times until the genius of Louis Pasteur in the mid 19th century.  What? Louis Pasteur and beer?  You bet!

Louis Pasteur, famous French chemist and biologist, contributed advancements in science with yeast and fermentation. Fermentation is a chemical process involving sugars turning into alcohol.  This was his contribution to beer and brewing.  We only know the french for their wine.  Now we can thank them for our beer too!  Anyway, Pasteur also discovered the relationship between heat and fermentation.  This led to pasteurization.  This method was used to preserve beer decades before it was applied to milk!  Thank you to the French scientists, but now we must thank the Germans as well.

Germans had been brewing beer for hundreds of years, but could not do so in the warm months because the beer would spoil. They began to brew only in the cold months and store their brewed beer in caves in the Alps.  The climate in the caves were cool, and they discovered in doing so that the beer did not spoil.  This was the fermentation process at work, but they did not know that at the time.  It was called the lager method.  They did not know why it worked, but it produced a better beer, so onward and upward!  Another advancement in the beer we love today.

I particularly enjoy microbrews and “craft” beers. The brew masters of smaller craft breweries play with the recipes and flavor a bit.  For a foodie like myself, beer can be every bit as much fun to match with food as fine wines.  Alterations in recipes and ingredients can provide interesting flavor variances, which is a lot of fun to taste.  Beer from small breweries can also be interesting to taste regionally.  In addition to local food, it can provide another way to sample local flavors to traveling.  There are dozens of variations of beer, maybe even hundreds, so it can really be a celebration of the palate to go beer tasting!

Believe it or not, beer does have health benefits.  Any alcohol, when consumed in moderation, will lower “bad” cholesterol , reduces the risk of blood clots, has been associated with lowering the risk of kidney stones and heart disease, and decreases the risk of other diseases.  Beer is made with natural ingredients including plant sources, so it is nutritional.  It is fat free and even contains some protein.  As far as vitamins and minerals go, beer has niacin, folate, calcium, potassium, and even fluoride!  So at your next dental cleaning, when the dentist compliments your excellent home mouth care, you can thank your local brewer! Bottoms up!


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