Yesterday, guest blogger Madeleine Johnson had a story here about a piece of ancient Peruvian pottery — in the shape of a very grumpy little cat. If you haven't read her story, you really should. It's all about the great cat memes of ancient history and how archaeologists can use clues from an artwork to track down who made it, where, and when.
My friend Andrew was kind enough to adapt Ancient Grumpy Cat into the form of a modern cat meme. That's his picture above. Madeleine and I also put together another one, based on Ancient Grumpy Cat's probable history as a ceremonial mug for drinking a corn beer called chicha:
Read the rest
(Click to embiggen)
Feòrag NicBhrìde has provided us with a vital cartographic reference: a map of Europe showing the word for "beer" in each country.
The Essential Map of Europe and Environs.
Over in the /r/homebrewing subreddit, user hatchetthrower has recreated one of my favorite fictional brews: Bendërbrāu, a homebrewed beer from Futurama made entirely inside Bender the robot's chassis. The recipe for the clone is pretty dead on: it's a steam beer as suggested by the label in the show, uses space-aged sounding Zythos hops (Galaxy was out of stock), and Rush 2112 yeast because Rush is one of Fry's favorite bands.
Check out the rest of the discussion on Reddit, as well as this Bender fermenter build for ultrafans.
In this video
, Charlie The Pope of Foam" Bamforth, the head of Malting and Brewing Science at UC Davis, explains beer-making and reveals how to pick the freshest pint when you're at a pub. "How Beer Saved The World," "Why I Tease Those Wine Guys," and "How Bird Poop Makes A More Aromatic Belgian Beer" are but a few tidbits.
The science of skunked beer
— or why clear glass bottles are the bane of brew.
I'm trying to decide which is more awesome: That a Danish beer company once had a laboratory that did research in protein chemistry and funded independent scientists ... or that said beer company gave Niels Bohr an unlimited, in-home beer supply
as a gift in honor of Bohr winning the Nobel Prize. (Via Charlie Papazian)
Yes, it's $72. But this 3-D printed metal sculpture/bottle opener is fantastic. And so is its marketing copy.
The problem of beer That it is within a 'bottle', i.e. a boundaryless compact 2-manifold homeomorphic to the sphere. Since beer bottles are not (usually) pathological or "wild" spheres, but smooth manifolds, they separate 3-space into two non-communicating regions: inside, containing beer, and outside, containing you. This state must not remain.
Read the rest of the product description and, you know, maybe buy the bottle opener, too. If you're feeling spendy.
Via Cliff Pickover
When scientists from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Germany sequenced the genome of barley, they were thinking primarily about the impact on food. Understanding the genetics behind certain traits could help us breed barley varieties that have built-in resistance against disease, or that contain more fiber. (Contrary to popular understanding, there's actually a lot of overlap between what we might think of as genetic engineering and what we might think of as breeding. Crop researchers can use genome maps to select specific plants to cross pollinate, enabling them to reliably breed a trait into a new variety much faster than was previously possible.)
But, this is barley. And we don't just eat barley. With this plant, sequencing the genome also has implications for the way we brew beer. At Popular Science, Martha Harbison explains what we're learning about barley's genetic code and why it matters in beer making. In particular, she says it's significant that the researchers sequenced the genomes of more than one variety of barley.
Why should aspiring homebrewers care? Because two-row and six-row barley behave slightly differently in the mash, which can have profound effects on brewing efficiency and characteristics of the finished beer (a complex phenomenon I'll get into in a future column). I figured anyone nerdulent enough to want to know about genetic differences of cultivars would be curious as to which kind of barley was used in the single-nucleotide-variation study.
Read the rest of the story at Popular Science
You can read more about the surprisingly complex world of plant breeding in two articles I wrote — one for Popular Science, and one for Discover.
Image: Beers and Glassware, a Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from cambridgebrewingcompany's photostream
Taisto Miettinen and Kristina Haapanen are once again wife-carrying world champions
, writes Scott Thistle at the Oxford Hills Sun-Journal: "The prize, besides a check for $530 ... is the winning woman's weight in beer." [The complete leaderboard
According to a survey of 200,000 Americans, Miller High Life is the most bi-partisan of beers. Republicans favor Samuel Adams and, apparently, there are a lot of Democrats drinking Heineken. (Although one might argue that these results are heavily skewed, as the survey did not include either microbrews or microparties. God only knows what the Libertarians are drinking.) There's a chart. Yay, charts! (Via Kevin Zelnio)
In a recent study at the University of Bristol, young people drank beer faster when it was served to them in a curved, fluted glass
. It's a small study, but the researchers think it could be a first clue toward understanding why we sometimes get more drunk than we meant to do. Researchers found it was difficult for people to judge volume of liquid in a curved glass, which might mean it's also harder to pace drinking. (Via Noah Gray)
I often make my own beer at a local brew-it-yourself taproom (props to The Brew Kettle). The bottles we use are 22-ounces, so drinking one is almost like drinking two. Often times I'll end up drinking more than I wanted or drinking none at all (oh, the horror).
Stumbled across the Hermetus Bottle Opener and Sealer while looking for a Father's Day gift for my dad. Bought one for him, a couple guys in the brew group, and myself. To create an airtight seal simply slip it over the top of the bottle. It works perfectly.
Drank half a bottle one night then sealed it and put it in the fridge. Drank remaining half the second night, and it tasted the same and still had a nice head on it. I love the simplicity of the design!
Themac sez, "Fantastic response to a cease and desist. I was particularly impressed at whom they cc'ed." This may be the nicest "go screw yourself" letter ever sent.
Best letter ever written to a Lawyer
The backdrop: The San Antonio, Texas based Freetail Brewing Co. received a cease and desist letter from the Steelhead Brewing Co. (based out of Eugene, Oregon) demanding that they stop using “Hopasaurus Rex” as a name for one of their beers.