HOMEBREW Digest #1047 Mon 04 January 1993
FORUM ON BEER, HOMEBREWING, AND RELATED ISSUES
Rob Gardner, Digest Coordinator
UV/fermenter (Jack Thompson)
Alchohol and health (Phillip Seitz)
Calculate First, TV and TJHB! (TiM)
Some Questions about Lambic (George J Fix)
Enzyme for brewing "dry" beers (Tom Kaltenbach)
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Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1993 04:17:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Jack Thompson <jct at reed.edu>
I am not competent to answer Tom Kaltenbach's question about the effect of
UV on fermenting beer, but I can suggest a couple of things about light
and UV in general (there's a reason that most beers are bottled in brown
(or green for a few brews) bottles. Increased shelf life (Miller's and
Henry Weinhard's must sell very fast!).
Incandescent bulbs put out upwards of 75 microwatts/lumen of UV. That is
not very much energy, but UV is a mutagen, and plastic, unless it has a UV
absorber incorporated with it, does not slow UV down to any appreciable
extent. A couple of things which you might do are to put black paper
around the fermenter and paint the inside of the refrigerator with a
titanium white paint. Titanium absorbs UV better than any other white
Looking forward to reading any other postings to your question.
Thompson Conservation Laboratory
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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 93 16:27 GMT
From: Phillip Seitz <0004531571 at mcimail.com>
Subject: Alchohol and health
Now that the holidays are safely over, HBD readers may be
interested in a recent review article on alchohol consumption and
health published in the November 1992 issue of NUTRITION ACTION
HEALTH LETTER (Vo. 19 #9). This is a publication of Center for
Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit organization that
focuses on nutritional issues. Their article is footnoted for
those who wish to peruse the original publications in the NEW
ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICIEN, LANCET, JAMA, etc.
First the good news: moderate consumption of alchohol lowers your
risk of heart disease. For instance, a study of 44,000 men by
the Harvard School of Public health found that those reporting
consumption of one half to two drinks a day had a 26% lower risk
of developing heart disease. These findings have been reinforced
in studies by the American Cancer Society and other
organizations. (A "drink" is defined as 1/2 ounce of pure
alchohol, or in homebrew terms about one can of Budmilloors).
The director of the French National Institue of Health and
Medical Research is quoted as saying that "there is no other drug
that is so efficient [at preventing heart attacks] as the
moderate intake of alchohol."
Why is this? It appears that alchohol has a significant
ability to raise HDL cholesterol levels (this is the "good"
cholesterol); drinkers have been found to have 10-15% more HDL
than non-drinkers. "As alchohol intake goes up, HDL goes up,"
according to the director of the Framingham Heart Study (although
it should be noted that after 2-4 drinks a day there is no
increased benefit in further consumption). However, the article
also notes that there is no direct link between alchohol and
reduced risk of heart disease--the above studies show
correlation, not necessarily cause--and there is a possibility
that differences in lifestyle between drinkers and non-drinkers
may account for some of the effect.
Now the bad news. Actually, this comes in two parts. The first
part is that while alchohol consumption lowers risk of heart
disease, when it passes from moderate to heavy it increases risk
of cancer, stroke, and death from other causes. There is
therefore a balance between risk and benefit, and it cannot be
stated that more you drink the better off you are.
The second part has to do with the definition of "moderate".
This differs for men and women. "Moderate" alchohol consumption
for men lies somewhere between one and two "drinks" a day (note
that this means quantity of alchohol consumed, not the bottles of
doppelbock!). Basically, once you pass 2 drinks a day the scale
tips toward the unfavorable. As the article says, "At four
drinks a day, while a man is 25 percent less likely than a non-
drinker to die of heart disease, he is 30 to 35 percent more
likely to die of cancer or stroke. He's also more likely to
become addicted to alchohol." (p. 6) A handy reference chart
with the relative risks is printed on this page for those who
like to gamble.
Women have it tougher: the break point appears to be between
3-7 drinks a week, with increased risk of breast cancer being the
major problem. One study showed that women drinking 3-9 drinks a
week cut risk of heart disease by 40 percent, but increased risk
of breast cancer by 30 percent. Doctors therefore urge women to
take their own medical history into account when regulating
alchohol consumption, but can't offer any firm guidelines. The
reason is that while the cancer risk goes up for women, many more
women die of heart disease than of cancer--by a factor of about
3.5 to 1--so reducing heart risk at the cost of increased cancer
risk may have net advantages. In the opinion of one of the co-
investigators on the above-mentioned (3-9 drink) study, "A drink
a day for a woman is not too much. There's little health reason
to stop." (p. 6)
Just in case any of your are thinking about it, the article
also notes that binge drinking does not provide the health
benefits of smaller portions regularly spaced out. Drinking your
week's allowance of booze in one sitting doesn't have the same
In spite of all this, the pundits are reluctant to encourage
people to start drinking, or to drink more. In my own opinion
this is at least partially due to a cultural bias against
drinking, but it is also true that a substantial minority of
drinkers cannot control their consumption. Also barred are
pregnant women, people taking certain medications, and people
driving or operating other machinery.
In other words, if you're in the moderate range (up to 2/day
for men, 1/day for women), don't worry. If you're drinking more,
well, you might consider worrying a little.
Anybody who's interested in further information should
contact CSPI at 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Sutie 300, Washington,
D.C. 20009. Telephone: 202-332-9110.
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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1993 02:20:33 -0500
From: TiM at world.std.com
Subject: Calculate First, TV and TJHB!
Always Compute First.
Just a reminder for those of us who are still in our 20th or so
brewing...I just finished a double brewing session, making a stout
(the last batch at 7 weeks was great, but I made a couple modifications
for this batch), and a Pilsner on its back. The Pilsner was from a
recipe in ZYMURGY. After I ground the grains and mashed, I thought
the grain looked a little thin, but what was I to know, I've been
running around brewing bunches of 1.055-60 beers the past few months.
When the O.G. came out at 1.036 I nearly died...THEN I went to my
handy dandy Darryl Richmond shareware converted to EXCELL and mucked
with spreadsheet and found that no extraction rate possible would
have been able to hit the O.G. of the published brew with the bill
of grain listed....normally I ALWAYS run things through the spreadsheet
or at least calculate them out on a piece of paper by hand...
The first time you're brewing anything, don't trust what you read.
Compute it yourself factoring in experience with your own equipment.
Live and Learn.
Strange Things On TV.
My wife was sitting in the living room writing on our portable with
some nameless noise on TV when she suddenly called me into the room.
Apparently it was some cop show (on Saturday evening) and they were
going to arrest some guy for having a 'still'. When the cameras
followed into the guys house it was obvious from the Cajun-type cooker
and setup that he was home-brewing. In the back of the squad car as
they were loading everything in was a copy of Papazian's JOY OF
HOMEBREWING! The cop gave this grand speech about how normally
this stuff would come out ok but all he has to do is deviate from the
recepie and it could kill someone...They were still convinced they
had a hard-liquor still. This probably wouldn't have made it to the
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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 93 17:12:59 CST
From: gjfix at utamat.uta.edu (George J Fix)
Subject: Some Questions about Lambic
The temptation to join a conversation which on the one hand involves hot-side
aeration (HSA), and on the other Martin Lodahl & Lambic, is too great
to pass up. Martin's reply in HBD#1045 to Steve Anastasi's interesting
post in HBD#1044 reminded me of a number of questions I always wanted
to ask him. Since these topics are current, I thought now was as good a
time as any to do so.
I have always assumed that in a beer style like Lambic, where flavor
complexity is taken to the outer limits possible in a grain based
beverage, that the usual rules do not always apply. I suspect that this
may be the case for Lambics as far as HSA is concerned. This, however,
like everything else in this post, is more of a question for Martin
than a statement of fact by me.
Negative effects due to HSA are usually reflected in a flavor the
Germans call "Herbstoffe." Roughly translated this means "grain bitter"
or "grain astringency." Although, I do not have Martin's vast tasting
experience with Lambics, the ones I have tasted in Europe have never
shown any indication of Herbstoffe. Sometimes I pick up astringent
tones in bottled Lambics which have been imported to the U.S. I
believe, however, these flavor tones are artifacts, i.e., resulted
from the beer's long journey across the Atlantic, and are not intrinsic
to this beer style.
There are some theoretical considerations which suggest HSA should
be a nonissue. Ironically, the same issues arise in a project I am
currently working on which involve beers very far removed in character
from Lambics. Herbstoffe arises from the presence of what could be
called HSA aldehydes. These in turn arise from the interaction of
ethanol in beer (as well as some other things) and products which were
oxidized on the hot side of wort production. The HSA aldehydes have
been isolated, and definitely display "grain astringent" flavors.
Moreover, it has also been shown that most Saccharomyces will ignore
them. Thus, in most beers, if present, they will spill over into the
finished beer and display Herbstoffe. With Lambics, on the other
hand, there is a good deal more to the story. As Professor Verachtert
and his students at the University of Leuven in Belgium have shown,
there are a large number of microbes which get onto the playing field.
It is conceivable, although definite proof is lacking, that some of
these might find the HSA aldehydes inviting targets, and reduce them
to alcohols. Given the large fatty acid composition of Lambics, the
alcohols would probably be converted to esters, and form a small part
of the very large ester pool in Lambics. If true, this would mean that
all of the splashing of hot wort that takes place in Lambic brewing
does no harm.
What bothers me (slightly) are the implications of this for North
American Lambic brewers. At the present time they will not be
dealing with a "full deck" with respect to the relevant microbes,
and this conceivably could be an important issue. To cite a
specific example, we have in the Southwest a number of really
dedicated Lambic brewers. A couple of these have gone to great
lengths to simulate the actual Lambic brewing environment, including
both splashing hot wort as well as having cob webs in their brewing
area. While I really enjoy tasting their beers, they consistently
have a flavor tone which I will oversimplify and call "metallic."
I do not remember ever tasting anything like this in Europe, although
I have tasted something like it in selected bottles which were
imported to the U.S. I, of course, defer to Martin for a final
judgement on "metallic" gflavors in Lambic. But, assuming for the
moment that they are artifacts and not intrinsic to Lambics, this
raises the issue of the possible need for brewers in North America
to modify the traditional process. If I were given a vote, I would
place as No. 1 on the list the removal of the cob webs; removal of
splashing comes further down on the list! However, in general which
of the rules we use for normal beer (whatever that might be!), should
be followed, and which should be rejected in favor of traditional Lambic
Martin, I realize this is the first working week of 1993, and
everyone has a lot to do. Thus, I hate to put a number like the
above in a good friend's lap at this time. Nevertheless, when you
have the opportunity, I would really enjoy your insights into
these matters, even if they are only preliminary and tentative
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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 93 22:30 EST
From: tom at kalten.bach1.sai.com (Tom Kaltenbach)
Subject: Enzyme for brewing "dry" beers
Last Thanksgiving I was in the Chicago area and I picked up a "dry beer"
kit made by Glenbrew of Scotland. I usually don't buy kits or hopped malt
extract, but I was intrigued by this kit because I've never really
understood how the mega-breweries go about making a "dry" beer. This kit
apparently is imitating Michelob Dry, as there was a big picture of a
Michelob bottle on the label, minus the Michelob name, of course. The
reason I am posting this message is that the kit included a packet that was
stamped "DRY PILSNER ENZYME, ADD WITH YEAST". Presumably this contains an
enzyme that helps break down the higher, unfermentable sugars in the wort
into simple sugars that can be metabolized by the yeast. Use of such an
enzyme might be an interesting new variable to try in different recipes.
Does anybody know what this enzyme might be? Is there a commercial source
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End of HOMEBREW Digest #1047, 01/04/93