Beer Department: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Beer

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I must admit, I’m usually averse to these sorts of lists that tend to dominate the virtual realm of the almighty Internet. I typically prefer more in-depth articles. Since I’m about to head on vacation, however, I find myself in the mood for some lighter writing (and reading) and I’m hoping you find yourself in a similar mood. Read on for 5 fun facts about beer that will make you sound way smarter at your next party. Cheers!

 

  1. Beer used to be prescribed to nursing mothers. Prior to the advent of modern medical science, 19th-century English women were often told to consume milk stouts as it was believed that the beer’s lactose would stimulate milk production. Of course, we now know that alcohol in any form can be passed through breast milk so please, don’t do this.
  2. European monks drink a lot of beer. Most religious denominations in America tend to discourage heavy alcohol consumption. However, many European monks, even in present day, have a much more casual relationship with beer. German monks famously invented doppelbock as a liquid form of carbohydrates to sustain them during fasting and records indicate that certain orders of Trappist monks used to have a daily beer ration of up to 3 liters (about 100oz) per monk. It’s a wonder they got any work or prayer done.
  3. You should never give beer to your dog. While plenty of people have given some beer to Fido, this is really something to avoid altogether. While the mechanism of toxicity isn’t precisely understood, it is observable that dogs exposed to hops, whether in beer, tea, oils, creams, or other forms, will exhibit symptoms of poisoning. It is believed that dogs are incapable of metabolizing one or more compounds in hops and this inability to rid their body of those compounds leads to a breakdown of the dog’s homeostatic mechanisms. Thresholds of toxicity are quite low and symptoms include fever, excessive panting, diarrhea, and vomiting. For the sake of our furry little friends, skip this entirely!
  4. Most brewers were historically women. It’s no secret that the beer industry today is largely male. But throughout history, women did most of the brewing. This is because beer production was closely associated with the domestic chores that often fell to wives, mothers, and daughters. The earliest recorded written recipe for beer dates back thousands of years to ancient Sumeria and the recipe was written as a hymn to a goddess named Ninkasi. In another example, Martin Luther’s wife brewed tons of beer in 16th-century Germany, so much so that she even sold it around town. There’s so much fascinating history in brewing that women don’t get credit for. So this is my call to all women– we need you in the beer world! If you love beer, embrace your roots and choose the path less taken. We as an industry as well as everyday customers will benefit from every ounce of diversity we can get!
  5. Cold beer won’t be ruined by returning to room temperature. This myth is so firmly entrenched that getting some folks to believe it can be quite tricky. Allow me to state unequivocally, for the record and into perpetuity, that minor temperature swings will not harm beer! Plenty of things can hurt beer: exposure to UV light, oxidation, etc. It is true that the best way to preserve beer is to keep it cold at all times and it is also true that temperature extremes can damage beer. However, as long as the beer doesn’t dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the beer will be fine. Between 32 and 80 degrees, beer can change temperature over and over again with no negative effects. In fact, all Rhinegeist beer is stored cold at the brewery and transported on refrigerated trucks so that it is still cold when it arrives in our backroom. We then sell all that cold beer, hundreds of cases a week, at room temperature on our sales floor with no ill effects.

 

I hope these bits of trivia can get some conversations about beer up and running next time you’re with friends and family because, after all, isn’t that one of the things beer is good for? Cheers!

 

Eric, Eastgate

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