Beer

‘Neon signs’ made with bacteria

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 20, 2011   View Article

The bar of the future may have all-organic brews on tap and blinking neon signs in the window made with millions of bacterial cells that periodically glow in unison.

The same “living neon sign” technology could also be used to help brewers and other folks monitor environmental pollutants in water such as arsenic, according to research published online Sunday in the journal Nature.

German pilsner? Spanish lager? Test has answer

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 1, 2011   View Article

Beer snobs wishing to know the provenance of their favorite European pilsners and lagers are in luck: Scientists have developed a new chemical test that can tell you where the brew originated.

Though such tests have long existed for products such as wine, spirits, coffee and tea, one hasn’t been developed yet for beer, noted Jose Marcos Jurado, a chemist at the University of Seville in Spain.

“That surprised me because beer is one of the most consumed beverages in the world,” he told me in an email today.

Brewer to turn spent grains into energy

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: November 19, 2011   View Article

The U.S. government is giving a nearly half-million dollar grant to a beer maker in Alaska that aims to install a first-of-its-kind boiler that is fueled entirely by spent grain.

All brewers are confronted with mountains of spent grains — mostly barley. Many get rid of the waste by routing it to farmers for animal feed, a noble service that can help grow a steak to accompany your fine ale.

Beer mystery solved! Yeast ID’d

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 22, 2011   View Article

Ice cold beer: In these dog days of summer, few things are better. So, let’s raise a glass and toast Saccharomyces eubayanus, newly discovered yeast that helped make cold-fermented lager a runaway success.

The yeast, in the wild, thrives in ball-shaped lumps of sugar that form on beech trees in Patagonia of South America. Its discovery appears to solve the mystery of how lager yeast formed. Until now, scientists only knew about the origins of ale yeast, which makes up just half of the lager yeast genome.

Yeasts are microscopic fungi that feast on sugar, converting it to carbon dioxide and alcohol via the process of fermentation. Ale yeast, S. cerevisiae, has been doing this throughout the history of beer, which stretches back to at least 6,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization.

Inca Empire built on corn … and poop

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 23, 2011   View Article

The seeds of the Inca Empire were planted about 2,700 years ago when a warm spell combined with piles of llama excrement allowed maize agriculture to take root high up in the South American Andes, according to a new study.

“They were constructing fields and weeding them. And probably trading took off, made possible by llama caravans transporting goods, such as maize, coca leaves, salt and a ceremonial product called cinnabar,” Alex Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima told me Sunday in an email.

The finding is inferred by a record of pollen and mites in a core of mud taken from a small lake located at about 11,000 feet up in the Andes surrounded by agricultural terraces and next to an ancient trading route that connected tropical forest and mountain communities.

Father’s Day 2010 Is Centennial: How Did Holiday Start?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 18, 2010   View Article

As Father’s Day hits its centennial on June 20, 2010, sons and daughters around the world are expected to open their wallets wider—slightly—in celebration. Because of the slowly recovering global economy, people are expected to spend about 4 percent more than in 2009 on cards, ties, tools, clothes, and other Father’s Day gifts.

But the first Father’s Day, a hundred years ago, was decidedly humbler, and refreshingly noncommercial.

St. Patrick’s Day 2010: Irish Shamrock Shortage and More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 17, 2010   View Article

Today, St. Patrick’s Day 2010, millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish with parades, good cheer, and perhaps a pint of beer. But pinning a shamrock to your lapel in 2010 may require a heaping helping of the luck of the Irish.

Find out why shamrocks are in short supply, what St. Patrick really did, and more in our no-blarney roundup of St. Patrick’s Day facts.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach