I am a huge nerd, so I don't even know why I bother writing this, but - why don't other newspapers bother having science coverage that even approaches the level of inquisitiveness, informativeness and entertainment of the NYT's? Huh? See -

When commercial beer making started in the 19th century in Europe, brewmasters came across a problem similar to those experienced by the Andean brewers, that the beer spoiled easily. Yet there were places that were exceptions. Burton-on-Trent in England was one, a small town that had more than 30 breweries, producing a style of beer called pale ale or English bitter.

"Let's not forget at this time beer was not pasteurized," Dr. Maltman said. "Burton beer, somehow, did travel well. The supposition was that it was the water, but it was some decades before it was demonstrated what was going on."

Burton-on-Trent sits on sandstone rich in minerals like gypsum from water that had percolated through the rocks long ago. The waters had a pH of 5 to 5.5, ideal for extracting sugars from malted barley steeped in warm water, an important step known as mashing.

"This is why the Burton waters were so good for brewing," Dr. Maltman said. "It turned out they had a very high mineral content, but just in the right balance to get the right acidity for good leeching, good mashing. The balance of fermentable sugars has everything to do with the flavors and the kind of beer that results. The mashing stage is crucial."

The water was also rich in sulfates, which acted as a preservative, allowing the beer to be shipped to distant locations, even India - the Burton beers were called India pale ales, or I.P.A. for short. "The I.P.A. style came about because of the geology on which Burton was sited," Dr. Maltman said.

Today, any brewer anywhere can produce India pale ales by adding minerals to - or "burtonizing" - the water to match what burbles in Burton-on-Trent naturally.

This is freakin' awesome! Way to go, journalism! I'm really not kidding - this actually taught me things I didn't know - and about beer!

speaking of booze... can someone help me out on a field test? you'll need one bottle of high quality tasty vodka, one plastic bottle of shit vodka, and enough taste buds left to know the difference. oh, and a water filter.

taste both.

now run the shit-ka through a brita three times. taste again vs. the good vodka. and please email me the results, i'll send you some comics or something. 'cause my need for knowledge is high. thanks. -- nachie
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