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Proof-A Review

I recently finished Proof by Adam Rogers, which is about the science around alcohol.

Longtime readers of the blog know that I really like the science behind beer; theĀ  processes that go into making a glass of lager or ale can easily connect damn near everything in the world. A book like this is definitely in my wheelhouse.

Proof, however, slides past beer pretty quickly and focuses more on distillation and the science around it. The book makes a pretty solid case for doing so; it’s discussion about fermentation goes into how this is a natural process, whereas making spirits is something humans have engineered.

But that was fine by me, because the science is still the science and discussions around yeast, ethanol, chemistry and how these things interact with humans generally apply regardless of the style of alcohol you consume.

However, the science was occasionally a little unclear for me: discussion on how fungus evolved in Japan to make sake, for example, didn’t have much depth and felt like they were being pushed quickly through. Similarly, the chapters on ethanol’s interactions in the human body used a lot of new terms without giving me enough distinction between them for me to feel like I understood the subject. This may be to prevent getting laypeople confused but I wish it had been clearer, even if this meant more explanations.

But Proof is no less fascinating for these flaws: many parts of the book detailed scientists working on things I was surprised that we didn’t already know-for example, how, exactly, does alcohol affect people? What happens when you’re hung over? What happens to alcohol inside a barrel?

Along with other questions that I just didn’t know and found cool answers too, like How many flavors can a person detect? How did different cultures approach getting fermentation to work?

The dive into these questions were intriguing! I got windows into different cultures, history lessons, science lessons (turns out people can easily detect about six scents if trained, four if not, and then the brain starts to lump things together!) and of course, the people who invest their lives and time into this subject. I enjoyed this read and recommend it if you have any interest in the subject.

A Flat Palate

I’m sure that no one will really be surprised that the craft brewing industry is full of white men.

This is expected but sad for multiple reasons, not the least of which being that brewing has a history filled with women and people of color.

However, the bigger issue is that brewing being full of white guys means that the rest of us suffer. If 99% of the input is from the same user, then where do the new, cool ideas actually come from?

This isn’t to dismiss the efforts of talented people who helped create the craft brewing industry as we know it. It’s just to acknowledge that there were women and not-white people who also did that and deserve the opportunity to make contributions and be acknowledged on the same level.


Round Two #16\Second Pint STAND

Occidental’s fresh hop lager is chosen because I feel as if I have done far more work on a Sunday than should be expected. I haven’t, but it feels that way.

Occidental fresh hop lagerFor me, fresh hop beers are the same as regular beers except for one thing: a strong grassy note either in the nose or on the finish. Fresh cut green grass has a remarkably refreshing quality-a reminder of summers and jobs done, a chance to sit down under shade while someone else paints the fence, ’cause you’ve convinced them that fence painting is the funnest thing ever.

The nose on this ale is pretty standard, a little dank, a whiff of pine, but nothing too intense. The malts aren’t intruding, as appropriate and that leaves the finish, which isn’t bitter but that grassy quality is strong enough that a little more and I might even consider the flavor vegetal.

So, pretty well done. It errs on the side of sweetness, but not so far that I regret my choice. It’s a little strange, since it’s near fall and I feel like this is a great summer weather beer, but since we’re having a resurgent summer, it works.

The second glass I take my time to breathe in. There’s a spicy quality to the hop note I’d missed before and I’m wondering if they used dry hops too, to help punch up the nose.

If so, that was a good choice because that scent gives the beer more complexity than it would have without it.

If these are all fresh hops, then I’m genuinely surprised since I didn’t think that fresh hops would impart the same kind of intensity; my experience with fresh hop beers is that the hop quality is usually a little muted.

But without that complexity, this Pilsner would definitely suffer. As it it stands, I’m starting to get a little weary of the finish: it isn’t flawed, by any means. I just have to wonder if part of the reason I am not a fan of fresh hop ales is because that finish is pretty much the same for every beer, since the fresh hop quality is what they want to emphasize.

I suppose I’ll have to drink more to really suss that out. Someone’s gotta do it.

Today’s second pint goes to Stand For Families Free Of Violence.

The In Between

Brown/porter homebrew picI was shooting for a brown and it’s…almost there? The flavor profile might be a little strong and the beer might be a touch dark. I just can’t quite seem to hold back on the dark malts, I suppose. Maybe next time half of each.

Nose has a pleasant chocolate quality and while it doesn’t fade out completely, it doesn’t come on too strong, either.

Still, this makes a decent enough porter wannabe. On the sweeter side, with the chocolate flavors but a tiny bit of roasted malt on the finish to shore it up. And it finishes drier than I’d expect, too. Quite drinkable, definitely a candidate for drinking another.

Brew date: 5/12/19

Steeping grains
1 lb Chocolate
1 lb Red X
1 Lb Carabrown

Fermentables: 7 lb ExLME

1 oz Saaz @ 60
.5 oz Saaz @ 30
.5 oz Saaz @5

Yeast: Imperial Tartarn (2nd use)

OG: 1.059
FG: 1.014

Secondary 5/25
Bottled 5/27

ABV: 6.1%

The Mulligan

Sorry; the week caught up to me and I didn’t have a chance to get a post properly prepared. I’d rather beg off for a week than put out something halfassed, so I’m going to take a day off. Regular posts still Wed-Fri and back to the theme Monday!

Whatever You Say 63/Second Pint SotR

I’ve managed to get six friends to come and see Avengers: Endgame with me, and we start off meeting at the Hawthorne Hop House. One of them is having the Lagunita’s Waldo IIPA and I think we all remember what I thought of that.

Elysian Split Shot stoutAnother is having the Elysian Split Shot espresso milk stout, served on nitro. How the heck can I say no to that? Look at this beer!

For the most part, this beer delivers an it’s name and looks; espresso and milk flavors all the way down, and the nitro pour means that it’s very, very smooth. As the Split Shot warms up, a boost of caramel comes into the nose The finish roughs it up though, bringing a slightly acrid note. It’s faint and it doesn’t spoil the beer, but it does mar the overall experience.

It’s the only quality that does however.

Making and keeping friends as an adult is challenging. It takes a concerted effort to spend time with people, keep spending time with them, and trying to accept them as they change. Having six people who were willing to set aside time from their lives to come and see a summer blockbuster with me feels really nice. Like maybe I’m doing something better than I used to be.

We laugh a lot in the time before the movie and once there, found ourselves enthralled with the conclusion to one of the epic stories of our era. We even get a little time to talk about it after the movie…but honestly I think we were all a little overwhelmed. I certainly was! It’s not easy to take in the final chapter like that all at once.

But it wouldn’t have been the same without them, and after having more misses than hits on this theme, it is very nice to be out with friends and having a beer.

Today’s second pint goes to the Sisters of the Road cafe.