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Beer Idle Science Technology

What Beer Can Teach Us About Emerging Technologies 131

Posted by timothy
from the cause-of-and-solution-to dept.
cold fjord writes that Assistant Professor and lecturer Dave Conz has an interesting article at Slate, from which: "I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation, which is why I teach a senior capstone course at Arizona State University called the Cultural and Chemical History of Beer. ... Home brewing is part of a broad spectrum of DIY activities including amateur astronomy, backyard biodiesel brewing, experimental architecture, open-source 3-D printing, even urban farming. ... Many of these pastimes can lead to new ideas, processes, and apparatus that might not otherwise exist. Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."
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What Beer Can Teach Us About Emerging Technologies

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  • "Beer brewing a source of innovation. Send me on a training, ASAP plz".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39171587)

      Never seen anyone so eager to wash things. Kettles, instruments, bottles, everything. Brewing is a never ending sanitization process. If that's what you'd rather be doing, then you should go for it.

      • by John3 (85454)

        Sanitation is important, but it's really just at two or three points in the process. Sanitize the primary fermenter, then just before transfer you sanitize the secondary fermenter, and then sanitize the bottles/keg before bottling. Air dry sanitizers and a bottle drying rack makes it pretty painless.

        It does work best as a hobby if you work with someone else. Brewing alone can be tedious, brewing with friends or your spouse is an enjoyable way to do something together.

        • by gcore (748374) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:04AM (#39171845)
          As a homebrewer, sure, the sanitation may look like that. But in an actual brewery, things are a bit different. In the brewhouse: the malt mill, the mash tun, the lauter tun, the wort kettle, the whirlpool, the plate heat exchanger, all pipes and lines connecting them. The malt silos should also be cleaned, but not on a weekly basis or once a day. The fermentation cellar: floor, hoses, pipes, fittings, propagation vessels, fermentation tanks, lager tanks, equipment for analysis. Several times a day. The filter: floor, fittings, hoses, pipes, the filtration devices, pressure tanks. This needs to be done several times a day. Filling hall: beer line from the filter, filling cylinders, the filling machines, rinsers, floors, transport bands... yeah, just about everything in the filling hall because at that point, the quality of the beer can not be improved, just maintained. Oh, and crates, bottles. Here everything needs to be sanitized several times a day. At a modern brewery, there's ALOT of cleaning. At any given time, if you find yourself without anything to do you can always go and swab the floors with sodium hydroxide or chlorine. In many cases in a brewery, sanitation needs to be done BEFORE and/or AFTER each process. But yeah, different for most homebrewers.
          • by vlm (69642)

            I've heard it said the difference between a homebrewer and a pro is like the difference between a internal skeleton and an exoskeleton, in that a homebrewer sanitizes by putting stuff into the kitchen (or basement) sink, whereas the pro takes sanitizing solution out of the sink and into the apparatus because its so big.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gcore (748374)
              Yeah, that's pretty much true! Breweries uses CIP (Cleaning In Place), and that means pumping large amounts of cleaning agents (usually sodium hydroxide and some acid, phosphoric, nitric or other) for about two hours depending on what tank, tun, pipe, hose. And large amounts of water. I have only worked at breweries. I'm a computer geek too, but I've never had the same passion for computers as I do brewing. Unless you're working in an office at a brewery, you're going to do alot of cleaning. At my previous
      • No reason to sanitize the kettle. You are going to be boiling stuff in it for at least an hour. That will make it plenty sanitized.

        I have a big bucket I fill with no-rise, food safe, sanitization solution (starsan), I clean everything before I put it away, so I just rise out any dust and drop it all in the bucket. I then fill a spray bottle with solution from the bucket (for spot sanitation). I leave everything in the bucket while not in use. When the boil is done, I pull the immersion cooler out of the sol

        • by icebrain (944107)

          Bleach diluted in water is a good sanitizer too; that's what I usually use. I save the star-san for kegging and for de-odorizing athletic clothing when a sanitary cycle in the washing machine doesn't do the trick.

          • Bleach isn't food safe though, it has to be rinsed off. If you don't rinse it at the very least your risk off flavors in your beer. That's why I like starsan, you can just dip stuff in it and use it, no need to rinse (in fact, rinsing makes it less sanitary). When I bottle I just fill the bottom with starsan, drain back into bucket, put the bottle on the tree and fill (typically the bottom is full of starsan foam while filling).

            Bleach just seems to add an extra layer of work. I did use bleach once on my fir

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            I used to be really anal when I first started homebrewing, about sanitizing EVERYTHING....

            As I got to doing it more and more, I found that you just have to be clean...I have a bucket for sanitizing solution...and things that are gonna touch the wort go in there...etc.

            But things like doing all grain...some times I'd not remember to 'sanitize' my coiled wort chiller...but I figured hey, it's going into a boiling liquid, so, that will sanitize it.

            I don't think you have to worrry that much till the wort star

      • by suppo (267896)

        Parent is modded +5 Informative by a mod that has no clue. For a homebrewer basic kitchen clean is fine up to and including the boil. After that (fermentation and racking/syphoning to the secondary/bottles/keg) requires basic kitchen clean plus a sanitizer. No-rinse sanitizers are trivial to use. Pour/spray some in, rinse it around and drain. Not really rocket science. I allow the time it takes to play 18 holes of golf (5-6 hours) to get an all grain 10 gallon batch into the primary fermenter.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        To be sure, but not to the degree you're thinking, I don't think. A friend of mine makes the best microbrew I've ever had (better than most sold microbrews). It's fairly consistent, but each batch is slightly different. He isn't 'careful', like you might be with eg. refinishing metal parts. He'll wash things thoroughly but mostly he just rinses them out, wipes them down, and boils water. It's not that much different than, say, cooking. If you want consistency between batches and to win awards, sure, you nee

    • by phrostie (121428)

      beer jokes aside, it does sound like a fun combination.

    • by plopez (54068) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:50AM (#39172373) Journal

      At my local Uni they have a brewmeister course. A lot of people say "cool, sign me up!" Until they discover they have to take biology, chemistry statistics, and all the other courses a professional brewmeister should have. Then they suddenly lose interest. Still, there is a waiting list. This is probably overkill for home brewers.

      For home brewers, in my area kits are plentiful as are places who do on premise craft brewing. You rent the equipment, buy some materials, and brew your own. They even have pros who will teach the craft. On premise wine making is becoming popular as well. We live in a golden age....

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Fodder for science fiction, [slashdot.org] too.

    • My employer already knows. We have beer (and wine) every friday afternoon starting at 4pm.

    • My boss would probably be totally cool with that, since he's already a homebrewer. Hmmm...might have to schedule a "training session" sometime :)
  • by pegasustonans (589396) on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:26AM (#39171533)

    I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation

    The last time I used beer as a lens, I woke up surrounded by 15 naked people with spotty memories of sleeping with the babysitter.

  • I wonder if, like the women in bars, the innovations only seem more innovative! I mean, who's to judge, your drunk buddy?
  • Brewing is a passion and getting a "better" result for personal satisfaction or to beat a foe is well worth the wasted effort.
    Also, procrastination and putting projects off with another project gets a lot of the wrong things done too. Look how clean and tidy things become before an exam. :)
  • Homebrew rebound (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John3 (85454) <john3@coBLUErnells.com minus berry> on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:46AM (#39171683) Homepage Journal

    I sell home beer and wine making supplies and ingredients in my hardware store. We've carried products since the mid-1990's and after a decline in activity there has been a big increase in the business in the last five years. I attributed the decline in home brew to the wide availability of micro-brews, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the hobby become popular again even with the large selection of craft beers in supermarkets. More and more of the brewers and wine makers are husband and wife, brewing as much to make drinkable beer/wine as they are trying to learn about the process. It's a small sample and our store is in an affluent suburb, but I'm encouraged by the number of people diving into this hobby which really touches on so many areas (cooking, science, and engineering/design to name a few). It's a natural product line for a hardware store because so much of the gear is just home-built gadgetry requiring plumbing, hardware, and housewares goods.

    • Yeah more people are being exposed to better beers and starting to realize just how bad most big-name American beers like Bud, Coors, etc. really are.

      • Re:Homebrew rebound (Score:4, Interesting)

        by John3 (85454) <john3@coBLUErnells.com minus berry> on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:12AM (#39171943) Homepage Journal

        When I first started brewing at home (about 1987) it was because all that was available locally was the watery American beers. As more and more craft brewers sprang up the price of quality beer dropped and it was easier to find it at local retail shops. Even my Stop & Shop has about 12' of decent craft beer (Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn Brewing) and at a reasonable price. I think for a while this caused a decline in the hobby...it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home. Just the die-hards continued to brew their own beer, but in the last five years it has bounced back.

        • by vlm (69642)

          it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home

          That's like trying to argue that people only cook at home because there are not enough restaurants. "If they'd just open a Thai restaurant around here, then architects could stop putting kitchens in homes". Don't think so...

          I'll be honest, several of my experiments in brewing tasted awful, much like some of my cooking experiments would have been best not eaten. The fun is in the experience of making it myself, my way. Its like solving a big puzzle.

          The other part is brewing is "big enough work" that it be

          • by plopez (54068)

            I live in the Napa Valley of beer. Trust me, the stuff just flys off of the shelves, esp. on weekends. No time to get skunky. That's also what the pretty colored bottles are for, preventing the skuny-ness

            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              LOL, I was thinking the same things.

              I live in New Orleans....there is NEVER dust on any beer, wine or liquor bottles at the grocery stores here....the product is in heavy demand, and has constant turn over.

              I wonder where it is that the previous poster lives, that has beers that sit on the shelves so long they go 'skunky'?

          • Re:Homebrew rebound (Score:4, Informative)

            by John3 (85454) <john3@coBLUErnells.com minus berry> on Monday February 27, 2012 @11:05AM (#39172537) Homepage Journal

            it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home

            That's like trying to argue that people only cook at home because there are not enough restaurants. "If they'd just open a Thai restaurant around here, then architects could stop putting kitchens in homes". Don't think so...

            Not really an accurate analogy. Cooking at home is cheaper than eating at the Thai restaurant, usually significantly. When you cook your Thai meal you don't need to wait two or three weeks to eat it, and you make much less of a mess in your kitchen than if you were brewing beer. Brewing beer at home costs the same as or more than equivalent micro-brews (assuming you have a decent beer retailer in your area), plus you need to do the work (cook, sanitize, and wait for fermentation to complete). So if you run out of India Pale Ale you can drive to Stop & Shop and plunk down $19.99 for a case of Sierra Nevada IPA (in the fridge), or mail order homebrew supplies (two cases worth of ingredients for $45), wait a week, brew the beer, wait a week, rack the beer, wait a week, bottle the beer, wait two weeks, and then drink it.

            From my experience selling homebrew supplies for over 17 years, the increased availability of micro-brews definitely encouraged the casual home brewers to store the gear and stop brewing. In the mid-1990's there were many independent homebrew shops in our county, but they all went out of business by 2001. We considered dropping the products when business dipped, but as each independent shop closed we picked up a few more customers so our sales stayed basically level during this tough stretch. Many of the people that stopped brewing have started again as they enjoy the hobby, but the reasons for brewing at home are now purely for the enjoyment of the hobby versus the late 1990's when the lack of micro-brews was a big factor.

            Interesting to note that homebrewing has been popular in England for much longer (it was essentially illegal in the US until 1979), but in England people brew to avoid the high beer taxes. They use sugar instead of malt for many recipes as they are brewing to save money. You can still see this when you read recipes on cans of British beer kits as they all refer to adding sugar, whereas most US homebrewers avoid sugar and use malt extract instead.

            • If it costs $45 for a 5 gallon batch you're probably selling extract beers with liquid yeast. As an all grain brewer who can yeast wash and buys hops in bulk I can knock out 5 gallons of APA for ~12-15 dollars.

              • by John3 (85454)

                True, and brewers at your level have been consistent customers. It's the people doing the 5 gallon extract batches that are more fickle and inclined to stop brewing if reasonably priced quality beer can be purchased at a comparable price. For all grain brewers like yourself it definitely is cheaper to brew at home, although there is a significant investment in gear required (or significant time if you make your own gear). The gear can set you back a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on wh

                • by hal2814 (725639)
                  There's nothing inherently expensive about all grain. All you have to do is soak grain in water at a specific temperature range for long enough for the enzymes present in the malted grain to convert starches to sugar and then rinse that sugar out of the grain. When I made the jump from extract brewer to all-grain, my only equipment purchases were a $20 5-gallon round igloo cooler, a $3 5-gallon paint strainer bag from Lowe's and a $10 digital thermometer. The grain sat in the bag in the cooler to mash (s
                  • by John3 (85454)

                    Very true, and we carry those basics in stock...the cooler, the sparging bag, cheap thermometers. I'm not sure what you used for a kettle, they generally will set you back $80 or more just for a basic stainless steel pot unless you can get an enamelware pot (which we carry as well) for about $40. So I'm including the pot in the cost because your average kitchen does not have a 10 gallon pot.

                    • by hal2814 (725639)
                      True about the pot, but I've never known a homebrewer to go all-grain before going full boil extract. I suppose there's nothing stopping you from going partial boil to all grain though. I used an 8-gallon enamelware pot for about a decade. When I moved to 10-gallon batches, I ended up with a keg to make a keggle out of but before I knew that was going to pan out, I had my eye on a 50qt aluminum stock pot Sams Club had for about $60. They had smaller sizes cheaper than that.
                • by cayenne8 (626475)
                  Wow....I do all grain, and it cost me very little in investment for equipment.

                  Granted, much of the stuff was given to me by friends...on a don't ask, don't tell basis.

                  But my main boil and mash kettles, are just regular metal large beer kegs that we cut the tops off with a grinder. In one of them, we drilled and put in and EZ masher.

                  For kegging, I have a lot of the corny kegs, again, with these, I didn't ask where they came from. Down here in LA, most everyone has propane takes and burners for crawfish bo

                  • by John3 (85454)

                    Getting "hand me downs" and used gear can definitely reduce the cost. In the northeast the used cornelius keg market has dried up now that soda is distributed in plastic sacks, and new kegs are pretty pricey. The glass carboy factory in Mexico shut down so there is essentially one factory in the world making glass carboys and it's in Italy...so prices have skyrocketed to the point where plastic Better Bottle carboys are the same price as glass. Old beer kegs also were easier to come by ten years ago, now

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        ...American beers like Bud, Coors, etc. really are.

        Coors and Miller are British. Anheuser-Busch is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. These are not American beers.

        Sam Adams is American beer, and it's a fine brew. I find the Europeans trashing "American" beer that's produced by Europeans hilarious, and wonder how many Europeans have ever tasted a real American beer.

        • Coors is actually Canadian. But yeah, the idea that American beers suck is just bad PR. The largest American brewery is Sam Adams. The swill people associate with what the majority of Americans drink are not really American beers.
        • by suppo (267896)

          Um, just because the original companies were bought by non-US companies doesn't change the fact that the style of Bud, Coors and Miller is Lite American Lager.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Both Busch and Miller (the men who started those breweries) came to the US from Germany with German recipes. So by your way of thinking, Budweiser and Miller (not Bud Light or Miller Lite) are both German beers.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            There is no "Bud Lite", "Lite" is a trademark of the Miller company, and it refers to their diet beer, just as Bud Light is diet beer.

            Busch and Miller brought the recipes for the original Budweiser and Miller with them from their native Germany.

        • Miller is an American Beer. The company isn't owned by Americans anymore, sure, but the beer is the same.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_Brewing_Company [wikipedia.org]

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Frederick Edward John Miller (born as "Friedrich Eduard Johannes Müller" November 24, 1824 in Riedlingen, Germany - May 11, 1888) was a brewery owner who founded the Miller Brewing Company at the Plank Road Brewery in 1855.[1] He learned the brewing business in Sigmaringen, Germany.

            From the link to Frederick Miller from the link you provided.

            Bud Light and Miller Lite are American, but by your logic, Budweiser and Miller High Life are German beers, with their original brewers bringing the recipes

            • Personally, my favorite beers are Foster's and Bass.

              Bookmarked.

              Don't ever comment in a thread about beer again, unless being humiliated is your thing.

            • Budweiser and Miller High Life are German beers, with their original brewers bringing the recipes for their pilsner (Bud) and pale ale (Miller) to America.

              Are those original brewers still alive? No, but the companies are. Because they adapted to local tastes (or adapted local tastes to them).

              It's the same with Indian restaurants. Most[1] of the ones in the UK don't serve what people back in the old country would recognize.

              [1] There are some in Bradford where if you go in with an Indian the waiter whisper

        • Coors was founded in Golden Colorado in 1873 - Last I checked that's in the US.

          Miller was founded in Milwaukee in 1855 - again in the US.

          Anheuser-Busch was formed in 1869 and is based in St. Louis - yes that's still US.

          Now are they owned by parent companies in other countries? Yes. But that doesn't change that they are American subsidiaries and make American beer.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Frederick Miller was born in Germany and learned his craft there, bringing the recipe to America, as was and did Adolphus Busch and Adolph Coors. So is Budweiser German, American, or Belgian? Is Coors German, American, or Canadian?

        • That's the dumbest thing I've read in a long time.

          If William Grant & Sons was bought by a company in the Cayman Islands does that mean they wouldn't be producing Scotch?

          The address of head office has nothing to do with the product.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            If Adolphus Busch had brought his recipe from Germany to the Cayman Islands, would it be Cayman beer?

            • If he was still serving as brewmaster and following the original recipe to the last buggering bastard dot it would be German.

              Do any, let alone all, of those conditions apply to the piss you drink?

              Mind your head, new shovel coming down.

    • Re:Homebrew rebound (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:06AM (#39171873)

      I sell home beer and wine making supplies and ingredients in my hardware store.

      As a guy who brewed beer in the past and probably will again in the future, most of the stuff you sell to brewers, you probably don't know about.

      I used to buy replacement plastic transfer hoses, copper tubing and handful of strange compression fitting adapters to make my own wort chiller, tubes and hoses to make my own homemade bubbler/vaporlock thingy, etc etc. I purchased all the gear to make what amounts to a remote faucet system on a hose for cleaning. I had the worlds weirdest rube goldberg device to fill bottles. For wine/mead supposedly the most expensive and traditional primary fermenter is a glass carboy, and supposedly the cheapest is a food grade plastic bag (not insecticide treated garbage bag) inside a non-value engineered old fashioned strong metal trash can. Supposedly prices have exploded upward so much that the cheapest durable and watertight primary "couple gallon" fermenter is a standard tropical fish aquarium, although keeping light out and the top sealed must be a huge PITA.

      I never bought "normal homebrewing stuff" from a hardware store like yeast and hops, bottle caps for my crimper, whatever. Thats cool that you sell that stuff as I have 4 hardware stores within 5 miles, but my local "homebrew store" was at least an hours drive. In the internet era its more realistic to order online and wait a day or two, than to invest that kind of windshield time.

      • In the internet era its more realistic to order online and wait a day or two, than to invest that kind of windshield time.

        Only if you're content to accept whatever they ship you... and content to not compare products (like the smells of different hops)... etc... etc..

        The internet is great for ordering things that are mass produced identical boxes (like books, cameras or games), not so much for anything else. I've learned a great deal about hops and grains because I invested windshield time.

        • by vlm (69642)

          The internet is great for ordering things that are mass produced identical boxes (like books, cameras or games

          .. bottle caps, hydrometer, fermentation locks (more for wine brewing than beer), corks-with-a-hole

          I've bought dried wine yeasts over the net with good results. Dried yeast is tough. I forget the term but I think it was blooming it where you pre-grow the dried yeast in a drinking glass sized container before dumping it in the carboy, which is no big deal. Never mail ordered one of those refrigerated liquid snap pack things of course, although I suppose if you can buy steaks over the internet and physical

      • Technically, you don't need an air-tight container to ferment in. You just need to make sure the CO2 blanket that is made by the fermentation process is not disturbed and that contaminants don't get into your beer. I personally use a 5 gallon food safe bucket with a lid and a blow off tube.

    • Craft beer is what got me into homebrewing. I hated beer with a passion, instead I was a scotch/whiskey fan.This was because I thought all beer was commercial lager. Luckily I was introduced to craft brewing and found a whole new world of drinks I enjoy. Now I drink beer much more often than scotch. This lead me to finding the best brewery in the US, Three Floyds and that lead to realizing that really really good beer is just miles from my house. From there a few tours showed me how simple the process is an

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        I just wish it wasn't illegal to distill your own liquors.

        I'd like to try my hand at doing some sort of bourbon, or even a scotch!!!

        I have the brewing down, just wish the govt would let us distill for personal consumption, which would allow good quality (and safety) still set ups to be sold.

        • by spongman (182339)

          I just wish it wasn't illegal to distill your own liquors.

          on the contrary. i firmly believe that the removal of water from various substances should be heavily regulated. there is already far too much water in the world, and adding is dangerous and wasteful.

  • "Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."

    Yeah, so let's just ignore those retarded regulations and do what we can with what we have physically.

    Foridden to make $THING unless you pony up the barrier-to-entry? Fuck that in the face forever.

    • by tepples (727027)
      Good luck with your hobby in prison.
      • You're part of the problem. Who does NOT want to build a flying car in their garage? Or an energy source? Or beer?

        • Who does NOT want to build a flying car in their garage?

          It's not about who doesn't want to but who doesn't want you to and has enough clout to get the authorities to put you in prison for doing so. Police don't want to have to deal with flying car wrecks on top of the existing rolling car wrecks.

          Or an energy source?

          Patent holders hold exclusive rights in some energy sources, and your neighbors don't want to look at your eyesore energy source every day.

          Or beer?

          ERs don't want to have to deal with people who have poisoned themselves by consuming defective homemade alcoholic beverages. Police

    • by Hartree (191324)

      Though I don't favor the restrictions,I'm guessing the ban on home biodiesel production in Phoenix is due to one step of the process being a fire hazard if you do it wrong.

      There are a number of safe ways to do it, but apparently the powers that be just put down a blanket ban rather than a regulation saying don't do this in a large batch mode in your living room with the kids around.

  • Barely worth reading (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When there is such an egregious error in the first couple of paragraphs, I almost stopped reading - because it's unlikely that someone that clueless could produce something interesting.

    In the first place, "Germany", as a singular place that could enforce it's laws across it's entire territory didn't exist until 1871. In the second place, the Reinheitsgebot only applied to Bavaria - in the remainder of Germany, there were many innovative beers. In the third place, the Reinheitsgebot only applied to lager b

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:25AM (#39172099)

    I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation,

    Here's the most important lesson which I bet is either not covered accidentally or maybe intentionally.

    I live in a greater-city which used to be the center of American beer brewing. A century or so ago, German immigrants built dozens of medium sized breweries and exported all over the country. Big big names, still around in marketing even today.

    All of those jobs, and I mean all, are gone, inside the city. Every last one. Mergers inside the country and international, centralization, downsizing, blah blah, and now we've gone from dozens of breweries to a handful of microbrews, depending on how you want to count Sprecher (in a nearby city) and this brewpub by the local engineering college. A century ago there were dozens of people in my city with the job title "brewmaster" now there is debate but the number seems to hover right around "one" or "zero" depending how picky you want to be.

    Similar thing happened in the automotive business, from hundreds of companies a bit over a century ago to just a handful now. Same deal multiple times with computing.

    The lesson is that in a Emerging Technology there might be thousands of management and engineering jobs, but eventually its no longer an Emerging Technology then almost ALL of those jobs go away, permanently. If you're a 1 in a 100, maybe you can be a survivor making a long term career out of emerging tech, or if you enjoy perma-unemployment after a real fun 10 year run that'll work, but otherwise, if you see emerging tech, run like hell away, if you care about your family being able to eat and have a roof over their head. Run!

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      Those brewers of a century ago kept jobs in the area for a long time. As did your example of auto. IT is nothing but emerging tech and is still going. Yes as things get more mainstream, they get outsourced and marginalized, but if you are in the field you should be able to see what is coming down the pike and prepare for it much of the time. You act as if emerging tech jobs get yanked out from under people in a short amount of time. My view is that they do not, but people do become complacent and not s
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your lesson and examples really don't make sense. Beer brewing isn't an 'emerging technology', and it certainly wasn't new when the Germans moved to Milwaukee, and when was that.. like the 1800's? So three generations of people is what you consider a 'real fun 10 year run'?

      Also, it's not like automotive just went away. Wages got really high in Milwaukee and unions got powerful. The companies no longer could afford to keep blue collar workers there, so the factories moved to rural places in Ohio and Michigan

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      That's really a lesson for the future, where the future means our lifetimes, or our kids. At some point -- and we can nitpick over when, but it's not far away on the scale of human history, and likely not even human lifetimes -- physical labor of any sort, no matter how complicated, will be obsolete, as will the supervision and management thereof. Maintenance might be around for a little longer than that, but not much -- self repairing systems will see to that. It will necessarily be cheaper to use machi

      • by wbr1 (2538558)
        sudo mod parent up

        I could not have said it much better, except to add the cynical proposition that one of the reasons we have not transitioned to a society where self-sufficiency is option is not just because we do not see the results of automation around us, but those that do have a vested interest in keeping all the gains they can (read corporations and the '1%'), even with a smaller and/or cheaper workforce instead of redistributing that wealth. That redistribution of wealth is a 'socialist thing' ho
      • by sjames (1099)

        We have to do exactly what cheap labor conservatives would rather die than do. We have to transition to a shorter workweek with wages rising enough to properly support a family in spite of the reduced hours. They seem to like artificial scarcity enough when it applies to copyrights and patents, why not to human labor?

        Reduce the work week to 35 hours (and make overtime REALLY expensive) and we fix the unemployment problem. Yes, the 'problem' will return. We WANT it to return as more labor is replaced by mach

  • There is a great documentary available on Netflix called How Beer Saved the World. It's a pretty good watch, basically attributing most of the agricultural revolution to accidental beer discovery.

    Perhaps we'll get to line NASA's budget if we discover a boozin' alien race. It worked for the Romulans...

  • I'm surprised the article didn't mention the bubble chamber [wikipedia.org]. The popular story is that Glaser was watching bubbles in a glass of beer but he explained that the connection really was that he used beer for early prototypes.
  • Even if you don't drink or don't like beer, this Discovery Channel special is both informative and entertaining http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC8SdkufNBo [youtube.com]
  • There would be a similar amount of innovation around hydroponics and greenhouse tech if growing cannabis was legal. Or another way of looking at it, all these "innovative" homebrewers, equipment sellers, and store owners could just as easily be criminals. Hurray for "innovation" in a culture of arbitrary oppression.

    Homebrewing versus homegrowing is a case study in legal versus illegal drug use. In homebrewing, we get innovation, recreation and a healthy hobby. In homegrowing, we get clogged jails, ruined li
  • This article, while superficially about making beer, is really about the DIY movement in general, and seeing it as essential for Middle America as it moves ever more in the direction of "knowledge work". I think it is key that we encourage people to be "makers" again, for both the therapeutic value, and the innovation that results from backyard experimentation.

    I'll definitely be sharing this article with everyone I know.

  • The first file I got from the internet beyond the size of a normal news post was "The Jolly Brewer" which was a postscript format collection of the best stuff from alt.rec.brewing. How's that for beer and technology?

Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet. -- P.E. Trudeau

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