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The Science of Stout Beer 205

An AC writes "Mathematicians invented a new method to can and bottle stout beers like Guinness while still getting that satisfying head. From the article: '... a crack group of mathematicians from the University of Limerick, led by William Lee, has modeled bubble formation in stout beers in detail. Their work suggests that lining the rims of cans and bottles with a material similar to an ordinary coffee filter would be a simpler, cheaper alternative to the widget. The team’s calculations show that a copious number of bubbles would form from air trapped inside the hollow fibers making up this lining. They have just submitted their work for publication in Physical Review E and are hoping that industry will soon begin testing their proposal.'"
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The Science of Stout Beer

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  • Not the same (Score:5, Informative)

    by rizzo420 ( 136707 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @01:25PM (#35493700) Homepage Journal

    I can only assume the post is talking solely about stouts like Guinness Draught in a nitro-can that has a widget to release nitrogen. There is more to what that widget does than just give the beer a nice creamy head. It gives the entire beer a different mouthfeel, and that's because of the nitrogen, not carbon dioxide (though the beer does already contain carbon dioxide. So, if they want the same effect, you'll still need a widget (or in the case of the bottled Guinness Draught, the proper mix of the gases). However, nitrogen dulls the flavor of the beer. So the effect this story talks about would not leave the beer the same...

  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @04:06PM (#35495698)

    This is very true.

    People love to make fun of American beers but in doing so completely expose their bias and/or general ignorance. The reality is, American beers actually re-invented beer making. The beer before the resurgence of beer making in America largely existed because their grandfather made beer and that was good enough. Whereas, American beer grew because people wanted something which tasted good. And beer sold based on that notion. Before such a market existed, people purchased beer because it was a necessity of life*.

    Of course, this doesn't mean all American beers are excellent or even good. Anyone whos had a variety of any country's beers will tell you otherwise; which isn't even account for individual differences in preferences. Just the same, if you want to drink a beer that largely drunk because your father's father drank it, drink something other than American beer. On the other hand, if you want to drink a beer which is around almost solely because it tastes good and is refreshing, give an American micro brew a chance.

    So ask yourself, are you drinking beer because someone's great, great grandfather liked it and you've trained your buds to believe that is what tastes good, or are you drinking it because it really tastes good to you? An exceedingly large number of beer snobs fall into the former category. Which IMOHO, completely undermines the entire basis of their snobbery.

    (*) Its important to remember, in times past, beer wasn't drank because it tasted good. Beer was largely consumed because it was safer (more pure, less contamination, fewer bugs, slightly pro-antibiotic) than water. Furthermore, for many people, it was a primary source of nutrition. As such, most really old beer recipes exist primarily for their shelve life and nutritional value with taste being a far second priority. This is, in fact, why many people went to work drunk, or at least diminished, and why coffee became a critical necessity of the industrial revolution. Those who didn't drink coffee to counter act the effects of high beer intake were far more likely to be maimed or killed.

  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @06:00PM (#35497198)

    Most people that I know of that make fun of "American beers" are making fun of the absolute shit carrying the budweiser, michelob, coors, etc "big" brands.

    But in doing so, they are exposing massive ignorance. The fact is, its far, far harder to control quality on lightly flavored beer than it is on rubusto, old world beers. This is something even Samuel Adams* [] is quick to point out. The fact is, when you have a light flavor, the smallest hint of skunk or a screwup in quality is immediately noticeable. Whereas, in darker, heavier flavored beers, you can almost literally place a skunk into the beer and most will hide it. That's the point.

    Now if you want to argue you simply don't like the flavor, I certainly don't have a problem with that. More power too you! Regardless, the simple fact is, the required quality of those, "inferior beers", sadly, almost always exceeds those, by far, which others openly brag about. Add to the fact they are obtaining and maintaining such high quality at such massive scales is all the more embarrassing for those other, typically European, brands.

    As you say, there are plenty of American micro- and regional- breweries making great beer.

    At one point in time, early in American's history, America had more micro breweries than did Europe. America literally became king of the brew. At this point in time, American offered greater quality and taste. A lot of European brewers followed. And in fact, much of what is considered European brew was directly lifted from American breweries. It became a full circle (Europe -> America -> Europe). Eventually, larger brewers took over because of bottling technology improvement meant the death of smaller brewers; who sometimes did lack in quality and consistency. With the exception of the highly specialized brews, where personal preference is highly subjective, American's microbreweries represent the best beers the world has to offer. That not to say European beers are paled in comparison. What I'm saying is, American, in its own right, has a proud beer tradition which easily rivals that of the best of traditional European beers.

    Which means, at the end of the day, almost without fail, those ridiculing any segment of the American beer market are actually exposing their ineptitude and ignorance for beer in general; begging to be entirely ignored. At the end of the day, the flavor is all that matters; be it a heavy, all absorbing tone or a light, refreshing accent, and everything in between. It either speaks to you or it doesn't. Regardless, you can't shake a finger at American big brand beer as being inferior - as factually and scientifically, its not. This is a simple truth which any honest industry Brew Master will share.

    (*) Please note, I refer you to Samuel Adams not because I endorse their product but because they are a highly regarded and highly acclaimed American brewery; even outside of the US.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor