Some Things Read, Beer ed.

This post is my entry for Let’s Go Long in November or #beerylongreads hosted by Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog. The goal is to go for 2000+ words on some topic related to beer. I do have a long post / article / something that I am working on but I am fairly confident that my research will not be done by 30 November so I am going to pull out a variation on an old trick from my original non-beer blog.

I used to have a weekly post called “Some things read this week.” Drop that in the search box at habitually probing generalist or simply click this link and you’ll find those posts. Of course, those were almost entirely library and information science related so perhaps you really don’t need or want to.

I have been collecting articles of interest on the world of beer for a while now. Some I have read; many I have not. Some are single finds that I found in my intermittent searches of article databases, some have been sent to me, and some are citations that I tracked down from books and articles read. I may also include book chapters where I did not read an entire book but only scanned a chapter or two. [Above written 12 Nov]

I am going to try a rough, but certainly inadequate, categorization with groupings of Health, Taste, Brewing, Archaeology and Assorted.


§ Is Beer-Drinking Injurious? Science, Vol. 9, No. 206 (Jan. 14, 1887), pp. 24-25. Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Article Stable URL:

I am going to lead off with one I wrote about back in March since it is simply so wonderful. I have yet to read the full paper that the short article in Science is based on but I still hope to some day. The short Science piece, all of which is reproduced on my blog at that link, is quite the doozy.

§ Casey, Troy R, and Charles W Bamforth. 2010. “Silicon in Beer and Brewing.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 90 (5) (April 15): 784–788. doi:10.1002/jsfa.3884. Read 10 November 2013. Found while helping a student with a chemistry assignment.

“The purpose of this study was to measure silicon in a diversity of beers and ascertain the grist selection and brewing factors that impact the level of silicon obtained in beer” (abstract). There is no RDA for silicon but the “dietary intake of silicon in the USA is about 20-50 mg day” (784). Among some of the uses of silicon in humans is to promote increased bone mineral density, increase type I collagen synthesis, and protect from the toxic effects of aluminum ( 784; WebMD Silicon).

They tested 100 commercial examples, many of which came from “smaller independent breweries” (785). Average silicon was 29.4 ppm, which was much higher than the averages found in two previous studies (19.2 ppm / 18.7 ppm) which they attributed to those craft breweries use of more malt (785, 784). Pale malts have the highest concentration of silicon, the majority of which resides in the husk (786). Hops can have as much a four times the silicon as barley but so little is used it does not have a big effect on overall silicon levels in beer (786). As you may guess, craft beer IPAs contained the most silicon due to their large amount of paler malts and the large amount of hops (785). There was also a brewing component to this study which I will let you look into on your own. They concluded that “Beer is a substantial source of silicon in the diet” (788). Drink beer—moderately, of course—for strong bones and other health-related benefits.

§ Wright, C. A., C. M. Bruhn, H. Heymann, and Charles W Bamforth. 2008. “Beer Consumers’ Perceptions of the Health Aspects of Alcoholic Beverages.” Journal of Food Science 73 (1): H12–H17. OSU – Wiley-Blackwell. doi: Read 19 April 2013/Re-read 26 November 2013.

This article discusses an examination of the perceptions consumers have of the health benefits and nutritional value of the moderate consumption of alcohol. Focus groups were used to identify themes which “led directly to the style and content of the consumer survey” (H13). The survey was “conducted at large commercial breweries at 3 locations: northern California (West Coast), eastern Missouri (Midwest), and southern New Hampshire (East Coast)” (H13). The study measured “consumers’ perceptions of the healthfulness of alcoholic beverages based on their color or appearance; consumers’ drivers of choice for alcoholic beverages; consumers’ perceptions of the content of alcoholic beverages; consumers’ sources of nutritional and health information; the credibility of these sources of nutritional and health information; consumers’ beliefs about alcohol’s role in a healthy lifestyle; and the potential impact of nutritional and health information on consumers’ actions” (H12).

They rankings for perception of healthfulness of 6 alcoholic beverages was as follows (perceived healthiest to least so): Red wines, whites wines, “light” beers, light colored beers, dark colored beers, and regular beers (H13-14). This was the same for males and females. The 14 factors in choosing an alcoholic beverage varies significantly between males and females and also by age (age groups were 21 to 30, and 30+), although taste was the #1 driver (H14). The most frequent source of health and nutritional information was doctors and magazines, with 11 other sources trailing; though, this varied by location, age and gender (H14-15). “People’s knowledge of the content of alcoholic beverages was limited” (H15). That is an understatement. This varied mostly by age, with the 21-30s being particularly confused about what is in wine, beer, tequila or vodka. Although if you look at the %s in the charts for each the 30+s have no legs to stand on either (H15-16). On a more positive note, “[t]he majority of volunteers, 75%, believed that the moderate consumption of alcohol can be beneficial to your health. Fewer than 3% … believed that this statement [was] false and 22% were not sure how they felt about the statement” (H16). There is a lot more data here and it is interesting to note much of it. They advocate for nutritional labeling on alcoholic beverages so that consumers can make more informed choices.


§ Langstaff, Susan A., and M. J. Lewis. 1993. “The Mouthfeel of Beer – A Review.” Journal of the Institute of Brewing 99 (February): 31–37. Read 13-15 November 2013. Cited in Bamforth, ed., Brewing: new technologies, ch. 20, “Brewing control systems: sensory evaluation” by W. J. Simpson, p. 434.

This is basically a literature review of “the development of terminology and methods to describe [mouthfeel] and studies of the physical and chemical properties which may contribute to it” (abstract). It is organized into three sections: 1. Development of Beer Mouthfeel Terminology, 2. Physical and Chemical Parameters Which May Contribute to Beer Mouthfeel, and 3. Mouthfeel Studies Using Beverages and Beer. Subsections include History and Beer Flavor Wheel in the first section; and Foam Head, Carbon Dioxide, “Protein” (Polypeptides), Polyphenols, Chloride, Dextrins, β-Glucan, Viscosity, Alcohol, Glycerol, and Caveat in the second. The third section has no subsections.

It is a fairly short article that sadly doesn’t do much other than critique previous studies. I wish it had provided a few more definitive comments about mouthfeel or, at a minimum, had proposed further studies to further elucidate the impact of the physical and chemical properties mentioned and how they actually do or do not impact mouthfeel. According to Simpson, this is the paper that led to the modification of the Beer Flavor Wheel to include a separate mouthfeel section.

§ Gruber, Mary Anne. 2001. “The Flavor Contributions of Kilned and Roasted Products to Finished Beer Styles.” Technical Quarterly 38 (4): 227–233. Cited by Thomas, “Beer How It’s Made – The Basics of Brewing” in Liquid Bread, p. 38 Read 14 November 2013; re-read 18 November 2013.

Based on a poster presented at the MBAA Guadalajara Convention, 2001. A short, 6-page-plus article with lots of pictures and illustrations which reviews “the wide spectrum of specialty malts available and the contribution of specialty malt flavors to finely crafted specialty beers” (abstract). The introduction covers flavor and the Beer Flavor Wheel. “The Specialty Malting Process” covers exactly what it says. “Flavor Contribution (1)” covers kilned, high temp kilned and wheat malt. “Flavor Contribution (2)” covers roasted malts. “Flavor Contribution (3)” covers kilned and roasted malts. “Flavor Contribution (4)” covers roasted barley. The summary wraps things up. All-in-all, this short article contains a fair bit of useful knowledge if you aren’t already well-versed in specialty malts.


§ Sancho, Daniel, Carlos A. Blanco, Isabel Caballero, and Ana Pascual. 2011. “Free Iron in Pale, Dark and Alcohol-free Commercial Lager Beers.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 91 (6) (April 1): 1142–1147. doi:10.1002/jsfa.4298. Read 13 November 2013. Found while helping a student with a chemistry assignment.

This study compared the amount of free iron in pale, dark and alcohol-free beers in order to find a “highly sensitive, selective, rapid, reliable and inexpensive method” to measure free iron in beer (abstract). They looked at 40 lager beers (28 pale, 6 dark, 6 alcohol-free) and found the highest levels in dark beers, followed by pale, with the lowest levels in alcohol-free beers (average: 121 ppb dark, 92 ppb pale, 63 ppb alcohol-free) (1143, 1144-45). They then go on to speculate as to why the numbers are as the found them whether due to production processes or ingredients used. As they state, “It is very useful to know the free iron content in beer since it plays an important role as a catalyst in the oxidation of organic compounds that are responsible for the stability and flavour in beers” (1144). I would be particularly interested in seeing the method developed in this study used to measure the free iron in various ales, especially big NW IPAs with all of their hops and in big stouts and Imperial stouts.

§ Coghe, Stefan, Hélène D’Hollander, Hubert Verachtert, and Freddy R. Delvaux. 2005. “Impact of Dark Specialty Malts on Extract Composition and Wort Fermentation.” Journal of the Institute of Brewing 111 (1) (January 1): 51–60. doi:10.1002/j.2050-0416.2005.tb00648.x. Read 21 November 2013. Cited by Casey & Bamforth 2010, “Silicon in beer and brewing,” (see above).

An interesting article that looks at “the influence of dark specialty malts on wort fermentation. More specifically, the availability of yeast nutrients, the course of the fermentation and the formation of flavour-active compounds were investigated” (59). As for reduced attenuation in dark worts, it was found that lower levels of fermentable carbohydrates and reduced amino acids were the prime reason, although Maillard compounds also affect fermentation (59). Flavor-active yeast metabolites are also affected by dark malts (59). The authors claim that brewers should not worry about these results as the levels of dark malts used are way beyond what are used in practice and thus the findings are only of scientific relevance. “Thus, in normal brewing practice, no drastically reduced fermentation rates and ester profiles should be expected” (59). They suggest some further research that would help explicate some of their findings to a greater degree.


§ Samuel, Delwen. 1996. “Archaeology of Ancient Egyptian Beer.” Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists 54 (1): 3–12. Single Journals. doi:10.1094/ASBCJ-54-0003. Read 22 November 2013. Cited in “Beer in Prehistoric Europe” by Hans-Peter Stika, in Liquid Bread, p. 57. Google Scholar.

A fascinating article from 1996 which I hoped had been followed up on but I have been unable so far to find anything further from the “ancient Egyptian beer project” as “sponsored by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries plc and carried out under the aegis of the Egypt Exploration Society” (4). There are a lot of articles which cite this one and are, in effect, followups but those are quite specific to a narrow scientific technique of analysis and not of the more general “this is how our model has evolved based on further studies.” Sections consist of the Abstract, introduction, Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Egyptian Brewing, Cereals Used for Brewing, The Search for Brewing Processes, The Case for Malting, Malting Procedures, Ancient Egyptian Brewing: Single System or Two-Part Process?, Future Research, Acknowledgments, and Literature Cited. In each case, they present evidence ranging from scanning electron microscopy to linguistics, and address the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques and the interpretations derived therefrom.


§ DeLyser, D. Y., and W. J. Kasper. 1994. “Hopped Beer: The Case for Cultivation.” Economic Botany 48 (2) (April 1): 166–170. doi:10.2307/4255609. Read 27 November 2013. Cited in Bamforth (ed.) Brewing: New technologies, ch. 5 The breeding of hop, p. 102 and 103.

Looks at the available documentary evidence in an attempt “to distill from available evidence a chronology of the early use of hops in beer, its domestication, and worldwide dispersion” (166). From it we learn of some of the other uses for hops, including as a salad vegetable, to cultivate wild yeast, as household ornamental plants, woven as linen, as a hair rinse for brunettes, as a yellow dye, as bedding and insulation and as packing material, among others (167).

The first documentary evidence of hop usage in beer is the Statutae Abbattiae Corbej (822 A.D.) and not St. Hildegard’s usually ascribed Physica Sacra, of ca. 1150 A.D. (168). “The first actual record of cultivated hops comes from documents in the annals of the Abbey of Freisingen in Bavaria (859 to 875 A.D. and onwards) which mentions orchards with hop gardens” (169). Based on this and other evidence they infer that hop use in beer was followed by cultivation, which was driven by demand, and that it was the use in beer which led to cultivation and not something else.

§ Baxter, Alan G. 2001. “Louis Pasteur’s Beer of Revenge.” Nature Reviews Immunology 1 (3) (December): 229–232. Nature Journals Online. doi:10.1038/35105083. Read 15 November 2013. Cited in “Beer and Beer Culture in Germany” by Franz Meussdoerffer, in Liquid Bread, p. 68.

Short article that informs us about Pasteur and his hatred for Germany due to the Franco-Prussian War. We learn about some of his microbiological work, along with learning about a few of his supporters and detractors, and Pasteur’s “beer of revenge.” The author seems to imply in closing that Pasteur was successful:

“His ‘beer of revenge’ was so successful that to this day, very little German beer is exported, even though some are widely regarded as being among the best in the world. The irony is that the German breweries rendered idle by Pasteur’s strategy were eventually adapted to manufacture acetone for cordite production. So, Pasteur’s vengeance indirectly helped to equip Germany for their attack on France in the First World War” (232).

Whut?! What German beer factories were rendered idle? What strategy? Being a dick to Germans and refusing to allow a translation of his Studies on Fermentation into German? I am pretty certain that it had probably been translated a couple of times into German, whether or not it had been commercially. Did the writer make this ridiculous claim so that he could use the word “ironic”? It also seems to me that those claims about factories need a citation. I don’t doubt that some breweries were converted to cordite production but that’s not the kind of claim you can just throw out without support in an immunology journal.

Germany may not be the biggest exporter of beer but let us compare a few statistics on French and German beer that are fairly contemporaneous with when the author’s claim was made (from Bamforth, Charles W. 2009. Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing. 3rd ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.):

From Table 1.2 Worldwide Brewing and Beer Statistics (2004)

From Table 1.2 Worldwide Brewing and Beer Statistics (2004)

There are only two countries in this chart even close to Germany’s export numbers: Mexico (14.5) and Netherlands (13.0). That made Germany the #2 exporter of beer worldwide in 2004. How the hell was Pasteur’s ‘beer of revenge’ successful?

From Table 1.3 Growth or Decline in Beer Volume (Million hl) Since 1970

From Table 1.3 Growth or Decline in Beer Volume (Million hl) Since 1970

Interesting and informative article. I simply do not know what to say about its conclusion.

Here are some articles that I did not get to this time. Perhaps in another edition of #beerylongreads or simply as an infrequent Some Things Read This Week. Time will tell.


  • “Fiber and putative prebiotics in beer” – Bamforth & Gambill
  • “Beer and wine consumers’ perceptions of the nutritional value of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages” – Wright, et al.
  • “Is beer consumption related to measures of abdominal and general obesity? – Bendsen, et al.


  • “Reference Standards for Beer Flavor Terminology” – Meilgaard, et al.
  • “Beer Flavor Terminology” – Meilgaard, et al.
  • “Investigating consumers’ representations of beers through a free association task: A comparison between packaging and blind conditions” – Sester, et al.
  • “Expertise and memory for beers and olfactory compounds” – Valentin, et al. “Do trained assessors generalize their knowledge to new stimuli?” – Chollet, et al.
  • “Impact of Training on Beer Flavor Perception and Description: Are Trained and Untrained Subjects Really Different?” – Chollet & Valentin
  • “Attempts to Train Novices for Beer Flavor Discrimination: A Matter of Taste.” – Peron & Allen
  • “Sort and beer: Everything you wanted to know about the sorting task but did not dare to ask” – Chollet, et al.
  • “What is the validity of the sorting task for describing beers? A study using trained and untrained assessors” – Lelièvre, et al.


  • “The history of beer additives in Europe — A review” – Behre
  • “Studies on the Effect of Mechanical Agitation on the Performance of Brewing Fermentations: Fermentation Rate, Yeast Physiology, and Development of Flavor Compounds” – Boswell, et al.


  • “Brewing an Ancient Beer” – Katz and Maytag


  • “Drinking Beer in a Blissful Mood” – Jennings, et al.
  • ““Beer, Glorious Beer”: Gender Politics and Australian Popular Culture.” – Kirkby
  • “Women & Craft Beer: Are You Making the Connection?” – Johnson “Beer Color Using Tristimulus Analysis” – Cornell

And others.

Well, this concludes my post. This should be somewhere above 3100 words so I am calling it accomplished.

Is Beer-Drinking Injurious? (Science, 1887)

Is Beer-Drinking Injurious?, from Science in 1887 is a very interesting article, indeed.

Being the librarian that I am, I did some poking around in various databases, including one of my favorites—JSTOR, and found a few articles on beer or brewing that I would like to share here. I am beginning with one that is in the public domain and is available to one and all. This article is available to you via the JSTOR Early Journal Content program as are many other public domain articles. So, without further ado, here is the article in its entirety (with some minor reformatting).

Is Beer-Drinking Injurious?
Science, Vol. 9, No. 206 (Jan. 14, 1887), pp. 24-25
Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Article Stable URL:


We have before us a direct and unqualified challenge to the prohibitionists in the form of a pamphlet on ‘The effects of beer upon those who make and drink it,’ by G. Thomann (New York, U. S. brewers’ assoc., 1886). The writer boldly presents the following propositions.

  1. Brewers drink more beer, and drink it more constantly, than any other class of people.
  2. The rate of deaths among brewers is lower by forty per cent than the average death-rate among the urban population of the groups of ages corresponding with those to which brewery-workmen belong.
  3. The health of brewers is unusually good: diseases of the kidneys and liver occur rarely among them.
  4. On an average, brewers live longer, and preserve their physical energies better, than the average workmen of the United States.

The writer claims that beer is a perfectly wholesome drink, and, in support of this claim, refers to investigations made in Belgium, France, Holland, and Switzerland. He quotes also from the report made by a sanitary commission appointed by President Lincoln to examine the camps of the Union army and their sanitary condition. In examining the condition of regiments in which malt-liquors were freely used, the commission found not only that beer is a healthy beverage, but that it possesses hygienic qualities which recommend its use for the prevention of certain diseases. Mr. Thomann states, that, wherever the effects of the use of beer upon the human body have been examined methodically by competent physicians, it was found, to use the words of Dr. Jules Rochard of the Académie de médecine of Paris, “that beer is a very healthy beverage, which helps digestion, quenches thirst, and furnishes an amount of assimilable substances much greater than that contained in any other beverage.”

The charge is often made that American beer is composed of so many poisonous ingredients that it is thereby rendered unfit for consumption; that, while pure beer may be harmless, such beer as is supplied by brewers at the present time in this country is positively injurious. This is met with a reference to the report of the New York state board of health, in which it is stated that an analysis of four hundred and seventy-six samples of malt-liquors had been made, and that they were all found perfectly pure and wholesome, and to contain neither hop-substitutes nor any deleterious substances whatever.

The most interesting portion of Mr. Thomann’s pamphlet is that which deals with the statistics of the physicians under whose professional care the men employed in the breweries are placed. About five years ago the brewers of New York, Brooklyn, Newark, and the neighboring towns and villages, established a benevolent bureau for the relief of their sick and disabled employees. Physicians are appointed, whose duty it is to attend the sick members of the bureau, and a record is kept of all cases of sickness and death which occur. The number of deaths which took place among 960 brewery workmen in five years was 36,—an average of 7.2 per annum, or a death-rate per 1,000 of 7.5. The United States census gives the rate per 1,000 of the urban population of the same ages, as 12.5; or, in other words, the risks incurred in insuring the lives of habitual beerdrinkers are less by forty per cent than the ordinary risks of such transactions. The death-rate per 1,000 in the regular army of the United States in 1885 was 10.9; so that, even as compared with the soldier in peace time, we find that the brewery workmen have a great advantage in point of low rate of mortality.

Mr. Thomann gives us a number of interesting facts connected with the breweries and the workmen engaged therein. In every brewery is a room, called the ‘Sternenwirth,’ in which beer is constantly on tap, to be used by every one at pleasure and without cost. Every one drinks as much beer as he thirsts for, without asking, or being asked any questions as to his right to do so. The average daily consumption of malt-liquors for each individual is 25.73 glasses, or about ten pints (emphasis mine). In the statistics which are given we find that a considerable number of the men consume forty and fifty glasses a day, and two are reported as drinking, on an average, seventy glasses daily. With a view to ascertaining, in the most reliable manner possible, the effects of the use of malt liquors, the physicians of the benevolent bureau examined one thousand of the brewery workmen as to general state of health, condition of liver, condition of kidneys, and condition of heart. In addition to this, they weighed and measured each man, and tested his strength by the dynamometer. These examinations showed that there were, in all, twenty-five men whose physical condition was in some respect defective; and the remaining nine hundred and seventy-five enjoyed exceptionally good health, and were of splendid physique. There were 300 men who had been engaged in brewing from five to ten years, 189 from ten to fifteen, 122 from fifteen to twenty, and 46 more than twenty-five years. One special case referred to is that of a man fifty-six years of age, uninterruptedly at work in breweries during thirty-two years, who drank beer throughout this time at the rate of fifty glasses per day, yet has never been sick, and to-day is perfectly healthy, vigorous, and active.

The statistics are, to say the least, very surprising, and, unless refuted, will result in modifying to a considerable degree the generally accepted views of the influence of malt-liquors on the health of those who drink them habitually. Mr. Thomann has boldly thrown down the gauntlet, and we shall watch with interest to see who will take it up.


“The average daily consumption of malt-liquors for each individual is 25.73 glasses, or about ten pints” (25). Now, clearly, this must have been some form of small beer at ≤ 3.5% ABV. Still, that is a fair bit of beer consumption a day, especially considering that that is an average and some outliers were drinking twice to almost three times that much.

The pamphlet on which this article is based is available via Google Books: Gallus Thomann, ‘The effects of beer upon those who make and drink it: a statistical sketch.’ (New York, United States Brewers’ Assoc., 1886). It is a 46 page pamphlet that I hope to delve into soon.