Moderate Drinking Actually Does Make You Live Longer than Not Drinking At All

August 30th, 2010

Probably, at least, because it’s a new week and a new one of these studies. But we’re beer drinkers around here, so when we hear about good health relating to our infatuation with craft beer, we’re joining the bandwagon. This study, though, actually is quite surprising. It states that people who drink in moderate amounts  actually live longer than people who don’t drink at all. And the real shocker: heavy drinkers (more than 3 drinks a day) live longer than non-drinkers as well. Whoa.

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don’t have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It’s true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors — job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods. (They also don’t get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

Not exactly the most rousing support of going out and becoming an alcoholic, but definitely a curious report to be sure. As always with these studies, be careful. I think we know that drinking in moderation certainly won’t kill you, but still can lead to certain types of cancers. But it does sound like you’re more apt to have a good time and be more carefree. So pick your poison, really.

TIME Magazine — Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers, Study Finds

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

Drinking Beer Will Help You Lose Weight*

August 23rd, 2010

*If you’re into reading just the headline of a story, that is. See, a group called CAMRA, an advocacy group pushing real ale, has come up with a great claim that beer is actually healthier and filled with less calories than wine. And it will help you lose weight! But not really.

“Not only that,” it announced earlier this month, “but swapping wine for beer, for just one week, could save as many calories as a half-hour jog.”

So if you want to stay fit, throw away those old trainers and get drinking. Of course this was probably not the message Camra was trying to get across, but that subtlety may have been lost on the crowd of 60,000 at the Great British Beer Festival, where the announcement was made. You can imagine the contented sighs, the odd burp and the collective patting of the great British beer belly.

To back up its claims, Camra commissioned a report which states: “A half-pint of 3.8% bitter has 85 calories, a medium glass of red wine has 119 calories and a bottle of 5% alcopop has 179 calories.” There is also evidence from the Czech Republic, whose per capita beer consumption puts all others to shame. A study of 2,300 drinkers there found they put on almost no more weight around the abdomen than non-drinkers.

So there you have it, everyone. Next time you go to the bar, make sure you order the super low ABV beer in the standard half-pint glass that all bars have at the ready. And make sure to not drink more of it than you would wine. Because THEN, beer will be healthier than wine, or whatever the hell alcopop is. Crazy Brits.

Herald Scotland — Tom Bruce-Gardyne on the so-called “myth of the beer belly”

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

Nerd Beer? Nerd Beer.

August 10th, 2010

Wired has a really great article up today about some of the nerdiest beers on the planet (or at least the nerdiest beers they could talk brewers into sending them). We’ve seen a great connection between science, history, and beer before, so maybe this really is becoming a trend. They missed out on some of the uber nerdy Star Wars-themed beers, but still came up with some pretty good ones like Gigabit IPA (brewed in hopes of getting Google to place its hyper-fast Internet in Portland, OR), Moog Filtered Ale, and Biere de Mars, which I happen to have a bottle of sitting in my fridge. Here’s writer Betsy Mason’s take:

This beer is strong on malt and low on hops with a sweet start and a slightly sour, funky finish that we attributed to the wild yeast. It has some of that typical Belgian boozy feel to it, though it is a relatively mild 6.2 percent alcohol. Webmonkey editor Michael Calore summed it up as “sweet, but not too sweet.” Strangely, while everyone had more than usual to say about the different flavors in this beer, we were split on whether it had distinctive character or fell more on the mild and forgettable end of the spectrum. Personally I think Biere de Mars has a lot of interesting tastes, but they are subtle, which works for me. It could be a good training beer for people who aren’t sure about Belgian beers.

Make sure you get over to Wired to check out the whole list.

Science + Geek + Beer = Awesomely Geeky Science Beer — Wired

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

It’s Official! Beer Makes You Healthier!

February 22nd, 2010

Yup, it’s another one of these. I’ve already spent some time talking about how silly these studies can be, but what the hell? Anything that makes me feel good about my health while consuming beer is good in my book.

Silicon, present to varying degrees in various beers, has been linked to higher bone-mineral density in animals–including, of course, in humans. So researchers at the University of California at Davis set out to analyze 100 commercial beers to determine silicon content. They report their findings this week in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

[...]

“The wine guys have stolen the moral high ground,” said Charles Bamforth, a biochemist and professor of food science at UC Davis who also goes by the title Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor. He adds:

‘The reality is there’s now growing consensus around the world that the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages that counters atherosclerosis is alcohol. It doesn’t matter if it’s wine or beer. I resent the stance that people take that wine is better. It’s not.’

Bamforth’s team’s findings suggest that raw ingredients and brewing techniques determine how much silicon is in the final pour. They found that malt, a sprouted grain, is the greatest source of silicon; starches in sprouted barley or wheat break down into sugars that yeast converts into alcohol. (Barley contains even more silicon than wheat.)

That’s it! Beer will save the world! It will increase life expectancy! We’ve found the fountain of youth! Drink up, everyone! I’ll be in the street toasting to silicone and malty goodness! Can’t wait to be 189 years old and still downing porters. Wooooo!!!

cnet news — Silicon: It’s good for you, especially in beer

Line Break

Tagged as: , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

An Alcoholic Motivation

January 19th, 2010

We already knew that scientists(geologists especially) had a special fascination with beer. Now, in a new book written by archaeologist Patrick McGovern, the case for beer being a catalyst for civilization’s agricultural past might be stronger than we ever could have imagined.

“Alcohol provided the initial motivation,” said McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. “Then it got going the engine of society.”

As one of the leading experts on the study of ancient alcoholic brews, McGovern has found evidence showing that early man was making the beverage as far back as 9,000 years ago.

His earliest sample, which dates to 7000 BC, includes pottery shards found in a Neolithic village at the Jiahu site in China. By examining the clay shards, McGovern discovered traces of Tartaric acid, a compound found in alcoholic brews.

The makers of this particular ancient beverage would have relied on a more primitive brewing method. Specifically, their teeth and saliva. To allow for fermentation, they would have first chewed on wild rice, turning the starch into malt sugar. This would then be added to a mixture of honey, wild grapes and hawthorn fruit — all ingredients that could be found in their surroundings.

Some of you may remember the Dogfish Head creation that utilized saliva as a main part of the fermentation process. This Central and Southern American creation might not be too far off from the brews that McGovern speaks of. However, McGovern goes much further than just talking about beer as a thing to enjoy as a local. No, he says it really was a main reason why people started farming, and continued farming, in the first place.

“A main motivation for settling down and domesticating crops was probably to make an alcoholic beverage of some kind,” McGovern concluded. “People wanted to be closer to their plants so this leads to settlement.”

If this were true, the first farmers would have in fact been real ale brewers. Moreover, alcohol, which is often used to break down barriers between people, would have acted much in the same way it did thousands of years ago.

“Whenever we look at the Neolithic beverages and the domestication of these plants, we find that it was more of an egalitarian effort, with people working together,” McGovern said.

McGovern’s new book, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages, is available for around $20 on Amazon. And who says a little alcohol never led to any grand schemes? Take a look at the middle of the United States! All of that? Because of beer! I think you have some thank you notes to write, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, etc.

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

Drinking Guinness Prevents Hair Loss?

January 19th, 2010

If you don’t listen to the Pogues, you really should. I’ll say that before I share the story of frontman Shane MacGowan, who has found a unique way to prevent hair loss: washing your hair with beer. Plus, he’s also found a super gross way to enjoy a good Guinness.

He says, “They sell all those lotions to cure you of baldness… They don’t work. There is only one way to cure baldness – you pour Guinness over your head, collect it in a bucket, and drink it in the morning.

“It’s proven to work.”

That’s science there, folks. Solid, concrete science. If he says it works, it must clearly work. Also, if that’s not enough reason to listen to the Pogues then I don’t know what will convince you. Can’t say we’d suggest tossing a beer into your head every morning, but we’re also not Irish. Who knows what those blokes are up to overseas.

Jam! — Pogues star washes hair with beer

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , ,
Line Break

2 Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

Wait, So Beer Really Isn’t Good for Us?

January 13th, 2010

Not long ago, I wrote about a story linking the drinking of beer to the prevention of prostate cancer. But now, good ol’ Eric Braun of the San Antonio Express-News has to go and burst our bubble.

These studies are all well and good, and heaven knows we need more research on the causes and preventions of all types of cancer.

We run into problems, though, when headlines and television announcers start touting that “beer might actually be good for you.”

What you miss in most of these stories is that there is only a minuscule amount of the chemical in beer.

Chances are, if your doctor wants you to take xanthohumol to prevent prostate cancer, it’s going to come in a pill, not a prescription for two IPAs per day.

One of my dad’s favorite references is to “a pork chop in a can.” He read somewhere that a can of beer has approximately the same amount of protein as a pork chop, and it stuck.

Sadly, after checking into this, it turns out that it would take about a 12-pack to equal a pork chop. Sorry, Dad.

Unfortunately, Eric’s right. Every time one of these studies comes out, we forget that excessive alcohol can lead to other major health problems. We may be preventing prostate cancer marginally but also increasing our risk for liver failure times ten. Studies like these happen quite often. One day you’ll hear that caffeine is great for brain health, the next we’ll hear that it’s terrible for your heart.

The bottom line is this: moderation, friends. No matter how much beer you drink, no amount will dramatically increase your health or wellness. Will some brew help against certain ailments? Probably. Just don’t go around justifying your drinking binge as a way to cure cancer. Enjoy your good beer in moderation and hope that some good comes of it. You never know when the next study will come out saying stouts cure the common cold (fingers crossed!).

San Antonio Express-NewsWhat’s on tap: Beer is not health food

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

The Greatest Scientist of All

December 18th, 2009

science crazyWired Magazine has an interesting article up about the connections between geologists and their love affair with beer. Turns out that many of them drink a lot, and the writer from Wired has a really interesting explanation, complete with brain imaging scans, charts, and complex video evidence. Just kidding. Turns out they just like getting drunk.

So the real question is why the bond between geologists and beer is so strong. I decided to do some research this week to get to the bottom of the phenomenon.  So, beer in hand, I asked as many of the 16,000 or so geologists, geophysicists, hydrologists and atmospheric scientists at the meeting as I could and got some very interesting responses. (Full disclosure: I am also a geologist, and I like beer)

The most popular theory I heard was that it must have something to do with the amount of time spent outside doing fieldwork.

“When it’s hot, and you’ve been hiking all day carrying 50 pounds of rocks, do you want a Merlot? No,” said thermochronologist Jim Metcalf of Syracuse University.

“It goes down a lot easier than water because a lot of the places we go, we can’t drink the water,” said structural geologist Jonathan Gourley of Trinity College.

I would have liked to have seen the article pitch for this story: “No, there really is a connection between geologists and drinking! Let me show you! *chug chug chug* Look! I’m still a geologist! Point proven!”

But in all seriousness, it’s kind of a cool article about the power beer has to bring people together and how it might, might open up possibilities for different types of thinking and exploration. Except any idea I’ve had when drinking turns out to be really stupid the next morning, so hopefully geologists have more discretion than I do.

Line Break

Tagged as: , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

Beer May Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

December 8th, 2009

beerdoctorGood news for all you guys out there. Sky News is reporting that beer may help to prevent prostate cancer.

Tests have shown that xanthohumol, derived from the hops in beer, blocks a chemical reaction that can lead to the development of cancer.

The disease is usually treated with drugs that act in a similar way.

Study leader Dr Clarissa Gerhausa, from the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, said: “We hope that one day we can demonstrate that xanthohumol prevents prostate cancer development, first in animal models and then in humans, but we are just at the beginning.”

We don’t need to tell you that this is great news. No word yet if beer prevents any other type of cancer, like liver cancer, but we’re not too high on the chances of that. But what the hell, it’s an optimistic day here at BarBEERians. Drink up, gentlemen.

Line Break

Tagged as: ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break
 

If Sinking Islands and Drowning Polar Bears Didn’t Convince You…

December 8th, 2009

globalwarmingbeer…now there’s a study showing that hops are being compromised. By global warming!

Climatologist Martin Mozny of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and colleagues say that the quality of Saaz hops – the delicate variety used to make pilsner lager – has been decreasing in recent years. They say the culprit is climate change in the form of increased air temperature.

Mozny’s team used a high-resolution dataset of weather patterns, crop yield and hop quality to estimate the impact of climate change on Saaz hops in the Czech Republic between 1954 and 2006.

We all remember the dreaded hop shortage from 2007, and that wasn’t pretty. But now we may have some indication as to what caused that shortage. And it’s also proof that global warming is definitely happening!

Well, maybe. These kinds of studies are always interesting, and it does show some correlation, but it doesn’t show any causation. There are way too many variables to completely connect this to global warming, but it’s something to at least think about, especially if these type of studies are repeated in different areas of the world.

Mozny notes in the article that this type of decrease in hop quality is being seen in Germany and Slovakia as well. I haven’t heard anything about this change happening in America yet, but we’ll surely be following this trend. And if you’re feeling a little down about raising the earth’s temperature, thus compromising the hops that let us enjoy a Friday night, maybe consider drinking some beer from these breweries that place the importance of the environment next to the importance of their beer:

brookBrooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, NY: You’d think a big city brewery in a bustling metropolis would place production and cost-efficiency well above environmental protection. Not so. The Brooklyn Brewery runs on 100% wind power through purchasing wind power from a wind farm in Upstate New York. Not many other breweries in the nation can make a statement like that. A small brewery making a big difference.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, CA: We rave about Sierra Nevada a lot here, but even their commitment to the environment earns our praise.  With the solar panels on the roof, a fuel cell training lab on-site, and a machine that recycles expelled CO2 in the brewing process and uses it in dispensing their beer, Sierra Nevada sounds more like an experimental science lab than a brewery. All this is astonishing when you consider the size of the establishment. And the delicious beer they serve.

greatbrewGreat Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, OH: Great Lakes Brewing is one of many breweries that recycles their barley and gives it to local farmers. But they’re one of the few breweries that makes a commitment to printing all menus and promotional material on recycled prodects, using biodiesel in delivery trucks and shuttles, and creating food from barley used in the brewing process. Any brewery that’s in the mood for reusing materials makes us want to reuse their beer when we’re thirsty.

Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI: Using 100% organic malts and hops, this smaller brewery in Wisconsin also makes a commitment to using wind energy as a source of power, as well as making a dedication to include Wisconsin growers in their plans for future beer production. The brewery also offers tours on Fridays that showcase the brewery’s dedication to a better environment through operational procedures that are making beer better and more eco-friendly.

newbelgiumNew Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO: Using one of the most efficient brewing kettles in the country, treating their waste water in eco-friendly ways, and always pushing to reduce their carbon-footprint, New Belgium Brewing not only makes some great beer, but also does it all while making a positive impact that will be noticed by generations of beer drinkers to come. Plus, who ever wants to pass-up a Fat Tire when you find it on tap at a bar? Not us.

Line Break

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Line Break

No Comments »

Line Break
    Line Break