A Matter of Taste

Written by Amanda Wishin

rszcorbisbeercb060272-1273509049Give me something that is both salty, sweet, hot and cold, and you have given me the perfect food. Yes, I will admit that am one of those people that dips French fries in Frosty’s. I am also someone that generally asks for the hoppiest beer on tap. This hasn’t always been the case. My taste in alcohol started off very sweet (think Mike’s Hard Raspberry Lemonade), transitioned to yellow fizz (oh the days of college and Keystone Light), and eventually became addicted to a variety of craft beer.

Tastebud Basics

The average adult has between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds that perceive sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and potentially a fifth savory taste called umami. Salty and sour detection is needed to control salt and acid balance. Bitter detection warns of foods containing poisons. Sweet provides a guide to calorie-rich foods. Taste buds in combination with smell discern flavor.

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Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Homebrewing

Press Release:

beer-news10(Boulder, CO) – The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is pleased to announce that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed a bill that will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Mississippi is now the 49th state to permit homebrewing. A Senate version of the bill passed in early February and it was then voted on by the State House of Representatives in March.

“From our founding fathers to our current President, this country has a long and storied tradition of homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the support of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Raise Your Pints and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Mississippi. We are grateful to Senator John Horhn who introduced this bill and to Governor Bryant for his quick action and support.”

aha-mississippi-e1363706731162-200x200The 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is still up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Prior to today’s announcement, Mississippi and Alabama were the only two states that did not allow homebrewing. The AHA will continue working with homebrewers in Alabama to legalize homebrewing.

The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than 1 million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Mississippi is home to an estimated 2,200 homebrewers who may now enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.


Barrel Tips from the Pros

Insights for using barrels on a homebrew level

Barrel aging beer is not a new trend, but if you look around at your local brew pubs and beer shops you will see the expanding varieties of wood and barrel aged brews. Wood adds additional aromas and flavor components such as vanillin, tannins, spice and toast that brewers can use to their advantage. Many craft breweries have barrel programs dealing in wine and liquor barrel aged brews. The barrels they use usually range from 55 to 65 gallons and are sourced from major liquor distilleries, barrel brokers and vineyards from across the country.

For home brewers, brewing with a 55 gallon liquor barrel is not very practical unless you are brewing with a group and everyone dumps in to fill the barrel (which is very fun by the way). Most home brewers are looking for wooden barrels to hold their 5 and 10 gallon batches. Getting your hands on these smaller oak homebrew barrels can open up a whole new world of homebrews.

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Craft Brews Slowly Chipping Away At Big Beer’s Dominance

 Craft beers are offered for sale at Sam's Wines and Spirits in Chicago. Craft beer has about a 6 percent market share in the U.S. beer market, which is dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Craft beers are offered for sale at Sam’s Wines and Spirits in Chicago. Craft beer has about a 6 percent market share in the U.S. beer market, which is dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

America loves beer.

In the U.S., we drink $200 billion worth of the hops-brewed libation annually. What many Americans might not know is that most domestic beer, 90 percent in fact, is dominated by just two companies: Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors.

Innovators, however, are challenging that dominance in the form of craft beer breweries. Small “mom and pop”-style breweries — or regional breweries — now account for about 6 percent of domestic beer sales. That may seem like a small number, but it’s been growing every year since the early 1990s, while big brewers’ share is declining.

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How Beer Gave Us Civilization


HUMAN beings are social animals. But just as important, we are socially constrained as well.

We can probably thank the latter trait for keeping our fledgling species alive at the dawn of man. Five core social instincts, I have argued, gave structure and strength to our primeval herds. They kept us safely codependent with our fellow clan members, assigned us a rank in the pecking order, made sure we all did our chores, discouraged us from offending others, and removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources.

Thus could our ancient forebears cooperate, prosper, multiply — and pass along their DNA to later generations.

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BeerSci: Are Hops Addictive?

unnamedModern-day hopheads–the beer drinkers who gleefully, obsessively seek out hoppier and hoppier brews–don’t usually start out that way. Most people have a natural aversion to bitter compounds–useful for avoiding eating lethal doses of poisons in the wild. No, one must work one’s way up to hops: Start off drinking beers with lower IBUs (International Bitterness Units, one measure of how bitter a beer is), be them ambers, lagers, brown ales, or stouts. Next, try a pale ale. Then try many pale ales. Then discover the IPA — and with it, become obsessed with hop varietals such as Simcoe (piney aroma) and Amarillo (fruity aroma). Be happy with that for a while. Maybe try a double IPA (twice the malt, twice the hops as a regular IPA), which may or may not be successful, depending on whose you drink. Begin to love being punched in the face with a fist of hops. Become obsessed with IBU ratings. Buy the hoppiest beers one can find, even if they don’t actually taste all that good. Despair.

Back in 2005, a pair of California-based brewers (Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker) came up with a tongue-in-cheek definition for this hop passion. They called it the lupulin threshold shift, describing it as “when a double IPA just isn’t enough.” (Lupulin glands on the hop cones hold the main hop compounds that eventually contribute flavor and bitterness to beers.) I’ve seen many a beer drinker ask why they feel compelled to seek out ever-hoppier beers. Could it be that their brains and tastebuds are addicted to the hop?

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Mobile County Prosecutor Disciplined for Homebrewing



beer-news10MOBILE, Alabama — Mobile County prosecutor Keith Blackwood is, according to posts made to his now-defunct Twitter account, a libertarian, a cigar aficionado and somewhat of a foodie. He’s also a criminal.

That’s because Blackwood has, on occasion, brewed his own beer, a hobby that is perfectly legal in 48 states — 49 if Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signs a bill recently approved in the state’s Legislature.

It’s also legal under federal law, has been since the 1970s. President Barack Obama famously has a homebrew setup in the White House.

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Green Flash Announces East Coast Brewery in Virginia Beach

beer-news10Green Flash Brewing Co. is the latest Western craft brewer to hop on the caravan to the East Coast. While Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues all opted for North Carolina, Green Flash has chosen Virginia Beach as the site of its Atlantic base of operations.

In his State of the City address on Thursday, mayor William Sessoms Jr. announced that the San Diego-based brewer will break ground on a plant in Virginia Beach to open in 2015.

The plant will employ a staff of 40 and have a capacity of 100,000 barrels per year, likely making it the largest brewery in Virginia after the Anheuser-Busch facility in Williamsburg and the MillerCoors plant in Elkton.

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