Press Clips: Craft Beer Science; Beer Mile Conspiracy Theories

Giving the white coats of craft beer their due, The New York Times published a story on Monday profiling the efforts of two teams of microbiologists as they seek to create “the first genetic family tree for brewing yeasts and the beers they make.”

Two teams from White Labs, a San Diego, Calif.-based supplier of beer yeast, and a jointly-ventured Belgian genetics laboratory, have, thus far, “sequenced the DNA of more than 240 strains of brewing yeasts from around the world,” according to the article.

Through their research, the two companies are looking to answer the “important questions,” such as, “which breweries started with the same strains of yeasts, how these organisms evolved over time and, of course, how all of it translates to taste.”

In addition to giving scientists — and brewers — a better understanding of brewing yeasts, microbiologists hope that with new information, they will “be able to select different properties in yeasts and breed them together to generate new ones,” according to Dr. Kevin Verstrepen, director of the Belgian lab.

Currently, the article adds, “there are few options for generating new yeasts.”

“Simply breeding strains together rarely results in a usable brew — because most brewing yeasts are highly specialized, the results are often the genetic equivalent of combining a bicycle with in-line skates,” wrote The Times. “Each serves the same purpose, but applying parts from one to the other yields little more than a mess.”

Confirmed by The New York Times: craft beer is a science.

Also a science: exercise. Oddly enough, the science of beer and exercise are more compatible than one might think, at least if the idea of pounding four beers throughout the course of running a mile appeals to you.

In April, a video of distance runner James Nielsen completing a feat known as the beer mile in a record time of 4:57 went viral, drenching the Internet with Budweiser as he galloped around the track.

Now the Wall Street Journal has the story of how skeptical Internet sleuths are calling his beer mile run record into question, as Nielsen failed to prove that he fully consumed the first of four beers by not dumping the can of Bud upside down over his head.

“He didn’t demonstrate that he’d finished the first beer,” John Markell, a 40-year-old investment banker and one of the sport’s founders, told the website.

Markell did add that he believes Nielsen did, in fact, successfully run the mile within the parameters of the rules, but the whole thing still seems rather Bilderberg-ian.

Well, since we’ve touched on microbiological science and exercise science, we might as well add political science to the mix.

In Idaho, Crooked Fence Brewing Co. has taken a not-so-subtle swing at Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter with the release of “Little Bitch Otter.”

What happened was a federal judge overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and, almost immediately, according to Boise State Public Radio, the governor filed a request to stop the ruling from taking place, which halted the judge’s ruling, “preventing same-sex marriage licenses from being issued.”

“This is our way of nudging the issue and not being afraid to lose a few customers,” Kelly Knopp, brewery co-owner and marketing director, told the website. “Let folks interpret [this] how they want to.”

“Anyone that is going to try to take away freedoms or not let someone be equal, Crooked Fence is against,” added Knopp.

Crooked Fence isn’t the first brewery to take a stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, or homosexuality in general. BrewDog, never a brewery to shy away from controversy, released “Hello, my name is Vladimir,” in February to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mistreatment of gay people.

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