February 9, 2013

Dear Santa, How Do The Microbes In Beer Work?

Scientists are abnormally clever creatures. Of all the excuses ever used to go to the local bar to knock back a few brews, scientists from the American Academy of Microbiology have officially discovered the best reason: Research.

It’s not necessarily the newest excuse on the books; there’s plenty about science to be learned from the chemical reactions, the bubbles and the microbes living within beer. Just last year, for example, a team of mathematicians hit the bar to discover why the bubbles in a Guinness stout fall down instead of floating up. Mathematicians aren’t scientists, of course…but they’re a kind of scientist.

In a new, freely-available report entitled “FAQ: If the Yeast Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy: The Microbiology of Beer,” the American Academy of Microbiology sets out to answer all those burning questions you’ve ever had about the tiny living microbes residing in your favorite brew.

“Every time someone brews a batch of beer, in a very real sense he or she is doing a microbiology experiment. If you brew beer at home, you’re a microbiologist,” explained Dr. Charles Bamforth of the University of California. According to a statement, Dr. Bamforth was one of the scientists responsible for convincing the Academy to focus on beer.

If you’ve ever found yourself comfortably slumped in your favorite chair, pint in hand and pondering what it is that makes beer so tasty, you should give the FAQ sheet a pour over.

It answers six of what the Academy claims are the most common questions involving microbiology and beer.

Some of these questions include:

“What’s so special about brewer’s yeast?”

“Is all brewer’s yeast the same?”

“How is beer made?”

And finally: “Is it really all about the yeast?”

By the way, the FAQ does not agree with Sean Puff Daddy Combs, who believes that it’s, in fact, all about the Benjamins, baby…not the yeast.

Moving on.

Each of the six questions asked in the report are answered plainly and easily, as if they were written to be read by a person who had already tied one on and became unquenchingly curious. One could even print off the colorful pages, have them bound at the local print shop, and keep them as a coffee table book for easy reference. This is assuming, of course, that one is a giant nerd, impervious to the threats of mockery or supremely and utterly alone.

This FAQ isn’t all ales and lagers, however. According to the Academy, this report is only part of a series meant to give laymen’s explanations for the role of microbes in our everyday life, including cleaning up oil spills and causing us all to become very, very ill.

The Academy would also like you to know that each of these reports have been based on deliberations of 15 to 20 microbiologists gathered in a room for one single day.

Image Credit: crop / Shutterstock

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