A Bestiary is an old-fashioned idea, from the Middles Ages, where various animals and other creatures, often fanciful, mythical and fictitious, were illustrated, and then there was a detailed description of each beast, usually accompanied by an allegorical story with a moral or religious teaching. You can see examples of many of these imaginary creatures at the Medieval Bestiary. A Los Angeles illustrator and graphic designer, Ian O’Phelan, has created a modern version, which he calls a “Beer Bestiary.” With just four mythical creatures in his bestiary, his fantastic four you’ll likely recognize, if not individually, at least for what they can become as a superhero team, your next beer.
There was an interesting article recently on Craft Beer Business detailing how changes to the FDA regulations regarding spent grain might effect breweries. Under a proposed new “definition, craft breweries would be labeled animal feed manufacturers and be regulated as such by the FDA.” Given that most breweries have to find something to do with their spent grain, whether selling it or donating it, if the proposed rules take effect, it will undoubtedly alter the way breweries dispose of their grain. Check out the article, FDA rule regulates spent grain sold as animal feed, to see the rule changes.
Wednesday’s ad is for the Barley and Malt Institue, located in Chicago, Illinois. They remind me a bit of the Beer Belongs series by the U.S. Brewers Foundation, with a beautiful illustration with a ribbon of text and information at the bottom of the ad. What a great tagline: “Beer — The Healthful Refresher brewed with the Goodness of Malt.” The text goes on. “Invigorating! That’s the word for wholesome, refreshing, beer or ale brewed with Barley Malt.”
Here’s an interesting old video from 1933. It’s from the British Pathe Archives, from the “Secrets of Nature” series entitled Brewster’s Magic. It was a British Instructional Film, photographed by F. Percy Smith, with Editing and Commentary by Mary Field and “Musical setting” by W. Hodgson.
The 8-minute black and white film shows time lapse photography of hops and barley growing plus microscopic images, as well. Here’s how they describe the film:
Hand pump being pulled in a pub. Hop root. The eyes are pointed out with a pencil. Time lapse photography of a hop shoot growing. C/U of the claws on the stem of the plant. Plant grows. The claws help the hop plant to twist its way around a smooth surface. Hop flowers growing on a male hop plant. Female hop plant produces flowers. We see them grow through time lapse. Comment on the voiceover about flowers being disappointed spinsters as they will not be fertilised. The flowers continue to grow. C/U of the sticky substance that grows on the petals. Lupelin (sp?) highly magnified. This is the substance that gives flavour and aroma to beer.
Hop garden. Barley ripening in the fields. C/U of barley submerged in water. Time lapse of the barley absorbing water. Barley puts out shoots in time lapse. The maltster turns them upside down to stop them from growing too quickly. Water supply is cut off and the barley withers. Graphic representation of the barley shoot. Animation. Maltster kills the barley grain when it has produced digestive fluid but not had time to use it. Grains are mashed up in hot water to make malt. Men roll barrels along in courtyard of brewery. C/U of yeast cells under a microscope beside a human hair. Moving yeast cells. Cells separate. Fermentation. Diagram of a molecule of sugar. Animated letters. Solution under the microscope. Bubbles are formed.
A pint of beer is pulled in a pub. Shot of man in flat cap drinking beer from a pewter tankard.
It’s a cool time capsule and definitely worth checking out.
My only quibble is that despite it being almost 80 years old, Pathe still asserts copyright on it. Which is fine, in and of itself, even if I generally disagree with how long copyrights now tend to run. But for some reason, they think it’s reasonable to charge you a whopping £50 ($77) to buy the 8-minute video, and that’s just for a download of it — no DVD or case or artwork, though they graciously will allow you to burn it to your own DVD. How thoughtful. Anyway, as a result, it can’t be embedded and viewed here. Fortunately, you can at least watch it at the Pathe website. Enjoy.
This week’s work of art is by the Canadian-born artist Ralston Crawford. He spent his childhood in Buffalo, and most of the rest of his life traveling and in America, which is reflected in his oeuvre. Today’s painting, Buffalo Grain Elevators, was completed in 1937 and today is part of the Smithsonian Institute’s American Art Museum and is a part of their Scenes of American Life collection.
The Scenes of American Life exhibition describes the painting like this:
The huge grain elevators lining the waterfront in Buffalo, New York, fascinated Crawford, who transformed bridges, factories, and other modern industrial structures into volumes and planes. Here he contrasts the massive cylinders of the elevators with the thin lines of the pitched roof in the foreground, the delicate rungs of a ladder, and a series of gently sloping wires.
Thanks to Pete Slosberg — he of the formerly wicked persuasion — for passing this along. It’s not strictly about beer, so feel free to ignore it if math and history isn’t your cup of beer. Today’s New York Times Science has a fun article, Math Puzzles’ Oldest Ancestors Took Form on Egyptian Papyrus, about how the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus contains several clever math puzzles, including some thought to be more modern and also having to do with beer.
For example, some of the puzzles “involve a pefsu, a unit measuring the strength or weakness of beer or bread based on how much grain is used to make it,” such as this one:
One problem calculates whether it’s right to exchange 100 loaves of 20-pefsu bread for 10 jugs of 4-pefsu malt-date beer. After a series of steps, the papyrus proclaims, according to one translation: “Behold! The beer quantity is found to be correct.”
Fun stuff. I wonder what “pefsu” is compared to say a.b.v.?