Beer Syrup

I’ve made pancakes substituting beer for the water, I’ve enjoyed Kentucky Breakfast Stout, once with beer pancakes. And I’ve had beer that tasted rather sweet, like maple syrup, too. But it never occurred to me you could make the pancake syrup with beer. And it looks fairly easy. I recently ran across an article about The Art of Making Beer Syrup in Outside magazine, and apparently bartenders have been making them for years to use in special cocktails. Given that the only cocktail I almost ever order is a gin & tonic, hopefully you’ll forgive my cocktail ignorance. Apparently it’s just water (or any liquid) reduced, sugar added.

Outside’s recipe is so simple, even I could probably make it:

For best results, pour your favorite beer into a pan and slowly simmer over low heat until it reduces to two-thirds of its initial volume. Then add in an equal proportion of raw brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour liberally over your favorite breakfast food and wait for your insulin levels to spike.

The Good Booze blog suggests adding “a few whole cardamom pods” and “one small vanilla bean, split” to give it a little more flavor. It looks like any beer could work, although malt-forward beers seem better suited than hoppier ones, but certainly some experimentation is in order.

Allrecipes also has their own recipe, and a bar in San Francisco, The Fifth Floor (which is closed now, and reborn as Dirty Habit) used to make a drink they called Hops & Dreams, using a syrup made from Anchor Steam Beer.

And one entrepreneurial soul is trying to start the Beer Syrup Company to make commercial beer syrups.


Patent No. 6622510B2: Frozen Beer Product, Method And Apparatus

Today in 2003, US 6622510 B2 was issued, an invention of Mark S. Giroux, Joseph M. Trewhella, and Darryl Alan Goodson, assigned to Grindmaster Crathco Systems, Inc., for their “Frozen Beer Product, Method and Apparatus.” Here’s the Abstract:

A method of freezing and dispensing a beer product comprises providing beer in a sealed, refrigerated storage container under pressure; feeding beer from the storage container to a sealed freezing chamber through a sealed delivery system; freezing the beer in the chamber; and dispensing frozen beer from the chamber.

The frozen beer product preferably has a slush consistency and a density of about 50% to about 90% of the density of unfrozen beer, a temperature of between about 23° and 27° F. and a volume reduction in a filled 14 fluid ounce plastic cup sitting in 70° F. room for 30 minutes or less than 10%.

A refrigerated cabinet for supplying beer comprises an insulated beer storage compartment; a refrigeration system comprising a compressor, a condenser, a thermal expansion device and an evaporator; a pressurized carbon dioxide tank in a separate, non-refrigerated compartment; and a fan for circulating air within the insulated beer storage compartment.

A beer freezing and dispensing apparatus comprises a freezing chamber; a refrigeration system for cooling the beer in the freezing chamber to a frozen state; a dispensing system for dispensing frozen beer from the freezing chamber when it reaches a slush consistency, and a beer delivery system for delivering beer to the freezing chamber, the beer delivery system comprising; a valve for controlling the introduction of beer into the delivery system; a check valve to prevent beer from flowing backwards out of the delivery system; an accumulator for holding beer that expands when beer freezes in the chamber; and a pressure sensor for sensing the pressure of the beer between the accumulator and the freezing chamber.

The method and apparatus may also be used to freeze and dispense other single-strength beverages.



Patent No. 4350712A: Frozen Beer Stick Including Retractable Cup

Today in 1982, US Patent 4350712 A was issued, an invention of Alfred Kocharian and George Spector, for their “Frozen Beverage Stick Including Retractable Cup.” Here’s the Abstract:

A popsicle type confection, which instead of an orange, cherry, raspberry, strawberry or similar conventional flavor frozen ice upon a stick, utilizes either a frozen beer or a frozen wine mounted upon a stick, and which in the present invention also includes a cup like heat shield around confection which is retractable so to allow licking the frozen beer or wine.


Hefe Wheaties

Just when you think things can’t get stranger, the makers of Wheaties — the Breakfast of Champions — General Mills have announced that they’re making a new beer, Hefe Wheaties. Expecting people to do a spit take when reading that, General Mills blog anticipated skepticism in their announcement of the new beer. “Well, you read it correctly. Wheaties has partnered with Fulton, a craft brewery in Minneapolis, to create a limited-edition Hefeweizen beer named HefeWheaties.


Here’s how General Mills’ describes the collaboration beer on their blog.

Wheaties is not actually in the beer, but there is wheat. And that connection helped both brands try something interesting.

“We were intrigued from the get-go on this idea for many reasons, including that we’re both Minneapolis companies, and that the beer and the cereal both started from the same place in terms of raw ingredients and the same city,” says Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton.

So what about the name?

“We had been sampling a number of Hefeweizens, so we had been discussing with the Wheaties team what we liked,” says Petz. “Someone on the team said HefeWheaties, and it kind of sprung out from there.”

The Hefeweizen is a south German style of wheat beer, typically brewed with over 50 percent malted wheat, making it a natural fit for Wheaties.

The “Hefe” prefix means, “with yeast.” This German-style beer often has a cloudy appearance because of the high wheat content and has a little bit of hop bitterness.

Typically served in a traditional Weizen glass, HefeWheaties will be the first beer of this style brewed by Fulton. It’s brewed with water, malted wheat, malted barley, hops from Germany, the U.S. and Australia, and a yeast strain specifically developed for fermenting American-style wheat beers.

“This was a true partnership between Wheaties and Fulton,” says David Oehler, marketing manager, Wheaties. “Both teams were passionate about this project and got to work quickly. We enjoyed the chance to collaborate with Fulton throughout the entire process from idea generation to can design.”

The idea for HefeWheaties came up earlier this summer, thanks to some connections between Fulton’s team and employees at General Mills.

Tony Libera, who manages the social media accounts for Wheaties, chatted about the possibility of a beer partnership for the brand with a friend who was a sales representative for Fulton, and the plans were put in motion from there.

The Fulton team also has other close ties to General Mills. Petz worked for us for a few years after business school, as did Fulton’s director of operations. And the wife of another Fulton founder currently works at General Mills.

So where can you find HefeWheaties?

For a limited time, beginning August 26, it will be available in the Twin Cities market in a 16oz. tallboy can. 4-packs will be sold at limited retailers in the area, while quantities last. HefeWheaties will not be available for shipment or purchase outside of Minnesota.

Also, the Fulton taproom in Minneapolis will host several events featuring HefeWheaties, with the first being held on August 26.

“We’ll see how people react to it,” says Petz. “If it’s something everybody loves, we’ll obviously consider doing it again in a bigger and more widely distributed way in the future.”

Hmm. Breakfast beer, anybody?


The California Drought: Almonds, Water (And Beer)

You probably noticed that California is living under severe drought conditions, especially since governor Jerry Brown recently imposed restrictions on our water use. One of the frequent industries to bear the brunt of blame is, of course, agriculture, which uses a lot of water to feed the country. But more specifically, a lot of blame has come down on almonds with stories in the Chronicle, the Guardian and even Slate declaring 10 Percent of California’s Water Goes to Almond Farming, among many others. I haven’t paid too much attention to that, mostly for the selfish reason that I’m not much of a fan of almonds, and couldn’t care less if they stopped growing them.

Gizmodo has an interesting article suggesting that all that stuff about almonds was hooey entitled Seriously, Stop Demonizing Almonds. In a persuasive piece, it’s revealed that “Almonds might take 10 percent of the state’s water, but as the same report notes, they’re generating about 15 percent of the state’s total farming value and almost 25 percent of the agricultural exports from the state.” Of course, I’m no expert on these things, but I encourage you to read it and decide for yourself.

But I actually bring this up for wholly non-almond related reasons. Something in the article caught my attention, which is the chart below. It’s an infographic which originally was published in the L.A. Times, which the Gizmodo author, Alissa Walker, characterizes as a “very misguided infographic of “water-hungry foods.” The title indicates it shows the relative amount of water used to make the finished product, “Gallons of water per ounce of food.”


But look where beer is on the chart. Beverages are in blue. Soymilk looks like it uses the most, but apparently there was an error that’s now been corrected, and it’s actually pineapple juice that’s the biggest water hog, using 6.36 gallons per ounce of juice. Compared to all the drinks listed, beer looks to be the most efficient, and the interactive portions of the chart on the L.A. Times website indicates that beer uses 1.96 gallons to produce one ounce of beer. But even that seems high.

A bunch of years ago I wrote a feature article for All About Beer entitled It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green: The Greening of America’s Breweries, that examined the steps breweries were taking to lighten their burden on the planet, not just with water, but all sorts of things. One thing I learned was that brewing used roughly a 10-to-1 ratio of water, meaning they use 10 gallons for every gallon of beer. At that time, I also found. “Examining smart ways to conserve water, several breweries have reduced that ratio to four or five-to-one and Uinta Brewery from Utah has gotten it down to 3-to-1.” More recently, the Brewers Association’s Water and Wastewater: Treatment/Volume Reduction Manual claims that the average is now more like 7-to-1 gallons, with a few breweries actually below 3-to-1. Two years ago, Environmental Leader reported that MillerCoors managed to get their ratio of water use down to “3.82 barrels of water per barrel of beer.”

But even staying with a ratio of 10-to-1 for ease of math, this seems egregiously high. Converting the L.A. Times figure of 1.96 gallons to 1 ounce figure to ounces, it becomes 250.88 ounces of water per ounce of beer, or a 251-to-1 ratio, or 25 times reality, and undoubtedly more.

So where did this figure come from? All the Times reveals about its methodology is this. “Totals were converted to U.S. gallons per ounce (weight). Beverage values were additionally converted into fluid ounces using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.” But that doesn’t really tell us where they got the numbers they’re basing this on. It doesn’t really tell us anything. But one thing seems clear, breweries are relatively efficient in their water use, much more so than is being reported during the California drought. And that brings us back to a statement U.S. Davis professor Charlie Bamforth recently made, which seems even more relevant in light of this. “When in drought, drink more beer.”

Don’t Bet Dollars To Donuts Or Drinking

I think we can all agree that doughnuts are high in calories. I suspect few people would try to defend them as being a health food. Alcohol, on the other hand, is trickier. There are clear health benefits and, for some, health risks, too. But in order to paint alcohol as something worse than it is, prohibitionist groups feel no need to be truthful or avoid being misleading. To wit, today Alcohol Justice tweeted that “[t]here are the same amount of calories in a glass of wine as there are in a doughnut.”


To ad insult to injury, the image they used to hammer home their point depicts not one doughnut, as the text is singular, but a pile of them, in fact eleven doughnuts are visible, though some just partially. And look at that glass of wine. Does that look like the standard 5 ounces? It sure doesn’t to me. That looks like a short pour, all in effort to deceive and mislead, as if just a tiny amount of wine is equal to nearly a dozen doughnuts.


The truth, of course, is different. A standard glass of red wine — 5 ounces — is around 125 calories, while a doughnut is 195 calories. That’s from doing a simple Google search for calories in a glass of red wine and calories in a doughnut. Not surprisingly, calories in doughnuts vary widely, and according to a list on Calorie Lab can range from around 100 to nearly 400, and apparently Krispy Kreme doughnuts are even higher, ranging from 200 to 400.

Alcohol Justice included a link with their tweet to a story at Redbrick, a student publication from the University of Birmingham in England. That’s also where they snagged the photo of the glass of wine. Who knows where the pile of doughnuts came from.

The article AJ is using for their own purposes, Should Alcohol Show Calories?, has its own share of inconsistencies, not that they’d matter to Alcohol Justice. Redbrick states that a “large glass of wine is about 200 calories, which is the same as a doughnut” but then, of course, it links to a British drinks calculator showing that a standard glass of wine is 175 ml, or less than 6 ounces. So to make their analogy of a doughnut and a glass of wine being equivalent they have to pour a larger glass than is considered the standard amount. Naturally, AJ ignores that and even tries their best to make it appear that drinking a small glass of wine is like eating almost a dozen doughnuts, at least that’s the visual message they’re sending.

I had hoped we’d see more honesty from the prohibitionists in 2015, but I guess that was a foolish hope on my part. I think I need a doughnut, or maybe a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which at 175 calories is still less than my glazed doughnut.

When The Food Babe Talks, No Questions

This would almost be funny, if I didn’t consider her misinformation so dangerous. Oh, and a h/t to Maureen Ogle for this one. Dr. Kevin M. Folta, who is the chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, writes on his blog, Illumination, about a recent visit by Vani Hari, as the Food Babe Visits My University.

As an actual living, breathing scientist, Folta understandably stood at odds with Hari “spreading her corrupt message of bogus science and abject food terrorism” at his school. Here’s how he really felt. “There’s something that dies inside when you are a faculty member that works hard to teach about food, farming and science, and your own university brings in a crackpot to unravel all of the information you have brought to students.” And she apparently was paid $15,000 by the University to add insult to injury, as well.

She found that a popular social media site was more powerful than science itself, more powerful than reason, more powerful than actually knowing what you’re talking about. Her discussion was a narcissistic, self-appointed attack on food science and human nutrition. It was one of the rare times when I laughed and puked at the same time.

So “who do you trust for real scientific information? This is why scientists go nutso.” Here’s a breakdown of the relative experience and knowledge between the Food Babe, Vani Hari, and Dr. Folta.


Here’s a few more random thoughts from his post about the talk she gave, although I encourage you to read the entire post.

Hari then went on to talk about her successes in strong-arming Chick-fil-A, Budweiser and Subway into reformulating their foods and beverages. She’s proud that she was invited to the table, that a know-nothing with a following can affect change simply by propagating false information via the internet.

That’s not healthy activism or change based on science. That’s coercion, fear mongering and terrorism to achieve short-sighted non-victories in the name of profit and self-promotion, ironically the same thing she accuses the companies of.

On the plus side, reasonably educated college students weren’t going for her nonsense, he noted. “Throughout her presentation that was about Hari in the spotlight and ‘me-me-me’, students got up and left. She left gaping pregnant pauses where previous performances got applause — only to hear nothing. Not even crickets. This audience was not buying it, at least was not excited by it.”

Overall, he understandably found it disappointing, noting. “If this is a charismatic leader of a new food movement it is quite a disaster. She’s uninformed, uneducated, trite and illogical. She’s afraid of science and intellectual engagement.”

What stood out for me, though not a surprise in the least, is that although microphones had been set out at the sides of the stage for questions (something you see at virtually any academic talk like this) she left the stage immediately, apparently refusing to take any questions from the students. It was as if she finished talking, dropped the mic and walked out, “whisked by limo to her next fear rally,” as Folta opined. Unfortunately, that sounds about right given that numerous people tell me she deletes any questions or contrary evidence from comments on her website or Facebook page. She’s selling a product — herself — pure and simple, and she can’t let facts get in her way. In a sense, she doesn’t even need to engage anyone, as she has untold numbers of unpaid minions slavishly doing her bidding for her — the Food Babe Army — attacking any critics or criticisms, as I discovered for myself when I took issue with her nonsense about the ingredients in beer. I’m almost amazed she’s still peddling her brand of crazy to ready buyers, and yet not surprised at the same time. After all, there are still people who insist the world is flat and that climate change isn’t happening, so truly people will believe all sorts of kooky things if they don’t think too much about it. And in some ways, not thinking about stuff but believing it anyway with all your might may be well be the new American way. More’s the pity.

Derp of the Day
Don’t eat food with kemicles.

Beer In Ads #1338: Western Barbecue

Thursday’s ad is another one from the United Brewers Industrial Foundation, from 1945. This was the year before the “Beer Belongs” series began. These were similar, and used the “Beer Belongs” tagline, but were unnumbered stand-alones. They each featured a painting by a well-known artist or illustrator of the day, along with many of the elements that would later appear in the “Home Life in America” series. In this ad, the painting is called “Western Barbecue,” by artist Fletcher Martin.

Western Barbecue by Fletcher Martin, 1945

Congratulations To Garrett Oliver On James Beard Award Win

It’s a beautiful sight to see the coveted James Beard Award hanging around the neck of one of our own. On Monday evening, the 2014 James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” went to Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery.


Garrett posted the above photo on his Facebook page, and asked his followers to forgive him the sin of “posting about something you’ve won.” Under the circumstances, I don’t think his disclaimer was necessary. This is the type of big time award that should be crowed about. Without question, it’s a terrific achievement for Garrett, but it’s also an important accomplishment on beer’s road to respectability and legitimacy as the fine beverage we all know it to be. In his typical erudite fashion, Garrett reflects on the award, and what it means for beer.

Last night I was named “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” by the James Beard Foundation. These awards are often called “the Oscars of the food world” and given the star-studded black tie ceremony at Lincoln Center, the description seems apt. I don’t need to tell you that beer has always taken a back seat in these circles, though by rights beer should have arrived here a very long time ago. My esteemed fellow nominees, especially Sam Calagione and my friend David Wondrich, have preached our bona fides from the rooftops for many years. So this shiny chunk of bling is for my Brooklyn Brewery brewing team and for all the 3,000 American breweries making some of the most amazing beverages the world has ever seen. Stand facing the mash tun, get stuck in, and make some magic today. “This thing of ours” is the very best thing in the world.

Well said, and congratulations on a well-deserved award. Chris Lowder snapped the shot below of much merriment after the award ceremony, with a clearly happy Garrett Oliver.


Marinating Your Meat In Beer Makes Grilling Healthier

Here’s good news for your next backyard barbecue. Not only is marinating your meat a tasty choice, it’s also better for your health. According to a new study by the American Chemical Society released today in their Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, “the very same beer that many people enjoy at backyard barbeques could, when used as a marinade, help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats.”

The new study, Effect of Beer Marinades on Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Charcoal-Grilled Pork, is better explained in the ACS press release:

I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira and colleagues explain that past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it’s uncertain if that’s true for people. Nevertheless, the European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods. Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.

The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. “Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers.

The study was done using pork, so I wonder if it’s true for steak, too. Looking at the chart, it appears that the “Black Beer” is best for making the meat healthier, so I wonder if it’s the roasted malt? And why would non-alcoholic beer work better than pilsner? Clearly, more research is needed.


And here’s the abstract, if you want the more technical version:

The effect of marinating meat with Pilsner beer, nonalcoholic Pilsner beer, and Black beer (coded respectively PB, P0B, and BB) on the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in charcoal-grilled pork was evaluated and compared with the formation of these compounds in unmarinated meat. Antiradical activity of marinades (DPPH assay) was assayed. BB exhibited the strongest scavenging activity (68.0%), followed by P0B (36.5%) and PB (29.5%). Control and marinated meat samples contained the eight PAHs named PAH8 by the EFSA and classified as suitable indicators for carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food. BB showed the highest inhibitory effect in the formation of PAH8 (53%), followed by P0B (25%) and PB (13%). The inhibitory effect of beer marinades on PAH8 increased with the increase of their radical-scavenging activity. BB marinade was the most efficient on reduction of PAH formation, providing a proper mitigation strategy.