DWB: Driving While A Brewery

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Late last year, a judge in Buffalo, New York, dismissed a case against a 35-year old teacher who was stopped and charged with a DWI. When Hamburg Town Police originally arrested the teacher, her blood alcohol was measured to be .33 percent, more than four times higher than the state’s legal limit. The first question is how on earth was she still alive? The second, is how is that possible? It turns out she suffers from a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, or gut fermentation syndrome. The condition manifests itself “in which intoxicating quantities of ethanol are produced through endogenous fermentation within the digestive system. One gastrointestinal organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of yeast, has been identified as a pathogen for this condition.” It can also give a false positive for being drunk, and has been used several times as a defense in drunk driving cases.

And that’s exactly what happened in this case, as reported by the Buffalo News reported in late December, Woman’s body acts as ‘brewery,’ so judge dismisses DWI. If that sounds about as realistic as a pregnant woman trying to get out of a fine for driving in the commuter lane (which has actually happened) it’s apparently a real thing, though is extremely rare. So don’t get any ideas.

This Guy Brewed Beer in His Stomach and the Mad Science Blog also tackled Auto-Brewery Syndrome. And even NPR has reported on the phenomenon. According to a report on CNN:

Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this rare medical condition can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. The process is believed to take place in the small bowel, and is vastly different from the normal gut fermentation in the large bowel that gives our bodies energy.

First described in 1912 as “germ carbohydrate fermentation,” it was studied in the 1930s and ’40s as a contributing factor to vitamin deficiencies and irritable bowel syndrome. Cases involving the yeast Candida albicans and Candida krusei have popped up in Japan, and in 2013 Cordell documented the case of a 61-year-old man who had frequent bouts of unexplained drunkenness for years before being diagnosed with an intestinal overabundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, the same yeast used to make beer.

So while you may laugh — or I might at least — it’s apparently no fun for ABS sufferers. Better to raise your blood alcohol via the traditional way, ingesting beer brewed by a professional.

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Weird History: Russian Army’s Beer Rescue

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Here’s an odd one from recent history. On January 20, 2004, the BBC had a headline that read: Russian army rescues kegs of beer. Subtitled “Russian troops have retrieved 10 tonnes of beer trapped under the Siberian ice after a week-long operation,” you know you’re in for something special. Here’s the story:

A lorry carrying the beer was lost while crossing the frozen River Irtysh, near the city of Omsk, about 2,200 kilometres (1400 miles) from Moscow.

The driver managed to jump out after the ice gave way, but the lorry and its cargo sank.

Six divers, 10 men with electric saws and a tank pulled the beer kegs – but not the truck – to safety.

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With temperatures reaching -27C, the rescue mission was fraught with problems.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported that the recovery team eventually managed to pull the vehicle through a hole in the ice.

They retrieved the kegs of beer but the rope snapped and the truck slipped back under the water.

The Rosar brewery in Omsk said the freezing temperatures probably kept the quality of the beer from deteriorating and said it will still take the delivery.

It plans to sell the beer at a discount.

As many people commented at the time, at least the Russian Army had their priorities straight.

The Tass News Agency added the same day:

Russia has sent in the army to bolster a week-long struggle to rescue 10 tons of beer trapped under Siberian ice, Itar-Tass news agency said Tuesday. A lorry carrying the beer sank when trying to cross the frozen Irtysh river, and a rescue team of six divers, 10 workers and a modified T-72 tank from the emergencies ministry have so far failed to save the load.

“The situation hasn’t developed according to our ideal scenario,” the deputy head of the Cherlaksky region, told the agency. Temperatures were around minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region, near the Siberian city of Omsk and around 1,400 miles from Moscow.

A week-long effort to cut a 100 yard corridor to the river bank to pull the truck to dry land failed when the vehicle was swept away from the rescue site, Tass said.

But it said the soldiers were confident it would take them just a day to retrieve the beer.

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

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I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Felix The Cat (& Beer Drinker)

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As if you needed further proof that cartoons weren’t always for kids — and still aren’t — here’s an interesting one from 1930. Today was the debut in 1919 of the popular cartoon character Felix the Cat. It was actually the third film using a similar-looking cat, but the Adventures of Felix, released today in 1919, was the first time the name Felix was attached to the character. Felix became very popular and remained so until sound was introduced, when he fell into cartoon obscurity when his transition to sound tanked. There was a much later cartoon version, from when I was a kid, that began in 1958 and was shown in television through at least the 1960s and 70s, and that’s probably the one you’re more familiar with.

But the earlier Felix was darker and less kid-friendly, for the simple reason they were aimed at adults going to see a movie in a theater.

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Woos Whoopee was one of Felix’s later cartoons (at least of the earlier black and white and largely silent ones), and takes place in a speakeasy (it was still Prohibition after all).

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Felix stays out late, drinking and dancing, while his wife paces at home angrily, watching the clock with a rolling pin in her hand. Finally, well after 3 AM, Felix begins to stumble home and begins to hallucinate. Finally, after a surreal journey, he makes it home around 6 AM. I thought sure he’d be in more trouble, but besides shooting the cuckoo in the clock, not much happens to him after he gets home. Oh, well, at least he had a few laughs and drank a few beers.

Patent No. 20130327064A1: End Table With Concealed Built-In Refrigerator

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Today in 2013, US Patent 20130327064 A1 was issued, an invention of Thomas C. Stein, for his “End Table with Concealed Built-In Refrigerator.” Here’s the Abstract:

An end table with a concealed built-in refrigerator unit for use next to a chair, sofa, or bed with a front door that opens down like a dishwasher door for easy access to the interior compartment of the refrigerator unit to retrieve canned and bottled beverages or food, while in a seated position. The built-in refrigerator of the end table has a thermoelectric Danby Diplomat type cooling system for maximum efficiency in cooling and whisper soft operation.

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I’m not sure why this patent was granted, such end tables have been around for at least a few years, if not longer. I wrote about ManTables’ End Table Refrigerators five years ago, and this was patented two years back. There’s also another Man Tables – Mini Fridge End Tables for sale that looks remarkably like the drawings filed with the patent application.

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But a quick Google search reveals quite a few similar, but distinctly different, designs for refrigerator end tables. Here’s one that’s at least similar to the patented design.

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And here’s another one that has more of side door instead of folding down from the top, and also includes an actual working drawer.

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International Tongue Twister Day

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Today is International Tongue Twister Day, a day to celebrate those expressions that tend to tie your tongue in knots. A tongue-twister is defined as “a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results which are humorous (or humorously vulgar) when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their amusement value.” Here are several I managed to uncover that involve beer. Enjoy.

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Brewer Braun brews brown beer (Braubauer Braun braut braunes Bier)

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Bold and brave beer brewers always prepare bitter, brown, Bavarian beer (Biedere brave Bierbauerburschen bereiten beständig bitteres braunes bayrisches Bier)

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Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.

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An old seabear sits on the pier and drinks a pint of beer.

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A canner can can anything that he can,
But a canner can’t can a can, can he?

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Do drunk ducks and drakes drown?

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Betty Botter had some bitter,
“But,” she said, “this bitter’s bitter.
If I brew this bitter better,
It would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter,
That would make my batter better.”
So she bought a bit of butter –
Better than her bitter butter –
And she baked it in her batter;
And the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better bitter.

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The bitters Betty Botter bought could make her batter bitter, so she thought she’d better buy some better bitters!

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Note: the blue circle is the pump handle for Ad Hop Tongue Twister, a beer from Ad Hop Brewing in Liverpool, England.

Boolean Logic & Beer

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Today would have been the 200th birthday of George Boole, the self-taught mathematician who came up with Boolean algebra and Boolean logic. He’s been called the “father of the information age” because his Boolean logic made possible modern computer science. “Boolean algebra has been fundamental in the development of digital electronics, and is provided for in all modern programming languages. It is also used in set theory and statistics.” Boolean logic is “a form of algebra in which all values are reduced to either TRUE or FALSE. Boolean logic is especially important for computer science because it fits nicely with the binary numbering system, in which each bit has a value of either 1 or 0.” How Stuff Works has a nice overview of How Boolean Logic Works.

So what does any of this have to do with beer? Practically nothing, except that Scientific American had an article yesterday about Boole to celebrate his 200th anniversary coming up today. In the piece, The Bicentennial of George Boole, the Man Who Laid the Foundations of the Digital Age, after writing about Boole’s life and contributions to the study of mathematics, the author turns to some examples of how his Boolean logic is applied in the real world in, for instance, Google searches:

Boolean algebra and Boolean logic are very well known today, and form the backbone of electrical engineering and computer science. Indeed anyone who even casually searches the Internet , say for “Michael Jackson” the late beer and whiskey expert rather than the singer and dancer of the same name, knows how to make judicious use of AND, OR and NOT.

It’s pretty cool that he picked Michael Jackson as the search topic, and it’s a good choice since it’s hard to get just beer-centric results when the more famous Michael Jackson usually tops the list unless you figure out how to filter out the king of pop. Michael used to joke that the singer was named after him, since he was older, but it must be a pain in neck for anyone who shares a name with a person more famous them themselves. Remember the character Michael Bolton in the wonderful film “Office Space?”

I reproduced the search, and got slightly different results, but pretty funny, and cool — at least from my point of view — is in both instances one of my posts was the third result.

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It’s a lengthy post I did a couple of years ago, Know Your Beer Gods & Goddesses, in which I researched world cultures and created a list of gods and goddesses that had something to do with beer, discovering over 100 examples. I jokingly included an entry for Michael as the “God of Beer Writers,” so that’s why my post turns up in a search for Jackson’s name. So that made my day, nice to show up in Scientific American, however tangentially.

And just to round out the ephemeral post, I’ll leave you with a little Boolean humor:

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The Muppets Drink Lagunitas IPA

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As I’ve revealed many times here, I’ve been a huge fan of The Muppets since I was a kid. I’ve even gotten my own kids to love them, as well, showing them the old Muppet Show on DVD, along with all of the films. So imagine my delight when ABC announced a new Muppet Show called simply “the muppets” that debuted last month. So far it’s been pretty good, with their signature bad puns, musical numbers, celebrity cameos and much of the same type of humor that I loved in the 1970s. Plus, they’re making fun of reality shows, which as a genre I absolutely loathe, so that’s a bonus.

With the kids schedule, and mine, we Tivo almost everything and finally got around to watching Episode 4, Pig Out, yesterday. If you don’t have Hulu, try Putlocker or, depending on your cable provider, the ABC website.

The episode’s plot revolves around the staff unwinding after hard days dealing with their insufferable boss, Miss Piggy, who is miffed she’s never been invited to one of these after parties. She manipulates Kermit into geting her invited with the promise that she’ll turn them down. Then, as you’ve probably guessed, she accepts and everyone assumes that the evening will go downhill fast.

They go to a karaoke bar, and indeed it is quite awkward at the beginning. In fact the bar is called “Rowlf’s,” as you can see on the beer mugs they’re shown drinking out of. Rowlf, a brown shaggy, piano-playing dog, was one of the very first Muppet characters back in the 1960s, so it makes sense that he’d own a bar in the new incarnation.

But then Ed Helms unexpectedly arrives at the bar and things begin to liven up. There’s much drinking and karaoke singing — the Swedish Chef’s turn at the mic is particularly memorable. Halfway through the evening Helms’ is leading a sing-a-long to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” when at one of the tables in the bar, something caught my eye. One of the more obscure Muppets, Chip, and the Swedish Chef were drinking Lagunitas IPA! Chip was drinking out of a mug but the bottle sat on the table while the Swedish Chef was drinking straight from the bottle.

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It’s only there for a few seconds, but there’s no doubt what it is. If you don’t think that trademark is important, or that typefaces and fonts can, or should, be protected, both my wife and my son immediately recognized the bottle when I showed it to them as being from Lagunitas, and all you can see of the label is the single letter “I” on the sideways bottle.

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You can also see humans in the bar holding bottles of Lagunitas IPA throughout the scenes shown in Rowlf’s. They’re all quick cuts but it’s still unmistakable. The Muppets definitely drink Lagunitas IPA. Nice to see my local brewery’s beer on a show I love.

Silly Questions: If Your Blog Were A Beer

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Okay, this is pretty silly, but starts out with some interesting comparisons. The infographic by Visually, asks the question If Your Blog Were A Beer, What Kind Would It Be? Once they start trying to define blogs by type of beer, it goes off the rails. For example, calling stouts “the heavyweights of the beer world,” shows that they don’t really understand their beer. Still, it’s fun little exercise, even it went goofy in its execution. Oh, and I don’t think I fit any of their identified blogs.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

Buster Keaton For Simon Pure Beer

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Today is the birthday of American actor, vaudevillian, comedian, filmmaker, stunt performer, and writer Buster Keaton. He’s best known for his silent films, and especially The General, considerd by many to be one of the best films of all-time. In 1962, Keaton made a series of commercials for the William Simon Brewery of Buffalo, New York. The ads were done in a silent film style, employing many of Keaton’s best gags from his glory days on the 1920s.

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Initially, I only had these three gifs made from one of the commercials, but happily discovered that the whole ad has now been posted on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSf4ZKsv2HEYouTube:

And here’s another one Keaton did:

And a third:

And finally, a fourth ad Keaton did for Simon Pure Beer.

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