Spencer Trappist Brewery Is Bizarre?

spencer-trappist
By now you’ve probably seen the news that the Spencer Trappist Brewery, America’s first Trappist brewery is selling beer, their Spencer Trappist Ale. I didn’t feel the need to write much about it since the news is just about everywhere, from the Boston Globe to L.A. Weekly, from NPR to CBS News.

But here’s one I don’t quite get. When ABC News, specifically the affiliate station out of Fresno, California, KFSN Channel 30, covered the story, they ran the headline US monks move into Trappist beer brewing business, but used essentially the same AP Story that most news outlets are using for this story. But ABC News also tagged the story with “Massachusetts,” which makes sense, and “bizarre,” which does not. Could somebody please explain to me what’s “bizarre” about this story? Other headlines in ABC’s bizarre topics include stories about devil babies, atomic wedgies and anal probes. But monks brewing beer, something they’ve been doing since the middle ages, possibly as early as the 6th century, is lumped in with what you’d normally only find in the pages of the Weekly World News when you’re checking out at the grocery store.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but that seems like beer getting a slap in the face to me. It was probably just some ignorant intern who didn’t know what to do with the story and didn’t want to have to think about it very much, and so just threw it in the catch-all category. But surely this story should have been characterized differently. Is that really too much to ask?

spencer-trappist
You can also see additional photos at their Facebook page. And below is a video of the Spencer Trappist monks from St. Joseph’s Abbey.

A day in the life of a monk at St. Joseph’s Abbey from Spencer Brewery on Vimeo.

Beer Brewed With Elephant Dung

elephant
I’ve had my share of beers made with odd ingredients, from pizza beer to Wynkoop’s bull testicle beer, with all manner of flowers, nuts, fruits, vegetables and tree parts in between. But this one has to take the cake. The Japanese brewery Sankt Gallen created a beer with elephant dung, which reportedly immediately sold out.

Sankt-Gallen-elephant-dung

According to Drinks Business:

The beer, which is called Un, Kono Kuro, is made using coffee beans that have passed through an elephant.

The Sankt Gallen brewery called the beer a “chocolate stout,” despite it not containing any chocolate. The coffee beans used in the beer come from elephants at Thailand’s Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation, which cost over $100 per 35 grams. The beans are so expensive as 33 kgs of beans in the mouth yields 1 kg of useable coffee beans.

According to another source, International Science Times, the beer “utilizes the flavor of Black Ivory Coffee, a variety of your morning brew that retails for about $500 per pound because the beans are harvested from elephant poop. And by “harvested” we mean picked out of a big pile of dung and rinsed off. The elephant poop beer uses the coffee beans to enhance the flavor in its coffee stout.” They continue.

Un, Kono Kuro is a pun on “unko” which is the Japanese word for “crap,” a fitting name indeed for elephant poop coffee. Although the elephant poop beer was a sales success, don’t expect it hit shelves anytime soon. The brewer, Sankt Gallen, isn’t adding it to their regular line-up. It’s not cheap beer, either; the retail value of a keg of Un, Kono Kuro is around $1100.

So apparently it’s pretty popular. At least one reviewer said it wasn’t bad, saying “there was an initial bitterness that got washed over by a wave of sweetness. Following that, a mellow body rolled in and spread out through my mouth.” Still, this may be going too far. What do you think?

Sankt-Gallen

Beer From Beard Yeast, Yes; From Vaginas, No

women
You most likely remember that Rogue harvested some yeast from the beard of their longtime brewmaster, John Maier, and White Labs analyzed it and propagated a brewing yeast that Rogue in turn used to brew a beer with. Not everyone responded favorably to the news, but in terms of attention and publicity, it’s been a huge hit, with almost every news agency, website and blog writing about it. I made it the subject of part of one of my newspaper columns back in July. A Google search of “rogue beard beer” turns up over 1.4 million hits.

But just when you think things can’t get any weirder, my wife — who’s been working in Shanghai this week — just sent me an article from a feminist blog she reads regularly, Jezebel. Inspired by John Maier’s beard beer exploits, they wrote an article about one more place known for its occasional yeast production that we can write off as a place to harvest for brewing. The article, entitled Just So You Know, You Can’t Make Beer With Your Vagina, answers the question I’m not sure anyone was asking. But now that I know there is an answer, I can’t look away. It’s like that car crash on the side of the road. I know I shouldn’t look, but I just can’t help myself.

Beginning with the premise that “[y]east is everywhere, even (as we ladies well know) buried deep inside our vaginas, waiting to go bad and ruin our week at any moment,” they wonder if anyone could “turn a yeast infection into a full-bodied IPA.” At this point, I’ll let author
Madeleine Davies share the results.

We did some research and, in a word, no. The yeast used in beer is a completely different strain of yeast than the one that causes yeast infections. And there goes your artisanal brewery idea!

The yeast used in beer is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae and works by converting carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and alcohols. This is also the yeast used in bread, which is why baking yeast can be used to brew beer, though it generally makes the end product doughy in flavor and texture. Yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, a fungus that grows as both yeast and filamentous cells and can cause oral and genital infections in humans. Using this to brew would be entirely ineffective, not to mention, guh-ross.

So there you have it. No vagina beer. I, for one, am relieved. It was one thing to have Sam Calagione and his team spitting in his Peruvian-style chicha beer, and Maier’s beard never bothered me too much, because White Labs removed any lingering ick factor by growing the yeast in their San Diego lab. But in the on-going quest to push the envelope, generate publicity and maybe even make something worth drinking, this may be crossing a line. What do you think?

vergina
Close, but no vagina.

Beer Safe To Drink In Post-Apocalyptic World

mushroom-cloud
It’s nice to know that after the world ends in a nuclear fireball, we’ll still have beer to drink. According to an interesting article at the Nuclear Secrecy Blog Restricted Data, beer was tested and found to be relatively safe after being exposed to a nuclear blast. In 1955, Operation Teapot tackled the problem of what surviving humans might drink after the big one was dropped. In Beer and the Apocalypse, author — and historian of science at the American Institute of Physics — Alex Wellerstein details the experiments and their results. It’s a fascinating and frightening tale. And at least it gives me an excuse to increase the size of my beer cellar.

Bovine Beer Drinkers

cows
It seems we’re not the only mammals with a taste for beer. In the small Massachusetts town of Boxford a few days ago, six young cows escaped from their pen and set out on a night of partying. Lured by the music of a college graduation party down the road, they crashed the party and immediately went for the beer.

beer-cows-1

According to the Boxford Police, via Gawker:

Being uninvited didn’t seem to bother the kine, which helped itself to a few cold ones. “They went right for the beer,” said Lt. James Riter. “And then when one was done, they’d knock another one over and take care of that beer.”

And the local newspaper, the Eagle-Tribune, reported that the cows seemed to prefer Bud Light over Miller Lite.

Watch the full story below.