Patent No. 3175912A: Synthetic Organic Chemical Preservative For Beer

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Today in 1965, US Patent 3175912 A was issued, an invention of John B. Bockelmann and Frede B. Strandskov, assigned to Schaefer Brewing Co., for their “Synthetic Organic Chemical Preservative For Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention relates generally to the control of micro-biological growth in finished packaged beer and ale with a synthetic, organic chemical preservative of the general formula:

Wherein R is an aliphatic hydrocarbon radical; X is either a hydrogen atom (H), an alkali metal, e.g., sodium (Na) and potassium (K), or an alkaline earth metal, e.g., cal cium (Ca); and 11 is an integer equal to the valence of X. More particularly, this invention is directed to the preservation of finished beer with a chemical preservative of the Formula 1 wherein R is saturated hydrocarbon chain. This invention also encompasses a mixture of compounds of Formula 1 as a chemical preservative for finished packaged beer and ale.

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U. Penn Students Win Prize For 9 Times Faster Brewing Process

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I tend to be skeptical of anyone who claims to be able to shorten the brewing process, especially by up to nine times, since brewing is a pretty time-honored process, improved little by little over the centuries. And generally speaking, speeding up fermentation has rarely resulted in better beer. Of course, there was that flourish of decades beginning with the industrial revolution that speeded up that process considerably, but since then things have slowed down to a more manageable pace. But that’s exactly what got the winners of this year’s Y-Prize, from the University of Pennsylvania, the grand prize $10,000, “for developing a process that speeds up the fermentation process in beer production by up to nine times — while maintaining alcohol quality and composition.”

The three winners, Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah, are students in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. They’ll received “$10,000 and the rights to commercialize the technology through their company,” which they’ve named “Fermento.”

Y-Prize-2016-Winners-Fermento
The Fermento Team: Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah

From UPenn:

The Fermento team selected microfluidic fabrication technology developed by Assistant Professor of Bioengineering David Issadore as the basis of their application.

The alcohol in beer is the product of yeast, which metabolically converts sugar found in barley and other grains into ethanol. This fermentation process typically occur in large batch reactors, where a concoction of boiled and strained grain liquid, known as wort, is left mixed with a carefully controlled amount of yeast.

This stage is one of the major bottlenecks of beer production. It can take up to three weeks, as maintaining the correct amount of yeast is a delicate balance.

“There is only a certain amount of yeast cells one can directly add to a batch reactor,” Narain says, “because overpopulation causes physiological stress on the yeast cells, which in turn reduces reaction rate. It takes time for yeast cells to grow and reach a critical mass to produce enough beer. Moreover, the concentration of sugar available to yeast cells is limited because in a large batch solutions, yeast cells don’t consistently interact with sugar molecules.”

Capable of delivering precisely controlled amounts of liquids to exact locations in a conveyer-belt fashion, microfluidics present a possible solution to both of these challenges. Yeast and wort can be introduced to one another in microdroplets, providing the optimal ratio for fermentation each time.

“Microdroplets to speed up fermentation have been tried in labs, but none of the technologies so far are scalable,” Narain says. “This patented technology actually makes the process industrially scalable for the first time, and in a financially feasible manner.”

So who knows. According to another report, “[t]heir advisors include executives from some of the biggest brewers in the world: MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Biocon India and Heineken. And say what you will about them, but those beer companies employ brewers who know how to make beer. So there may be something to it. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the idea.

Historic Beer Birthday: Anton Schwarz

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Today is the birthday of Anton Schwarz (February 2, 1839-September 24, 1895). In addition to having studied law, he also became a chemist and worked for several breweries in Budapest, before moving to the U.S. in 1868. Moving to New York, he got a job working for the magazine/journal American Brewer, which at the time was more like the People magazine of the brewing industry. He was quickly promoted to editor, eventually buying the publication. He turned it into a serious scientific journal, writing many of the articles himself, but is credited with helping the entire industry improve its standards and processes.

Anton-Schwarz

Here’s his entry from the Jewish Encyclopedia, published in 1906.

Austrian chemist; born at Polna, Bohemia, Feb. 2, 1839; died at New York city Sept. 24, 1895. He was educated at the University of Vienna, where he studied law for two years, and at the Polytechnicum, Prague, where he studied chemistry. Graduating in 1861, he went to Budapest, and was there employed at several breweries. In 1868 he emigrated to the United States and settled in New York city. The following year he was employed on “Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer” (“The American Brewer”) and soon afterward became its editor. A few years later he bought the publication, remaining its editor until his death. He did much to improve the processes of brewing in the United States, and in 1880 founded in New York city the Brewers’ Academy of the United States.

Schwarz’s eldest son, Max Schwarz (b. in Budapest July 29, 1863; d. in New York city Feb. 7, 1901), succeeded him as editor of “The American Brewer” and principal of the Brewers’ Academy. He studied at the universities of Erlangen and Breslau and at the Polytechnic High School at Dresden. In 1880 he followed his father to the United States and became associated with him in many of his undertakings.

Both as editor and as principal of the academy he was very successful. Many of the essays in “The American Brewer,” especially those on chemistry, were written by him. He was a great advocate of the “pure beer” question in America.

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When the United States Brewers’ Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary, in 1913, there was a ball where several alumni gave speeches and toasts, mentioning Schwarz’ contributions, including this from Gallus Thomann from Germany:

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He also co-wrote the Theory and Practice of the Preparation of Malt and the Fabrication of Beer

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Beer Advocate also has a nice story of Schwarz, entitled the O.G. Beer Geek.

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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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The Dangers Of Full Beer Bottles Vs. Empties

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I’ve been slowing reading through the December issue of Mental Floss, one of my favorite magazines, and their lis of the “500 Most Important People in History.” At No. 77 is Swiss scientist Stephan Bolliger. Specifically he’s a forensic pathologist at the University of Bern, “and he often appears in court to testify as an expert witness.” But what caught my attention is a question that he couldn’t answer, but then preceded to examine scientifically. The question? What will do more damage in a bar fight, a full bottle of beer, or an empty one? And by damage, they specifically looked at which could break your skull.

So he picked up bottles of his favorite beer, Feldschlösschen Original, and got to work.

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You have to give him, and his team, points for taking a seemingly silly question very seriously. The results were published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine in 2009. The article was entitled Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull?, and here’s the abstract:

Beer bottles are often used in physical disputes. If the bottles break, they may give rise to sharp trauma. However, if the bottles remain intact, they may cause blunt injuries. In order to investigate whether full or empty standard half-litre beer bottles are sturdier and if the necessary breaking energy surpasses the minimum fracture-threshold of the human skull, we tested the fracture properties of such beer bottles in a drop-tower. Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J. These breaking energies surpass the minimum fracture-threshold of the human neurocranium. Beer bottles may therefore fracture the human skull and therefore serve as dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.

I love that “duh” conclusion. Beer bottles may be “dangerous instruments in a physical dispute.”

But you can read or download the whole enchilada at Research Gate. Here’s some highlights:

1. Introduction

The examination of living or deceased victims of bar fights is not uncommon in routine forensic practice. These fights are commonly carried out with fists, feet, furniture, and drinking vessels. Depending on the state of the drinking vessels, namely intact or broken, different trauma forms are to be expected. According to a British group, 1 readily available one pint beer glasses such as straight-sided glasses, referred to as nonik, and tankards display a mean impact resistance of up to 1.7 Joule (J). The glass shards of shattered beer glasses may give rise to stab and cut wounds, which may sever blood vessels or other vital structures of the body. Indeed, glasses with lower impact resistance cause more injuries, 2 for which reason toughened glassware has been advocated. On the other hand, if the drinking vessels remain intact, they may serve as clubs. In Switzerland and various other countries, refillable (and therefore sturdy) beer bottles are commonly encountered in pubs and at festivals. In Switzerland, the half-litre, refillable beer bottle is, according to the authors’ own experience, a commonly utilized instrument in physical disputes. The authors have been asked at court whether hitting a human on the head with such intact bottles suffices to break a skull and whether full or empty bottles are more likely to cause such injuries. Obviously, this depends on the breaking properties of the bottle. If the bottle (full or empty) breaks at a minimal energy, no skull fracture is to be expected. On the other hand, should the stability of the bottle surpass that of the head, severe, even life-threatening injuries may be inflicted. We therefore tested the breaking energy of such beer bottles in a drop-tower as described below in order to estimate at which energies the bottles break and if this amount of energy exceeds the energy necessary to inflict serious injuries to a victim.

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2. Methods and materials

Ten (six empty and four full) standard 0.5 l beer bottles (Feldschlösschen Brewery, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, Fig. 1) were examined. The full bottles weighed 898 g, the empty ones 391 g. With multislice computed tomography (Somatom Emotion 6, Siemens Medical Solutions, D-91301 Forchheim, Germany) the wall thickness was measured. The minimal thickness was 0.2 cm and maximal thickness 0.36 cm (Fig. 2). To one side of the beer bottles, a 7.5  1.2  5 cm pinewood board was fixed using a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3a). The wood board served to distribute the very small impact point of the steel ball to a more realistic situation concerning the impact area of a beer bottle against a cranium. The modeling clay not only served as a fixing material, but also as a substitute for the soft tissues of the scalp. The bottles were then fixed horizontally to the bottom of a baby-bath tub with a thin layer of modeling clay (Fig. 3b). A 1 kg heavy steel ball was dropped from different heights (minimum 2 m, maximum 4 m) onto the beer bottles in a droptower specifically designed for the testing of materials (Figs. 4 and 5). Depending on the region of the beer bottle, the wall thickness, curvature, and therefore the expected stability vary. As our aim was to assess the minimum breaking threshold, we let the ball strike the weakest part of the bottle, namely the bottom third of the shaft.

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In this discussion, they came up with the following equation to describe the energy in the real life situation.

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“E is the energy, MN is the mass of the bottle, MT is the mass of body part moving the bottle, i.e. the arm and shoulder (which can be assumed to weigh 2.5–4 kg) and W is the work performed by the muscles.”

If one considers the masses of the bottles, namely full bottles weighing 898 g and empty ones 391 g, a full bottle will strike a target with almost 70% more energy than an empty bottle. In other words, it takes less muscle work to achieve a greater striking energy when fighting with a full bottle, even though lifting the bottle requires slightly more energy.

And here’s the full conclusion:

5. Conclusions

Empty beer bottles are sturdier than full ones. However, both full and empty bottles are theoretically capable of fracturing the human neurocranium. We therefore conclude that half-litre beer bottles may indeed present formidable weapons in a physical dispute. Prohibition of these bottles is therefore justified in situations
which involve risk of human conflicts.

However, further studies involving different bottle types and an examination regarding the extent of brain damage is needed to assess the overall danger originating from bottle-related head trauma.

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The New York Times, in reporting Bollinger’s findings, has a more succinct description

Bolliger’s conclusion: Full bottles shatter at 30 joules, empties at 40, meaning both are capable of cracking open your skull. But empties are a third sturdier.

Why the difference? The beer inside a bottle is carbonated, which means it exerts pressure on the glass, making it more likely to shatter when hitting something. Its propensity to shatter makes it less sturdy — and thus a poorer weapon — than an empty one. As for the ubiquitous half-full bottle, if you hold it like a club, Bolliger says, “it tends to become an empty bottle very rapidly.”

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The Credibility Crisis Of Science Journals

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Regular readers will no doubt know how much I hate junk science, especially when it’s used as propaganda by prohibitionist groups to further their agenda. In the ten years since I started the Bulletin (and the 25 years since I’ve been writing about beer) I’ve been watching a growing trend of prohibitionist groups sponsoring questionable “science” and then turning around once they’ve got the conclusion they paid for and trumpeting to the world that science supports their position, which I detailed a couple of years ago Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Propaganda. In some cases, the studies even involved their own staff. I’m sure it was naive to think this is an issue confined to anti-alcohol fanatics, because clearly it’s not. It’s been an education in itself and over the years I’ve gotten much better with How To Spot Bad Science.

The other related issue is that even rigorous studies are often misused as propaganda when they often aren’t as ironclad as the people using them might hope. This practice was detailed in Studies Show Studies Don’t Show Much, which talked about jumping to conclusions too quickly when a study is preliminary, uses a small sample or needs to be reproduced and replicated before anything definitive can be said with certainty. And that, I just learned is a bigger problem for all journal articles, not just the ones I’ve been noticing.

According to Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist, who writes online at Science Set Free, there is a The Replicability Crisis in Science. By that, he means; “The credibility of science rests on the widespread assumption that results are replicable, and that high standards are maintained by anonymous peer review. These pillars of belief are crumbling. In September 2015, the international scientific journal Nature published a cartoon showing the temple of ‘Robust Science’ in a state of collapse.”

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In recent years, countless studies have been found to be faulty, not reproducible, making them all but useless. As other scientists have relied on them, which used to be a reasonable assumption since the journals are peer-reviewed, the science that’s coming after is equally flawed, because it’s based on bad science. And we’re not just talking about a few. “In 2011, German researchers in the drug company Bayer found in an extensive survey that more than 75% of the published findings could not be validated.” It gets worse. “In 2012, scientists at the American drug company Amgen published the results of a study in which they selected 53 key papers deemed to be ‘landmark’ studies and tried to reproduce them. Only 6 (11%) could be confirmed.”

Why is this happening? Sheldrake has a theory.

Unfortunately, personal advancement in the world of science depends on incentives that encourage these questionable research practices. Professional scientists’ career prospects, promotions and grants depend on the number of papers they have published, the number of times they are cited and the prestige of the journals in which they are published. There are therefore powerful incentives for people to publish eye-catching papers with striking positive results. If other researchers cannot replicate the results, this may not be discovered for years, if it is discovered at all, and meanwhile their careers have advanced and the system perpetuates itself. In the world of business, the criteria for success depend on running a successful business, not on whether business plans are ranked highly by business academics, and whether they are often cited in business journals. But status in the world of science depends on publications in scientific journals, rather than on practical effects in the real world.

Meanwhile, the peer-review system is falling into disrepute. The very fact that so many unreliable papers are published shows that the system is not working effectively, and a recent investigation by the American journal Science revealed some shocking results. A member of Science’s staff wrote a spoof paper, riddled with scientific and statistical errors, and sent 304 versions of it to a range of peer-reviewed journals. It was accepted for publication by more than half of them.

This is apparently enough of a problem that it even has its own Wikipedia page, and is known as the Replication Crisis. And Science News had an article entitled Is redoing scientific research the best way to find truth?

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But it’s hard not to see another culprit. Science News also offered 12 reasons research goes wrong, and included “fraud” at the end, stating that “fraud is responsible for only a tiny fraction of results that can’t be replicated.” I suppose that depends on how you define it, and I think I’d say it might include the type of junk science where somebody is hired to find a specific result rather than find out what the result might be in a specific situation. That’s the type I see more and more in the field of alcohol studies being sponsored by prohibitionist groups.

Prohibitionists and other groups have been perverting science for their own ends for years, using it to hoodwink an unsuspecting public, who still trusts the studies they’re reporting, to promote their agenda. It’s become a common tool of propaganda. This is detailed quite well in the classic book How to Lie with Statistics, but even more forcefully in the later expose Trust Us We’re Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future. It’s unfortunate, but prohibitionist groups aren’t really interested in health or safety. Like almost all non-profits, they’ve become more interested in sustaining themselves, which means raising money has become the real goal. This was revealed with startling clarity at an alcohol policy conference held a couple of years ago, which I reported on in The Neo-Prohibitionist Agenda: Punishment Or Profit. It’s about money. Isn’t it always?

But sadly, science is supposed to be science, and should be free of the entanglements that cloud so many other fields. And once upon a time, I like to kid myself, it probably was. But is it sure seems as corrupt as the rest of the world to me now, and that can’t be good for the present, and especially the future. Because it’s only going to get worse. I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that supports that. And if not, I can always fund my own. Apparently that’s how it’s done.

Patent No. 3552975A: Hop Flavors For Malt Beverages

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Today in 1971, US Patent 3552975 A was issued, an invention of Paul H. Todd Jr. and Leonard R. Worden, assigned to Matt Brynildson’s first company; the Kalamazoo Spice Extract Co., for their “Hop Flavors for Malt Beverages and the Like.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

Process for producing 4-deoxytetrahydrohumulone from lupulone by hydrogenolysis thereof after downward adjustment of pH into the acid range, optional subsequent oxygenation to tetrahydrohumulone, and optional isomerization and reduction to produce hexahydroisohumulone; hexahydroisohumulone itself; use of hexahydroisohumulone, in beverage flavoring; beverages flavored therewith; and employment of the portion of the non-volatile nonisomerizable hop extract fraction which dissolves in water at a pH of at least 9 as starting material in the first-mentioned production processes; use of tetrahydroisohumulone in beverage flavoring, especially by isomerizing tetrahydrohumulone in the beverage; beverages and especially malt beverages so flavored.

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Spinning Statistics … Again

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A few days ago, I wrote that in my mind, Alcohol Justice, as much as any prohibitionist group, had achieved the status of a cult, given their by-any-means-necessary tactics and casual relationship with the truth. Today presented a perfect example of that, in which they took another “study” and bent it and remolded it into the shape they wanted it to be in order to advance their agenda. This morning they tweeted the following:

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And there’s certainly some scary claims in that tweet. “Stunning death rate rise for middle-aged white US men,” which is apparently linked to “alcohol” and also “drug misuse.” Or is that misuse of both drugs and alcohol? It could be read either way, and since you rarely here “alcohol misuse” as a term — it’s almost always “alcohol abuse” — I suspect that it was chosen on purpose to give the impression that it was simply drinking alcohol that leads to this “stunning death rate.” But what does the actual “study” claim? The tweet includes a link, which takes you to an article from November 2 in the New York Times, Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds. But that title is similarly misleading, because once you actually read it, you’ll discover that it’s not all middle-age white men whose risk is increasing, but a specific subgroup within that cohort. That group is increasing overall, but only because the steepest rise is almost entirely coming from less educated men in that group.

The mortality rate for whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.

I guess that’s statistically significant, but it’s an increase of 0.134%, which doesn’t sound as bad as they’re making it out to be. Later in the article, they say that “[i]n that group, death rates rose by 22 percent while they actually fell for those with a college education.” Of course, I don’t have a Nobel Prize in Economics, as one of the people who conducted the study does, which the article makes a particular point of pointing out. Despite those honors, they’re as flummoxed by the results as apparently everyone else who’s found it’s such a growing problem for “the declining health and fortunes of poorly educated American whites.” adding. “In middle age, they are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans” and this has been “puzzling demographers in recent years.” Seriously? Let me take a stab at it. The middle class has been eroding for decades, real wages have been stagnating almost as long, people are losing their pension plans, unions are under attack and our government has been co-opted by business interests who have been doing everything possible to keep tax breaks for the wealthy, allow our elections to won by whoever has the most money, and generally make life miserable for every worker below the executive level, the people in the 90%. And which group would you expect that to most affect? I would suggest it’s people in the lower paying jobs, the ones requiring less education, which would go a long way toward explaining why these are the same people drinking themselves into an early grave.

They do finally make some mention of this, but apparently don’t think it was significant enough to “fully account for the effect,” when they earlier cited that middle-aged white men with only a high school diploma have “a more pessimistic outlook among whites about their financial futures.” But doesn’t it seem like one of those “well, duh” moments?

The least educated also had the most financial distress, Dr. Meara and Dr. Skinner noted in their commentary. In the period examined by Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case, the inflation-adjusted income for households headed by a high school graduate fell by 19 percent.

But that can’t be it, they seem to conclude. That wouldn’t cause them to become depressed, which might lead them to drink excessively or take more drugs, is what they’re saying. Why do we continue to go out of our way to insist that the alcohol or drugs, in and of themselves, are the problem, but not the underlying problem or problems that make people reach for them? Remember, the message from Alcohol Justice was that “alcohol and drug misuse” were the link to a “Stunning death rate rise for middle-aged white US men,” but that’s not what the study found, or is even the focus of the article, despite the fact that misleading headline could make you think that was the case, if you didn’t bother to read it. What this study of metadata from the CDC found was that there’s an increase for such men with less education and who abused alcohol, which is very different from what AJ is peddling. And this spin is doubly reinforced by the photo they chose to use with the tweet. It shows two older couples, well-dressed and sipping on champagne. That’s practically the polar opposite of the image one would expect for which group is showing an increase in their risk of death found by the study they’re referring to. And it’s the photo you see first, before you read either the tweet or click on the article. Before you have any facts whatsoever, you’re confronted by this misleading image of well-heeled bubbly revelers.

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But that image holds another secret, and one Alcohol Justice probably doesn’t want you to know about, especially as they’ve started tweeting for donations at this, the giving time of the year. The image is actually taken from an article in the British newspaper, the Telegraph, from early September of this year. That piece, entitled Drinkers ‘subsidising’ non-drinkers by £6.5 billion a year, flies right in the face of one of AJ’s most-cherished propaganda lies, the idea of alcohol harm, that people drinking are a drain on the economy, forcing teetotalers to pay for their excesses and strain public resources. It’s one of AJ’s most common arguments for raising taxes on alcohol, under the notion of a “charge for harm” that they’re so fond of insisting. But the subtitle of the Telegraph article is: “A drain on taxpayers? Drinkers pay their dues three times over, new study claims.”

Far from being a financial burden on taxpayers, people who enjoy alcohol pay the cost of dealing with drink-related social problems almost three times over in tax every year, the analysis by the Institute of Economic Affairs, the free-market think-tank, argues.

The paper calculates that the NHS, police, the criminal justice and welfare systems in England collectively spend £3.9 billion a year dealing with the fallout from excessive alcohol consumption.

But that figure is eclipsed by the £10.4 billion a year it says the Treasury gains in alcohol duty in England.
It argues that taxes on drink could be halved and still leave the Government firmly in profit.

They continue:

Christopher Snowdon, author of the report, said: “It is time to stop pretending that drinkers are a burden on taxpayers.

“Drinkers are taxpayers and they pay billions of pounds more than they cost the NHS, police service and welfare system combined.

“The economic evidence is very clear on this – 40 per cent of the EU’s entire alcohol tax bill is paid by drinkers in Britain and, as this new research shows, teetotallers in England are being subsidised by drinkers to the tune of at least six and a half billion pounds a year.”

So that’s where the photo came from that Alcohol Justice used to accompany a misleading tweet about misstated statistics, linking to a somewhat misleadingly titled article. And this is from the organization that claims to be the “industry watchdog,” forcing me to ask, yet again, who’s watching the watchdog? Because left to their own devices, they obviously aren’t terribly concerned with honesty or truthiness. And that makes it increasingly difficult to have any meaningful discussions with them about alcohol policy or indeed believe anything they say or claim.

Scientific Proof You Can’t Get Drunk On Beer

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Here’s a stroll down memory lane, when in 1955 a Yale professor, Dr. Leon A. Greenberg, declared that beer isn’t an intoxicating beverage “and should be reclassified to the non-intoxicating drinks.” Greenberg was no stranger to alcohol, and in fact in the 1930s invented the Alcometer, “the first machine that analyzed the breath for alcohol,” before coming to Yale in 1933 to head what would become the Center of Alcohol Studies. Seven years after this story, the center moved to Rutgers. Maybe there’s a connection? Certainly when Dr. Greenberg passed away in 1986, his obituary didn’t mention this chapter in his life.

In the story, other scientists may have thought he’d gone crazy, but restrained themselves from saying so, and diplomatically disagreed.

This brought emphatic objection from other scientists. They wanted to know if the man who is “high” or “tight” isn’t also drunk. Beer certainly makes people “high” and “tight,” they said.

The UP story then described his theory:

For people to show consistently the “abnormal behavior” which goes with intoxication, the alcohol content of their blood must be 0.15 per cent or higher.

THE AVERAGE alcohol content of American beers is 3.7 per cent by weight. In order for the alcohol blood level to be at 0.15 per cent, there would have to be two and one-half quarts of 3.7 beer in the stomach. But the capacity of the human stomach is one and one-half to two quarts.

Therefore, no one can drink enough beer at one time to get intoxicated, according to theory. As for doing it by degrees: beer is destroyed or eliminated in the body at the rate of one-third of a quart an hour. So three quarts would have to be consumed in two or three hours, and this, he said, was “physiologically unnatural.”

“The alcoholic must not drink beer. He must not drink beer, not because it is intoxicating but because, like a small amount of alcohol in any other form, it may facilitate the uncontrolled drinking for which the alcoholic has a special liability.

His views were published in the official journal of the Yale studies. Other scientists were invited to publish their objections at the same time. And these objections were mainly that Greenberg did not recognize stages or degrees of drunkenness – the differences between a man who is a little drunk and one who is very drunk.

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See, science can’t lie.

The Minnesota Star Tribune, which in 1955 was apparently just the Minnesota Tribune, also ran the story on July 7, 1955, but they gave more space to Dr. Greenberg’s dissenters. As they note, it “demonstrates that you can be right about all the facts and still come to the wrong conclusion.”

Dr. Albion Roy King, professor of philosophy, Cornell college, Mount Vernon, Iowa, said Greenberg has performed a “feat of word manufacture and manipulation which simply makes more graphic what everybody knows, that it takes more drinking to get tight on beer than on whisky.”

Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, a psychiatrist and vice chairman of the Connecticut commission on alcoholism, said Greenberg’s view is “simple nonsense – in the eyes of most beer drinkers.”

“They may know nothing about their blood level or the percentage alcohol content of the beer drink, and they care less.

“What they do know is that they get drunk on beer, using their definition. Alcohol is alcohol, in any concentration and its regular use can lead to trouble.”

Dr. Frank J. O’Brien, associate superintendent of schools, New York city, objected to the generalizing on the grounds that alcohol affects different people differently.

It certainly seems almost silly to think he went public with such an obviously false conclusion. Beer may be the beverage of moderation, but it will still give you a buzz. And simple experience would teach anyone that much better than at least one Yale professor. Happy Friday!

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Here’s how the UP story ran in the Palm Beach Post on July 7, 1955.

Blaming Overeating On Drinking

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You know what makes you fat? It’s not food. It’s drinking alcohol. Wait, what? Yup, according to a study financed by the NIH, conducted by the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, and published earlier this year in the journal Obesity, researchers claim that what they’ve dubbed “the apéritif phenomenon” may be causing our obesity epidemic. Except that they’re not.

The self-described “internationally recognized news website” Inquisitr, under the category “Celebrity Health,” published an article entitled “Alcohol Sensitizes Brain’s Response To Food Aromas, Say Scientists — Is Liquor Responsible For Rising Obesity?” Naturally, Alcohol Justice gleefully tweeted the bad news as “new evidence points to alcohol’s role in U.S. obesity epidemic.” Except that, as I mentioned, the evidence does nothing of the kind.

The study that the article is based on is entitled The apéritif effect: Alcohol’s effects on the brain’s response to food aromas in women. Here’s the abstract:

Objective
Consuming alcohol prior to a meal (an apéritif) increases food consumption. This greater food consumption may result from increased activity in brain regions that mediate reward and regulate feeding behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we evaluated the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response to the food aromas of either roast beef or Italian meat sauce following pharmacokinetically controlled intravenous infusion of alcohol.

Methods
BOLD activation to food aromas in non-obese women (n = 35) was evaluated once during intravenous infusion of 6% v/v EtOH, clamped at a steady-state breath alcohol concentration of 50 mg%, and once during infusion of saline using matching pump rates. Ad libitum intake of roast beef with noodles or Italian meat sauce with pasta following imaging was recorded.

Results
BOLD activation to food relative to non-food odors in the hypothalamic area was increased during alcohol pre-load when compared to saline. Food consumption was significantly greater, and levels of ghrelin were reduced, following alcohol.

Conclusions
An alcohol pre-load increased food consumption and potentiated differences between food and non-food BOLD responses in the region of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus may mediate the interplay of alcohol and responses to food cues, thus playing a role in the apéritif phenomenon.

The Indiana Alcohol Research Center “focuses on the elucidation of the biomedical and psychosocial factors that contribute to alcohol abuse and alcoholism,” which suggests to me they’re another group like the NIAAA, or National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (whose grant created the IARC), is exclusively interested in exploring the negative aspects of alcohol. And just like the NIAAA, it’s right there in their charter.

Curiously, yesterday the full text of the article was also online, but today it’s restricted. They start with the premise that “consuming alcohol prior to a meal (their “apéritif phenomenon”) increases food consumption,” but of course that’s the point of an apéritif, or at least to enhance and make the experience of the food and/or the food and the drink better.

But as they conclude, this “pre-loading” of alcohol is what makes us want to eat more, which they believe that their study shows. When I briefly looked at the entire article, their longer discussion of the findings, as is quite common, suggested caution in drawing too many conclusions and suggesting further study was warranted. As the shorter conclusion states, these “food cues” play “a role in the apéritif phenomenon,” which is not exactly the same as saying “drinking is responsible for American obesity.”

But that didn’t stop author Alap Naik Desai from making such speculation, fueling the prohibitionist response that of course “Liquor [is] Responsible For [the] Rising Obesity” in the United States.

A research conducted by Indiana University indicated that exposure to alcohol enhanced the brain’s sensitivity and heightened its response to food aromas. In simpler words, food seemed much more appealing and appetizing, which, of course, led to extra consumption. Connecting the dots, one could also summarize that alcohol consumption was responsible for increased intake of food and hence a hidden cause of obesity.

I’m not sure which dots he’s referring to, since that’s a fairly absurd statement that isn’t contained in the study itself. But beyond that, the study involved just 35 female test subjects, no men at all. And it seems hard to extrapolate anything meaningful that could be applicable to the human population from so few people. Also, they claim that people “responded enthusiastically to food aromas after the body had been exposed to alcohol,” but not from drinking it, simply from having smelled it. Despite the lack of causation, or a robust sample size or even anything resembling reality, the lead author of the study, William Eiler, apparently told Desai that “this poses a major risk to those trying to keep their weight down.” Seriously, “a major risk” because 35 women seemed more hungry after sniffing alcohol? Desai continues. “With America weighing down under an obesity epidemic and two out of every three American adults consuming alcohol, there is an immediate need to find more connecting factors between the brain, food, and alcohol, advise the scientists.”

Except that this idea is easily demolished by one simple fact. Even in countries where alcohol consumption per capita exceeds the United States, which according to the World health Organization is 36 countries, the obesity rates do not follow the same pattern, which you’d expect if alcohol “pose[d] a major risk to those trying to keep their weight down.” According to WHO, Belarus, Andorra, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Grenada, Austria, Ireland, France, Saint Lucia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, the Bahamas, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Spain, Latvia, Finland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Gabon, Romania, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Cyprus all consume more alcohol per capita than the U.S., based on data for fifteen years, from 1990-2010.

And as for the most obese countries, we’re number one according to several sources, including Business Insider, the Telegraph and NationMaster. Although there are some sources that claim in 2013, Mexico took the title from us, yet it, too, is conspicuously absent from the list of countries that drink more than we do, meaning they drink less but are more obese.

Of those 36 countries that the WHO data makes clear drink more per capita than we do, only half of them appear on the OECD list of the top obese nations, from their 2012 Obesity Update report. If alcohol was causing people to eat more, than it seems clear people who drink more should likewise be eating more, too, and we’d see a direct correlation between both sets of numbers.

The three sources other than the WHO list also include on their lists of the most obese nations; Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey, UAE, and Zimbabwe, of which only two — Nigeria and Spain — drink more than we do. Again, if any of this were true, it seems obvious that there would be an easily recognizable correlation between both alcohol consumption and the obesity rates, but there isn’t, strongly suggesting there isn’t one at all.

I suspect the researchers know this, but the journalist who took the study and twisted it to fit a narrative probably did not. He finishes with this conclusion. “With America weighing down under an obesity epidemic and two out of every three American adults consuming alcohol, there is an immediate need to find more connecting factors between the brain, food, and alcohol, advise the scientists.” But is that what they’re advising? Because the evidence doesn’t quite measure up to that scary headline. If this were true, wouldn’t doctors be prescribing alcohol for their patients who need to eat more. I’d also say his article seems irresponsible, since it promotes an idea that it doesn’t actually support, and misrepresents the facts to get more people clicking on the link. It’s so bad that only a prohibitionist would fall for it, because facts don’t matter in propaganda, only making alcohol look bad.