The Credibility Crisis Of Science Journals

science
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.”

temple-of-science

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?

reproducibility_piechart

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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US3552975-1

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.

Prohibitionists Picking On Past Their Primers

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What is it with Alcohol Justice insulting people recently? A few days ago they called people around the world “idiotic,” and now they’re referring to the elderly as “geezers?” What happened to being an organization holding the alcohol industry to impossibly high standards? Or don’t those apply in the first person, only in the third person? Sadly, that’s probably the answer as whatever they do is championed as correct and everything — and I do mean everything — that alcohol companies and anyone who might choose to drink alcohol are doing is considered wrong.

So — sigh — what is it this time? AJ tweeted out the following this morning:

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“Some geezers are hitting the hootch too hard bbc.in/1PQelb1 Better wake-up before it’s too late!”

The link takes you to an article posted on the BBC‘s health website, with the far more gentle title, Elderly people warned over alcohol consumption. So why exactly is AJ calling the elderly “geezers?” According to Wikipedia, “Geezer is a slang term for a man. In the UK, it can carry the connotation of either age or eccentricity. In the US, the term typically refers to a cranky old man.” In AJ’s tweet, of course, they show three elderly women sipping what looks like wine, champagne and a cocktail, not “hootch,” or even it’s more common spelling “hooch” (oh, AJ how many mistakes can you pack into one tweet?). Yes, hooch can mean any “alcoholic liquor,” but it usually refers to “inferior or illicit whiskey,” not the good stuff. So calling these three women geezers drinking hooch doesn’t really work, does it?

The BBC article itself, naturally, is problematic, as well. The headline is that they found that “one in five people over 65 who drink” (so only 20% and only 20% of the elderly population that are not teetotalers, meaning less than 20%) is drinking their “hooch” at “unsafe levels.”

First of all, those levels they’re talking about in the UK are arbitrary and were simply made up, as was revealed in 2007, twenty years after the guidelines for the UK had been set in stone in 1987. One committee member who’d worked on the guidelines remembered that they were simply “plucked out of the air” and had “no basis in science” whatsoever, which I detailed at the time in Target: Alcohol. So it’s pretty hard to get worked up about elderly people, and a minority of them at that, who are not following capricious, arbitrary guidelines that were simply made up.

But the kicker, for me, is that final admonishment in AJ’s tweet: “Better wake-up before it’s too late!” To which my first through was exactly the same as the nearly 300 commenters to the BBC article. “Or what?” After working my entire lifetime, and finally reaching retirement age, finally able to do the things I want to do, the last thing I want to hear is “go easy, darling, mustn’t have too much to drink” from … well, from anybody. Seriously, unless I’m falling down, incoherently drunk every single day at age 70, it’s nobody’s business but my own and Alcohol Justice and their ilk can go f*@k themselves. I’m going to enjoy my twilight years, if I can, and if I make it that far on my own, I think I can manage without their unwanted intrusion and advice. They don’t care about my health, they care about controlling people and telling them what’s good for them because they know better than you and me. It’s the true national pastime.

But what I’m still unclear about is why they’ve chosen to begin attacking people with insults and epithets, people who’ve done nothing more than live their lives as they see fit, but apparently differently from how AJ believes they should live. That’s certainly not how you win people over to your way of thinking. It just pisses them off.

Patent No. 6284244B1: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast

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Today in 2001, US Patent 6284244 B1 was issued, an invention of Joseph L. Owades, for his “Mediating the Effects of Alcohol Consumption by Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast.” Here’s the Abstract:

Mediating the effects of alcohol consumption by orally administering an active dry yeast containing alcohol dehydrogenase to a person prior to or simultaneously with consumption of an alcohol-containing beverage to oxidize a portion of the alcohol while it is still in the stomach of the person is described.

This is roughly the same patent, Patent No. 2452476A1: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast, that Owades applied for a patent on and received two years later, in 2003. You can read all about the background of it there.
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NYC Gives Bad Advice During Heatwave

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So right now many places are going through a heatwave, even where I am in Sonoma County has had some very unseasonably hot days. But apparently New York City is having a particularly bad time, with temperatures close to 100° F. On Monday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference to assuage New Yorker’s fears and offer suggestions on how to stay safe during the heatwave. Also on hand at the event with the Mayor was the commissioner of the Department of Health, Mary Bassett, who “told New Yorkers not to crack open a frosty lager or pour themselves a crisp ale in a chilled glass” during the heatwave, warning them about “the perils of alcohol and caffeine, both dehydrating diuretics, for those who must labor in the sun.” She’s quoted in the Observer.

“Water is the best beverage for staying hydrated. Beer is not,” she said.

Unfortunately, at least as long as ago as 2007, studies have shown that not to be the case. As I reported in late 2007, in Forget Gatorade, Drink Beer, a Spanish study has concluded that the best thing you can drink after playing vigorous sports is not Gatorade, but beer. Specifically, the study found that for the dehydrated person, beer helps retain liquid better than water.

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What would you rather down after sweating yourself silly either in a soccer match, mowing your lawn or simply enduring a blazing sun heatwave, Gatorade, water or this?

The main reason is that water doesn’t replenish electrolytes or other chemicals that the body loses when sweating. Water’s great, don’t get me wrong, it is up to 95% of what makes beer. For example, the UK’s NHS cautions against using just plain water, saying dehydrated persons “shouldn’t be given water as the main replacement fluid because it can further dilute the minerals in their body and make the problem worse.”

When you’re dehydrated, you lose sugar and salts, as well as water. Drinking a rehydration solution will enable you to re-establish the right balance of body fluids. The solution should contain a mixture of potassium and sodium salts, as well as glucose or starch.

Even Gatorade would probably be a little better than just water for severe dehydration that’s associated with a heatwave, although the Spanish study found that beer is even better.

For the study, Garzon asked a group of students to perform strenuous exercise in temperatures of around 104ºF. Half the subjects were given a pint of beer after the workout, the other half the same quantity of plain water. Garzon said the hydration effect in those who drank the beer was “slightly better.”

Juan Antonio Corbalán, a cardiologist who formerly worked with Real Madrid soccer players and Spain’s national basketball team, insists that beer has the “perfect profile” for a rehydrating beverage after sports. Corbalán adds that he has long advocated the drinking of barley-based beverages by professional athletes.

Of course, beer being a diuretic means you’ll lose some liquid through urination, and there aren’t any appreciable electrolytes in beer. But then there aren’t any in water, either, so advising just water seems like poor advice at best. Even critics to the Spanish study, like James Betts, an expert on nutrition and metabolism at Bath University in England, admits that “a moderate amount of beer might be as effective as water at helping the body with liquid retention.” So again, NYC’s position that people should lay off a cold beer and stick to only water seems pretty out to lunch.

Apparently, a C. Johnson, who’s a Theoretical Physicist has come up with Gator Beer, a beer that would apparently include electrolytes and other chemicals lost during perspiration such as sodium (already in beer), potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Sadly, no one is currently making Gator Beer.

bdb-bassett
I’m sure Mary Bassett is a lovely person, but you wouldn’t know it from this photo of her supplied by the mayor’s office, where she looks exactly like the sort of person who would say “no” to a beer.

Why Greasy Food Tastes So Good When You’re Hungover

hangover
There’s nothing quite so tasty the next morning after a session of drinking that wakes you up with a pounding headache as greasy food. For me, greasy food is perfect for any meal, but it’s especially fitting after a night of overindulgence. I’ve often wondered why that is, or if it was anything more than the grease sopping up the leftover alcohol coursing through my veins. According to a short article in Popular Science a few years back that I just stumbled on entitled FYI: Why Do We Crave Greasy Food When We’re Hung Over?, the answer is, at least in part, because “we’re really just going back to our caveman roots.”

“All mammals gravitate to eating the most energy-dense foods,” David Levitsky, professor of human ecology and nutritional sciences at Cornell University, says. “Fat is the most energy-dense food available.” It’s just that sober, you won’t usually give in to those cravings. But after a night of boozy indulgence, you lose such learned inhibitions as disciplined eating, Levitsky says.

Or it might be galanin, a “brain chemical.”

William Gruchow, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has studied and written about galanin and its effects on various neurotransmitters. “Galanin increases appetite for fats, and consumption of fat causes more galanin to be produced,” Gruchow said. “Alcohol intake also results in increased galanin production.”

The thinking goes:

By consuming large quantities of high-fat foods and alcohol, you increase your triglycerides possibly stimulating galanin production. That, in turn, makes you crave that calorific Denny’s breakfast you’d never touch otherwise. “The bottom line here is that alcohol intake increases one’s appetite for fat, and fat intake does the same. This is a double whammy for drinkers who eat fatty foods while drinking,” Gruchow says.

And here I just thought it tasted good.

greasy-foods

Thinking About Beer Color

color-wheel
I’ve always been fascinated by color, even as a child, and naturally, more recently, beer color. I understand how the color numbering systems came about, and their obvious utility, but I’m more interested in thinking about beer color, by which I mean how we describe a beer’s color using names for colors in the same way that we have more or less standardized descriptors for flavors and aromas. When it comes to the descriptors for beer’s aroma and flavors, we understand and acknowledge the importance of vocabulary, of having a standardized series of words to express what we’re tasting. Several years ago, my friend Fal Allen (who’s the brewmaster at Anderson Valley Brewing) started a list of Beer Tasting Terms that I expanded on which includes most of the more common descriptors and other terms used when tasting beer. Having everyone using and understanding the same language makes talking about those much, much easier. That’s why in the 1970s Morton Meilgaard created the Beer Flavor Wheel which has since been updated and maintained by the American Society of Brewing Chemists.
beer-color-line-of-glasses
But that brings us back to color. Color is generally expressed by numbers, first using the Lovibond scale (or Degrees Lovibond / °L) which has been mostly replaced by the SRM (Standard Reference Method) and the EBC (European Brewery Convention). SRM is the one most commonly used in the U.S., and it expresses beer color using a numbering system of 1-40, with the lower the number, the lighter the beer, and vice versa.

SRM_Beer_Color_Chart

And that works fairly well, especially for reviews or judging since it’s reasonably easy to determine if a beer hits its range for a particular style. So I have nothing against it, except that it’s not very elegant or poetic. I realize it doesn’t have to be, but I make my living writing. I love language. Words excite me. I love to linger at the paint chips and marvel at the imaginative names that people give to different shades of colors. Even as a child I remember being intrigued by the names on crayons, especially those with such descriptive names as “burnt sienna,” “midnight blue” or “atomic tangerine.” They’re so much more evocative than brown, blue or orange.

So when writing a beer review, I struggle to avoid using the same semi-standard color names over and over again, none of which have been set in stone, at least not to my knowledge. The most common four colors that one sees are Yellow, Amber, Brown and Black. And while that does express the range of beer color, it’s a bit too vague. Other scales include Straw, Yellow, Gold, Amber, Copper, Brown and Black with many more using modifiers to those like Light, Dark, Deep and occasionally Medium or Ruby.

In Randy Mosher’s latest book, Mastering Homebrew, he includes a chart with some basic beer color nomenclature.

mosher-beer-color

And that’s obviously better than just four colors, or even seven; although like taste, you probably don’t want too many. And keeping them fairly standardized makes sense since it helps communicate the colors more effectively, but I still can’t help but think that in terms of describing the beer that it’s too limiting. For example, I like to use “mahogany” to describe a beer that’s primarily brown but with some red in it, too. And while I think that does communicate the actual color better, it’s not clear to me where on the scale it would fall.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that like aroma and taste, none of us perceive color in exactly the same way. Some people are color blind, and while some see only black and white, in most cases it means that they see color differently than typical people do. My stepfather couldn’t see red, for example and when driving was fine with normal traffic lights but would often get tripped up if the lights were horizontal rather than vertical. Color blindness overwhelmingly effects men, with as many as 8% of the male population having some form of it, while only about 0.4% of women are color blind (at least for people of Northern European ancestry).

But for the rest of us, colors are something we learn very early in life and we can more or less agree on the basic colors, if not the more nuanced shades of colors. So where do the names for colors come from? We all can agree on the primary colors, the rainbow’s ROYGBIV. But it gets trickier when you start looking at the shades, say grass green, apple green, olive or avocado. Most people started noticing colors, like me, with crayons. A list of Crayola crayons reveals more than 200 named colors over the years, although a collector’s website lists 1,629 different colors. Wikipedia has their own list of colors, and also has a list of X11 colors. Then there are internet or web colors, with 6-digit hex codes, though many of them also have color names, and there’s another list of over 500 web colors. There are also alphabetical color lists like this one.

One of the most popular color systems is the commercial Pantone Matching System, which unfortunately primarily uses a numbering system to organize the majority of their colors, although names are assigned to some of them. I find them hard to use because of that, and because within Pantone there are so many ways they’re divided into collections and other ways of being displayed. Just take a look at a few third-party lists of their colors to get a feel for how many there are, and how unwieldy they are to use. There’s the Pantone® Matching System Color Chart, All Pantone C colors with HEX and RGB codes, a Pantone Color Table, and PANTONE® Colours. These are the ones used by a number of different professions and professional designers, but they can also be expensive.

What got me thinking about this was a post entitled The Color Thesaurus by new novelist Ingrid Sundberg on her blog. She writes that “[o]ne of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow. Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.”

So she created a color thesaurus of colors, shades and their names. I’ve included the six of them that involve beer colors, but you can see the rest of them here. Not all of them are strictly beerish in their nomenclature, but perhaps it’s worth exploring to come up with a list that is.


color1-tan_revised
color2-yellow
color3-orange_revised
color4-red
color5-brown
color6-black

Here’s another hilarious list of 16 Creative Paint Color Names We Haven’t Seen — Yet that includes such colorful names as “Grandma’s Upholstery” and “Beer Belly.”

Fallout Shelter Brewing (which I think is a homebrewer’s personal site) has a very helpful chart of the HTML color codes for SRM Colors that includes 0 through 60, with halftones of .5 in between each, along with the codes for three different constrained path lengths, which he believes would show the beer as seen through a carboy, a pint glass or a tasting glass, respectively. Using the codes for the taster glass, primarily because they seemed to show a greater range of colors from lightest to darkest, I created a Beer Color Nomeclature Chart, which is below.

I then took the main range of colors, including the halftones only between 0 and 13 because after that as they become darker, differences become harder to make out or even notice. I then listed the SRM value and display a swatch of the color corresponding to the SRM number. The third column lists the common name known for that SRM number, if there is one, though having looked at numerous sources, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that they rarely agree. So I made some choices, and also included some non-standard names there, but used italics to differentiate those.

In the final column, in order to make it more useful or understandable, I included a number of pieces of data, including:

  • BJCP beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • Cicerone beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • GABF beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • Beginning and ending colors for each listed style in Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer.
  • Specific examples of beers where I was able to find their SRM, though I can’t be certain how correct the information is. In fact, I’ve found multiple sources for some beers that do not agree, for example I’ve found references to Pilsner Urquell having an SRM of 4.2 and 6. I think a lot of the differences stem from the fact that what the SRM numbers are is dependent upon how that color was calculated. I will gladly correct any if I can be shown some proof from a more reliable source or how the more correct number was arrived upon. There’s actually not a lot of information listing the exact SRM for many beers, at least not that I could find. If you know of any resources listing exact SRM for common and/or popular beers, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Thanks.

                         Beer Color Nomenclature Chart

Name Key: Plain Text = traditional name / Italics = non-traditional but used by someone on a list that I found researching this.
BJCP Key: b = range begins / e = range ends / Numbers correspond to BJCP styles.
Styles Key: Cicerone program: Range begins = Plain Text w/© / Range ends = Italics w/© (© for Cicerone) / Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher: Range begins = Plain Text w/® / Range ends = Italics w/® (® for Randy) / Brewers Association GABF 2014 Beer Style Guidelines: Range begins = Plain Text w/ß / Range ends = Italics w/ß (ß for BA) / No code = found on a list researching this.
Abbreviations: Amer. = American / Amer-Belgo = American-Belgo-Style / APA = American Pale Ale / A-S = American-Style / B-S = Belgian-Style / E-S = English-Style / EU-S = European Style / F-S = French Style / G-S = German-Style / No. = North / So. = South

SRM Color Beer Name Common Beer Style Ranges & Examples
0
 
White Water, Miller Clear
0.5
 
None Zima
1
 
Very Light Specialty Beerß/Specialty Honey Beerß; Carib Shandy Lager
1.5
 
None A-S Light (Low-Calorie)ß
2
 
Pale Straw b:1ABC/2A/15A/16A/17A/American Lager©ß/A-S Cream Aleß/A-S Ice Lagerß/Australasian, Latin American or Tropical-Style Light Lagerß/Berliner Weisseß/EU Low-Alcohol Lagerß/German Pilsner©/Leichtß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Malt Liquorß/Pilsner®/ Weissbier©/Witbier®©ß; Asahi Dry, Coors Light, Little King’s, Miller Lite
2.5
 
None b:6A/Cream Ale©; Beck’s, Budweiser, Heineken
3
 
Straw b:1D/2C/6BD/17DEF/18D/A-S Pilsenerß/American Wheat©/Belgian Golden Strong©/Blonde©ß/Bohemian Pilsnerß/G-S Kölschß/G-S Oktoberfestß/G-S Pilsenerß/ Goldenß/Goseß/Grodziskieß/ Helles©/Int’l-S Pilsenerß/Lambic©/So. G-S Hefeweizenß/So. G-S Kristal Weizenß; e:1A/17A; Bud Light, Hoegaarden, St. Pauli Girl, Tsingtao
3.5
 
None b:2B/6C/B-S Pale Strongß/Bohemian Pilsner©/Dortmunderß/G-S Leichtes Weizenß; Asahi Super Dry, Jever Pils, Labatt’s 50, Pyramid Wheat, Saison Dupont, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Wittekerke
4
 
Pale Gold b:1E/8A/18A/A-S Märzen&Oktoberfestß/Bamberg-Style Helles Rauchbierß/Bamberg-Style Märzen Rauchbierß/Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbierß/Belgian Blond©ß/B-S Tripelß/Bitter©/Coffee-Flavored Beerß/E-S Summerß/F&B-S Saisonß/G-S Heller Bockß/G-S Märzenß/Golden®/Japanese Sake-Yeast Beerß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Maibock®/Münchner Hellesß/Oktoberfest®/ Roggenbierß/Weizen®; e:1B/16A/American Lager©/A-S Amber Lager (Low-Calorie)ß/A-S Light (Low-Calorie)ß/Berliner Weisseß/Belgian Strong®/EU Low-Alcohol Lagerß/Int’l-S Pilsenerß/G-S Pilsenerß/Leichtß/Witbier®©ß; Berliner Kindl Weiss, Foster’s Lager, San Miguel
4.5
 
Deep Straw So. G-S Weizenbockß/Tripel©; e:18C; Paulaner Premium Pils, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Tugboat Rye Ale
5
 
None b:10A/16C/APA©/A-S Wheat Wineß/Australian Paleß/B-S Table Beerß/Best Bitter©/E-S Paleß/Field Beerß/Fruit Beerß/Herb and Spice Beerß/Imperial IPAß/IPA®/Int’l Paleß/Kuitß/Ordinary Bitterß/Pale Amer-Belgoß/Pumpkin Beerß/Saison©;
e:1D/2A/6ABC/8B/A-S Cream Aleß/Australasian, Latin American or Tropical-Style Light Lagerß/Cream Ale©/German Pilsner©/G-S Oktoberfestß/Helles©/Malt Liquorß; Full Sail Golden, Gaffel Kölsch, Duvel
5.5
 
None Bamberg-Style Helles Rauchbierß/Münchner Hellesß; Kingfisher Premium Lager, Westmalle Tripel
6
 
Deep Gold b:5AC/8C/16D/18D/APA®ß/A-S Amber Lagerß/A-S Strong Paleß/Amer. IPA©ß/B-S Gueuze Lambicß/B-S Lambicß/B-S Paleß/Best Bitterß/Bière de Garde®/Doppelbock©/E-S IPAß/E-S Pale Mildß/ESB©/Maibock©/Helles Bock©Scottish-Style Lightß; e:1C/1E/2BC/6D/A-S Lagerß/A-S Pilsenerß/American Wheat©/Belgian Golden Strong©/Blonde©/Bohemian Pilsner©/Dortmunderß/G-S Kölschß/Grodziskieß; Pilsner Urquell
6.5
 
None Cooper’s Sparkling Ale, Double Enghien Blonde Ale, Fraoch Heather Ale
7
 
Light Amber b:3B/14B/Belgian Strong®/F-S Bière de Gardeß/Märzen®©/Vienna Lager®; e:17DEF/18AC/Belgian Blond©ß/Bohemian Pilsnerß/E-S Summerß/Lambic©/Pilsner®/Tripel©; Barbar Belgian Honey Ale, Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Wheat, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
7.5
 
None Ithaca Apricot Wheat, Leffe Blonde
8
 
None b:14AC/16B/19B/Belgian Pale©/B-S Quadß/California Commonß/English IPA©/ESB®ß/Imperial IPA©/Saison/Scottish-Style HeavyßStrong Aleß; e:15A/A-S Ice Lagerß/Golden®/Weissbier©; Abita Purple Haze, Petrus Tripel
8.5
 
None Brains Traditional Welsh Ale, Paulaner Oktoberfest
9
 
Pale Amber b:9ABCD/B-S Dark Strongß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Dunkel Weizen®/Scottish Ale©/Scottish-Style Exportß/So. G-S Bernsteinfarbenes Weizenß; B-S Tripelß/E-S Pale Mildß/G-S Heller Bockß/Goseß/So. G-S Hefeweizenß/So. G-S Kristal Weizenß; Harpoon IPA, Worthington’s White Shield
9.5
 
None Bass Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager
10
 
None b:3A/7B/10B/17B/18B/19AC/Amber©/California Common©/Dubbel/Imperial Redß/So. G-S Dunkel Weizenß; e:17DEF/18AC;/B-S Pale Strongß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Maibock®/Weizen®; Edelweiss Dunkel Weissbier, Jenlain, Orval
10.5
 
None Boskeun, Shepherd Neame IPA
11
 
Red-Brown b:7C;e:5A; Amber®ß/A-S Barley Wineß/G-S Altbierß/Irish-Style Redß; Helles Bock©/IPA®/Maibock©; Whitbread Pale Ale
11.5
 
None Anchor Liberty Ale
12
 
Med. Amber b:11AC/15C/18E/22A/Belgian Dark Strong©/B-S Flanders Oud Bruinß/Brown&#174ß/G-S Doppelbockß/Mild©/No. Eng. Brown&#169/Old Aleß/Vienna Lagerß; A-S Amber Lager (Low-Calorie)ß/B-S Paleß/E-S Paleß/Oktoberfest®/Ordinary Bitterß/So. G-S Bernsteinfarbenesß; Grant’s Spice Ale
12.5
 
None Dutch-Style Kuitß
13
 
None b:7A; Bière de Garde®/B-S Gueuze Lambicß/B-S Lambicß/Dunkel Weizen®; Magic Hat #9, Noche Buena, Red Hook ESB, Smithwick’s Export
14
 
Light Brown b:4AB/5B/9E/15BD/A-S Dark Lagerß/British-Style Barley Wineß/Dunkel©/Scotch Ale©; e:3B/7B/8A/10A/14A/16BC/APA®©ß/A-S Amber Lagerß/A-S IPAß/A-S Strong Paleß/Australian Paleß/Belgian Pale©/Best Bitterß/Bitter©/California Common©/English IPA©ß/ESB®ß/Int’l Paleß/Märzen©/Saison©/Vienna Lager®; Affligem Tripel, Fuller’s London Pride, Spitfire Premium Ale
15
 
Deep Amber b:17C/Adambierß/A-S Brownß/Chocolate or Cocoa-Flavored Beerß; Bamberg-Style Märzen Rauchbierß/EU-S Darkß/Münchner Dunkelß/Scotch Aleß; e:14BC/Amer. IPA©/A-S Märzen&Oktoberfestß/A-S Wheat Wineß/Bock®/California Commonß/G-S Leichtes Weizenß/Imperial IPA©/Märzen®ß/Pale Amer-Belgoß/Scottish-Style Lightß; Kwak Pauwel, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome
16
 
None B-S Dubbelß/Dark Amer-Belgoß; e:3A/8BC/17B/Best Bitter©/F-S Bière de Gardeß/Imperial IPAß; Anchor Steam, George Killian’s Irish Red, Wexford Irish Cream Ale
17
 
Chestnut b:4C/12C/Baltic Porter®/E-S Dark Mildß; e:7C/9ABC/10B/18B/Amber©/Dubbel©/Imperial Redß/Scottish Ale©; Aventinus Wheat-Doppelbock, Samuel Adams Boston Stock Ale
18
 
Dark Red-Orange b:5D/10C/Amer. Brown©/G-S Eisbockß; e:9D/Amber®ß/A-S Barley Wineß/Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbierß/British-Style Barley Wineß/ESB©/F&B-S Saisonß/Irish-Style Redß; Chimay Red, Dos Equis, Michelob Dark, Old Speckled Hen
19
 
None b:11B;e:7A/15D/16D/19C/G-S Altbierß/Scottish-Style Exportß/Scottish-Style Heavyß; Einbecker Ur-Bock, McEwan’s Export IPA, Negra Modelo
20
 
Brown b:12A/Bamberg-Style Bock Rauchbierß/British-Style Imperial Stoutß/Brown Porter©ß/Porter®/Oatmeal Stoutß/Smoke Porterß/Traditional G-S Bockß; B-S Quadß/EU-S Darkß/Japanese Sake-Yeast Beerß/Münchner Dunkelß; Alsopp Burton Ale 1879, Scaldis Noel
21
 
None Strong Aleß; Gulden Draak, Otter Creek Copper Ale, Paulaner Salvator, Samiclaus, St. Louis Framboise
22
 
None b:12B/13C/Robust Porter©; e:4A/5B/11C/17C/18E/19AB/22A/Belgian Dark Strong©/Brown&#174/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/No. Eng. Brown©; EKU Kulminator, Kentucky Common 1907, Lindeman’s Framboise, Red Nectar, Skull Splitter
23
 
None e:15B; Newcastle Brown Ale, Wild Goose Amber
24
 
Ruby Brown Geary’s Pale Ale, Hobgoblin Dark English Ale, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Thomas Hardy Ale
25
 
None b:13A/Dry Irish Stout©/G-S Schwarzbierß/Oatmeal Stout®
e:5C/9E/11A/15C/A-S Dark Lagerß/B-S Flanders Oud Bruinß/Doppelbock©/E-S Brownß/Mild©/Scotch Ale©/So. G-S DunkelWeizenß/Roggenbierß, Traquair House Ale
26
 
None A-S Brownß/Vienna Lagerß
27
 
None Beck’s Dark, Pete’s Wicked Ale
28
 
None e:4B/Dunkel©; Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, Widmer Alt
29
 
None Newcastle Brown
30
 
Deep Brown b:13B/13DEF/Amer. Stout©/Foreign Stout®©/Imperial Stout©/Robust Porterß; e:4C/5D/12AC; Bamberg-Style Bock Rauchbierß/Bock®/Brown Porter©/G-S Doppelbockß/G-S Schwarzbierß/Old Aleß/Scotch Aleß/So. G-S Weizenbockß/Traditional G-S Bockß; Saku Estonian Porter, Schlenkerla Rauchbier
31
 
None Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale
32
 
None Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale
33
 
None Gouden Carolus
34
 
None E-S Dark Mildß; BridgePort Old Knucklehead
35
 
None A-S Blackß; e:10C/11B/12B/Adambierß/Amer. Brown©/B-S Dark Strongß/E-S Imperial Stoutß/Brown Porterß/Robust Porter©; Anchor Porter, Theakston’s Old Peculiar
36
 
None B-S Dubbelß; George Gale Prize Old Ale, Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine
37
 
None Tilburgs Dutch Brown Ale
38
 
None Sierra Nevada Porter, St. Sixtus Abbey Ale
39
 
None Sapporo Black Beer
40
 
Black A-S Imperial Porterß/A-S Imperial Stoutß/A-S Stoutß/Baltic-Style Porterß/Cream or Sweet Stoutß/Foreign-Style Stoutß/Irish-Style Dry Stoutß; e:13ABCDEF/Amer. Stout©/Baltic Porter®/Dry Irish Stout©/
Foreign Stout©/Imperial Stout©/Oatmeal Stout®/Porter®
50
 
Black Imperial Stout®; B-S Table Beerß/Chocolate or Cocoa-Flavored Beerß/Coffee-Flavored Beerß/Field Beerß/Fruit Beerß/G-S Eisbockß/Herb and Spice Beerß/Pumpkin Beerß; Guinness Draft, Reichelbräu Eisbock
65
 
Black Foreign Stout®; ABC Extra Stout
80+
 
Black A-S Blackß/A-S Imperial Porterß/A-S Imperial Stoutß/A-S Stoutß/Baltic-Style Porterß/Cream or Sweet Stoutß/Dark Amer-Belgoß/Foreign-Style Stoutß/Imperial Stout®/Irish-Style Dry Stoutß/Oatmeal Stoutß/Robust Porterß/Smoke Porterß/Specialty Beerß/Specialty Honey Beerß; Bell’s Expedition Stout,
Mendocino Black Hawk Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin

And here’s a more thorough list of words for the basic beer colors that I cobbled together from a variety of sources. White is included not because beer is white, but because the very light colors of some beers fall into the range of off-white, colors like light straw veer between yellow and white, as do other very pale hues. I tried to avoid colors that would never be found in beer, but as many, if not most, would, it’s still a pretty broad list. Some might never work, whereas others maybe only for a very few beers. But the goal is to start a conversation about color, and to inspire a sense of playful poetry when it comes to describing it, as we do in enjoying it. So I wanted to include as much as possible rather than try to be too exclusive.

 White
 Yellow
 Orange
Alabaster, Antique White, Arctic White, Ashen White, Beige, Birch Biscuit White, Bisque, Blanched Almond, Bleached White, Bone White, Buff, Canvas Beige, Chalk White, Champagne, Coconut White, Cotton White, Cream, Deep Peach, Dove White, Dutch White, Ecru, Eggshell, Flax, Flour White, Fog White, French Beige, Ghost White, Ivory White, Lace White, Light tan, Lily White, Linen, Marshmallow, Milk White, Mother-of-Pearl, Mushroom, Nude, Oat, Oatmeal, Off-White, Old Lace, Opal, Oyster, Paper White, Parchment, Peach, Pearl, Polar White, Porcelain, Powder White, Pure White, Sand, Sandstone, Seashell, Sheep White, Smoky Beige, Snow White, Sugar, Tan, Toothpaste White, Vanilla, Whey, White, White Smoke Banana, Bee Yellow, Bleached Blond, Blonde, Brass, Buff, Bumblebee, Butter, Buttercup, Buttermilk, Butternut Squash, Butterscotch, Canary, Champagne, Chardonnay, Citrine, Corn, Cornsilk, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Dijon, Egg Nog, Egg Yolk, Flax, French Fry Gold, Gamboge, Gold, Golden Bronze, Golden Brown, Golden Yellow, Goldenrod, Honey, Lemon, Lion, Maize, Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroon, Marigold, Medallion, Mimosa, Mustard, Ochre, Old Gold, Pale Yellow, Papaya, Parmesan, Pineapple, Saffron, Squash, Stil de Grain Yellow, Straw, Sunglow, Sunset, Sunshine, Topaz, Tuscan Sun, Wheat, Xanthic, Yellow Amber, Apricot, Atomic Tangerine, Blood Orange, Bourbon, Burnt Orange, Candlelight, Candy Corn, Cantaloupe, Carnelian, Carotene, Carrot, Cheddar Orange, Cider, Construction Cone Orange, Copper, Copper Penny, Dark Orange, Fall Leaves Orange, Ginger, Golden Orange, Goldfish, Light Orange, Mandarin Orange, Mango, Marmalade, Melon, Orange, Orange Gold, Orange Juice, Orange Peel, Orange Soda, Orange-Red, Papaya, Peach, Peach-Orange, Persimmon, Pumpkin, Red Fox, Russet, Rust, Salmon, Sedona, Shocking Orange, Squash, Sunrise Orange, Tangelo, Tangerine, Tiger Orange, Yam
 Red
 Brown
 Black
Amaranth, Apple Red, Auburn, Autumn Leaf Red, Barn Red, Beet Red, Berry, Blood Red, Blush, Bordeaux, Brick, Burgundy, Cardinal Red, Carmine, Carnelian, Cerise, Cherry, Chestnut Red, Chili Pepper Red, Cinnabar, Claret, Copper, Crab Red, Cranberry, Crimson, Currant, Dark Cerise, Dark Red, Devil Red, Faded Rose, Fire Red, Flame, Garnet, Geranium, Grapefruit, Hibiscus Red, Indian Red, Ketchup, Ladybug Red, Lobster, Magenta, Maroon, Merlot, Orange-Red, Paprika, Pepperoni Red, Plum, Pomegranate, Poppy Red, Radish, Rare Steak Red, Raspberry, Red, Red Apple, Red Berry, Red Licorice, Red Pepper, Red Rose, Red Velvet, Redwood, Rose, Rosewood, Ruby, Ruddy, Russet, Rust Red, Sangria, Sanguine, Scarlet, Strawberry, Tawny Port Red, Tawny Red, Terra Cotta, Tomato Bisque, Tomato Red, Tuscan Red, Tyrian Purple, Vermillion, Watermelon, Wine Red Acorn Brown, Auburn, Autumn Leaf, Barbecue Sauce Brown, Bark, Biscuit, Biscotti, Black Bean, Branch Brown, Brass, Bronze, Brown, Brown Sugar, Brunette, Burly Wood, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Butterscotch, Cafe au Lait, Camel Brown, Cappuccino, Carob, Caramel, Cardboard, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cider, Cinnamon, Clay, Cocoa, Coffee Bean, Coffee, Cookie Brown, Copper, Dark Chocolate, Deer Brown, Deep Brown, Desert Sand, Dirt, Dun, Earth Brown, Earthenware, Fawn, Gingerbread, Golden Brown, Hazel, Henna, Hickory, Khaki, Latte, Leather, Liver Brown, Mahogany, Maple, Maple Sugar Brown, Meatball Brown, Milk Chocolate, Mink, Moccasin, Mocha, Mud, Nougat, Nut Brown, Nutmeg, Oak Brown, October Brown, Pancake Brown, Peanut, Peanut Butter, Peanut Shell, Pecan, Potato Brown, Pretzel, Raisin, Red Dirt, Redwood, Rich Earth, Root Beer, Rosewood, Ruddy Brown, Russet Brown, Rust, Saddle Brown, Sand, Sandy Brown, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Sepia, Sienna, Sorrel, Spice, Steak Brown, Syrup, Tan, Tawny, Toast, Tortilla, Tweed, Umber, Walnut, Wheat, Whiskey Brown, Wood Black, Black Coffee, Black Cow, Black Licorice, Black Olive, Black Pearl, Black Pepper, Black Tar, Carbon Black, Caviar Black, Charcoal Black, Coal Black, Crow, Ebony, Eclipse Black, Fig, Grease, Ink Black, Iridium, Jet Black, Kettle Black, Licorice, Mica, Midnight Black, Mocha, Night, Obsidian, Oil, Onyx, Pitch Black, Raven Black, Sable, Slate, Smoky Black, Soot Black, Tar, Taupe, Tuxedo Black

So that’s a lot of different shades of colors in a few different families. It was just an exercise to see what were the more common names used for those colors. There are many, many more I did not include, though I did look at quite a few different sources.

Finally, below is a Color Nomenclature Chart, a list of the same beer colors as the first chart, but with the html hex codes for each along with the color’s name, if known, or if there even is one. If not, I tried to find the closest match. I looked through numerous color websites and databases to find the names for the colors below based upon their web hex code. A few were easy, but most were not easy to find. With 8-bit (2^8=256 colors), 16-bit (2^16=65,536 colors), and 24-bit (2^24=16,777,216 colors) having so many available colors, it’s not terribly surprising that no one has given them all names. It would be like naming every star. The last column then is color names that were close to the code for the one shown, and may provide better names.

Since the colors themselves are not perfect, and many systems exist for displaying them, being exact isn’t really necessary so the goal is to find descriptive names that most people will recognize and understand which describe the color of the beer. Maybe the best approach to use the most iconic or classic beer as the name. For example, perhaps if Orval is SRM 10, then SRM 10’s color should be called Orval. There are a number of ways we could go, and below is one idea, that there are already some names for most colors that exist, and here are some of them.


                         Color Nomenclature Chart

Code Key: The six-digit code is the HEX code data to display a color using the internet.
Color Key: Recognized name or the closest recognized name I could find.
Alternate Names Key: These color names have codes very close to the listed code. If there’s no parenthetical name, then the color name was also an exact match for the code. If there is a parenthetical name, then it was not an exact match, and I’ve listed the company that makes that named color.

SRM Code Color Alternate Color Names
0
 ffffff
White Bright White, Pure Brilliant White
0.5
 fbf0cb
Champagne Barely Dawn (Kelly-Moore), Grapefruit (Taubmans)
1
 f7e1a1
Candleglow Sandwisp, Butter Up (Sherman Williams)
1.5
 f4d380
Broadway Lights Yellow (Chrysler), Sunbonnet (ICI), Katydid (Taubmans)
2
 f0c566
Cream Can Firefly (Benjamin Moore)
2.5
 edb950
Casablanca Ronchi, Yellow Coneflower (Pittsburgh)
3
 e9ad3f
Tulip Tree Dried Mustard (Cloverdale)
3.5
 e5a231
Fire Bush Ocker (Caparol)
4
 e19726
Buttercup Amberger (Caparol), Pencil Yellow (Devoe)
4.5
 dd8d1d
Zest Dixie, Golden Bark (Dulux), Butterscotch Tempest (Devoe)
5
 d98416
Golden Bell Gamboge, Desert Sunset (GM)
5.5
 d57b11
Meteor Amber 65 (Caparol)
6
 d1730c
Dark Goldenrod Ochre
6.5
 cd6c08
Indochine Red Stage, Sticky Toffee (Plascon)
7
 c86505
Alloy Orange Oxidrot 7s (Caparol)
7.5
 c45e03
Tawny Oxidrot 8s (Caparol)
8
 c05801
Rose of Sharon Burnt Orange (Marston & Langinger)
8.5
 bc5200
Ruddy Brown PMS167 (Pantone), Mahogany
9
 b74d00
Mahogany Rust
9.5
 b34800
Fire Rust
10
 af4300
Orange Terra Warmth (Dutch Boy)
10.5
 ab3f00
Dark Orange India O (Caparol)
11
 a73b00
Chinese Red Rotor Bolus (Caparol)
11.5
 a33700
Quora Rotor Bolus (Caparol)
12
 9f3400
Sangria Rufous
12.5
 9b3000
Dark Orange-Red A7 (Trumatch)
13
 972d00
Totem Pole Oregon, Dark Red, Schwedenro/Schwedenrot (Caparol)
14
 8f2800
Peru Tan Dark Red, Kobe, Rotbraun (Caparol)
15
 882300
Red Beech Sienna, Grand Canyon Brown (GM)
16
 811f00
Maroon Kenyan Copper
17
 7b1b00
Pueblo Oxidrot+Feuerrot 1/1 (Caparol)
18
 741800
Cedar Wood Amber Fire (Chrysler), Kardinal Braun (Caparol)
19
 6e1500
Barn Red Oxidrot Dunkel (Caparol)
20
 681200
Rosewood Oxidrot (Caparol), Red (Ford, Chrysler)
21
 631000
Dark Red Oxidrot (Caparol)
22
 5e0e00
Red Oxide Prune, Persian Plum, Burgundy (Ford)
23
 590c00
Rustic Red Bulgarian Rose, Murano (Caparol), Mohawk Maroon (Ford)
24
 540b00
Burnt Maroon Indian Tan, Grenadin 35 (Caparol), Crimson Red (Chrysler)
25
 500900
Pheasant Red Dark Diamond Bright Red (Ford), Pimento Red (Chrysler)
26
 4c0800
Brown Pod Medium Rosewood (Ford), Cordovan Brown (Chrysler)
27
 480700
Temptress Regis Red (Ford), Dark Beech Firemist (Chrysler)
28
 440600
Dark Sienna Chestnut (Ford)
29
 410500
Black Bean Dark Cordovan (Ford)
30
 3d0500
Dark Bronze Dark Champagne (Ford), Piedmont Maroon (Chrysler)
31
 3a0400
Chocolate Carmine, Seal Brown, Maroon (Ford)
32
 370400
Autumn Maple Imperial Maroon (Chrysler), Sunset Maroon (AMC)
33
 340300
Dark Cabernet Dark Maroon (Ford)
34
 320300
Titian Maroon Victoria Plum (GM)
35
 2f0200
Sepia Black Tyrian Purple, Brown (Ford)
36
 2d0200
Dark Gold Wing Coppertone (Ford)
37
 2a0200
Zinnwaldite Brown Midnight Wine (Ford)
38
 280100
Diesel Maroon Deep (AMC), Amarone (Alcro)
39
 260100
Licorice Dark Vivid Red (AMC)
40
 240100
Black Morocco Red, Oporto Maroon (GM)
50
 160000
Smoky Black Black Magic (Homebase), Velvet Maroon (Ford)
65
 0d0000
Coal Black Black Diamond (GM), Granada Black (GM)
80+
 000000
Moonlight Black Ebony, Jet Black (RAL), Panther Black (Ford)

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this or what the ultimate goal might be. This started a couple of weeks ago as what I thought would be a short post about some beer color names, but grew and grew until it became the bloated colossus you see before you. It ended up being more of an exploration of color in general and beer color more specifically. There’s no doubt that the SRM and other numbering systems for color and their ranges work pretty well. But I think it’s always worth contemplating if anything can be made better and, if so, how. My bias obviously is for more descriptive words instead of numbers, and there’s no doubt that bias is personal. But I also can’t believe I’m the only one who prefers poetry to mathematics.

What happens next is entirely dependent upon how much interest this generates, which will reveal if my geekery about beer color is a solitary quirk, or whether any other like-minded color nerds are out there. Just making it this far and reading this sentence will undoubtedly mean you’re probably one of us, as I suspect the rest will have jumped ship after the first few colorful passages. This paragraph is like the teaser after the credits that many movies show after most of the audience has left the theatre. I always stay to the end of the credits of every movie I see, and that should tell you quite a bit about me. But if you’re reading this, then you’re most likely ready to take the next step with me. Drop me a note or comment here and we’ll see what happens. Chromanerds unite!

UPDATE: Here’s another beer-related color that I recently came across on a listical entitled 17 Of The Most Beautiful Colors You Never Knew Existed. #3 is Drunk Tank Pink, and is accompanied by this description. “This particular shade of pink has been used to calm people after it was tested and proven in psych studies to achieve some degree of tranquility.”

drunk-tank-pink