So – When Was Lager Invented… Discovered… Evolved?

This is either just a bit weird or I have completely missed something. Apparently some scientists have been looking to find the yeast strain that started lager… and they think they have found it:

When the team brought the yeast to a lab at the University of Colorado and analyzed its genome, they discovered that it was 99.5% identical to the non-ale portion of the S. pastorianus genome, suggesting it was indeed lager yeast’s long-lost ancestor. “The DNA evidence is strong,” said Gavin Sherlock, a geneticist at Stanford University who has studied lager yeast but was not involved in this study. But Sherlock wondered how S. eubayanus could have traveled the nearly 8,000 miles from Argentina to Germany. “We all know that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” he said. “Lager was invented in the 1400s. It’s not really clear how that progenitor would have gotten from South America to Europe.”

Whazzates’sayin’?!?! Look, don’t get me wrong – yeast is interesting stuff. But to say lager was “invented” in the 1400? Now, if I dip into my copy of Hornsey, I don’t run into lager until the 1800s at page 485. Yet this story I posted in 2008 speaks of lager yeast evolving in the 16th century in a Bavarian cave which gets us in the ball park in terms of centuries. Maybe it’s the use of the word “invented” in the article that threw me off.

Most interesting of all, Gavin Sherlock posted a comment at this here blog back in 2008 as did Drs Dunn and Sussman all involved in this project. I will stay well away from the term “egg head” this time and invite some direction on their work and the implications for the lagered time line.

After Testing Basic Beer Theories On Family Members

It was like a repeat of last weekend’s Saturday of the abiding meatness except with more meat. Fambily was over and one had to put on a show. So, there were sausages and steaks, smoked pork and ribs. Plenty and plenty left over for a rerun at lunch today. But something happened. Yesterday, I bought a bunch of cans of Spaten Original and a bunch of bottles of Dark Star’s Sunburst Golden Ale. Today I pulled out a growler of a hoppy IPA and then moved toward some sour beers. Yesterday, where there was glee and mucho tanks very much, well, today there was a decided but polite lack of interest. What to make of it?

The response reminded me of a creeping feeling I have had for a while – that we have come to an end of something. By this I mean that I have reached the end of most flavours available to be encountered in beer. Little secret: I have passed on double IPAs for at least a year now. And I like the sours fine but I really can’t find anyone around here to share them with – and it’s not like I want them all the time. Fruit beers have always, lets be honest, been a bit boring and disappointing. And only so many get to travel to Rome, San Fran or wherever for the perfect pub moment. It’s a creeping feeling. It’s all getting a bit like 1976 and we are all waiting for punk to get big next year.

Except that I don’t see anything being the big thing next. Heck, even the beer bloggers had to go to the peelers to get a little excitement going. I am starting to feel like the hundreds and probably thousands of different beers I have had over the years have either served the purpose or run the gamut. Is it a rut? Or is it the call of mixed drinks or even those swanky Italian soda pops? I mean, have you had chinotto?

I dunno – whatever it is, I think I want a new stout. Or maybe just that stout I had back almost seven years ago now. That was a good beer.

More On Rural / Suburban Overlord Social Engineering

It is pretty obvious that the Prime Minister has a plan but it is interesting to note what isn’t there:

The Liberals embraced the Charter, the flag, peacekeeping and multiculturalism. Now, the Harper Tories are pursuing symbols and areas ignored by the Grits – the Arctic, the military, national sports and especially the monarchy, according to senior Tories. For Mr. Harper and his Conservatives, the payoffs could be great: a new pride in the country, an ability to shape the view of new Canadians and, politically, the potential to marginalize the Official Opposition NDP, who could be forced more and more to defend Quebec’s interests against all others. Quebeckers are not as supportive of national symbols and the monarchy as is the rest of Canada.

I happed to be rereading George Grant’s Lament for A Nation, the 2005 reissue of the 1965 book – or rather Andrew Potter’s extensive introduction as I sort of nodded off last evening before I got any further. I took course from Grant and, as a King’s Man, got to socialize with the guy over beers like other small college profs. Just remembered that he smoked all the way through class. Good guy.

Anyway, his lament was the end of the conservative era. But what he described as conservatism was dramatically different from what we know today: plenty of state institutional intervention in the economy, anti-libertarian, pro-heritage and pro-respect. The sort of thing still seen in Maritime Canadian politics and, in large chunks but not others, utterly different from Harper’s plan. Because Harper’s plan is actually liberal, progressive.

He wants to make something out of nothing. To create a new national order. He pledges to reassert the importance of the military then takes a billion out of the budget. He expects the largely population-free Arctic to be an important symbol but as it is a place few will visit which has other traditions and characteristics than where most Canadians live, it is a foreign land. He wants us to focus on sports – but only the ones we win at – like short track speed skating or ski dance, not the ones we actually like to play and which keep us fit… like soccer, softball or curling.

So what to make of it? Not traditional, not really conservative and not really authentic. Shallow, temporary and, in the long term, unsatisfactory. Good luck to you.


When To Have That Beer In Zimbabwe In 2012?

Laws around beer reflect cultural norms both in how they regulate and how they express norms that are unregulated. Consider this proposed reform to the hours of sale law of Zimbabwe:

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is crafting its own alcohol policy, which might alter the tough proposals by President Robert Mugabe’s health advisor, Timothy Stamps. Stamps has forwarded to Cabinet a policy document that seeks to force supermarkets, shops and bottle stores to sell alcoholic drinks between 6am and 7pm, while the selling of beer would be banned after mid-day on Sunday.

That comes off as a bit odd. Clearly breakfast time drinking is OK there. Here in Ontario, you can’t serve a beer before 11 am in a licensed establishment even if you can drink well past midnight. But in each case, you get over 12 hours stretch of imbibing. In Kenya you only get six hours. Alaskans get 21 hours in a row – why bother shutting at all?

Saturday Afternoon Beer As I Smoked Meat By The Shed

After two weeks off that saw a lot of road, it was good to have a Saturday to commune with 5 pounds of pork and 5 hours next to the Weber set up as a smoker. As perfect a summer day as ever there was, the fire sparked quickly given the subtle breeze. I dry rubbed the joint for only an hour or so and then settled in for a long afternoon’s watch.





Despite the moment, I took a few scribbled notes:

⇒ Mill Street Organic Lager is a beer that had been mainly offered in an irritating 10 ounce bottles but is now available in 500 ml cans. It has a nice body for a 4.2% beer – some pale malt roundness framed by slightly astringent hopping leafing to an autumn apple finish. one of the few Canadian better sort of sessionable beers. Good beer at a good price that lets you have a few.

⇒ I should be grateful to have a Rickard’s Blonde in the fridge – because I happily downed the first two samples sent and then had to go back and ask for more. It’s a slightly sweeter lager than the Mill Street, a bit darker with a slightly peachy tone supported by heavy carbonation. Its light astringency is present from first sip onwards leading to a bit of a rougher hop finish. Its sameness from the sip to swallow got me thinking but it is quite worth buying for what it claims to be.

⇒ Hop Devil is an old pal that served as a change of pace mid-smoke. It pounds that crystal malt that some English beer commentators now suggest is overkill. The hops have black pepper and pine tree with maybe a bit of menthol. A beer I would happily have on hand anytime.

⇒ The Samson came my way care of a pal who was traveling through Quebec and found this at the Government SAQ store up in Gaspé on the Atlantic coast. Apple butter with molasses notes open up into black cherry. Bready and bready crusty make me think of the drink that Dr. Pepper wishes it was allowed to be. No need of this to be held out for the few and the easterly. Nothing Earth shattering but more evidence that Canada needs better beer distribution.

Shed. Beer. Shed beer. They held me in good stead as the afternoon wore on. Slow smoked the pork and slow passed the hours as I day dreamed about the human condition as well as the drawing to the end of holidays.