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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We're in the golden age for American Beer

Infographic Of The Day: We're In The Golden Age For American Beer

Beer seems like a fixture of American culture. But it hasn't always been so, as William Bostwick, co-author of Beer Craft, points out.
Today's golden age of beer has been a long time coming. We haven't drank this much beer from this many breweries for a hundred years. Sure, most of the 204 million barrels of beer made in America last year came from two monstrous brewing conglomerates--Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors--but 97% of the breweries in operation are small, independently owned craft breweries. The big are at their biggest, but the underdogs are gaining steam.

[Click to enlarge]
The big are at their biggest, but the underdogs are gaining steam.
This chart, from a guide to beer and homebrewing, Beer Craft, which I wrote with Jessi Rymill, tracks American brewing from its earliest days of pumpkin-and-tree-bark hooch to the sudsy empire of today. American brewing began in the kitchen and it's booming there now, again. Homebrewing is hip--but it started out of necessity. In America's early days, thirsty colonists placed ads in British papers begging pro brewers to emigrate, but no luck. Washington, Jefferson, and even John Winthrop were homebrewers, and pretty creative ones. This was experimental stuff--think anise, molasses, pumpkins, parsnips--but it did the trick.

Beer took a hit in the early 1800s when rum flooded the ports and whisky the frontier. In those days, America had 200 breweries and 14,000 distilleries. Americans drank almost three pints of liquor a week. Then, the Germans arrived with a new beer: lager. During the wave of German immigration in the 1840s, 40 lager breweries opened in Philadelphia alone. The only problem was, nobody drank much anymore. The German tendency to drink during the day, outside, in noisy beer gardens with--mein Gott!--women and children freaked out the xenophobes, and a dark curtain of temperance dimmed drinking to a national per-capita low in 1850 of less than a bottle a week.

So most breweries closed, or consolidated. Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Pabst dominated the flagging market with fancy new technology like refrigerated railway cars. The few small breweries still around finally succumbed in 1919. Prohibition took no prisoners. Big breweries scraped by selling low-alcohol "near beer," soda, and ice cream (what else to do with those expensive train cars?). Beer took a long time to recover. By 1978 there were only 89 breweries, owned by 41 companies. Meanwhile, though, craft beer was born.

Washington and Jefferson were homebrewers.
In the 1970s, three tiny California breweries fired their kettles: New Albion, Anchor, and Sierra Nevada. New Albion closed in 1983, but Anchor and Sierra exploded. Boston Beer Company followed in 1984, and the rush was on. Between 1993 and 1994, 200 breweries opened. Craft beer boomed fast, and suffered for it--many small breweries, started on a whim, shut down in the late '90s--but it's since found its legs. Today craft beer is growing in volume and dollars while the rest of the beer industry stagnates. Homebrewing is booming too, bringing American beer history full circle. Only, with fewer parsnips.

Read more about Beer Craft here. Or click here to buy it, for $11.

Red, White and Brew

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Benefits of recycling cans

Benefits of Recycling Aluminum Cans

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Benefits of Recycling Aluminum Cans

Benefits of Recycling Aluminum Cans

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the United States generates close to 2 million tons of aluminum from packaging such as soda cans each year. Recycling can give new life to used aluminum cans--but the fact is, many used cans get thrown into the trash can rather than into the recycle bin. Recycling aluminum cans is an important way to protect the planet and its inhabitants.

Environmental Benefits

Recycling aluminum cans reduces energy consumption. According to the EPA, using recycled aluminum cans saves 92 percent of the energy needed to create new aluminum cans from bauxite ore. Saving energy is an important way to conserve the earth's limited resources and preserve the resources that remain. Recycling aluminum cans does both by protecting remaining natural resources and by conserving energy. Aluminum is a special material because it can be recycled over and over again; within 60 days, a used can can be recycled and turned into a new can, reports Earth911, an environmental services organization dedicated to protecting the planet.

Economic Benefits

Used aluminum cans have more uses beyond being re-created into new aluminum cans. The Aluminum Association encourages creative uses for old aluminum cans as one way to save money while also doing something positive for the planet. One family in Aurora, Colorado, accepted the challenge and relies on used aluminum soda cans to heat their home. The soda cans are placed inside a solar heating unit and the family reports a decreased use of their heater, which saves them money on electric costs. Earth911 suggests that curbside recycling programs be started in neighborhoods to help pay for community services such as the Boy or Girl Scouts. Recycling aluminum cans is also an easy way to raise money for local schools and to help build homes, Earth911 says.

Personal Benefits

Environmentally conscious individuals find that recycling aluminum cans is financially rewarding in addition to being good for the planet. Most aluminum can recyclers make a small amount of extra cash by turning in their empty cans. The benefits can be even more far-reaching than spare change, according to the Aluminum Association. Jim Schroeder, a man living in Evansville, Indiana, saved enough aluminum cans to send his four children to college and now donates his earnings to charity. According to Earth911, the aluminum industry pays out more than $800 million a year for empty aluminum cans and encourages consumers to cash out by recycling their used cans.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beer: You're in the Clear.

In the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day, we are delighted to present you an infographic designed by Belancio about beer.

Moderate beer drinking can offer some health benefits. Beer contains folic acid, vitamins, iron and calcium and has the same health benefits already attributed to moderate wine drinking, researchers found. People who regularly drinkmoderate amounts of beer are less likely to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure and have a lower body fat content. According to a research conducted by Barcelona University, those with a Mediterranean diet who drank up to a pint of beer a day “not only did not put on weight, but in some cases even lost weight.”

This is a look at the world’s most consumed alcoholic beverage, beer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

American Craft Beer Week. 7 Days, 7 Ways

7 Days and 7 Ways to Celebrate American Craft Beer

With more than 500 official events planned over 7 days, in all 50 states, there is no excuse not to celebrate American Craft Beer Week this May 16-22. The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery, but if you aren't so fortunate, scores of bars, restaurants and craft beer retailers have you covered. There are currently over 1,700 small and independent craft brewers in the U.S. today, and each one contributes to its community in some way. American Craft Beer Week celebrates these small businesses and toasts their success.

Here are 7 ways to join in the celebration,

1. Support Your Local Brewery
Most places in the United States enjoy a vibrant or up-and-coming local craft beer culture. Have you visited all the breweries in your town? Does your bar proudly serve the local small brewers’ craft beers? Remember, the best tasting craft beer is usually the freshest; you can’t get any fresher than straight from the tank.

2. Look for New, Special and Collaborative Beer Releases
You and I aren’t the only ones excited about American Craft Beer Week; the brewers are, too. All over the country craft brewers will release special beers in honor of ACBW. Often these beers are brewed in very limited quantities, so don’t miss out!

3. Experience Craft Beer and Food
We live in a time where the flavors and possibilities of craft beer and food pairing are limitless. If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing what talented chefs and brewers can do with craft beer and food, use this as an opportunity to discover what you are missing.

4. Attend a Craft Beer Festival
Festivals are the place to learn more about craft beer and craft brewers. The excitement and camaraderie of enthusiast and brewer alike make this an option that should not be passed up.

5. American Craft Beer Week Bar Crawl
May is also National Tavern Month, which just happens to go along with craft beer like beer and a burger... And hey, it’s also National Burger Month! We can’t argue with that coincidence. Check out bars that are planning ACBW festivities or hop on one of the pub crawls and grab a craft beer and a burger.

6. Craft Beer for a Cause
Craft brewers give a lot back to their communities, and you can, too. Enjoy a charity-minded beer event where what tastes good feels even better.

7. Share
Craft beer would be missing something if you didn’t have people to share it with. Bring your “I don’t like beer” friend along to an event and give them every chance to discover what all the fuss is about. You can even share great craft beer with friends online—this American Craft Beer Week,Untappd is recognizing ACBW with its very own badge.

Need more events?
Search by state through the Official American Craft Beer Week Event Calendar.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Apa Sherpa Summits Everest for the 21st time!

Our friend Apa Sherpa Summits Everest for the 21st time today breaking the world record held by him last year.

Congratulations Apa. We'll buy you a beer when you get back.

Bohemian was with Sherpa on his monumental 20th summit in 2010.

New World Record, Apa Sherpa, Climbing Leader of Eco Everest Expedition 2011 reached the summit of Mt. Everest for the 21st timea new world record.

At 09:15am this morning, Eco Everest Expedition Climbing Leader Apa Sherpa and members Chris Shumate(49 yrs) of USA , Bruno Gremior(39yrs) of Switzerland together with three Altitude Slimbing Sherpas, Ang Dawa Sherpa, Phurba Sherpa, and Arita Sherpa, stood on the top of Mt. Everest (8848m). They had left Camp 4 (7950m) last night, 10 May at 10:30 pm.

.Apa Sherpa’s Ascents of Mount Everest

1May 10, 1990International
2May 8, 1991Sherpa Support/American Lhotse
3May 12, 1992New Zealand
4October 7, 1992Everest International
5May 10, 1993American
6October 10, 1994Everest International
7May 15, 1995American On Sagarmatha
8April 26, 1997Indonesian
9May 20, 1998EEE
10May 26, 1999Asian-Trekking
11May 24, 2000Everest Environmental Expedition
12May 16, 2002Swiss Everest 50th Anniversary Expedition 1952-2002
13May 26, 2003American Commemorative Expedition
14May 17, 2004Dream Everest Expedition 2004
15May 31, 2005Climbing for a cure
16May 19, 2006Team No Limit
17May 16, 2007SuperSherpas
18May 22, 2008The Eco Everest Expediton
19May 21, 2009The Eco Everest Expedition
20May 21, 2010The Eco Everest Expedition

Monday, May 9, 2011

4 Canned Beer Festivals worth checking out!

Four Festivals that Celebrate Canned Craft Beer!

This year there will be (at least) four beer festivals entirely devoted to promoting canned craft beer. Below, we give you a chronological run down of these fests which are taking place in four different states at four different times. If you're like us you're wishing you could make it to all of them! Cheers!

First on the calendar this summer is the "AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival" which is being hosted by SanTan Brewing Company. This festival, which pays homage to canned craft beer in a big way, is being held in Chandler, Arizona and is sure to be a good one.

WHAT: First Annual AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Festival

WHERE: Downtown Chandler, Arizona (not far from Tempe and Phoenix)

WHEN: May 21, 2011 (2-6pm)

WHY: Arizona is quickly becoming a hotbed for canned craft beer and this festival is attracting some great breweries PLUS you can grab some food and a few beers at SanTan's nearby brewpub!

WHO: The festival is hosted by SanTan Brewing Company and the current list of breweries attending can be found HERE!

HOW: Tickets can be purchased by going HERE!

SOCIAL MEDIA: AmeriCAN Canned Craft Beer Fest's Facebook Page

From the folks who started it all comes this year's bigger and better "Burning Can"! Oskar Blues held the festival last year in Lyons and limited it to canning breweries from Colorado (no shortage there). This year they've opened that up to breweries from outside the state and moved the event to Longmont. Should be epic.

WHAT: Second Annual "Burning Can" Festival

WHERE: Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado

WHEN: June 18, 2011 (2-6pm)

WHY: Bigger venue, more breweries attending and it's being hosted by one of the best canning breweries in the country and they seriously know how to throw a party!

WHO: The festival is hosted by Oskar Blues Brewery

HOW: Tickets are not yet for sale online

SOCIAL MEDIA: Oskar Blues' Facebook Page

Last month I made a trip to Brooklyn to check out Full Circle, a little bar that's known for two things; Skee Ball and Canned Craft Beer. With no space for empty bottles it only made sense for the owners of Full Circle to go with cans. They now stock every canned craft beer available in the state of New York along with some select brews on tap. CANdemonium is a three day party devoted to the can. I gather last year's event was pretty impressive, with over 40 canned beers available, so this year's should be equally as good if not better.

WHAT: Second Annual "CANdemonium Can Fest"

WHERE: 318 Grand Street Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY 11211

WHEN: November, 2011 (dates to be announced)

WHY: It's canned craft beer, its people, its fun and there's plenty of Skee Ball action as well! How could you not have fun?

WHO: The festival is hosted by Full Circle Bar and the homepage for the event can be found HERE! (Note: 2011 Event Information is not yet available)

HOW: Check out the event site or stop into Full Circle

SOCIAL MEDIA: Full Circle's Facebook Page

The longest running festival devoted to canned craft beer. Reno's Buckbean Brewing Company brings back "CANFEST" for it's third year. The event will surely be larger with more breweries in attendance this year and is being held in a new location this year which looks awesome.

WHAT: Third Annual "CANFEST: Reno International Canned Beer Festival"

WHERE: Silver Legacy Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada

WHEN: November 12th, 2011

WHY: Lot's of canned craft beer to try, not to mention the venue is a casino! Oh yeah, most of the ski resorts in nearby Lake Tahoe should be open by this time as well!

WHO: The festival is hosted by Buckbean Brewing Company

HOW: Tickets will be made available online by going HERE!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Geeking out on Beer - From Wired... The Science of the head on a beer.

Modeling the head of a beer

When you pour a beer, there is this foamy top called the head. The size of the head decreases over time. What is this process dependent on? Clearly, little bubbles of beer are popping. Does each bubble have an equal probability of popping? Do only the bubbles on the top (or bottom) pop? I became aware of this idea from a colleague. Maybe he was going to do an analysis, but I haven’t seen it yet. If you do (Gerard), I am sorry for doing this before you. This may have been investigated before, but in the spirit of re-doing everything I have not searched for previous beer head studies.

Note: if you are a high schooler or a teetotaler, you could probably repeat this with Dr. Pepper or something. If you are underage, don’t drink beer – it’s disgusting. If you are over 21, beer is awesome.

So, here is the plan. See if I can model what the head size would do over time if the each bubble has an equal chance of popping. I will also model what would happen if just the top bubbles had and equal chance of popping.

Suppose the foam is made of bubbles and each bubble has the same chance of popping (and thus turning to pure beer). Maybe I should start with a diagram.


Here you can see the dimensions of the head, and thus get the volume. Also, I tried to represent an individual “beer bubble”. If the bubbles are of uniform size (probably not exactly true), then the volume of the head is proportional to the number of bubbles. Also, for this glass, the head is the shape of a cylinder. This is important because it will let me relate (easily) the change in volume with the change in height.

Ok, I think I am ready to begin. Let me determine a model for the height of the head as a function of time if each bubble has an equal chance of popping. This is very similar to radioactive decay (so I will use similar notation). Suppose the rate at which a bubble will pop is r. Also suppose that there are Nbubbles. Suppose I had no nose, then how could I smell a rose? (Dr. Suess) So, in a short time (?t) how many bubbles will pop? Well, the probability that one of the bubbles will pop will be:


The number of pops in that short time will be the probability of one popping times the number of bubbles.


The number of bubbles that pops reduce the number of bubbles. I can then write the change in the number of bubbles as:


Now, I can get all the “N” stuff on one side of the equation and all the “t” stuff on the other.

Deltan 2

As the time interval gets really small, I can write this in differential form:


I really need to add some posts about derivatives and integrals, but I am going to proceed. If I integrate both sides, I can get an expression relating N and t.

Integrrat 1

Notice that I am trying to be a good integral-boy. I have my limits of integration variables different than the variables in the functions. That would just be awkward. (again, I will talk about integration in the future – if I forget, remind me) After integrating, I get:


Physicists always like to write the natural log (ln) of a quantity without units. It makes more sense that way. If I want N as a function of time, I can write the expression as:

This is the classic exponential decay equation. Note that r has units of 1/sec. This makes rt unitless – a good thing for exponentials. Ok – remember the goal, I want to get a function of the height in time. If each bubble has an equal chance of popping, I have the number of bubbles as a function of time. If all the bubbles are the same size, this would be proportional to the volume. First to get a relationship between the number of bubbles and the volume of the head. Each bubble has a volume:


Note: I have no idea what the dimensions of the bubble are. I have just called the diameter “a”. Now for the volume of the head.


If I assume that all of these bubbles fit perfectly in the volume of the head (clearly not true, but it doesn’t really matter – I can pretend like the space each bubble takes up is a cube of volume a3 – that would be a better idea). This means that in the head, there are:


I guess I don’t need the “bubbles” subscript on the N variable. I really want h as a function of time. Solving this for h gives:


Now I can plug in the time dependence of N.

Htimefunction 3

However, I don’t really know N0, but I do know the initial height. If I use the relationship for N that relates to volume:


Now, I can put this in for my expression and get h in terms of h0 and t:

Hfunctiontime 3

Now, this is something I can test. I don’t know the constant r, but that can be determined from the data (perhaps). Before I explore other models for bubble-popping, let me see if the data agrees with this model. Here is the video.

Beer head from Rhett Allain on Vimeo.

BUT WAIT! Don’t watch that video. It is long and boring. I only put it there so that you could use it to collect your own data if you so choose. Or, perhaps you like sitting around watching the grass grow. If that is the case, this should be awesome.

I used my favorite FREE video analysis tool – Tracker Video. I took the data from the analysis and plotted it with Logger Pro (it is not the best, but it is quick – and I really wanted to drink that beer) – also, it is not free. I plotted the y position of the top of the head, the y value of the bottom and the value of the height. If you DID accidentally watch that video, you would notice that the bottom of the head moves up as more of the bubbles are turned into beer.

Graph 1

In this graph, I fit two functions to the data (well, Logger Pro did). The first function is:

Fitfunction 1

This function seems to fit the data ok, but it has the linear constant added on. In my derivation above, I did not have such a constant. Note that I left off the units so it would be quicker to write.

The other fit gives:

Fitfunction 2

For this second fit, I told Logger Pro to keep the coefficient out front as 0.1 (because that was the height at t=0 seconds). I also told it to not use a linear constant added to the function. It doesn’t look like it fits as well. Here is one final fit. In this fit, I allowed Logger Pro to chose everything but I said “no linear constant”.

Funfit 3

None of these fits seems just right. One way to compare the three fits is with the “root mean square error” (RMSE). Logger Pro reports this value with its fits. It is basically a measure of how far the data points are from the function that I am fitting. Lower values are better. Here are the three functions that I fit with their RMSE values.


The fit with the constant added on (B) has the lowest RMSE. Let me try refitting the data while not including the first few seconds of data. If you watched the video, things change fast during this time. Also, the head is somewhat difficult to measure.


I guess this isn’t too conclusive. It fits better (with RMSE = 0.0017), but a straight line fits ok to that data also.

What about the idea that only the bubbles on the top pop (or that these are much more likely to pop). The first problem is “how many bubles are on the surface?” This question depends on the bubble size. If each bubble takes up a cube of space of size a, then the number of bubbles on the top is:


Note that this number does not depend on the height, but it will effect the height (as bubbles pop, the height goes down). Suppose that each one of these (on the surface) had an equal chance of popping. I can’t really write an expression for the number of bubbles on the surface because if a bubble on the surface pops, another one takes its place. The number of bubbles on the surface is essentially a constant. But (in this case), the rate of change of ALL the bubbles would be the rate of change of the bubbles on the surface. If I go back to the expression I derive regarding the rate of change of the number of bubbles, I had this:


Before, N was a variable. But in this case, N is the number of bubbles on the surface and thus a constant. This means that the rate of change of the number of bubbles is a constant. This would make the volume change at a constant rate and therefore the height would change at a constant rate (since it is a cylinder). Does a straight line fit the data? It fits somewhat ok for the later times, but it clearly does not fit the early times. Of course, I said I had trouble measuring the head at the beginning anyway.

What other possible ways could the bubbles pop? Maybe the bubbles on the top and side only pop (or maybe the bottom also). I will leave this as an exercise for the readers. I think the problem is that I need more and better data. You know what that means.


Commenter Alex pointed out that this has been done before. He is correct. I found two older papers that look at the head of a beer.

  • A Leike, “Demonstration of the exponential decay law using beer froth” European Journal of Physics. (2002) vol. 23. There is an online paper for this, but I had to look at it through my library. If you search for the title, you should be able to find something.
  • J. Hackbarth “Multivariate Analyses of Beer Foam Stand” Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 2006.Here is a pdf version from