Fast facts about beer

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, February 28, 2014


THE month of March came marching in, and still some of our beloved readers are grappling with guilty conscience , bothered by occasional sliding back to their old habits, thus making all their so-called New Year's resolution dissipating into thin air faster than oxyen or helium.. Admittedly, our past issues have been dealing with smoking, excess weight leading to obesity, lack of exercise and yes, alcohol consumption. An avid loyal reader of our newspaper, called in, engaged this author into an animated, exciting exchange of ideas about alcohol.

Apparently, the reader has heart ailment and blood pressure issues and he has a top doctor in town as health provider. Quoting his cardiologist, alcohol per se is not harmful but also quick to add, that his doctors strongly enumerated strong caveats. Allowed are a glass of red wine- because of its anti-oxidants e.g. resveratrol, a shot- little glass - of brandy and a bottle or two of beer, women may have one bottle per day. Alcoholic drinks outside of this list is a big No.

Thus let's get to know beer. Beer is sourced from hops, more specifically the leaves and in some countries, the young shots or twigs of the plant, which is later crushed and its extract is mixed with malted barley, yeast and water. Beer companies all over the world, take pride in boasting that the water in their beer has unique properties in terms of its purity, cleanliness and its mineral contents that all work together to give their beer a distinctive taste above the rest, hoping that sommeliers- wine experts, altho beer is not a wine- would give it a double thumbs up.

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There are as many beers in the world as there are member countries of the United nations, with each country claiming its beer as the best. In fact, a visit or trip to Amsterdam is never complete- even after the cheese, the tulips, the wooden shoes, canal cruise, Van Gogh or Rijkmuseum- if you have not visited the cavernous Heineken house, where the visitor gets a detailed lecture on how this world-renown beer is made, with interesting bits of information except of course, the much-guarded secret of its formulation and fermentation process. In fairness, both my American and European friends swear to the smoothness, body, aroma and taste of our very own San Miguel beer.

Beers differ from each other basically on two aspects' the kind of yeast used to brew and the temperature at which the beer is brewed/ Lagers are made with a special yeast that is fermented at much cooler temperatures while the so-called ales also use a special yeast fermented at warmer temperatures. Lagers are also called pilsners. In the US, lager goes by the name American style pale lager, which contains more carbonation. There is also the dark lager which is made of roasted barley and hops, and compaed with pale lager, has a full bodied taste.

Ales on the other hand include the brown ale, with its red and copper color giving the drinker a very mild taste. porters are darker, full bodied ales. And the beer called "stout" lives up to its name is the most full bodied, darkest and almost black, probably also the most bitter.

Next Week: Does Beer Have Health Benefits?

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 01, 2014.

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