To Drink Beer or Not to Drink Beer, That is the Question …
Every time the doctor spoke the words, “… and you can’t have any alcoholic beverages" I used to die a little inside. I’m hardly an alcoholic, but can an occasional beer or a glass of wine REALLY “do you in"? Here’s another take on alcohol consumption, for men especially.
How Much Beer do You Drink?
There are literally thousands of brands of beer brewed world wide. The brew dates back as far as ancient Egypt. More than 200 million barrels of beer are brewed each year in the USA alone, where more than 32 gallons of beer are consumed on an average by adults yearly. World wide more than 35 billion gallons of beer are brewed each year. Some 100 countries around the globe boast their own national brands of beer from Albania and Argentina to Canada, Colombia and the Congo through Jamaica, Japan and Kenya to Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. That’s a lot of beer!
Beer: Six Major Categories
Basically though, most beer can be categorized into one of six major categories:
- Ale – normally fermented at temperatures between 15 and 24°C (60 and 75°F)
- Stout – nearly black ales with strong flavor and dense body
- Lager – usually undergoes primary fermentation at 7–12°C (45–55°F)
- Pilsener – most popular type of lager originating in the Bohemian town of Plzen in 1842
- Lambic Beers – spontaneously fermented ales which utilize wild yeasts
- Hybrid Beers – use modern techniques and materials instead of traditional beer brewing methods
Amazingly, only four basic ingredients are used to brew beer: water, yeast, hops and grain.
Grain contains the natural sugars that promote fermentation. It also gives the finished beer its flavor, color, body or thickness, and texture. Hops are small, green, cone-shaped flowers that grow in some 50 varieties world wide. Hops give beer its spicy, slightly bitter flavor and help keep the beer from being spoiled by bacterial growth. The remaining 95% of beer is water. Minerals and natural elements in water can also affect the flavor of beer.
A Brief Overview of the Beer-Brewing Process
Brewing of industrially-produced beers starts with malted grain that is then put through a milling machine to crush the dried kernels of malt, grinding them into a coarse powder. The powdered malt is then mixed with hot water in large, stainless steel vats, creating “wort", which is a thick, sweet liquid. The “wort" is next brewed, for up to two hours, in a large kettle. After cooling, the “wort" is pumped into a fermentation tank. It is there that added yeasts convert the grain sugar in the mixture into alcohol. The fermented mixture is now beer. The coarse beer is then filtered to extract any yeast residue. After filtering, the aged beer is once again fermented. It is during the aging process that beer becomes carbonated naturally. After aging there may be a final filtering of the beer before it is bottled. After bottling, the finished beer is pasteurized to kill residual yeasts and microbes.
Health Benefits of Beer
Did you know that the moderate consumption of beer is associated with a decreased risk of cardiac disease, stroke and cognitive decline? Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces uvarum) is a known rich source of nutrients that may contain significant quantities of nutrients such as: magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and B vitamins. In some venues, beer is at times referred to as "liquid bread". Then too, a study by a group of Japanese researchers in 2005 found that low alcohol beers may inherently have strong anti-cancer properties.
Beer “Diets" for Men
The simplest of the beer diets for men consists of the short-term “beer and Cheetos diet". You’ll need to eat more than just Cheetos and drink beer, of course, but it’s a start.
For much longer-term results, why not try the “Belly Off diet" found at Men’s Health.com? Designed for general weight loss over a concerted eight-week period, the diet does allow, in some of its versions, the drinking of at least one beer near the close of each day. There is a balance of the food groups consumed daily, with increased focus on natural foods which boost the metabolism and spurt weight loss through a combination of healthy eating, aerobics and weight-training regimes combined with an expansive list of what you can and should eat (or drink, including drinking beer) rather than what you shouldn’t.
Finally, although the exact origins of beer are unknown, it might likely have been formed accidentally when a large container of grain became soaked with rainwater and naturally fermented when air-borne yeasts mixed in. This would have formed a crude beer. However you like it, or whatever kinds and brands you favor, just remember that you can tone up, trim down and shape up with a “beer diet" for men and careful supervision of your daily routine.
So, I’ll have a beer, please.