BEER!

Ok, so I finally have some time to talk about something other than endurance sports. It’s beer time. Over the years beer has begun to garner a bad reputation amongst the “healthy” crowd while wine has been seen as an elixir of life. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the reports and research done to further vilify beer has been done with what most Americans view as the beverage of choice for Nascar fans, tailgating, and  weekend warriors. The infamous “light” beer and/or “king” of beers. These options have become more and more popular since the days of prohibition because of its ease of manufacture, distribution, and consumption. These beers are literally watered down to make the best compromise for America’s drinking culture. With the boom of the “micro-brew” over the last decade and a half, consumers of beer have been inundated with more locally brewed sources of inebriation. These beers are a far departure of what we have known for the last half century. Not only are the ingredients now locally and internationally sourced, but the brewing techniques themselves have combined age old methods used for centuries with today’s modern technology. This makes it economically feasible for basement brewers to become brew masters.

Back to my original argument. You see, you can make alcohol by fermenting just about anything. As most of you know, wine is primarily made from grapes and beer is made from grains. Each involves using yeast to convert sugars into alcohol and CO2 and viola. In fact, beer actually goes through more steps and has more ingredients than wine! So, if they’re so similar, what made beer unhealthy and wine healthy over the last 40-50 years? This really only comes down to two or three basic factors. The first is where the ingredients are sourced. Grains can typically grow anywhere in most any condition. This is especially true with GMO agricultural products. These soils are planted, harvested, replanted, and re harvested yearly with very little regard for allowing the soil to replenish itself with vital nutrients and minerals. Now a days beer companies just add sugar in order to get more flavor, color, and texture because there isn’t enough in the grains themselves. Stupid. Grape vines, however, naturally have the ability to withstand all types of soils and environments. Wineries seek out the perfect terroir to plant grape vines in order to produce the correct varietal for each type of wine they want to create. Once the grapes are harvested, the vines are left to survive the winter and produce more fruit for the next year. This process of harvesting is less invasive which gives the fruit more antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients. Many people like to mention resveratrol at this point, but let’s leave that to the geeks in white lab coats. The second reason wine has become more favorable by the healthy crowd is because of the drinking culture both alcoholic beverages breed. Wine is seen as decadent and a beverage to savor by the affluent and inteligencia of society. Beer, meanwhile, is usually drank by the case and involves unlawful acts of intoxication by the proletariat. Each beverage manufacturer will cater to its clientele. The third reason is $$$. It always comes down to this. Wine takes time to produce no matter what you do. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s a merlot or a cabernet, the fermentation takes time which leads to more goodness. (I do not want to bore you with the scientific details. Just trust me.) Beer, on the other hand, can be made in weeks, not months or years. You can even speed this process up with science and technology, but that means spending more, which means making more at profit, which means bringing in cheaper materials, and so on. Now, there are other reasons for beer becoming crappy, but it just makes me angry, so I won’t go on any further with this.

Again, the process by which these are made is still in mass volume by automated machinery, but the value towards life has always been considered different. That is until now. These artisans of brewing are bringing back the craft to their profession. Ingredients are now sourced by vendors based on quality and freshness, not just a cost analysis sheet. They are brining in spices and hops from around the world to blend and create unique flavors lost for over a century. They are creating these beers in season and distributing within their means. The idea of getting every dollar is not at the forefront of this brewing revolution. It’s all about making the best product, and this is worrying the big guys. So much so, that many successful brewers are being bought up by larger conglomerates in order to reclaim market share. That’s great for Americans looking to strike it rich, but the once polished product starts to fall by the wayside in order to control costs, shipping, and freshness. Thanks to new legislation in many states, however, brew pubs, micro breweries, and the lot are given more protection and freedom to grow at their own pace and still put out a quality product. So, which is more healthy for you now? Nobody really knows anymore, but I suggest you try them both. (In moderation of course.) Cheers.

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