Posted By on May 22, 2015

Boxcar Brew Pub can-shaped beer glassesOur second road trip for 2015 found us sampling some fine micro-brewed ales and eating flatbread appetizers and salads at Boxcar Brewing Company’s Brewpub in lovely downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Granted we live in West Chester so the only rubber we wore out on this trip is the soles of our shoes, and the wear was minimal. Boxcar’s brand new brew pub, which officially opened for biz in February 2015, is located at 142 East Market St and is only 7 blocks, a short 10 minute walk, from our doorstep. 7 blocks from a unique local brewpub? Bring it!

Some Cryptobrewology readers will recall this short video we did with the then co-owners of Boxcar, Jason Kohser and Jamie Robinson, during their 2012 Philly Beer Week Ride The Rails event. Jamie now owns the brewery and brewpub with his wife Kymberly.

Boxcar Brewpub occupies the building that was home to The Note, a used-to-was popular music venue in West Chester co-owned by Brandon “Bam” Margera of Jackass fame and Don Moore who has subsequently opened The Social Lounge. The Note closed it’s doors in January of 2014 and a little more than a year later Boxcar charged up their taps.

The one very cool thing about Boxcar is that they are the first genuine, homegrown West Chester brewery and brewpub. Yes, other breweries do exist in this town but they either did not originate here or were officially declared after Boxcar began operations.

Iron Hill is one example, but the Iron Hill chain of breweries and gastropubs first began in Newark, Delaware, in 1994, and the West Chester Location opened in 1998. A younger brewery in West Chester is Levante Brewing Company, I’ll throw them a link. Levante began operations in 2011, technically the year after Boxcar’s official announcement of their brewery. So it stands, and I declare it here: Boxcar Brewing Company and Brewpub is THE FIRST Original West Chester Brewing Company! Congratulations to them on making beer history.

By the way, I just noticed that Boxcar was missing on Wikipedia’s List of Breweries in Southeastern PA, so I added them.

Boxcar Brew Pub upstairs bar

Step Inside

Fairly unassuming from the street, once you step inside Boxcar’s new Brewpub you seem to walk into a different time.

Described on Boxcar’s website as having a “Speakeasy Feel,” there certainly is a cool old-time atmosphere about the place. It has an upscale kind of vibe to it.

It’s interesting how it makes you feel. As you look around at the cool vintage decor, rich wooden bar tops and sleek but classy tables and chairs you get the idea that cool, smart people hang out here.

There is ample dining downstairs, but take a walk upstairs and you’re really in a cool spot. Pick your seat for the night and a friendly server steps up to take your drink order and bring you a menu.

The upper floor is open at the back, so you overlook the large stage below from a balcony of sorts, complete with a variety of chairs and tables to enjoy your evening. It was quiet when Cindy and I stopped by but if you’re interested in a sophisticated dining experience without too much interruption you might want to avoid Thursday Game Night when people are playing MarioKart on the massive screen, unless you want to give it a go yourself.

Check out the Boxcar Facebook page for updates on events and other happenings at the brewpub and brewery. For the musically inclined, they host an open-mic night from 7-10 (sign up starts at 6) on Wednesday nights.

Boxcar-Downview

Food and Brews

Immediately we ordered a flight of beers so we could sample as many as possible, then we perused the menu and settled on a couple of flatbreads. Cindy had the Margerita flatbread, I had the Pesto with Tomato and Feta and a Caesar Salad. Food was served pretty quickly, and was very good. The flatbreads served as an absorber for the samples and subsequent glasses of our choice selections, which were served in cool beer can-shaped glasses. Of course we had to buy two of those.

Boxcar Brew Pub beer samples flightI must confess here and now that my first taste of Boxcar beers, during that Ride the Rails event in 2012, won me over. Cindy too.

The only offerings they had on hand during that rail trip were the “Original” pale ale, now their Passenger Ale, Boxcar Boomer Brown Ale, and a Mango Ginger Pale Ale. They were all winners. Cindy absolutely loved the Mango Ginger Pale Ale, it’s just so damn good.

There is something pure and clean yet perfectly unique and very tasty about Boxcar beers. I can honestly say that, in my experience, Boxcar beers stand out as very drinkable. “Approachable” some might say.

Seriously though, each beer is very well balanced, never over the top with any ingredient. The Mango Ginger Pale Ale has a little mango and ginger hints, which set it apart from the others.

The brewers at Boxcar know their craft and it shows. The IPA is killer, and even though I’m not a Shandy fan, it was good too.

Now, Cindy is partial to Belgian style ales, more specifically Trappist ales. Since I began shifting her taste buds from wine to appreciating a good IPA or other ale, she has really taken to Belgians. Her favorite of course being Raging Bitch, as mentioned in my last post. She’s practically a connoisseur of Belgian style ales, including Tripels. Of course she enjoys Chimay and others too. She absolutely loves the Boxcar Tripel, and so do I! It’s an awesome tasting ale.

I rave, the Boxcar standard offerings and Tripel we sampled are very tasty and well balanced beers, but to be honest the coffee-, or espresso- I think, stout we sampled that evening on tap just did not grab my attention. It was so clean there was almost no flavor to speak of, no bitter from black malt, and barely a hint of coffee. I love a good coffee stout, unfortunately this one didn’t bring it for me.

Hey, it’s all a mater of opinion but, stout opinions aside, Boxcar shines as a great brewpub to visit and enjoy some very fine tasting beers, good food and a very cool atmosphere.

You can find a link to their current menu and get more information at BoxcarBrewingCompany.com.

Posted By on May 7, 2015

Tow MIrror clipped to the Dakota!
Cindy and I hitched up our new little travel trailer to the faithful ol’ Dakota and set out on our inaugural road trip. As we rambled along the highway it dawned on me, Road Trips and Brew Pubs is back! And this is our first brew-venture of 2015.

Our destination: Brunswick Family Campground in Brunswick, Maryland. Brunswick lies about 30 minutes south-west-ish of Frederick, and our real reason for making this trip: Flying Dog Brewery.

During a phone call with the friendly camp owner I learned that there are quite a few breweries nearby, just over the Potomac River in Virginia. Microbreweries like Mad Horse Brewpub, Old 690 Brewing Company and Adroit Theory Craft Brewery to name a few.

With only one day to explore the area and also enjoy some time hanging around the campsite drinking beer we decided to limit our excursion to Flying Dog but we do plan on a future trip to visit those other breweries, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile…

Big Doggie

With 86,000 barrels of beer produced in 2014 Flying Dog Brewery is obviously not a microbrewery, but a craft brewery. I got bit by Flying Dog some time ago, and was an immediate fan. The beer that got me was their Single Hop Simcoe Imperial IPA, amazing hoppy citrus aroma and huge flavor. In my opinion it rivals Heady Topper, but you know what they say about opinions. After tasting that brew I had to have more and Flying Dog has been one of the top breweries on my list ever since.

Cindy is also a big Flying Dog fan. Her favorite is their Belgian style ale, Raging Bitch. Which brings me to another aspect of Flying Dog that appeals to us, their label art.

BITCHIN’ ART

Ralph Steadman Raging Bitch Artwork for Flying Dog Brewery.Each label features original artwork painted by Ralph Steadman. A renowned British artist and illustrator, his style is unique to say the least, unforgettable and immediately recognizable. His imagery is often provocative, suggestive and maybe offensive to some. But artistic expression should not be censored because someone feels offended.

This is precisely why, in April of 2015, Flying Dog won a lawsuit they filed against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission who banned sales of Raging Bitch in that state in 2009 because they claimed it was, ‚Äúdetrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the general public.”

Goddamn, if the Raging Bitch label was the only such detrimental thing our country had to worry about we’d be in great shape! Steadman’s artwork for the Label, seen above, features a crazed looking bitch of a doggy complete with a nice little cuchi in her hind quarters there. Oh, and she has tits, don’t forget the tits!

Steadman also wrote the label prose for Raging Bitch, which reads…

Two inflammatory words… one wild drink. Nectar imprisoned in a bottle. Let it out. It is cruel to keep a wild animal locked up. Uncap it. Release it… stand back! Wallow in its golden glow in a glass beneath a white foaming head. Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled — and in heat — is pure GONZO!! It has taken 20 years to get from there to here. Enjoy!

Flying Dog Road-Dog Porter. Good Beer, No Shit.This censorship isn’t the first Flying Dog has had to deal with. In his artwork for Flying Dog’s Road Dog Porter, Steadman included the quip, “Good Beer, No Shit.” Colorado banned sales based on these words but the courts ruled in Flying Dog’s favor protecting their, and everyone’s, First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech.

And, though not technically censored, Flying Dog modified the artwork for their Doggie Style Classic Ale to appease retailers who refused to sell the beer.

Read more about the Raging Bitch ruling, and a comment by artist Ralph Steadman at Flying Dog’s Blog.

Back at the Brewery

Flying DogFlying Dog is located in an industrial park — and though that may sound a bit, uh, industrial — it’s not an unpleasant location. The grounds around the place are kept tidy enough, and when you pull into the Flying Dog parking lot you see a huge grain silo, and a big cool looking wooden structure emblazoned with their winged-dog logo. Personally I have no idea what this large mysterious structure is, maybe it covers another grain silo, or maybe it’s just there as a focal point to make your entry less industrial-park-like. Whatever it’s purpose, it serves it well.

We parked, and upon exiting the truck inhaled deeply the telltale waft of beer-making. Delighted, Cindy and I exhaled and strolled happily to the entrance, our taste buds eagerly anticipating the flavors in store.

We missed our opportunity for the brewery tour and would have had to wait another hour to do it, so we decided to have lunch and enjoy the samples, then buy some swag and head back to the campground.

Flying Dog Brewery flight of beer samples.Selections for our sampler flight included a limited release Earl Grey Black Wheat; Seasonal Numero Uno, Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale, Horn Dog, Kerberos Tripel and Kujo; and year-round offerings The Truth and Bloodline Blood Orange Ale.

Small wonder Flying Dog has been as successful as it has. The inventors of these fine ales and lagers know exactly what they are doing and it shows. Each of their brew-house offerings is so full of flavor, and true to style. Like the vibrant artwork that graces each label, the beer within is just as robust and colorful in taste and aroma.

GreenBowlFoodTruckPreviously unsure of what we might do for lunch we found our answer at The Green Bowl food truck which was parked near the entrance to the outside seating area. The Green Bowl Food Truck saved the day with a Bibimbap bowl and Mofongo bowl, served up pretty quickly too. I took the opportunity to check in on Facebook while I was waiting. Great food to accompany the great beers we were enjoying on that sunny day in Frederick, MD.

After enjoying our beers and finishing up lunch we headed back into the brewery’s taproom to buy some branded merch. Oh let’s see, some stickers, a deck of Flying Dog playing cards, more stickers, a t-shirt for Cindy, a mix-pack of beers, and a bag for the swag, which will come in handy for our weekly trips to the local growers market.

In all it was a great afternoon at Flying Dog, we’ll probably go again the next time we’re passing through. At the very least the dog bite is still working it’s magic on me. You simply can’t ignore the creativity, uniqueness and fearlessness of this brand, unleashed in 1990 from a Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado.

Congratulations, and thank you, to those responsible for bringing this wonderful, growing collection of beers to us all. And thank you to Ralph Steadman for pushing the envelope of creativity to bring us those awesome illustrations that grace the bottles we enjoy looking at while we’re drinking the “pure GONZO” brew within.

Posted By on October 31, 2014

Heady Topper Beer canIt may not be so hard to find for hop-heads in the know, and close to the brewery’s limited area of distribution, but for the rest of us Heady Topper is almost as elusive as Bigfoot. Alas, Heady Topper actually exists. Still we went on the hunt and succeeded in capturing a couple of cases of this big brew.

One day a fellow craft beer lover told perpetually-out-of-the-loop me about Heady Topper, the acclaimed Unfiltered Unpasteurized American Double IPA. He raved about how delicious “Heady” is and how hard it is to find. In fact it is not legally available for sale outside of the state of Vermont, where it is brewed by The Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury.

While Heady Topper is their main beer they do brew monthly specialty beers like Ouroboros, El Jefe, Focal Banger, Petit Mutant and others. The latter two are also canned in limited release and sold in special truck and tent sales. You can learn more about their special releases, future new brewery and get other updates at The Alchemist Blog.

Originally served exclusively on tap, Heady Topper has only been available in cans and in a wider distribution since 20011. Still, despite growing interest and demand, Heady Topper is fairly impossible to get unless you go to Vermont to find it. If you do, make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.

The Alchemist currently brews 180 barrels per week, canned and delivered to a relatively short list of restaurants, pubs and package stores in the Burlington, Stowe, Waterbury, Montpelier and Mad River areas. They provide a list of establishments where you can buy Heady Topper, but it can still be tough to get your hands on.

My wife and I had a trip to the Adirondacks scheduled, in a little town about an hour west of Burlington, VT. We had planned on taking a day trip to Burlington while there so acquiring some Heady Topper became a mission for us. The urgency of our mission increased drastically — especially for Cindy who has become quite the IPA fanatic — when we actually tasted Heady Topper at Manhattan Pizza and Pub in Burlington, VT.

We arrived in Burlington around 11AM on a Thursday. After a must-stop at Magic Hat for free samples and SWAG, we stopped for lunch at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill (Top notch, great beer selection!), then dropped in at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, where we learned a bit more about the man behind Heady Topper, The Alchemist, John Kimmich.

Kimmich actually started working for the late Greg Noonan as a waiter while he learned the craft of brewing from him, and was eventually asked to step up as Head Brewer. It’s a great story you can read here, told by Kimmich himself.

In 2003 Kimmich and his wife opened a brew pub under the name The Alchemist, where they began offering Heady Topper on occasion. Demand grew, even surreptitiously as some folks took the beer offsite illegally, initially unbeknownst to the owners. Kimmich then opened a separate brewing facility to brew a larger supply and meet a growing demand. During the same month, and mere days before the first cans rolled off of the canning line, the brew pub was destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

No official word if The Alchemist will open another brew pub, but I heard a rumor to that effect. Unfortunately the brewery is closed to the public, so no tours, but maybe that will change in the future. At the very least we can hope The Alchemist Brew Pub comes back, somewhere. It would be a great place to visit during one of our next excursions into the north woods.

Case of Heady Topper CansMaking off with The Goods
Stoked by the stories and the mystique of Heady Topper (and after actually tasting it!) we located the package store where we planned to purchase our prize. Cindy and I stood online for about 45 minutes, hearing more stories from other eager Heady-heads, before they opened the doors to the cooler.

This particular location receives 2 deliveries per week, Tuesday and Thursday, 100 cases each of those days. They release 50 cases in the morning and 50 cases in the afternoon. We arrived in line at 5:15PM, and they started handing out the beer at 6, first by the case and then, as the supply reduced, in half cases, then finally in four packs only.

For our first trip through we scored a half case each, then Cindy went back in and got in line again to snag another full case. Our mission a success, we locked our precious cargo in the back of the Cryptomobile (my Dodge pickup), hidden safely beneath an unassuming blue tarp.

We drove west out of Burlington and back into the dense wilderness, eagerly anticipating our first sip of Heady Topper around the fire pit at our secluded Adirondack retreat.

Heady Topper poured into glasses to see color and head.The Big Heady Topper Flavor
Heady is a big beer, but the secret to its continued success has everything to do with the amazing balance of malts, hop bitterness and dryness; the flavor is huge but not overbearing. Heady is so big that you almost don’t notice the 8% ABV, but it can sneek up on you so sip and enjoy what is has to offer.

A proprietary blend of 6 hop varieties offers quite a complex nose and flavor profile. On their website The Alchemist asks what we may identify, “Orange? Tropical Fruit? Pink Grapefruit? Pine? Spice?” Yes, and yes. The hop notes run far and wide, taking their turn with your senses as you inhale the aromas and let the beer drift across your tongue.

Clearly indicated around the rim of the can, The Alchemist recommends that we “Drink From the Can” for optimum flavor and freshness, but I chose to pour it into a glass so I could see the color and build an appropriate head to release more hop aroma. Along with a great flavor, Heady Topper is a nice looking beer too, pouring a slight pale yet fruity looking amber-orange color. I didn’t notice a huge difference in flavor or nose between the glass or a can, but hey.

In all Heady Topper is an excellent beer, for us it was well worth the trip and the wait in line at the store. The beers reputation is bolstered by a great story of a man who packed up his life to pursue his dream and found success.

More info can be found at Wikipedia.

Posted By on April 8, 2014

There is misinformation circulating the web about “bad ingredients” in some beers, specifically the use of fish bladders, MSG, Propylene Glycol, GMO corn, high fructose corn syrup and caramel color in the production of some beers.

The data presented in articles I’ve read is either erroneous or based on true brewing practices and technologies that are misunderstood by the authors (Food Babe, et al.) and subsequently misrepresented.

These articles, with titles like “Beers You Should Stop Drinking,” “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer,” or “What If Beer Companies Told the Truth?” spread hype without fully understanding the methods of production and use of adjunct ingredients, processing agents or additives. Let’s break it down here.

Does Guinness Stout contain Fish Bladders?
“Fish Bladders”
Let’s clear this one up: Fish bladders are not in your Guinness Stout. I guess it is possible that a minute particle of isinglass made it past the filtering process, but it is extremely unlikely. It is far more likely that someone’s nose hair will drift into your pint.

Isinglass, a form of collagen derived from dried swim bladders of fish (a by-product of the fish industry, and not a bladder that holds pee), is used as a flocculant, or fining agent, to bring yeast cells out of suspension and clarify beer prior to filtering and bottling. It is not directly part of the filtering process, and occurs before mechanical filtering.

After filtering you should have no bladder concerns other than yours filling up as you drink your Guinness Stout. With regard to High Fructose Corn Syrup, see the section on GMO Corn below.

With regard to whether or not Guinness can be considered “vegan” I think there is far more to worry about in the world for the so-concerned than what a beer is fined with, especially since it doesn’t end up in the finished product.

MSG – What We Need to Know
I’ve never heard of MSG being used in any beers. The MSG scare began, spread and persists solely on anecdotal evidence with no substantial scientific data to support it. Studies have found no causal relationship between the ingestion of monosodium glutamate and perceived side effects when MSG is ingested in small quantities as an additive in food. Read this. With that in mind MSG is really irrelevant as an argument to avoid any food.

Propylene Glycol
It sounds just awful right? Especially when it is hyped up as super bad along with the phrase “an ingredient found in anti-freeze!” That’s true, it is found in some antifreeze because it lowers the freezing point of water, and incidentally is much less toxic than, say, Ethylene glycol or Methanol, which are downright poisonous. So PG is really the lesser of evils and really not all that evil itself.

Propylene glycol is an organic compound used as a preservative in some foods and as a solvent in some pharmaceuticals. It is considered generally safe by the FDA. Oral toxicity of propylene glycol is vey low and it is metabolized into pyruvic acid (sounds worse than propylene glycol) by the body and converted into energy, so it’s not gonna kill ya. That said, aside from glycol being used as a refrigerant to keep tanks cool during fermentation, I’ve never heard of it being used in actual beer production.

In any case, the amount alcohol in any beer is far more likely to cause harm than propylene glycol. That includes damaging brain cells as well as potentially causing you to fall over, run off the road or injure others. All things in moderation and with due responsibility of the individual. CYA: Do not drink propylene glycol or anti-freeze!

Is there GMO Corn in beer?
GMO Corn and High Fructose Corn Syrup
The GMO controversy is generally a matter of opinion. Conspiracy theories aside, the scientific consensus is that GMO foods are just as safe as their “organic” cousins. Most craft brewers will not even consider using GMO corn in the first place.

Interviewed for the TimesUnion Beernut Blog article, “Debunking 8 Beers that You Should Stop Drinking Immediately (posted April 2014), brewer Todd Parker states “While we cannot guarantee that nobody uses GMO products, they are not generally available to the majority of brewers. Most craft brewers are against their use and will never use them.”

Genetic modifications made to grains increase their heartiness in diverse climates, and resistance to disease and pests, allowing farmers to supply a larger world population.

GMO Corn and High Fructose Corn Syrup are fairly irrelevant with regard to beer anyway because by the time beer is fermented, bottled and on the shelves there is no corn syrup remaining in their original form, GMO or otherwise.

The alcohol in beer comes from fermentation of sugars. The primary form of “fermentable” sugar in beer is derived from malted barley. The more malted barley you use the greater the amount of sugar and the higher the alcohol level, but this also creates a thicker beer, so corn is used as an “adjunct” (in addition to barley) in the production of some beers, mostly the lighter lagers. The fermentable sugar obtained from corn boosts alcohol without contributing to the body of the finished beer so it is a little less heavy and “less filling” for some people, while the alcohol level is maintained.

Corn syrup is fermented into alcohol and is not really an ingredient in the final beer.

That’s something to consider; beer is not a mix of ingredients bottled and presented as is for consumption like some processed foods. The main ingredients and their production lead to a final product that is very different than what went into it. There is no “ingredient list” on most beer labels that I read, but a short list of things it was “made with,” which are typically barley, hops, yeast and water. Exceptions may apply in the case of colorings and preservatives.

Also a good note: in some cases adjuncts used in beer are mentioned on labeling as “select grains.” These select grains can include barley, corn and rice. Rice has the same effect as corn in the production of some beers.


Caramel Color (E150)

I won’t really defend this one, I think artificial colorings are a huge blunder in alcoholic beverages for pure aesthetic reasons. In my opinion the color of the finished alcohol product should be the result of a proper and careful craft brewing and/or aging process, for beer as well as Whisky. Unfortunately commercialization drives industry and that is driven by the bottom line and consumer demand. Funny that the ones creating the demand are the ones who complain in the end when the manufacturers figure out a way to get products to market quicker.

There are four classes of Caramel Color E150 which range from E150a, no ammonium or sulfite compounds, to E150d which contains both sulfite and ammonium compounds. The latter is used in some soft drinks.

Caramel Coloring E150 in Newcastle Brown AleIn the case of Newcastle Brown Ale the ingredient is referred to as simply E150, but a little deductive reasoning (i.e.: looking at the chart on Wikipedia where it says, “Used In” … “Beer, sauces, and confectionery”) we can assume that the classification of Caramel Color E150c is the type used in Newcastle Brown Ale and some other beers. Also, the charge of the proteins in the additive must match the charge of the proteins in the product being colored, so E150a, b or d are not likely to be used in beer.

I refer you to this brief on Caramel Colorings at DDWColor.com for more information. While you’re there pay particular attention to the part that says, “Caramel color is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a miscellaneous and/or general purpose food additive under CFR section 182.1235, and is deemed to be GRAS by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, FEMA Number 2235.” And this, “The percentage of caramel color needed to impart the desired color is normally so low that caramel would have no measurable impact on the nutritional profile of a product.”

No, I don’t really want artificial colors in my drink, be it soda, beer or whisky, but if we’re worried about cancer the levels used are so small that we should stress more about whether or not to have another cigarette, or how many candles we want to light in an enclosed space.

Again, it’s about moderation. The fact remains that the level of alcohol and the amount you consume are the greater risks in drinking any given beer or alcoholic beverage. To stop drinking a beer you enjoy because isinglass was used as a clarifier, or because they used High Fructose Corn Syrup as a fermentable sugar, is ridiculous. Learn the facts.

The rest is a matter of personal preference or standards of purity really. The food coloring, preservatives, MSG or GMO corn used in production are not going to kill you, the alcohol is more likely to assist there. But it’s always a good idea, and healthier all around, to just drink a little bit less.

Many people would rather stand up and yell as if we’re all being duped and poisoned by the big companies. While unscrupulous activities surely exist in big and small business, what’s worse is a misinformed public spreading unnecessary panic without fully understanding the facts.

Humans don’t need any help, we poison ourselves with poor logic and over-consumption.

Posted By on January 10, 2014

Contaminated Beer painting by Drew Vics, January 2014In an older article — written very early on in the life of Cryptobrewology, when I knew very little about beer or home brewing and even less about microorganisms — I think I said something about the alcohol level in beer probably being substantial enough to kill off bacterial contamination if the method of sanitization was not optimum. [Kicks self in the ass.]

My naive logic at the time figured that, during fermentation, bacteria would be killed off as alcohol was produced by yeast and increased in the solution.

While the rising alcohol level will minimize it to some extent, it’s not guaranteed.

In cases of very mild contamination yeast, during its growth, can choke out other microorganisms that might otherwise succeed in establishing themselves, though that is not guaranteed, and it won’t completely eradicate them. Any microorganism that remains will begin to reestablish itself.

If the yeast does stifle the growth of bacteria during fermentation the resulting alcohol level may be enough to slow regrowth for a period of time after the yeast becomes inactive, but contamination will remain. The bacteria will grow and greatly reduce the shelf life of the beer. Microorganisms are a pretty hearty bunch.

It takes a lot of alcohol to kill germs, and there is just not enough alcohol in beer or wine to do the trick. Wine actually is conducive to the growth of bacteria!

Cecil Adams, author of The Straight Dope, found that “[Wine] resulted in the biggest and most abundant colonies, even more than in the raw sample.”

Hops is the boon to beer. Antibacterial qualities of hops reduce the growth of most microorganisms except, luckily enough, yeast. Still, this is not a sure thing, bacteria will always find a way.

There is no substitute for cleanliness and good sanitizing techniques, but if you’re not handy with Spray Nine or a mop bucket, brew a Double IPA and you should be okay. For a little while anyway. There is no way to completely eliminate bacteria. The idea is to work clean and sanitize to minimize contamination so that alcohol and hops can be more effective in lengthening the shelf life of your brew.

Here’s to clear, refreshing beer!