Cheers! 5 Intoxicating Facts About Beer

LiveScience.com
Designated Drivers Often Drink, Study Finds
.

View photo

Designated Drivers Often Drink, Study Finds

If America, and American workers, had an official alcoholic beverage, it would probably be beer. According to the Brewers Association, the overall U.S. beer market was worth $96 billion in 2011, when some 200 million barrels of beer were sold (1 barrel equals 31 gallons of beer). In the same year, 1,989 breweries in the United States were fermenting everything from light lagers to chocolaty stouts.

In that spirit, and in salute to Labor Day, LiveScience proposes a toast to beer, that sudsy beverage that humans have brewed for millennia.

1. What's in a glass?

Water, mostly. But also flowers, fungus and grains.

Beer gets much of its flavor from hops, which are vine-grown flowers that look more like mini-pinecones than daisies. The alcohol in beer comes from grain, usually barley, which is malted (or allowed to germinate) and then steeped in water to extract its sugars. Those sugars become a feast for yeast, the tiny, unicellular fungi that thrive on sugars and excrete alcohol. [More Fun Beer Facts]

Yeasts usually get filtered out of commercial beers before they're bottled, but they leave traces (and flavors) behind. A study published in August 2010 in the Journal of Proteome Research found that beers contain a surprising variety of proteins: at least 62, 40 of which come from yeast. These proteins are key in supporting beer's foamy head, the researchers noted.

2. Who drank it then ...

Humans and yeast have been working together for millennia to create tasty brews. As early as the sixth millennium B.C., ancient Sumerians had discovered the art of fermentation. By the 19th century B.C., they were inscribing beer recipes into tablets in the form of a Hymn to Ninkasi, their female deity of beer.

Other cultures around the world developed beer independently, but the job of brewing often went to women. Tenenit, the Egyptian deity of beer, was female, as was the Zulu beer goddess Mbaba Mwana Waresa. A 2005 study found that among the Wari people of ancient Peru, elite women brewed the beer. Centuries later, women dominated the European brewing scene, according to a 1993 article in Yankee Brew News by late beer anthropologist Alan Eames. According to Eames, it wasn't until the late 1700s that beer became a male-dominated drink.

3. And who drinks it now

Today, beer is the preferred beverage of men, according to data from a July 2010 Gallup poll. Of the 67 percent of U.S. adults who drink alcohol, 54 percent of men named beer as their top alcoholic beverage compared with 27 percent of women. (Liquor was equally preferred by both genders, while women heavily favored wine, a trend largely driven by women over 50.)

Beer is more popular among young people, with half of 18- to 34-year-olds listing it as their top intoxicating beverage. Midwesterners are the top beer-drinkers in the United States, but not by much. Forty-six percent of Midwesterners said beer was their favorite drink, compared with 42 percent of Easterners, 40 percent of Westerners and 37 percent of Southerners.

4. It's not just good for drinking

Beer isn't only enjoyable to drink. Cooks use beer to flavor barbecue sauce, season bread and moisten grilled chicken.

But that's nothing compared with the use John Milkovisch, a retired railroad upholsterer, put beer (or at least beer cans) to. Starting in 1968, Milkovisch spent 18 years lining the outside of his modest Houston home with flattened beer cans. He strung the lids from the eaves and turned them into chain-link fences.

Milkovisch died in 1988, and his home is now a museum. According to the Beer Can House website, the inspiration for the project was simple. [Image Gallery: Extraordinary Environmental Art]

"Well, I think it might have been the good Lord says 'Nut, it's time for you to build this crazy stuff,'" Milkovisch is quoted as saying. "So here I did, I built it."

5. What floats down

Observant beer drinkers might notice that when beer is poured into a glass, the bubbles seem to defy the laws of physics, floating down instead of up.

Turns out those people haven't had too much to drink. Beer bubbles really do float downward sometimes, according to a 2004 analysis by Stanford researchers. Because of the drag from the walls of the glass, they found, the beer bubbles float up more easily in the center of the glass. As those bubbles go up, they pull the surrounding liquid to the surface. When the bubbles join the froth, or "head" of the beer, the liquid begins to pour back down the sides of the glass, dragging smaller bubbles down with it. The researchers used a super-slow-motion camera to capture the bubbles' descent and figure out the mystery. (That's one way to win a bar bet.)

Research reported in June suggested the pint glasses in which stouts are typically enjoyed, which are narrower at the bottom, may be what makes beer bubbles trek downward in the first place.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook & Google+

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Trump slapped with federal lawsuit in New York

      A group of American lawyers on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, accusing the US president of violating a constitutional ban on accepting payments from foreign governments. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is pursuing Trump over his vast business holdings, from which the billionaire has refused to divest fully, saying that as president he can have no conflict of interest. CREW says Trump's business properties abroad operate based partly on goodwill from foreign governments and regulators, but that under the US Constitution no federal official can receive a gift or "emolument" from a foreign government.

      AFP
    • Man convicted of 3 murders as teen kills himself in prison

      CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) — A man who broke into a classmate's home in 2007 and stabbed the teenager and his parents to death has killed himself in prison, authorities said Monday.

      Associated Press
    • Minnesota Gov. Dayton, 69, collapses during speech

      ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton collapsed while delivering his State of the State speech on Monday, striking his head on a lectern. The 69-year-old Democrat appeared to be conscious as he was helped into a back room several minutes later, and a top staffer said he walked out of the Capitol under his own power.

      Associated Press
    • What's in the Box? Social Media Goes Wild Over Tiffany's Gift Melania Trump Gave Michelle Obama

      It led to an awkward exchange after Michelle Obama was unsure what to do with the gift.

      Inside Edition
    • The Sig P320 is the U.S. Army's New Sidearm

      The new pistol replaces the 80s vintage M9 handgun.

      Popular Mechanics
    • Royals' Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic.

      Associated Press
    • 12 bodies found in Mexican tourist town: officials

      A dozen bodies -- including seven that were headless and mutilated -- were discovered over the weekend in western Mexico's seaside resort of Manzanillo, apparent victims of the country's epidemic of drug violence, local officials said. It was a shocking turn of events for an area popular with American and other foreign tourists, which until now had largely been spared from the bloody drug wars wracking other parts of Mexico. Seven bodies were found early Saturday in an abandoned taxi on the road from Manzanillo to the town of Cihuatlan.

      AFP
    • People
    • Hugo Barra leaves Xiaomi, says China has ‘taken a huge toll on my life’

      Smartphone startup Xiaomi began life as a peculiar beast. From within the safety of China, the company did all it could to copy every last detail of Apple's devices and marketing strategy, knowing there was precious little Apple could do to stop it. When Apple's portfolio was exhausted, Xiaomi moved on to Samsung, copying a large portion of its device lineup as well. But then, the company realized that it could only go so far selling phones in China and a handful of other markets. As growth was on track to slow substantially, Xiaomi knew that it had to work its way into other top-tier markets around the world. And so Xiaomi Global was born. The Xiaomi subsidiary has hit a few rough patches over the course of the past three-plus years, but today may be its roughest to date. On Monday, Xiaomi Global VP Hugo Barra announced that he is leaving the company. In a post on Facebook, Barra confirmed that he is leaving the company and moving back to Silicon Valley. "When Lei Jun and Bin Lin came to me nearly four years ago with the opportunity to help turn a young rockstar startup into a global player, I embarked on what has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life," Barra wrote . "I moved to Beijing, 6,500 miles out of my comfort zone in Silicon Valley, to build from scratch a startup team within a bigger startup. This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world." Then, his post took a curious turn. "But what I've realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health," Barra said. "My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return." It's unclear exactly what Barra means when he says that working at Xiaomi in Beijing has "taken a huge toll" on his life and affected his health, but he goes on to run down some of the things Xiaomi Global has accomplished since he joined the company. Most notably, the company has expanded sales into Russia, Mexico, Malaysia and more than 20 additional markets. Of note, Barra will still play a role at Xiaomi moving forward. Mi president and cofounder Bin Lin confirmed in a post on Facebook that Barra will be an advisor to the company following his departure. "When Hugo joined us 3.5 years ago, we started an amazing adventure to turn Xiaomi into a global player," Lin wrote . "We have come a long way since, and I couldn’t thank him enough for contributing so much to Xiaomi’s journey. As much as we would love to have Hugo stay with us in Beijing for a much longer time, we understand his personal challenges and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I’m also looking forward to working closely with him in his new role as advisor to Xiaomi."

      BGR News
    • Chelsea Clinton shuts down trolls who targeted Barron Trump

      Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton has spoken out in defence of Barron Trump, the US president's youngest son, after trolls targeted him with cruel memes online during the inauguration.  In a Facebook post Chelsea, who spent much of her teenage years in the spotlight while her dad Bill Clinton was president, said the 10-year-old "deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid".  But she also turned political: "Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids". Criticism of Barron's facial expressions and posture during the inauguration was widespread on social media, with people mocking him and calling him out for looking bored.  A Saturday Night Live writer even tweeted: "Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter". The tweet was later deleted.  People on Facebook praised Chelsea for defending Barron while also expressing her political ideas:  BONUS: Donald Trump's inauguration address included a Bane quote ›

      Mashable
    • 2018 BMW M4: Light Updates

      This year's evolution of the M4.

      Car and Driver
    • Protesters take control of Mexican border crossing with US

      TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Protesters took control of vehicle lanes at one of the busiest crossings on the U.S. border Sunday to oppose Mexican gasoline price hikes, waving through motorists into Mexico after Mexican authorities abandoned their posts.

      Associated Press
    • White House contests report that Trump bungled visit to CIA HQ

      White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday rejected reports that President Trump’s visit to the CIA’s headquarters over the weekend actually hurt his already troubled relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. On Saturday, Trump gave a freewheeling, campaign-like speech to the intelligence community while standing before a wall memorializing fallen officers. Former CIA Director John Brennan called the appearance shameful, and CBS reported that the visit was “uncomfortable” and not welcomed enthusiastically by the CIA officials there.

      Yahoo News
    • Dwarf galaxies shed light on dark matter

      The first sighting of clustered dwarf galaxies bolsters a leading theory about how big galaxies such as our Milky Way are formed, and how dark matter binds them, researchers said Monday. Seven clusters of three-to-five galaxies are each 10 to 1,000 times smaller than the Milky Way. "We suspect these groups are gravitationally bound and thus will eventually merge to form one larger, intermediate-mass galaxy," said lead author Sabrina Stierwalt, an astrophysicist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlotteville, Virginia.

      AFP
    • A Plea to Trump Fans: This Man is Dangerous

      The president is not just lying to you and me—now he’s lying to himself.

      GQ
    • Good Samaritan Shot Dead While Trying to Stop Mall Robbery

      The suspect has been charged with capital murder.

      Inside Edition
    • How to Work With a Boss You Hate

      Love your job but can't stand your boss? You've got plenty of company, according to Gallup research that shows half of workers in the U.S. have quit a job at some point because they didn't like their supervisor.

      U.S.News & World Report
    • Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him.

      Associated Press
    • Trump makes early move on restricting abortions around the world

      By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday reinstated a global gag rule that bans U.S.-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion, a move that was widely expected but nonetheless dismayed women's rights advocates. The rule, which affects American non-governmental organizations working abroad, is one that incoming presidents have used to signal their positions on abortion rights. It was created under U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

      Reuters
    • 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

      Still America's beast.

      Car and Driver