The Blog for Women Who Brew Beer

Archive for May 8th, 2010

Beer and Menopause

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

There is some evidence that drinking beer can help relieve the symptoms of menopause.   This article discussed how the hops in beer are helpful.

March 16, 2010

Beer – The Natural Menopause Treatment

Whilst it may seem farfetched to think of beer as a natural menopause treatment, there is actually credible scientific research to support it. The key feature of beer in relation to menopause is the presence of phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like plant compounds that are also in alternative menopause treatments like soy. They work by binding to estrogen receptors, and so provide a mild estrogenic effect on the body. Phytoestrogens are not as strong as regular estrogen, but as estrogen levels decline in menopausal women, this boost of estrogen has a balancing effect on the body. Supplementing with phytoestrogens in soy and hops (which is made into beer, but can be purchased as a supplement), can alleviate hot flushes and improve the general quality of life for women during menopause.

Hops have more typically been used by herbalists for its mild sedative effect. It’s great for sleeping problems, and also for nervous gastrointestinal and stomach problems. It is stimulating to the stomach, and has been used for anorexia, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, dysmenorrhoea and amenorrhoea.

Hops have long been suspected of having an effect on the hormonal system. Before the advent of machine pickers, women and girls picked the plants at harvest, and would often spend 3 weeks doing so. It was observed amongst the young girls picking hops that their menstrual periods would come on early. But it wasn’t until hops were studied scientifically that this result was explained and validated. It turns out that hops contain very high levels of phytoestrogens – between 30,000 IU to 300,000 IU per 100 grams. The levels of phytoestrogens are highest when the plant is fresh.


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Beer Drinking to Prevent Osteoporosis

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

This article appeared in the UK Telegraph in February of 2010.

Beer boosts bones and fends off osteoporosis

Drinking beer especially pale ale strengthens your bones and could stop them becoming brittle, a study suggests.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:30AM GMT 08 Feb 2010

Great British Beer Festival : Beer boosts bones and fends off  osteoporosis

Beer, especially pale ales, contains high levels of silicon known to slow down the bone thinning that leads to fractures Photo: CORBIS

Researchers found that the drink contained a substance that boosts bones and could mean they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis.

They discovered that beer, especially pale ales, contains high levels of silicon known to slow down the bone thinning that leads to fractures and boosting the formation of new bone.

The finding, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, backs up previous research which also showed that the drink was good at fending off brittle bones – especially in women.

“The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied”, said Dr Charles Bamforth, lead author at the University of California.

They found that lighter beers with a greater use of hops had the most silicon.

Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), up to half of which can be absorbed by the body making beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet.

Based on these findings, some studies suggest moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, a disease of the skeletal system characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.

The researchers found that the extra heat used in malting darker beers tended to destroy some of the silicon. Beers with more hops naturally had more silicon they found.

Osteoporosis or low bone density is often described as a silent epidemic of the 21st century. In the UK alone it results in more than 200,000 fractures annually and costs the NHS more than £1 billion a year.

Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.

The actual biological role of silicon in bone health and formation is not known though it is thought to help manufacture collagen, one of its major components.

“Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon,” concludes Dr. Bamforth.

“Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer.”

Dr Claire Bowring, National Osteoporosis Society, said the research did not mean that people head for the pub.

“These findings mirror results from previous studies which concluded that moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial to bones,” she said.

However, while the National Osteoporosis Society welcomes measures to improve bone health we do not recommend anyone increases their alcohol consumption on the basis of these studies. While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been show to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone.

“There are also many other health concerns linked with alcohol which cannot be ignored.”

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Using Honey for Priming

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

The most common sugar used for priming is dextrose made from corn, i.e. corn sugar.  Sucrose (cane sugar) can leave an unpleasant flavor.  Dextrose tends to leave no flavor.  4 oz. powdered should be used for a five gallon batch or 2.4 oz for a three gallon batch.

You can also use honey for priming.  In a strong beer, the flavor will probably not be detectable, but in a lighter, mild beer the honey can leave slight honey flavor.  However, some have said that the flavor difference is undetectable so it isn’t worth the extra money for the honey.   I have yet to use honey but will update this post if I find anything of interest from my experimentation.

BTW, if using honey, 0.5 cup should be used for a 5 gallon batch and 0.3 cup for three gallons. That’s the word.

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3 Gallons vs. 5 Gallons

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

Most recipes and prepared ingredient kits are for brewing 5-gallon batches of beer.  I brew three gallons at a time for a few reasons:

  1. I can lift the carboy with three gallons of beer but not five.  There is less wort as well so it is easier to handle.
  2. I don’t drink beer that quickly so, by making more batches, I can brew more often and try more recipes.  Plus it is fun to brew.
  3. I can have a greater variety of beers available at one time for guests.
  4. I don’t need to buy a larger pot for boiling the wort.
  5. 30 bottles fit easily in the dishwasher bottom for sterilization.
  6. The carboy takes up less room on the top of the fridge.

All the recipes on this site are for three-gallon batches.  Just multiply by 5/3 to convert to a five-gallon batch recipe.

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The Wait

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

One of the enjoyable aspect of beer making is the waiting period between brewing and drinking, and the associated anticipation.  After brewing, the beer ferments in the carboy for two weeks before bottling, and then another two weeks in the bottles before it can be drunk.  Ideally it should be in the bottles longer to get the best flavor (six to eight weeks evidently is the ideal time in the bottle to bring out the best flavor.)  If you are making a lager, then you also have a few weeks or longer in the lagering carboy.

Finally, a month after brewing or longer, you get to see what the beer looks like, the color, the clarity, you get to find out the level of carbonation, the density of the head, and, most importantly, you get to taste the beer.   Tasting during the bottling process gives an indication of the flavor, but the taste changes considerably after two weeks in a bottle.

The anticipation makes brewing like gardening.  You plant the seeds or seedlings, weed, water, wait, and finally have tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, or lettuce.   While gardening has much to recommend it, brewing is more creative than gardening because you can invent your own recipes.  Waiting to see how they will turn out is always a great source of pleasant anticipation.

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