ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter Z

Z is for Zymurgy, the “area of applied science related to fermentation.

Science of fermentation = Zymurgy

Science of fermentation = Zymurgy

While many correlate zymurgy to beer alone, it’s long been part of food as well. How could it not be, what with cultures and societies across the globe utilizing fermentation to prepare and store food and drink.

Fermentation does NOT render anything sanitized – boiling and other methods accomplish sanitization. It does however involve a scientific aspect of what we put in our mouths that’s super fun, tasty and cool to teach others.

I like that Wikipedia provide a simple equation of zymurgy as well:

<br />
C_6 H_{12} O_6 \Rightarrow 2 CO_2 + 2C_2 H_5 OH<br />

There’s a Zymurgy magazine available as well, ala the American Homebrewers Association. If you’re into it, get this resource delivered to your door or inbox.

Fermenting foods requires particular attention, since not all consumed fermented foods are heat processed as to kill lethal bacteria and bugs. Be sure you only go with reputable sources for this information – like the National Center for Home Preservation, OSU Master Food Preserver (I did this 2 years ago), and Cornell University.

Put the date of may 4th on your calender: the AHA’s nationwide Big Brew Day!

Have fun, be safe, and revel in the zymurglogical possibilities!

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter X

To find words that begin with the letter X is interesting to say the least. As it happens, I’ll give you some insight: Urban Dictionary (found here) has a cool site, which is where I ‘found’ the X word today – Xanthuse.



Although UD doesn’t offer pronunciations, and doesn’t have the word registered though they have this similar word, I’d posit that it’s a zee beginning sound. Any word specialists who can help us here – chime in!

In any event, I chose it after scrolling through and reading several x word definitions. One meaning of Xanthuse = “to say, utter or exclaim something in delight or surprise.

Seems a perfectly delicious word to choose in reference to beer and food. Both of these necessary and highly sensory oriented experiences should be delightful. Surprising sometimes? Yes! That’s part of the true joy of enjoying beer and food.  Explorers would have nothing if not for being surprised at what’s around the next corner, what’s in that glass, and what’s on the plate.

Seek out something today that makes you xanthuse. And while it may not enter common vernacular, like beer and food, it’s the unusual and unexpected that create memories.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter W

Water, water everywhere / And not a drop to drink

What an apropos quote courtesy of the Ancient Mariner. And how suitable when talking about beer and food that we should also discuss water. Rather, we should talk about water first, as it’s our W word today.

Water is indeed the life’s blood of the planet and the creatures on it. It’s a tangible counterpart to Oxygen, which is also necessary in this environment in which we live.

Do you think much about water? Here’s some H2O for thought.

  • On average (and with slightly varying accounts) it take from 5 to 10 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of beer.  Full Sail Brewing is an example of dramatically reducing this consumption – read here. It’s everywhere from growing the ingredients to brewing to cleaning.
  • Think of how often we use water in food growth, production, preparation and clean up. Oof! Project Blue has good info here as does Lucy Saunders’ Great Lakes Water Conservation initiative here.
  • Worldometers has a frighteningly informational water usage page with lots of other linked resources.
Elevate water, respect, reduce, be thoughtful

Elevate water, respect, reduce, be thoughtful

Do your part:

1. Turn off water when washing anything – before you’re actually ready, in between, and immediately after. I’ve got several good friends who turn the tap on full blast and “wash” their dishes. Sometimes this is done before putting them in the *ahem* dishwasher. WTF??!! No no no….what happens here is that the others in the household, sometimes impressionable youngsters see and adopt this practice without thinking. Easier said than done. Once a habit though, it’s automatic to do.

2. THINK about how you can reduce first. Set some time in your schedule to think about where you use water in your life. At home, out and about, traveling, and so on. Really think about it and figure out where you can reduce. It’s simple and you can immediately affect reduction. For instance, we have a 5 gallon bucket next to our shower/tub. It takes about 30 – 45 second for the water to get warm enough to be comfortable to shower in. Instead of letting that fresh safe water go wastefully down the drain, we capture it in the bucket and use it to flush and water plants inside and out.

3. Cisterns anyone?! Brilliant, simple, effective, economical.

When you can actually see the quantity of water you’re both using productively and wasting unnecessarily, you can act. And act we all must.

Never take that precious liquid for granted.

Follow up 3.18.13, additional resources from Lucy Saunders, Great Lakes Water Conservation (thanks Lucy!)

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter V

Viscosity is a fun word to say. Stretch it out, as you would chewing something wonderful, and it’s sensual and lovely.

Viscocity in beer and food: play!

Viscocity in beer and food: play!

Viscosity has to do with the dynamics of fluid and texture. Okay, so the dictionary definition doesn’t mention texture. Nonetheless, It’s part of my definition. Because when you’re applying the word to savoring beer and foods your chewing, those items become liquidy in your mouth.

Viscous, as in sticky and thick, most certainly applies to texture.

I used to think the only thing viscosity applied to was motor oil. Long are those days past.

Take today’s word and roll it around on your tongue. Preferably with some flavorful beer and food. First one alone, then the other alone. Then marry the two. You’ll get 3 separate and equally interesting experiences.

Cheers to viscosity and the exploration therein. Play with your beer and food and enjoy the many levels of viscousness (another new one!) you can create.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter U

U better believe this letter’s important! It’s the first part of the shortened enemy of beer: UV, other wide fully named ultraviolet. As in light.

So why is light an unwitting enemy of beer? Here’s a good paragraph that explains it.

As I understand it, lighting the form of fluorescent and sunlight can be equal parties in the commonly called “skunking” (per light damage).

protect and respect your beer and food

protect and respect your beer and food

It’s a perfect reason to embrace draft beer – straight from the brewery – as well as from kegs. Canned beer of today is a completely different animal than yesteryear too – so get over any inhibitions or incorrect prejudices and embrace canned beer.

The key, of course, is to decant all beer. It’s not meant to be fully enjoyed in the package. The package is designed to transport, not serve. Treat the beer right and pour it in a glass.

With food, light can create both the raw ingredients in helping it grow and damage it on the fruition side. Be careful to know what and when to protect your food from sunlight in particular. It was spoil foods very quickly which, unlike beer, can have lethal ramifications. when in doubt, throw it out (the compost can most likely handle it).

So be enlightened – simply be aware and careful of how light affects beer and food. A lot of love, sweat and tears line the path of delivery to our awaiting mouths.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter T

T for Tongue today.

Our tongue is a fascinating organ that’s really underappreciated and oft abused. Or at least neglected in recognition of how it serves us.

P1040877For beer and food, the tongue participates in mouthfeel, flavor, and temperature. These three things alone are a full time job! Especially if you really enjoy either or both solids and liquids as it pleases you.  And it seems the tongue has been the object of a bit of rethinking and reassigning, if you will, areas of flavor perception. Here’s one article on it.

Whatever way your tongue flaps, know it’s a contributor to the enjoyment in life of beer and food. We need nourishment to keep us alive, keep us healthy, and make us able to to everything else.

Take good care of your tongue. Chances are good it’ll return the flavor, er – favor.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter Q

Q is a favorite character in the Bond films for me. So pints up for today’s letter Q – long may it stand for QUALITY.

Quality is one of the most important aspects of beer and food. Quality can be measured. Preference and quality are different things entirely. Never confuse the two.

I’ve covered getting rid of words like “good” and “bad” before since those are arbitrary and subjective. What’s good? What’s Bad? And what of the raft of other why’s that accompany these words – “why is X good/bad?”

When you shift to a quality perspective, beer and food gets reframed for the benefit for all, starting with giving the beer and food a fair shake regardless of your preferences and prejudices.

Quality is Queen

Quality is Queen

Just because you don’t like this beer or that food, does not mean the quality is inferior. It means you may choose not to like it – fine. Do so. Do so with class and tact and remember ALL brands started small.

When I started WEB I used to cringe at people making disparaging comments about certain brands of beer, based on what they liked – or thought they liked sometimes based on murky memories and bad experiences, which were in no way the beers fault to begin with. Now I welcome the comments.

It’s still an ignorant shame that there’s a growing population of reverse beer snobbery as it pertain to the explosion of beers in the country. As humans we have the intelligence capacity to be compassionate, make our own decisions, change our minds and be diplomatic. Please use your humanity to like what you like and accept what others like as well with equality.

WEB encourages a focus on quality. After that it’s all a delicious downhill sleigh ride.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter P

Hint: What Prohibits you from enjoying your beer??

The Letter P brings us to that ‘Noble Experiment’ in the USA known as Prohibition. Woof – and what a doozy it was!

If you’ve never read up or thought about the era of Prohibition in the United States of America, it’s a good day to do. When the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick film premiered on PBS a few years ago, I learned volumes on what it was actually about, how everyone was affected, and how it changed our entire nation.


SOPTV & Prohibition Film event

Suffice it to say everyone needs to educate themselves on this part of American herstory. So many facets of life were working towards, against, and every other possible way either for or against the legalization of alcohol.

I learned a great deal by partnering with my local public television station in hosting a series of events that utilized this great film and its pending release with fundraising efforts. It’s something I’m truly proud to have been involved with and still embrace talking about.

The absolute prohibition of any one thing – alcohol and food included – will always lead to other absolutes. The world is grey, very rarely black and white, and absolutes put into place and either enforced or totally discounted will have far-reaching and unpredictable outcomes.

For now, only prohibit yourself from being a snob of any variety and keep learning. Keep sharing that knowledge forward to everyone’s benefit.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter O

Oh! We’re already up to letter O in our series on Women, Beer and Food. Let’s celebrate Oxygen today.

Oxygen is both necessary and damaging, at various stages and and in different amounts, to both beer and food.

We need Oxygen to grow the raw ingredients for beer – H needs a 2O after all. Grain and hops need fresh clean air. Yeast is affected by it as well. For food, growing conditions and environments are enormously impacted by the air quality and anaerobic situations as well.

Get some fresh Oxygen in your brain

Get some fresh Oxygen in your brain

Once beer has been carefully made, storage should exclude Oxygen since at that stage of the game it’s a detriment and begins to accelerate the degradation of quality and flavor. There is dissolved Oxygen in beer yet to store beer in the presence of oxygen is what encourages chemical changes to take place which dramatically affect our experience and the quality of the beer.

Food storage practices rely on oxygen in some form as well. Storing things in airtight containers allows very low airflow and oxygen exposure. Anyone who’s ever cut up a fresh piece of apple or pear knows that it begins to oxidize: it turns brown due to exposure to oxygen in air. In some cases it doesn’t critically and negatively impact the food. That said, the obvious indication that something is changing should be a sign to learn what the heck is going on and learn how to properly act and respond.

Go ahead and learn how Oxygen in involved in and affects your beer and food. There are loads of resources on the net, in your local library and through professionals on the fields.

Take a deep breath and keep learning.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter N

Nummy…Noble Hops…Nitrogenated…

While all of these are N worthy, today’s Letter N word is Nice.


Yes, Nice. There’s a very unsavory and growing faction of people in the beer community who are making blanket judgements that certain beers are better than others shearly based on size of volume produced and ownership. That certain ones are uncool and bad, and some are good and worthwhile to attend to. Some stores are even choosing to eliminate choices for the very consumers they serve based on this judgement.

P1100709Being Nice means being diplomatic, being an ambassador, being kind and NOT being a judge. Leaders in any arena have a nice quality to them: business, community, family, friendships, social circles, service clubs. Do you want to lead or be lead?

Like the beers you like. Remember these things all the same:

1. All companies, beer and food and otherwise, start and started small in size. To now disqualify a beer or food because it’s successfully grown – by the support of the very same people who are now shunning it – is hypocritical and uncouth. Plus it’s totally ridiculous. Many times quality grows as a businesses income comes in, affording an increase in many facets that positively impacts the goods.

2. Size isn’t what matters here. Quality is. Is the company quality focused? Ask that instead of ‘what’s the volume of product produced and sold?’

3. Let everyone choose the beer and food they want. Freedom of choice is why there are so many choices and one thing that makes America and many countries in the world special.

4. Beer and food all start in the same way: with raw ingredients, by people, and for people. Before you dismiss a product out of hand simply for the volume of their products, take a look at their business and organizations. How many people to they gainfully and purposefully employ? How many suppliers, vendors and growers are impacted by the operation? Has there been any shift of quality?

5. Large and global brands are still great choices for some. And we’d agree with transparency that people are calling for in the interest of full disclosure. More and more people want to know who and where what they put in their gullet comes from. Agreed. When making your decisions though, return to deciding based on quality and flavors you enjoy.

6. We highly encourage not using labels for beer. Dark, light, craft, crafty, heavy, and so on. These are moving targets, arbitrary based on the judge or judging body. Don’t swallow anything whole unless you educate yourself first AND look at the wider implications of your choices if they affect others.

It makes WEB dismayed to see this reverse niceness and kick to the teeth of some long-standing brands that are growing in size that have (and had) fanatical followers because they were the small-er when they started. Now all the sudden the brands aren’t good enough…what?! Makes no sense.

In fact I’ve been to plenty of smaller size breweries whose obvious lack of commitment to cleanliness and sanitation is way more disturbing that larger ones. Yikes! Cleanliness is critical to high quality operations of all capacity and volume sizes. Do you know how clean the brewery and production facility is before you make that judgement, before you extol or condemn? Get educated first.

In most cases, size has little to do with enjoyment of a brand. Quality does. Unless some gross injustice of power, ingredients, quality or impact has occurred, we say stick with what you like. Being nice about beer and food is acting with graciousness and class, never judging.

No one likes a judgmental jerk. Don’t be one. Be Nice. Progress is made with nice.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter M

Moderation is the featured word in our series today for the Letter M.

It could easily be Mmmmmmmmm or Malt or Mash.

We choose moderation as it’s part of the essence of enjoying beer: doing so in moderation.

Beer + Food in Moderation = Success!

Beer + Food in Moderation = Success!

What exactly is moderate beer enjoyment? Well, if you choose not to drink it then it’s time spent with others. If you do imbibe beer, then it’s all about savoring and regulating consumption. Regulation of consumption is what every brewer I’ve ever met would want for her beer. To be enjoyed in moderation, in moderate quantities, preferably with people and food. Moderation is about slowing down, not slamming. Moderation is being responsible about the quantity of beer you consume and making sure your actions are in keeping with class, tact, and civility.

Food enjoyment echos this idea. Both beer and food have nutrition and energy. And anything in excess is, we well, excessive and therefore denigrates the subject at hand as well as the partaker. Therefore food consumption needs to be moderate as well. Savored. Slowed down and truly enjoyed. Again, with other people and with respect and temperance.

Moderation can be a perfect vehicle for sharing beer, sharing food, and enjoying more out of life. Cheers to moderation.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter L

It’s time to give lager is full respect – so today’s L is for Lager.

Lager (German: storage) is a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures

It’s fascinating to me in the course of our research to hear so many disparaging comments about “lagers”. Why is this?

Lovely Lagers – so delicious and sometimes under appreciated

Some people are basing modern beers on faded, old, mythical and inaccurate memories that involved a lager style beer. Some people have opted to adopt a reverse snobbery in America for lagers. In our research, there are many reasons which we see, hear and record for these bias. There are prejudices, grudges, and other human emotions that cloud what can truly be.

And while that is very human, it’s also very human to take control and change your mind by educating yourself before making any sort of decision.

Like people commiserating on a sporting event that happened years ago (please -NO!!!). Rehashing the past doesn’t push anything forward and it gets really old to listen to, really fast. Get over it and move on. There are thousands of beers and foods waiting to be enjoyed, savored, sampled, and shared.

Relating modern-day variety and quality to the time you got sick from a kegger in high school or college is so grossly unfair to the beer and the brewer! Plus it’s selectively closed-minded. Would you want people to judge your clothing taste based on you running around in diapers at 2??

For those who conceitedly state “I only like ales” I feel truly sorry for you. You’ve just closed yourself off to flavors, quality and opportunity to keep exploring the wonderful world of beer.

For those that embrace lagers and ales, cheers to you! Preference and quality are two different things. A memory of something – anything – that had a negative outcome or connotation is an ignorant way to move forward in life.

Lagers are exceptional in the fact that they have such gorgeous refreshing profiles that you have to be a very accomplished brewer to make them; flaws have nothing to hide behind these delicate and amazing beers.

I’ll ring in the new year with a lager…or an ale… No matter. It’ll be paired with foods and to me all beer is worth celebrating.

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter K

Question: What’s the world biggest beer can?

Answer: The Keg!

With a nod to my friend and colleague, Burc, I love educating on the biggest beer cans there are: kegs.

Content kegs at Fort George Brewing

Kegs are what finished beer is shipped in to stores and establishments, sometimes within brewpubs and taprooms as well. Okay, so you most likely already know that. Did you know there are different size kegs? Half barrel – which is the one we most often refer to as ‘a keg’. There’s the quarter barrel and sixth barrels too. For operators who serve beer on draught, depending on how quickly you sell keg beer, size matters.

Kegs have an interesting herstory – read more here.

A keg is a great way to store, ship and serve beer. No light exposure and – if properly dispensed – no oxygen introduction either. NEVER use a hand pump that relies on oxygen to move the beer out of the keg. It’ll kill the beer’s flavor and carbonation fast. As a researcher I can tell you that many people have bad memories of early life beer experiences partly because they drank beer (sometimes too much) that was pushed with air. No no no!

Just like you wouldn’t leave quality food and ingredients *out* where they shouldn’t be, beer needs to be cared for too. Food and drink will give you the best experience they can when you do your part – kegs for beer is a piece of that equation.

If you value the quality of the beer you enjoy and make, treat it with respect. Kegs can do that, so do our part and use the proper gas and equipment to push the beer out to your glass, keeping the kegs refrigerated as well.

Cheers today to draught beer, beer kegs, and all the delicious liquid a’waiting for us inside!

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ABC’s of Women, Beer & Food: Letter J

J today gives a nod to Beer Judging.

Judging in the beer world is a good way to get feedback on beer that can be highly helpful, whether homebrewer or professional.

Helpful feedback from knowledgeable people with some training in how to judge beer can identify areas of strength and areas of improvement. One program available is the BJCP, Beer Judge Certification Program.

Beer judging can increase knowledge and know how

While I hesitate to encourage people judging beers willy nilly, it’s part of quality development. We’re talking about looking at the details of beer, how it fits to style or creates a new one, how healthy the beer is, and about a thousand other things.

Judging beer, actually reviewing a beer with a practiced palate and noted guidelines, can help brewers develop their skills and expertise.

Some who professional judge at respectable events like the Great American Beer Festival come by the judging through experience and other skills development. I know many pros who are judges and it’s always interesting to find out how they came to be involved.

Knowing how to properly judge beer can only enhance the food you pair with it. If the beer is healthy and made driven by quality – as is the food – you’ve got a stellar match!

Suffice it to say, people in the professional brewing industry take judging with gravity, seriousness and equanimity. They take themselves non too seriously and they respect the judging process. It can go to your head so if you choose to be a beer judge, be sure you approach it with the same open mindedness and non-arrogance of any beer diplomacy activity.

After all, here’s a good quote to sum up judging:

“If you cannot judge a book by its cover, surely we should not judge an author by one book alone?”E.A. Bucchianeri

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ABC’s of Women, Beer & Food: Letter B

B is for Beer. Of course!

It’s also for Brewing which is cooking. Hence a food connection.

If you like to cook, perhaps you like to homebrew. If you homebrew perhaps you like to cook. I like to cook with food and beer and am not interested in homebrewing. Respect them I do – the brewers of the world. And women have always brewed beer. The World over.

Ashleigh Carter, Brewer at Prost/Denver & Ginger during GABF 2012

It’s our collective short memory that doesn’t recognize that women are the brewers in households and communities literally everywhere. One of the best books I can recommend that comprehensively covers this as a matter of course in the entire book is Chris O’Brien’s Fermenting Revolution: How To Drink Beer And Save The World.

WEB’s own Emily and Kat are both homebrewers and I love that they do and enjoy hearing about their exploits and discoveries. The contagious enthusiasm that brewers have, professional and home, is universal.

If you’re interested in learning more about home brewing, contact the American Homebrewers Association. They’re chock full of info, knowledge, opportunity and fabulous people who come together over beer making.

Here’s another recent book release that can help you learn more about beer.

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ABC’s Of Women, Beer & Food

Welcome to a new series: The ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food. These may well be 3 favorite things of many folks so it’s time to dig in with a glass, fork & spoon!

A is for Aroma.

One of the first things we notice when enjoying beer and learning more about it is aroma. Lately I’ve come to know that aroma can contribute something like 90% of our overall flavor experience. Since our nose and mouth are inseparable, this makes sense (pun intended).

When you have a beer in front of you, be sure to examine the aroma. I like to teach a few methods that I have learned from other beer professionals.

1. Drive by: Take a fresh pour of beer and draw it evenly under your nose while inhaling normally, once slowly from side to side. Repeat as desired. If the beer has been sitting a while, refresh the aroma by agitating the carbonation in a swirling motion, with your hand on top of the glass to prevent spilling. Swirl and before lifting your hand away be sure to breathe in the aroma.

2. Bloodhound: Take a freshly poured beer and stick your nose deep into the glass. Take a few average size smells, being sure not to be a vacuum cleaner or a hamster. One’s too deep (scent simply runs down into your lungs), one’s too light (not enough strength to get aroma into your oral cavity for a proper sniff).

Aroma applies to your foods as well as other beverages you want to enjoy. Smell them all. They all have aromas to offer.

1. When eating foods, get a hold of the goods at hand with fingers, fork, spoon or tongs, lift to your nose and try the same methods listed above.

2. Explore the food aromas in different temperature ranges: cheeses cold, cheeses slightly warmed up, cheeses room temperature. You’ll experience a vast range of aromas. NOTE: make sure to watch for food safety – don’t leave sensitive food items sitting out too long as to sacrifice safe consumption.

Women and men can learn volumes about beer by doing something as simple as smelling beer before consuming it. While there is a bit of info out there on how women and men may taste differently, WEB is mostly concerned with the simple exercise of actual participation. We’re leaving the science to others.

And in the end, who cares if we do or don’t. What is key to remember is that EVERYONE enjoys aromas, flavor and therefore beer.

Extra Credit Exercises:

  • Pour a fresh beer into various kinds of glassware and see how different the aromas can be, per shape and size of glass.
  • Set a timer after pouring the same beer into 3 – 5 different glasses (same style or different) and smell them in 5 minute intervals.
  • Write an essay if you wish, share with friends. Better yet, do these exercises with friends. Beer brings people together – be the facilitator.