Monday, June 21, 2010

Grassley's Gulf Ale

A unique new beer will be pouring soon in New Orleans and Florida, if Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has his way. He has suggested that beer ingredients may be used to tackle the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, “I think that there’s alternatives to soaking up oil that have not been used yet...There’s a process for making beer — I don’t know if it’s the yeast or what it is in making beer. You can put those microscopic things on oil and they die, and all you’ve got is some methane gas left.”

It's not good form to extract humour from the biggest environmental disaster North America has ever faced. But people like Grassley are hardly making it easy for us. His idea is completely ridiculous. Has noone told him that oils in suspension will completely ruin the head?

However, there is a kernel of brewing science logic in the suggestion. Micro-organisms such as yeast can break down oils in certain conditions, releasing gases such as carbon-dioxide. Oil is mainly hydrocarbon, which is an alternative arrangement of the same elements that form the fermentable sugars in wort.

Of course, putting brewers yeast into the Gulf of Mexico is unlikely to work, but I recommend pouring the entire US reserves of Coors Light, Miller Hi-Life, and Bud Light Lime into the ocean anyway. You know, just in case.

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