More “Beer Is Good For You” News! This time it is the Hops…
MORE SCIENCE! (sorry, I promise to try and write something humourous next time).
Now we all know (or are certainly telling ourselves) that beer is highly nutritious and beneficial to health and there have been plenty of dodgy news paper stories to help back us up. Happily, we now have more ammunition with which to defend our drinking habits as more boffins have been studying that wonder of nature, the hop, and come to the handy conclusion that it may be packed with the biggest health punch.
Hops have been one of the key ingredients of beer — along with grain, yeast, and water — for centuries. Along with their purpose of balancing flavors (adding bitterness to the sweet maltiness) hops have been long known to contain antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are useful in preventing microbial contamination during fermentation in the brewing process. But these same antibacterial features so useful in brewing have been linked to medical benefits, too. Hops were used throughout history as a form of folk medicine to treat sleeping problems, hair loss, anxiety, and inflammation. Recently, studies have also found that hops may fight dementia: they contain antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress and cognitive decline.
However, there is still not enough evidence to support the notion that hops can treat diseases. In order to unlock their potential, the latest researchers decided to further analyze how to zoom in on the compounds that may be advantageous. In the latest study, they noted that there are two compounds in hops that are promising from a medical standpoint: humulones, which are alpha acids with anti-inflammatory and anticancer features; and lupulones, beta acids that may also have some healthy properties. However, in order to make a medicine from these compounds, scientists would need to properly extract them from the hops — but existing methods are messy, and there haven’t been analytical standards to compare them to. Ideally they hope to create humulones and lupulones synthetically,to ease the process of turning them into medication.
We think they are being a bit wet however, we work with hops everyday. Sure they get messy, but if the end result is worth it (like a fine West Coast Pale Ale), then what is the issue? More news on this when it breaks.
Apologies to Will our Head Brewer for my hamfisted attempt at understanding science stuff. Ed
Beer As A Municipal Feature
Following on from yesterdays story about beer being used as currency, today’s you-couldn’t-make-it-up tale comes from Slovenia where, we read this morning, a small town called Zalec is planning to build a fountain which spouts beer instead of water. So obviously, our first thought was “what time is the next flight there and can I take a bucket?”, a thought which we sadly had to put to the back of our mind as there is, for some strange reason, opposition to the scheme.
The town is already well known for its hops, sitting as it does in a valley in central Slovenia, known locally as the “valley of green gold” due to the concentration of hop plantations. Hell, even the town’s crest pays tribute to its main activity, simply featuring the outline of a hop plant. This association with brewing led to the plans for what is being described as the first beer fountain in Europe (you mean there are already some elsewhere in the world? Quick, google beer fountains), and has already made headlines in the region. The fountain doesn’t yet have a completion date, but when it is finished you will find a variety of Slovenian beers on offer, paying around six euros for three 30cl helpings served in a commemorative mug (just over a half pint; stupid metric system).
But, as is the way with local politics, the 170,000 euros (£133,000) it is costing taxpayers is not going down well in all quarters. Despite this being just half of the total cost of construction, with the rest coming from private donations (if they are crowdfunding, we are in there…) some opposition councillors aren’t happy about the amount being spent, saying it could be put to better use in the community (we fail to see how). They attempted to scupper the plans at an extraordinary council meeting last week, but were ultimately outvoted by two-thirds of their colleagues, thus restoring our faith in the Democratic system!