Greetings! PilsnerPilgrim here, or Grim to my friends. I’m currently a 4th Year molecular biology PhD student at The University of Nottingham, in the UK. That means you should believe me when I report on things like this:

‘Physicians should be aware of the growing evidence supporting the nutritional and health benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle. The recently approved voluntary label on wine (“the proud people who made this wine encourage you to consult your family doctor about the health effects of wine consumption”) implies that physicians should promote wine as the preferred source of dietary alcohol. However, studies evaluating the relative benefits of wine versus beer versus spirits suggest that moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. From a nutritional standpoint, beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine. The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have not been generally endorsed by physicians for fear that heavy consumers may consider any message as a permissive license to drink in excess. Discussions with patients regarding alcohol consumption should be made in the context of a general medical examination. There is no evidence to support endorsement of one type of alcoholic beverage over another. The physician should define moderate drinking (1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men) for the patient and should review consumption patterns associated with high risk.’

Denke, Margo A. MD. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Beer, American Journal of Medical Sciences, 2000 (320), pp. 320-326.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, I moved to England to follow my heart. That’s right, I moved here for Ale.

Coming from North America, I was used to drinking ice cold lager. Refreshing, mellow flavours with low to intermediate bitterness is what pervades throughout our society. At least that was the norm until recently when the IPA explosion happened. Now it seems like you can’t go two blocks without stumbling across a new craft brewery which, to the credit of many, produce some pretty darn good beer. However, as a Canadian, if you give us a beer, you better make darn sure its ice cold.

Then I move to England and it’s like a shock to the system. Both good and bad. The good: Flavour. Great British Ales are defined by their use of unique hops, pure harvested grains, and unwavering brewing technique and prestige. These all amount to one thing: a beer with depth of flavour. Honey, chocolate, fruit, bread, bitter, sweet, heavy, light, all things that immediately come to mind when trying to describe ales. It’s like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and everything you’ve known is turned upside down. For the better. The bad: Warm beer. Wow. Coming from the land of ice and snow, drinking warm beer just seems wrong.

Alas.. as it is often unavoidable when choosing real ales (thank goodness for the existence of Guinness EXTRA COLD on tap), it is dawning on me how this can be seen as enjoyable. Lager is often consumed ice cold due to the lack of depth in the beer. The cold enhances the refreshing quality and makes the experience more enjoyable. Cheap lagers often contain undesirable by-products from the fermentation process that do not get entirely filtered out, leaving a chemical, harsh quality to the beer, if served at anything less than very chilled. When drinking an ale warm (warm = 6-10*C), you begin to experience new depths of flavour that are hidden at colder climes. All the subtle notes that the brew master intended to be there are finally bursting free from their ice prison, swirling and encompassing your tongue with richness.

Anyway. I enjoy trying new things, and that definitely means trying new beers. So if you share an interest in Man’s second oldest passion, please feel free to send me a message or comment on my posts!

Easy drinking all.