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An interview with a beer aficionado

by Sir Bender

"Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer." -- Dave Barry

Now that I've covered the straight fact about beer, I thought it would be appropriate to interrogate one of my many alcoholic muses. What is that, you ask? Well I don't have a clue, I just thought it sounded sophisticated, but I'm sorry I won't do that again...

I called up Vicky and asked her for an interview. She is quite the beer lover - is there anything hotter than a beautiful girl that digs beer? Well maybe a beautiful girl that digs beer and walks around in a bikini, but that's beyond the scope of this interview (ed. note: Next time Bender, make sure bikini and beer ARE the scope of your article or else...).

Sir Bender (S.B.): Any opening thoughts on beer?
Vicky (V): Hun?

S.B.: How would you define beer?
V.: A six-pack. A pitcher. A pint, maybe a bottle, or even a shooter...Beer has lost all the glamour and pride it once had, to the point of being merely called by its volume, not its name - which implies its sole role as a cheap, ashamed of its own name, filler to get hammered while maintaining some kind of irrelevant taste.

S.B.: Shooter - HA! Isn't that a little mellow?
V.: You laugh at the shooter? Try to drink a hundred of them, one every minute, without even gracing the nearest bathroom, and you will discover that the Century Club isn't for the liver-challenged.

S.B.: Right, the fabled college Century Club - A tradition of noble perspectives...very classy. It gets people to drink and puke together.
V.: Right - this refreshing and sparkling drink holds the unique position of being an essential element of social gatherings as well as a witness of our civilization's rises and downfalls for the past 12 000 years...

S.B.: Never realized they had Century Clubs back then, should have payed attention during history classes...
V.: Well maybe not Century Clubs, but the drink has been around for a long time. First beers were supposedly made by the Mesopotamians and Sumerians, about 4 millennia before in vino veritas made any sense. Its production and spreading as a very popular beverage continued through the Ancient Chinese, Egyptians and pre-Columbian civilisations to medieval monks who perfected the refining process and established the use of hops as a flavour and preservative.

S.B.: In vino whata? Sounds unhealthy for my brain to pronounce that. What...
V.: UNHEALTHY, God No! Beer's historical heritage goes in pair with its benefits - asides from being considered as the liquid bread in Europe, it is supposed to prevent hardening of the arteries, cancer, diabetes, throat infection, and kidney stones, on top of being a stress-relievers, which is however common to most alcoholic beverages.

S.B.: Euh...
V.: Sounds too good to be true? Beer was used in Egypt as a treatment way before anyone discovered that it contains protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins B, B2, and B6...

S.B.: How nice of you not to let me talk...looks like I don't even have to ask any questions.
V.: Um Hum, ok - the first ingredient to beer is barley, which is subsequently soaked, cooked, crushed, soaked again, boiled, mixed with female hop flowers, cooled down, mixed with yeast and finally fermented - or underfermented, as it is usually the case south of the border - until enough alcohol is formed. Amongst many varieties of beer, one could mention porter, a very dark English beer developed as a nourishment drink for labourers; stout, its sister drink with its unique strong and deep taste made with roasted and unmalted barley invented by Guinness whose beer is also known in Ireland as Vitamin G - funny, no?

S.B.: Ri...
V.: Yeah, anyway, then there's pilsner, a pale and light lager from Czechoslovakia on which many US beers are modeled. To make classification even more serious, beer bitterness is sometimes quantified by IBU (International Bitterness Units), where an American light can have 10 IBU and an Irish stout 55 to 60.

S.B.: That was a mistake...are you always such a motor mouth, or is it the beer's social lubricating abilities that do that?
V.: What? That's not beer related...

S.B.: Sorry, what was I thinking - trying to veer you off topic...
V.: That's OK, people always do that to me...wonder why? How about I tell you how you drink beer?

S.B.: I always figured it was with your mouth...
V.: There's more to it silly...regardless if it's served in a mug or pint, the glass should be cool enough (but not frozen), to allow a slight frosty condensation on it, and filled at 45 degrees so as to allow a formation of a proper, two finger-widths foam head. Beer itself should be consumed in between 7 and 12 C which allows to fully appreciating its richness and profound bouquet - colder temperatures, although used by some breweries, tend to kill the taste. It has to be drunk slowly in order to release the entire spectrum of flavours, starting from the nose which tends to have light aroma scents characteristic of each beer type. The palate contains the essence of beer's refreshing characteristics along with its bitter and sour side, with an occasional feathery hint of honey syrup. The finish lets you appreciate the subtle, vanilla-suggesting aftertaste… and prepares you for yet another pint.

S.B.: I think that will be plenty enough...I feel completely violated - yet again.
V.: Hun? Well, ok - thanks for the opportunity.