The Dregs of Beer Blogging

I’ve never had problems figuring out what to write about. Ideas strike at work, in the shower, as I’m falling asleep (basically, whenever it’s difficult to write them down). But sometimes, usually when the thought of how few people want to fund my writing career hurls me screaming into the blighted realm of Who Gives a Crap, it can be hard to figure out what I’m writing for.

But feeling whiny and entitled isn’t why the website has been silent. (Well, not the only reason.) The past four months at my real job have been unusually hectic thanks to a special project (hereafter codenamed Project Time Vampire), and at some point I realized I had too little time and energy to provide high-quality beer(ein)stein content. Unfortunately, losing your rhythm posting on a blog is like getting closelined off a bike — sure, you could stand up, get back on, and ride away, but it’s easier to just lie there asking questions like “what the hell was that?” and “how do I get my lungs to start using air again, exactly?”

A few weeks ago, however, after my coworkers and I had just hammered a stake through Project Time Vampire’s mangled, hideous heart, I stopped on the way home and bought a bottle of Ommegang’s Abbey Ale. Near the end of the night, I tilted the almost-empty bottle above my head and peered through the glass. An overhead light illuminated something floating inside. Yeast sediment! I tilted a little more. The globs swirled like tiny constellations trapped in glass. But I still wanted a better view, so I tilted just a little more.

Beer and sloppy sediment sloshed out, overrunning my glasses and crashing into my open eyes.

Every now and then, it’s nice to feel inspired. Not self-help-book inspired, but kick-in-the-ass, beer-in-the-eyes inspired. After doing something this stupid, how can I not write about beer? I nearly blinded myself staring at the stuff. Apparently, I love beer so much that the crud at the bottom of the bottle is worth risking my sense of sight.

Sediment is pretty special, though. You typically won’t find it in cans of Coors, Miller, or Bud. If you do, something has gone terribly wrong. They filter those beers till almost nothing’s left, which is probably why most of them taste like Splenda’d seltzer water. They also pasteurize them to kill any remaining signs of life. Beers that contain sediment, however, are “live” beers, i.e., beers that contain active yeast, nature’s microbiological bartenders. Without yeast we’d all be drinking boiled barley juice (also known as wort), which means no one would be drinking it, because it’s gross.

Yeast are microorganisms of the kingdom Fungi, and certain species go absolutely apeshit when submerged in sugar water. They start devouring the sugars — which, in the case of beer, are typically derived from starchy cereal grains — and then pooing them out (chemists use fancy words like “converting”) as ethanol (the part that gets you drunk) and carbon dioxide (the part that’s all fizzy). After doing this for a while, they settle on the bottom, going either dormant or belly up.

If you see sediment in your bottle, don’t do anything crazy like pour the beer through a coffee filter. All sediment’s presence means is that you’re drinking the good stuff. Real beer. Beer as cuisine and art, as tradition and history, as nature. Not as another cog in commerce. If you still dislike the idea of sediment, handle and pour the beer gently. Perhaps decant it before drinking. If chunks end up in your glass despite these efforts, don’t freak out. The stuff isn’t bad for you — in fact, yeast sediment is sold as a dietary supplement because it’s chock full of B vitamins, protein, and minerals. It can also add some body and flavor to the beer, which some drinkers actually enjoy.

But if it still makes you wanna hurl, you might consider showing these microbial brewers some respect by dumping them back to earth as a tribute to fallen homies, an offering to the countless troops who’ve willingly ridden that epic sugar high all the way down to Davey Jones so that we could drink our beer. Just don’t accidentally spill them in your eyes. Little bastards sting.

10 Responses to “The Dregs of Beer Blogging”
  1. Jeremy Deal says:

    GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK.. you’d be proud of the little beer snob I’ve turned into… really loving the Unibrou brand of beers lately…

  2. Shawn says:

    As I sit here reading your article I am sipping a ultra filtered lager of the somewhat-better-than-but-maybe-not-really-better-than the coors and bud variety…but thanks to your new post the next one will be something better.

    Glad to see you blogging again and sorry about your eye!

  3. Fil says:

    Uhhh . . . beer belongs in your mouth not your eyes. Ya could drink thru yer eyes but it wouldn’t taste very good and would take a really long time. I hope you cut that vampire’s head off. Sometimes they figger out how to come back to life . . glad you’re back btw.

  4. Ben says:

    yes! new post!

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