A green beer that looks like algae? It’s all for clean water
By JOHN SEEWER
Tuesday, September 18
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — There are spicy beers and even peanut butter beers, made to stand out on crowded shelves. Then there’s a murky, green brew that looks a lot like algae. It’s making a statement on the one ingredient brewers can’t do without — clean water.
The ghastly-looking “Alegae Bloom” beer made by Maumee Bay Brewing Co., which relies on Lake Erie for its water, is a good conversation starter that reminds customers about the toxic algae that show up each year in the shallowest of the Great Lakes, said brewery manager Craig Kerr.
Workers came up with the idea last summer when a thick coat of algae settled into a creek alongside its brew house.
“We’re going to keep doing this until the algae bloom isn’t there anymore,” Kerr said. “The goal is to never make this beer again.”
Craft brewers nationwide are pushing for strong environmental regulations while also working to preserve rivers and streams, all in the name of water. A growing number are getting involved at a time when the Trump administration is seeking to do away with a rule that a group of brewers say protects water sources from pollution.
Some brewers, like Maumee Bay, are serving up seasonal batches to draw attention to pollutants that threaten Florida’s aquifers and Colorado’s mountain streams.
Mixing beer into debates over environmental policy adds levity to discussions about protecting the nation’s waterways and helps connect with new audiences.
“We’re reaching people where they drink,” said Becky Hammer, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who oversees the Brewers for Clean Water campaign, which has grown from a few dozen members to nearly 100 during the past five years.
The council has seized on the efforts by brewers to team up with them in lobbying against the repeal of an Obama-era clean water rule intended to reduce sources of pollution dumped in the small tributaries of larger lakes and rivers.
But that’s not the only water issue that beer makers are worried about.
A group of brewers in Michigan voted this year to back shutting down an aging oil pipeline where lakes Huron and Michigan meet because it could be vulnerable to leaks.
“This is my livelihood,” said Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery. “It’s a business issue for us, but it’s also good for the community and society that we have clean water.
He got a close look at how vulnerable the water supply is after a pipeline spilled oil near his brewing facility in 2010.
Some craft breweries in Salem, Oregon, stopped making beer for several weeks in June after an algae bloom led to a drinking water warning for the young and sick.
Ian Croxall, a co-owner of Santiam Brewing in Salem, said they could’ve stayed open, but customers were asking “if the beer was being made with toxic water.”
The brewery lost about $40,000 and spent another $5,000 on a new filtration system in case the toxins return, he said.
Craft brewers say it’s their duty to protect the water they use. Beer is about 90 percent water, after all.
Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Co. and Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Florida, trace their involvement in clean water campaigns to founders who saw protecting the environment as part of their business model.
But getting involved in clean-water politics can create sticky situations.
New Belgium Brewing Co. found that out three years ago when bars and restaurants in Craig, Colorado, began a boycott of its beer.
It turned out the company had given money for waterways projects to an environmental group involved in an unrelated court case that threatened to shut down a coal mine just outside the city.
“We felt compassionate and listened to them,” said Katie Wallace, New Belgium’s assistant director of sustainability. “Public perception is something we care about, but it doesn’t change our overall view.”
New Belgium, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, said it has given $16 million to nonprofit groups, with a large chunk going toward water protection projects. It also has been one of the loudest voices calling for stronger environmental policies.
That means occasionally hearing from people telling them “stick to making beer.”
“We didn’t ask politics to get involved in beer,” said Wallace. “But they did when our No. 1 ingredient is being threatened.”
A new report by the CDC shows that 4.3 percent of adults with diabetes don’t even know they have it. In all, nearly 14 percent of adults have the disease, with factors like gender, race, age, and weight playing a role in who is most susceptible.
Among the findings:
The prevalence of total diabetes was higher among men (15.9%) than among women (12.2%)
The prevalence of total, diagnosed, and undiagnosed diabetes increased with age.
The prevalence of total and diagnosed diabetes was higher in Hispanic adults and African American adults.
The prevalence of total, diagnosed, and undiagnosed diabetes increased with weight.
Joshua Joseph, MD, endocrinologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, has done extensive research on diabetes. He recently published a study in the Journal of American Heart Association where he identified a hormone called Aldosterone, commonly associated with heart disease, is also tied to type 2 diabetes and is most prevalent in Chinese and African- Americans.
Is apple cider vinegar good for you? A doctor weighs in
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Texas A&M University
Gabriel Neal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
When my brother and I were kids back in the ‘80s, we loved going to Long John Silver’s.
But it wasn’t just for the fish.
It was for the vinegar – malt vinegar. We would uncap a bottle at the table and swig that tangy, delicious nectar of the gods straight.
Are most of you repulsed? Probably. Were we way ahead of our time? Apparently.
Some social media and online searches would have us believe that drinking vinegar is a cure-all. Our friends and colleagues will regale us with stories of the healing power of apple cider vinegar for whatever problem we may have just mentioned. “Oh, that backache from mowing? Vinegar.” “That last 10 pounds? Vinegar will melt that right off.” “Syphilis, again? You know it – vinegar.”
As a practicing physician and professor of medicine, people ask me about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar all the time. I enjoy those moments, because we can talk about the (extensive) history of vinegar, and then distill the conversations to how it could, maybe, benefit them.
A cure for colds, the plague and obesity?
Historically, vinegar has been used for many ailments. A few examples are that of the famous Greek physician Hippocrates, who recommended vinegar for the treatment of cough and colds, and that of the Italian physician Tommaso Del Garbo, who, during an outbreak of plague in 1348, washed his hands, face and mouth with vinegar in the hopes of preventing infection.
Vinegar and water has been a refreshing drink from the time of Roman soldiers to modern athletes who drink it to slake their thirst. Ancient and modern cultures the world over have found good uses for “sour wine.”
While there is plenty of historical and anecdotal testimony to the virtues of vinegar, what does medical research have to say on the subject of vinegar and health?
The most reliable evidence for the health benefits of vinegar come from a few humans studies involving apple cider vinegar. One study demonstrated that apple cider vinegar can improve after-meal blood glucose levels in insulin-resistant subjects. In 11 people who were “pre-diabetic,” drinking 20 milliliters, a little more than one tablespoon, of apple cider vinegar lowered their blood sugar levels 30-60 minutes after eating more than a placebo did. That’s good – but it was only demonstrated in 11 pre-diabetic people.
Another study on obese adults demonstrated a significant reduction in weight, fat mass and triglycerides. Researchers selected 155 obese Japanese adults to ingest either 15 ml, about one tablespoon, or 30 ml, a little more than two tablespoons, of vinegar daily, or a placebo drink, and followed their weight, fat mass and triglycerides. In both the 15 ml and 30 ml group, researchers saw a reduction in all three markers. While these studies need confirmation by larger studies, they are encouraging.
Studies in animals, mostly rats, show that vinegar can potentially reduce blood pressure and abdominal fat cells. These help build the case for followup studies in humans, but any benefit claims based only on animal studies is premature.
In all, the health benefits we suspect vinegar has need to be confirmed by larger human studies, and this will certainly happen as researchers build on what has been studied in humans and animals to date.
Is there any harm in it?
Is there any evidence that vinegar is bad for you? Not really. Unless you are drinking excessive amounts of it (duh), or drinking a high acetic acid concentration vinegar such as distilled white vinegar used for cleaning (consumable vinegar’s acetic acid content is only 4 to 8 percent), or rubbing it in your eyes (ouch!), or heating it in a lead vat as the Romans did to make it sweet. Then, yeah, that’s unhealthy.
Also, don’t heat any kind of food in lead vats. That’s always bad.
So have your fish and chips and vinegar. It’s not hurting you. It may not be doing you all the good that you’re hoping that it will; and it certainly is not a cure-all. But it is something that people all over the world will be enjoying with you. Now raise high that bottle of malt vinegar with me, and let’s drink to our health.