DRAFT PICKS: The health advantages of ale (in moderation)

“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale …” — William Shakespeare 

 

There is a lot to be said for a good glass of fine brew enjoyed in moderation and with a true sense of appreciation for the brewer’s concern for your happiness.

There’s a lot to be said for a civilized beer …

Including some serious claims of serious health benefits.

Now, considering I know just a bit more about beer than I do about medicine or scientific research, I will not claim to have carried out the lab work on anything that follows.

Instead, I will make sure everything is documented so that you may (if you so please) read the “proofs” on your own.

In short, any number of surveys have shown a good glass of beer, in moderation, is good not only for the soul, but also for the body.

Beer can have interesting health benefits.

And so …

  • A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports “Drinking moderate amounts of beer has been shown to lower the risk of coronary heart disease by 30 to 40 percent.”

(Editors note: In many published reports “moderate” is described as one, 12-ounce bottle or glass of beer.)

  • The American Heart Association found that beer promotes blood vessel health. Beer has the same amount of polyphenols as red wine and four to five times as many polyphenols as white wine.
  • A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that light to moderate beer drinkers decrease their risk of suffering a stroke by 20 percent.
  • The Journal of Epidemiology recently reported that middle-aged men who are regular beer drinkers cut their risks of developing kidney stones by 40 percent, and a Harvard University study found that consuming moderate amounts of beer can actually improve cognitive function in older adults, as well.
  • A massive meta-analysis of epidemiological data on alcohol and health, conducted by Italy’s Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura, showed that moderate consumption of beer decreases drinkers’ risk of heart disease by 31 percent, just as much as moderate consumption of wine. The Italian findings were based on data from over 200,000 people’s drinking habits.

 

In an online article entitled Tap Into Beer’s Health Benefits published at everydayhealth.com, author Sharon Tanenbaum notes a number of “beer boosts” including:

  • Participants who sipped one or two beers a day had greater bone mineral density than those who drank more or fewer beers, found a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “Silicon helps stimulate bone-building cells, and the estrogenic effect of alcohol also has a protective quality for bones,” says study author Katherine Tucker, PhD, professor of nutritional epidemiology at Northeastern University in Boston. Which brew boasts the most silicon? Try an India Pale Ale. A 2010 University of California Davis study found that IPAs had the highest levels of the mineral.
  • A beer a day may keep heart disease away. “Alcohol raises levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol,” says Arthur Klatsky, MD, senior consultant in cardiology at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. “It also has anti-clotting effects, which keeps blood vessels clear and healthy.” In fact, Israeli researchers found that people who drank one beer daily had lower levels of fibrinogen, a protein that helps promote blood clotting, than those who abstained from drinking. (Blood clots can cause heart attack and stroke.) Study participants drank Maccabee beer, but researchers believe that any type of beer could have similar heart-healthy effects.
  • Finnish researchers found that men who drank beer had a 40 percent lower risk of kidney stones compared to those who drank other types of alcohol. The benefit may be due to beer’s high water content. Dehydration can increase the risk of kidney stones, which are little deposits of salt and minerals such as calcium that can form in your kidneys. Beer’s hops (a kind of flower that gives beer its bitter flavor and acts as a preservative) may also help prevent kidney stones by slowing the release of calcium from bones.
  • While excessive alcohol intake can cause irreparable brain damage, moderate daily consumption actually safeguards a sharp mind, research shows. One classic New England Journal of Medicine study, which analyzed the drinking habits of about 11,000 women over more than 15 years, found that those who had up to one drink a day had a 20 percent lower risk of brain function decline  than nondrinkers. Alcohol intake may protect blood vessels in the brain and also lower stroke risk, say researchers.
  • Beer’s health benefits aren’t limited to those who drink it: Marinating steak in your favorite brew could eliminate up to 88 percent of the carcinogens that form as a result of pan-frying meat, according to a Portuguese study. Cooking meat at high temperatures creates cancer-causing compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Researchers think that the sugars in beer help prevent HCA formation.

 

In an attempt to do everything I can to help faithful readers stay as healthy as possible, I now offer a review of a couple of fine brews that may interest them

Enjoy and savor … in moderation.

None of the brews I review should be ruined by immoderation.

They (the beers) deserve better.

Blonde Ale

Arbor Brewing Company

Ypsilanti

 

Blonde Ale is a fine, light ale that more than fits its name.

It is full amber colored brew, almost hinting of apricot in hue.

When poured Blonde forms an energetic, full head; fluffy pale white. It is well retained and reduces gradually to about a quarter-inch at which point it settles and maintains throughout.

It is very bubbly at the start, and continues so for a long time. Cloudy and quite dull.

This brew appears thick, almost like a fresh, light cider.

There is little malty smell, but rather Blonde comes off light and fruity. Slightly hoppy at first nose. There are hints of yeast, but not aggressively so in the least.

Definitely an ale, but surprising in that it leans toward a more hefty lager. The malts hit with authority after a wash of mild fruit flavor.

Blonde is bubbly, slightly sweet — defined by not defiant. There is certainly some sweet roasted malt flavor in attendance.

There is a lingering, lasting finish of malt and hop blend well after the fruitiness has worn off.

Warm in the mouth, slightly zesty. Far less heavy than one might expect from this ale’s body.

Blonde is a cute offering from Arbor. This is a well blended ale for those who want something with a bit more authority than a standard lager, but who don’t yet feel comfortable with something a bit heftier.

A great starter ale.

This is a fine blonde ale for the deck or yard at any time.

 

Stone Smoked Porter

Stone Brewing Company

San Diego, Calif.

 

With this review, we finally leave Michigan for further fields.

This wonderful porter is one of the brews suggested me of late. The bottle was the gift of a friend, which makes the enjoyment of it even more pronounced.

First, a disclaimer … I love porters. There will be more on this later.

Stone Smoked Porter is a dark, rich red pour — but way beyond. It is deep, deep, chestnut in color, bordering on black even in strong light.

The head is rich and creamy, dark beige or even light brown in color. It forms and is long lasting, calling attention to itself and demanding consideration.

This porter is not hazy or cloudy, but still clear and brisk despite the fact that you can’t see from one side of the glass to the other.

It is obviously a dignified offering, (and I’ll probably use the word dignified too often!)

Sweet malts highlight the first sniff. Then, a range of hinted scents carry over. Some coffee, a touch of chocolate, a whisper of darker fruits … plums or blueberries linger in a deliciously scented background.

Take your time, friends. This is a great brew on which to train your senses.

This porter is malty at first shot. The hints of fruitiness in scent don’t really declare themselves in taste, but there is a sweetness of well-roasted malts strongly expressed.

Stone’s porter is bold, robust (as are porters), slightly bready. There is a strong sense of a leather paneled library as you drink this brew.

Delicate smoke. Noticeable and refined.

Smoky and sultry in the very best of ways.

Very well balanced without giving way to any background elements.

This porter is great (just the way I like them).

It is proud and dignified — more expressive than most brown ales, but more accommodating than your usual stout.

A lovely drink.

This would be a fine after dinner offering while working on a box of fine chocolates (the good stuff) and a bowl of fresh fruits (preferably berries.)

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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