Last week, I attended a talk on The Science of Beer hosted by the Royal Institution in London, the home of the annual Christmas science lectures and Faraday's laboratory. A historic lecture theatre that had probably never seen a pint of beer in its 200 year history.
Here is a little of what we learned :
The monks who previously brewed beer were entitled to 8 pints a day - even when fasting.
Women brewsters died out because they were burned at the stake - in the belief that their "science" was witchcraft.
The hop has 500 compounds compared to 200 in most plants.
We learned all about the Glycolytic Pathway, Reaction Kinetics and Glucose Metabolism(don't ask me now though !)
We now know what a spiderplot to map flavour is.
The talk was hosted by leading beer writer, Adrian Tierney-Jones and presented by Alex Bell, the head brewer at O'Hanlons Brewery.
Much of the talk reminded me of a brewery tour by an enthusiastic brewer but without the smells of a brewery.
However, as with a brewery visit, the science was followed by a practical - a beer tasting of 3 O'Hanlons beers;
Yellowhammer, a golden beer; Royal Oak, a stronger beer once brewed by Eldridge Pope and Dry Stout, a dark stout.
The audience was not the usual collection of CAMRA people, indeed I was one of only a handful of CAMRA members present. However, this 200+ strong audience were beer drinkers, and all engaged and interested to learn. This again reminded me that there is a huge pool of potential CAMRA members that we are overlooking in favour of promotions for young people and women - worthy target groups but the vast majority of whom would never try real ale in the first place.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening away from the usual CAMRA circuit.