Create a Custom Beer with Your DNA

Modern beer drinkers can be tough to please. With liquor store shelves overflowing with cinnamon IPAs and chocolate stouts, craft brewers are faced with the daunting task of finding recipes that will resonate with their oft-bearded end users. But one UK-based brewery is taking things up a notch. For a hefty price tag, the Meantime Brewing Company offering customers the ultimate personalized beer. And all they need is a bit of your spit.

For the pioneering project, the brewery partnered with personal genomics and biotechnology company, 23andMe. Using simple saliva samples, the folks at 23andMe are able to analyze customers’ genetic profiles and evaluate their taste tendencies. The brewers at Meantime then interpret that info to tailor-make 12 hectolitres (about 2,500 pints) of tipple suited to individual taste preferences.

Just in case the genetically determined flavor profile doesn’t perfectly match up with customers’ preferred tastes, a consultation with the brewmaster is included in the package to allow for a bit of flavor tweaking if necessary. And it just may be necessary. 23andMe have admitted that “scientists aren’t yet sure how much of our taste preferences are genetic, but estimates are generally around 50%.”

The idea to merge genetics with brewing was sparked late last year when Meantime brewmaster Ciaran Giblin obtained his own DNA blueprint from 23andMe. According to the results, Giblin’s oral taste receptors (the TAS2R38 gene) show that he has a proclivity for bitter flavors like those found in coffee or Brussels sprouts.

Hophead Giblin used the taste analysis to create the world’s first DNA-dictated beer: Double Helix. The super bitter IPA is packed with American hops and erupts with the full-bodied flavor that you’d expect from a chest hair-sprouting 10% ABV beer.

His potent personalized brew was made available at a selection of exclusive venues across London. Following its success, the craft brewer announced the launch of ‘Meantime Bespoke,’ “a one-of-a-kind service aimed at offering passionate craft beer fans the opportunity to brew the ultimate
in personalized beer.”

Sounds good, right? Well before you sign up, let’s talk about that hefty price tag. A DNA-designed beer will set you back an eye-watering $31,360 (and that excludes features like a custom-designed label or home draft dispenser). Sure, you head home with a truckload of beer, but you’re paying three times as much per pint as you would if you had just wandered into any London pub and ordered a beer from the bar.

But according to the team at Meantime, their custom beer project is about more than just the product. Marketing director, Richard Myers told The Register that it is about the experience of creating a unique beer in consultation with the brewmaster that makes Meantime Bespoke worth mortgaging the house.

“It is true that someone could just tell us whether they like sweet or bitter flavors, however we are interested in how much they really like them,” explains Myers. “For example, from the test we now understand that Ciaran (our brewmaster and first to try the concept) has an 80% tolerance to bitter flavors. Far higher than he actually thought he would, that led him to create a beer with 100 IBUs [International Bitterness Units]. The one-on-one consultation will provide further insight into the individual’s preferences to help create the perfect beer.”

Meantime Brewery, an Anheuser-Busch InBev company, are strong believers in embracing modern technology in the quest for better beer and are keen to push the boundaries of the industry to create new drinking experiences. “Drinkers are developing more adventurous tastes thanks to the abundance of new and unheard of ingredients and flavor combinations becoming even more readily available,” says Giblin. “We are finding our consumers want to be continually surprised, excited and at times even challenged by what’s on offer.”

There’s An “In-Home Booze Maker” on the Way From Keurig and Anheuser-Busch Inbev

Beverage brewing system experts Keurig have announced that they will be teaming up with Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewers best known for Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, for an “in-home booze maker.” Neither company has confirmed in-depth details yet on the collaborative effort but they have disclosed that at least 50 employees will be needed to work on the invention, development and testing of an appliance that can make push-button “beer, spirits, cocktails and mixers.” Technology from the Keurig Kold, the now retired cold beverage maker, is rumored to be a starting point.

What do you guys think about this idea, is it a game changer?

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Adds Alcohol to Menus

Have you dreamt of sipping a glass of wine or drinking a chilled beer while enjoying Disney magic? Well, your dream is coming true. Beginning Dec. 23, Disney’s Magic Kingdom is now expanding their alcohol offerings to four more restaurants.

In 2012, the Be Our Guest Restaurant became the first establishment to serve alcohol. Now wine and beer will be offered at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, Liberty Tree Tavern, Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen and Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Guests can expect each beverage to coincide with the Disney magic and their respective meal. For example, Tony’s will offer Italian wines and beers and Cinderella’s Royal Table will serve champagne and sparkling wine.

The wine and beer will only be served during lunch and dinner. To-go beverages and standalone bars will not be an option. Walt Disney apparently had strict rules against booze in his park, but due to popular demand by guests, the Magic Kingdom is hoping to grant some holiday wishes.

5 Wines To Get You Through Thanksgiving Alive

Everyone knows alcohol helps pass the time spent with less-than-kindred kin during the holiday season. If bird is the word, that dried-out turkey might need some liquid support as much as you do. With mandatory imbibing in mind, we discuss different tactics involving wine to get over obstacles, emotional and physical, such as how to avoid unnecessary tableside political conversations and restroom getaway routes — all by way of holiday wine selections.

Partner in Wine: Cheap wine

Chances are you might not know your cousin’s husband’s brother-in-law who will be sitting at the 20-person-wide communal table this holiday, but chances are better that he doesn’t know you or your drink taste. Shop the discount section at large grocers — Kroger stores are notorious for marking down bottles that do not sell well, many of which might be insane deals if you look close enough. Or, instead of skimming the bottle shelf for dwellers even your stingy uncle knows is cheap, look one row up and select a teeth-staining, full-bodied Argentine Malbec for $7 instead.

Partner in Wine: High ABV bottles

No amount of wine can change the results of this election, but it can help to tune out the amount of nonsense you have to take an ear-full of from a relative that might not have the same POV as you. The aforementioned Malbec can do the trick if it’s coming from hot enough grape-growing regions but Zinfandel is a sure bet — anything from California’s wicked hot Lodi region will see alcohol by volume (ABV) percentages in the high 15s, 16s and even 17 percentiles. Just maybe avoid talking about the reason why that region is so hot in the first place…

Partner in Wine: Striking packaging

“Yes, Grandma, that is a naked woman on the label and no, she is not a friend of mine.” Stuck in an empty tête-à-tête with an in-law? Grab the nearest bottle and start discussing the abject expressionism of bottle art. Learn up on what you are pouring in your glass so you can rattle off a car-rehearsed canned speech on what makes your bottle worth filling vacant airspace with.

Partner in Wine: Mulled wine

Sugar and spice and everything nice, you are way too busy in the kitchen seasoning your multi-step, slow-cooked mulled wine to converse with anyone you do not want to. Hovering over your mom’s crockpot, wooden ladle in hand with the hood fan blowing a sweet breeze into your face, you are also nearly hard of hearing in this position: an unappealing counterpart for a heart-to-heart-seeking relative. Although most recipes really only require 20 minutes of “active” work, this recipe instructs for a watchful eye over a spices-stuffed cheesecloth bag and a splash of brandy for the win.

Partner in Wine: Large format bottles

This social pardon requires commitment — from lingering around a large format container of purple drank to loitering around the restroom regardless of who went in there last. Large formats — aka box wine, a 1.5-liter bottle or bigger — will only hit your bladder as fast as you hit that bottle, but we all know what happens once you break the seal. Position yourself and your bottle/box close to the restroom for a quick and easy closure to an undesirable exchange.

Vote For Our Next President With, Umm, Beer!

Clinton or Trump? Trump or Clinton? We’re entering what is sure to be one of the most interesting Presidential races since…well, since forever. And if you simply can’t wait until November to cast your vote, you can head over to Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, which has created two commemorative bottles of their IPA—the red labeled Alection with Trump’s photo on the label, and the blue-labeled Alection with Clinton’s face on the label. From now until election day (November 8), you can cast your vote by choosing one version of the IPA over the other. No matter which beer you choose, $1 of each bottle sale goes to Common Cause’s voter protection fund. Half Moon Bay’s Alection doesn’t quench your thirst for politics?


The Only Mexican Beers You Should Be Drinking on Cinco de Mayo

Like many readily available American beers, a lot of the Mexican beers you come across offer little in the way of flavor. We’re not saying partying with a few Coronas is going to make for a bad Cinco de Mayo, but there are some other options out there that deliver at least a little more in the way of taste.

Here are five we recommend.

  • Bohemia – Link
  • Negra Modelo – Link
  • León – Link
  • Dos Equis Amber Lager – Link
  • Indio – Link

Craft Beers of Mexico

  • Minerva Imperial Tequila Ale – Link
  • Los Muertos Immortal Beloved – Link
  • Ensenada Horchata Obscura Porter – Link
  • Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout – Link
  • Cucapa Green Card – Link
  • Propaganda American Pale Ale – Link

Cinco de Mayo, Explained…

Today, many Americans are celebrating a holiday they likely know almost nothing about.

I’m speaking, of course, of Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for May 5. Although the day is supposed to celebrate Mexican heritage, it has become Americanized — that is, hijacked into another excuse to party, eat, and drink, all while getting sweet discounts at some restaurants. (It is so Americanized, in fact, that it’s actually celebrated more in the US than in Mexico.)

The origins of the holiday go back to, as one would expect, Mexican history. But Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (September 16), as many people believe. It is, instead, a day commemorating an important battle after Mexican independence.

These details might not seem very important. But the origins are an important part of the Mexican heritage many Americans are supposed to be celebrating today — and give some insight into why this uniquely Mexican-American holiday is now celebrated in the US.

Cinco de Mayo’s origins go back to a 19th-century battle

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Let’s be clear: Mexican Independence Day is September 16, 1810, the beginning of Mexico’s revolt against Spain. It is not Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo does, however, have roots in Mexico’s struggle with another European power.

In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez declared that his country couldn’t afford to pay its debts. This, as one would expect, did not please the countries that had made loans to Mexico — and Britain, Spain, and France sent naval forces to Mexico to secure their debts.

Britain and Spain managed to negotiate the issue peacefully. But the French, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to invade, taking over the country and setting up a monarchy led by an Austrian archduke.

But before the French managed to take over the country for several years, Cinco de Mayo gave Mexicans a glimmer of hope: When the French approached the town of Puebla on May 5, 1862, their army lost to a badly outnumbered and out-armed group of Mexican soldiers.

The Mexican victory was short-lived, and France eventually advanced to the nation’s capital and took over. But the win still turned into a symbol of Mexican resistance, helping sustain an independence movement that would go on for the next few years.

Driven by the spirit of Cinco de Mayo and with American support, Mexicans eventually — in 1867 — toppled the French-installed government and put Juárez back in power.

Over time, Cinco de Mayo became an American holiday

So how did Cinco de Mayo go from celebrating a struggle for Mexican liberation to a US holiday?

It goes back to the US and Mexico’s close ties, linked by proximity, a struggle against European imperialism for independence, trade, and immigration. (There’s also the US’s imperialism in Mexico.)

The close ties were also real in 1862, the year of Cinco de Mayo and second year of the American Civil War. These two events were tied, as Brian Greene reported for US News and World Report:

As the French were making war with Mexico, the American Confederacy was courting Napoleon’s help in its conflict with the United States. At the time of the Battle of Puebla, the Confederacy had strung together impressive victories over the Union forces. According to some historians, the French, who made war with Mexico on the pretext of collecting debt, planned to use Mexico as a “base” from which they could help the Confederacy defeat the North, and the Mexican victory at Puebla made the French pause long enough for the Union army to grow stronger and gain momentum. Had the French won at Puebla, some contend, the outcome of the American Civil War could have been much different, as the French and Confederates together could have taken control of the continent from the Mason Dixon line to Guatemela [sic], installing an oligarchical, slave-holding government.

This link between the victory in Puebla and the Civil War drove Mexican Americans in California to celebrate the holiday as part of the cause to abolish slavery. As David Hayes-Bautista, author of El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, told the Associated Press, Hispanic Americans in the western US even celebrated Cinco de Mayo in parades while dressed in Civil War uniforms.

Over time, Mexican Americans’ festivities transformed into a broader celebration of their Mexican heritage, particularly as Mexican Americans adopted Cinco de Mayo as a rallying cry in their struggle for civil rights in the 1970s. (The civil rights link has stuck, at times leading to protests and riots. On May 5, 1991, for example, the police shooting of a Salvadoran man led to three days of riots in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC.)

Eventually, the celebrations became so prominent that white Americans began to take part in the holiday as well. With that, major companies began getting involved to make Cinco de Mayo into a profitable venture.

But as the holiday grew broader, so did its focus — and with that, its true origins were mostly lost.

Cinco de Mayo has turned into another reason to booze up

None of this history has any bearing on how most Americans take part in Cinco de Mayo. Insofar as the holiday’s Mexican origins color how most Americans celebrate the day, it mostly just changes the kind of alcohol and food people consume as they party.

This, of course, isn’t exclusive to Cinco de Mayo. It’s happened with St. Patrick’s Day, which went from celebrating the top patron saint of Ireland to essentially celebrating alcohol, America’s second deadliest drug. It’s something we’ve seen with holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which have over time transformed more into reasons to buy a bunch of stuff — candy, food, booze, gifts, and so on.

Similarly, the food and alcohol industries have transformed Cinco de Mayo into a huge day for advertising and sales. According to CNN, in 2014 the Friday closest to Cinco de Mayo was the biggest non-winter drinking day of the year.

This is just what capitalism does to holidays in America. And, hey, it can be pretty fun. But since booze is so dangerous (linked to 88,000 deaths each year), it’s also a public health and safety hazard — to the point that state agencies warn people to take it easy on the drinking during holidays like Cinco de Mayo. And the corporate takeover of Cinco de Mayo has also by and large diluted the holiday’s origins.

But at the very least, knowing the origins of Cinco de Mayo will give you something to talk about with strangers as you down fajitas and margaritas today.