Hoppier Than Thou
Brewmasters who make their own beer pursue their passion to craft original blends of hops, wheat, barley or other grains. Although any part of the globe with a beermaking tradition is bound of have its share of dedicated brewers, for a handful of breweries around the world, the craft of making beer truly is part of a higher calling. You see, the brewmasters to which I am referring are not simply doing their life's work, but rather God's work by crafting beer.
A Taste for Invention
A monastery might not seem like a natural fit for a brewery, but monks have all the traits of a successful craft brewer: patience, dedication and care. Many orders have centuries-old traditions of making beer, wine and other spirits. In fact, monks were responsible for the inventing champagne. (That’s right: The drink most often associated with high society was in fact first craft by a humble monk.) Monks are also credited with developed Bénédictine, a liqueur similar to brandy created by the Benedictine order at Fécamp Abbey in Normandy, France.
Brewing a Better Beer
Monastic breweries had their heyday during the medieval era, when hundreds of breweries across Europe. In many ways, monks are responsible for creating the tradition of crafting flavorful and pleasant-tasting beers. Prior to their appearance, beermaking was primarily the task of bakers and homemakers who were working with the same grains to craft bread as they would beer.
Meet the Trappists
Not every monastery is a brewery of course, but those that do create their own beers have earned a reputation for excellence. The most famous religious celebrated for their beers is the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, better known as the Trappists. For over 400 years, Trappist monks have been perfecting their craft.
Although they have around 170 locations around the globe, seven abbeys in Belgium and the Netherlands are the most well known given their on-site breweries. Visitors are welcome to sample the beverages, though they should be aware that the monks have taken a vow of silence that discourages language and laughter. In other words, even though travelers can expect to taste some of finest craft beers in the world, these abbeys are by no means bars or casual hang-outs. And you might also want to take it slow: Trappist brews can have twice as much alcohol content as typical brews.
A Higher Calling
Trappist monks are not only skilled brewers but also shrewd businessmen. To protect their name against brewers who might try to trade under the Trappist reputation, the monks formed a professional association to protect their brand. The International Trappist Association, which is composed of 16 monasteries according to the organization's website, even developed a logo that's a kind of seal of approval for their products.
The Trappists aren't the only group of monks with a talent for making beer. The Benedictine order certainly didn’t stop with inventing new kinds of alcohol but also has several monasteries still brewing beer today. At the Andechs Abbey in Germany, monks are behind not only the beer but also the food served to travelers, common German fare including sauerkraut, giant pretzels and an assortment of meats.
Try This at Home
Not everyone, however, can hop on a plane simply for a beer, however. For those of us who won’t be making that trip, these monasteries make their brews available for purchase in stores around the world.
Wine enthusiasts take note: you may be unknowingly serving yourself more than you think.
Exactly how much wine you pour into your glass can vary depending on the size of the wineglass, whether the glass is on the table and even the color of the wine, a new study finds.
In the study, researchers asked participants to pour themselves a "normal" glass of wine under various conditions.
When they were given a wide wineglass, participants poured themselves 12 percent more wine than when they were given a standard wineglass. [13 Kitchen Changes that Can Help You Lose Weight]
This likely happens because people tend to focus more on the vertical measures of liquid than the horizontal, said study researcher Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State University.
"That's why people tend to drink less when they drink from a narrow glass," Smarandescu said in a statement.
When using a clear glass, participants poured themselves 9 percent more white wine than red wine, suggesting that the contrast of the wine against the glass also plays a role in determining serving estimates. And participants poured more wine when they were holding the glass compared to when it was resting on the table.
Such differences in wine pouring may mean that someone drinks the equivalent of two or even three servings, when they think they've only had one, the researchers said.
Underestimating how much you drink can have serious consequences, including alcohol intoxication. And because alcohol contributes to daily calories, drinking too much can affect a person's waistline.
"If you want to pour and drink less wine, stick to the narrow wineglasses and only pour if your glass is on the table or counter and not in your hand — in either case you’ll pour about 9-12 percent less," said study researcher Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. Previous research by Wansink has shown that the size of plates and bowls affects how much we eat.
After the wine-pouring experiment, the researchers asked participants what factors they thought might cause them to over- or under-pour. They correctly identified factors such as a wide wineglass as having a bigger influence on their pouring.
"The fact they were able to know retrospectively, but they still poured different amounts, told us they didn’t think about it when pouring. Otherwise, they would have adjusted," said study researcher Doug Walker, also of Iowa State.
The study was published Sept. 12 in the journal Substance Use & Misuse.
Previous research has found that the shape of a glass influences how quickly a person consumes alcohol.
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