20110630

Study: Binge drinking harms young brains

New research says young binge drinkers may be seriously damaging their brains.

Researcher Tim McQueeny, a doctoral student in the University of Cincinnati Department of Psychology, will present his findings in Atlanta this week at the 34th annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

In his study, high-resolution brain scans on a sample of 29 weekend binge drinkers aged 18 to 25 found that binge-drinking –- defined as consuming four or more drinks in one incident for females and five or more drinks for males -– was linked to cortical-thinning of the pre-frontal cortex, the section of the brain related to such "executive functions" as paying attention, planning and making decisions, processing emotions and controlling impulses leading to irrational behavior. McQueeny examined the gray matter -- parts of brain cells that do the thinking, receiving and transmitting of messages.

“We have seen evidence that binge drinking is associated with reduced integrity in the white matter, the brain’s highways that communicate neuron messaging, but alcohol may affect the gray matter differently than the white matter,” he says.

Researchers could see a relationship between gray matter thickness and binge drinking among college-aged young adults. They found that greater number of drinks per binge is associated with cortical thinning. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says 42% of young Americans ages 18 to 25 have engaged in binge drinking.

“Alcohol might be neurotoxic to the neuron cells, or, since the brain is developing in one’s 20s, it could be interacting with developmental factors and possibly altering the ways in which the brain is still growing,” he says.

The research was supported by a $300,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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20110625

Some good numbers to win a bar bet

Q: What state has the highest per-capita sales of beer?

A: New Hampshire.

The Granite State, which has 17 breweries, last year sold an average of 32.7 gallons of beer per drinking-age resident, equal to about 350 12-ounce cans. That number comes from the Beer Institute. The overall rate for the rest of the country was 20.7 gallons.

New Hampshire folks don't have such frills as a sales tax to keep them from buying freely, and that fact helps boost the numbers since many people from neighboring states make it a practice to cross the border in search of lower-priced alcohol.

That absence of tax also has made New Hampshire the highest per-capita user of alcohol, with the equivalent of 63.1% of the population imbibing compared to the overall U.S. rate of 51.4%. But, once again, that can be misleading since so much of the purchasing and consumption is by out-of-staters.

The rest of the top five in sales per capita:

2 -- Montana, 30.5 gallons
3 -- North Dakota, 29.8 gallons
4 -- South Dakota, 27.5 gallons
5 -- Nevada at 26.8 gallons

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Esquire picks the healthiest beers on Earth

"We don't usually judge a brew by its nutrition label, but if you're going to anyway, these are your best (and best-tasting) options rated on our beer expert's quasi-scientific pint scale, from not terrible for you to actually pretty good. Bottoms up."

So writes Evan S. Benn in an Esquire magazine online report rating the healthiest beers in the world.

Some are available only regionally, of course, but there should be enough to get you into the subject and encourage you to read the nutrition labels on what you've been drinking.

Samuel Adams Light was deemed the healthiest of them all. Full details are available, but for those with short attention spans here's the list of 14 itself:

  • Sam Adams Light
  • I.C. Light
  • He'Brew Rejewvenator '10
  • Guinness Draught
  • Three Floyds Gumballhead
  • Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus
  • Stone/Ishii/Baird Japanese Green Tea IPA
  • Left Hand Good Juju
  • O'Fallon Black Hemp Black Ale
  • Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat
  • Short's Spruce Pilsner
  • Porterhouse Oyster Stout
  • Lambrucha
  • Upland Blackberry Lambic

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20110624

Finger Lakes brewer has grape expectations

GENEVA, NY -- Can't make up your mind between having a beer or a glass of wine?

How about both in one ... sort of?

War Horse Brewing Company, an offshoot of Three Brothers Wineries & Estates in this Finger Lakes community, has developed a Riesling ale it says is the first of its kind.

The brewers blend pure New York State Riesling grape juice with an American wheat beer. The result is a grapey, spicy product with a light amber color and fruity aroma.

It is brewed with Pale, Wheat, and CaraPils malts, and hopped with Centennial and Mt. Hood. The alcohol level is 4.5% by volume.

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20110623

The (modest) return of NY hops

From the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard

Steve Miller wants to make hops, a key ingredient in beer, a cash crop in New York State once again.

And with the re-emergence of hops, he wants to make New York State beer as big a tourist attraction as New York State wine has become in the last 35 years.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County hired Miller as the state’s first hops specialist this year.

"My role is to work with the growers to get the information they need to produce a quality product and make money at it," he said. "I don’t work with growers just in Madison County, I work with all of New York State.

"On the West Coast, you’re looking at 29,000 acres of hops. In New York, it’s 50 acres," Miller added. "Less than 10 acres are in Madison County" -- once a nationally recognized hop center.

[Go here for the full story.]

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20110616

Rheingold on trail of ex-New Yorkers

A vintage ad, with a popular actress of the day.
As a kid on Long Island, one of my favorite neighbors was my next-door neighbor, Marty. He was a burly, red-faced, Irishman who drove a delivery truck for Rheingold, a New York City beer company.

Marty was the kind of guy who could scare away wiseguys with a scary scowl, or make us laugh with one of his jokes.

He also owned the first power mower on the block and, when I was sweating while pushing our rusty old hand mower, somehow managed to "over-mow" his property and cut my work in half.

Marty is long gone, and Rheingold as a brand faded away as well. However, last year the beverage developer/marketer Drinks Americas Holdings Ltd. relaunched Rheingold and it now is sold in 12 states and is expanding distribution rapidly.

Its latest market is Florida, home to a lot of transplanted New Yorkers.

"It is a great milestone to be selling Rheingold ... throughout Florida," said Joe Belli, Rheingold's national sales manager. "The great taste of Rheingold, New York's Beer, is now available in a state where many transplanted New Yorkers live who are very familiar with the beer's great history."

Rheingold is available in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles and 12-pack cans.

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20110608

Canadian brewer enters U.S. market

BALDWINSVILLE, NY — A Nova Scotia brewery that has been around for 191 years finally has entered the United States, via New York.

Alexander Keith’s is sending its brews to more than 20 U.S. markets — Nova Scotia Style Lager, Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale and Nova Scotia Style Brown Ale.

They are brewed with traditional two-row malt. The pale ale also includes a fruity, spicy, citrusy hop nose.

Alexander Keith’s was founded in Nova Scotia in 1820 by a native of Scotland. The brewery is operated under Graham Kendall, brewmaster emeritus.

The three new beers are brewed in this community, just northwest of Syracuse on the eastern shore of Onondaga Lake. The original beers continue to be brewed in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario.

The new brews will be available in New York and the New England states as well as in California, Arizona, Colorado, Washington DC, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland. Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.

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20110602

Belgian Beer Festival set for NYC

NEW YORK -- To many beer fans, Belgium is the motherland of brewing. For them, and others interested in the genre, the inaugural Belgian Beer Festival will be a go-to event.

Get Real NY, an event production company, will present the two-day festival on Friday and Saturday, July 8-9, at the historic Altman Building.

It will include all-you-care-to-consume Belgian-style brews and homebrews, live music, interactive tasting panels and Belgian food. It will feature more than 100 brews from domestic and foreign craft breweries at home and abroad -- Lambics, Sours, Trappists, Dubbels, Tripels, Quads and Gueuze.

General admission is $85, which includes a souvenir glass, unlimited tasting pours, a fest beer guide, unlimited food sampling, live music and tasting panels. VIP tickets at $115 will include that plus one-hour early access to the festival, admission to a VIP tasting room featuring several rare and hard-to-find beers and access to brewery tasting panels and discussions.

The beer and food lineup will be continually updated on the festival website. The Altman building, located at 135 West 18th Street, is a special events space that long housed the now-defunct B. Altman department store.

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