Introduction to the Science of Beer

A few years back, I started home brewing with the W5 Home Brew group at our home, The Castle. Beer making not only brewed great friendships, great times and delicious beer, but fermented a scientific curiosity about the entire process and effect of beer.  Questions were raised not only about how beer is crafted but why are beer drinkers so generally happy drinking beer?

I realize that beer crafting and beer effects should be more closely studied – scientifically, of course.

Here at Crowded Castle, I am the science guy. I approach the beer making process with a biologic and biochemical perspective. I find everything about beer a scientific wonder. It makes sense though, because I have the background and the training to think this way.  For example, I completed a residency in Neurology, a fellowship in neuromuscular medicine and took additional training in neurophysiology. Not only am I a physician, but I love crafting beer.  So, it was only natural to merge my love of neuroscience with crafting great brews.  Let’s start with why beer makes us so happy….

At the most basic level beer drinking is a neurosensory experience. When we drink beer we evaluate the color and clarity with our visual system, the taste and smell stimulates our gustatory and olfactory systems, and the temperature and mouth feel is translated by our sensory system. These basic systems send the sensory signals to higher areas in our brains where the information is further processed and eventually encoded into visual, gustatory, olfactory and sensory memory. 

These same sensory signals are also transmitted to brain regions responsible for the perception of pleasure and for the emotional response both of which are eventually encoded memories of pleasure and emotion.

Got it?  Let me know if you have questions. 

Next time:  why people love or hate the taste of IPAs