Thursday, April 03, 2008

Beer defined

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

So said Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964 when attempting to create a legal definition of pornography.

Now comes Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler creating a definition of beer for the ages:

"Beer is yellow with foam," Gansler told reporters at a news conference, holding up a bottle of Smirnoff Source, which is described this way on its label: "contains pure spring water + alcohol."

"This is not beer," he added.

Gansler was testifying at a hearing on the potential taxing of malternatives at the distilled spirits rate: here.

When I attended the Siebel Institute in the early 1990s, one of my instructors was Dave Ryder, then Vice-President for Research at Miller Brewing Company.

Miller was attempting to develop Miller Clear, a beer with none of beer's annoying yellow color or amber or black.

But the researchers at Miller discovered that in removing all of the color in the beer, they had also stripped out most of the foam-positive proteins. Translation: little head retention.

Miller convened customer-preference focus groups. These determined 17 seconds (!) to be the minimum time of head retention required to identify a liquid as a beer. Miller Clear didn't quite hold a head for 15 seconds. The beer was scrapped.

Should we send these results to Mr. Gansler?

I was alerted to Gansler's bon mots by David over at Musings Over a Pint —actually by his Twitter account. David resumed Twittering after he noticed that I had noticed that he had Twittered last year.

Twitter—more than just "What are you doing?"

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