Letters from the January 28, 2006, issue of Science News

Oil-for-food exchange

Several decades ago, I heard of the anecdotal correlation between the rise of hydrogenated oils in our foods and the rise of colon cancer. The Swedish study that correlated high dairy-fat intake with lower risk of colon cancer (“Dairy fats cut colon cancer risk,” SN: 11/19/05, p. 333) might be reexamined to see if it reveals a correlation between intake of hydrogenated oils and risk of colon cancer. People apt to favor dairy fats might also be apt to avoid heavily processed foods.

Mark Rich
Stevens Point, Wis.

Snob stories

First, thanks for a great article, “A Skunk Walks into a Bar . . .” (SN: 12/3/05, p. 362). I did note a few overgeneralizations. The most important, from a beer drinker’s perspective, would be this quote from Raymond J. Klimovitz of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas: “The fresher the beer, the better it’s going to be.” While this is generally true for lighter, mainstream beers, many beers improve with age. In fact, one style of beer, India pale ale, was intended to be aged while it was being shipped from England to India. Another point: Ales are fermented with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but lagers are fermented with Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, and some styles employ other organisms to produce complex flavors.

Coady Lapierre
Tarleton Station, Texas

Since I began home brewing 2 years ago, I’ve found that: Fresh, my beer tastes pretty good; a few weeks after fresh, the beer begins to have overly astringent or bitter characteristics; and aged 4 months, the beer is notably better than when fresh and free of excessive bitterness. Many brewers recommend that a beer be aged before drinking. I believe the major beer companies—Bud, Coors, and Miller—do not produce “good beer.” They produce plain, inoffensive, cold, refreshing drinks that sell well across the country. Finally, Charlie Bamforth’s quotation at the end of the article [“… If I am at a baseball game, I would drink a Bud.”] takes away all of his credibility for me, a beer snob.

Ryan Karb
Amherst, Mass.

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