Why Beer Is Called Beer

Why Beer Is Called Beer

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There are many words we use for beer: ale, brew, lager, malt, suds, brewski, brown bottle, draught…

The list goes on.

But why is beer called beer? Where did the word come from?

Beer is considered to come from the Latin infinitive bibere meaning “to drink.”

But there is other speculation. Some experts think that the word for beer comes from the Proto-Germanic word beuwoz-, derived from beuwo– meaning “barley.”

Latin or Proto-Germanic, variations grew from these dead language roots. Old English said beor meaning “strong drink, beer, mead.” Old Frisian said boar, Middle Dutch, Dutch and German said bier, and Old High German said bior. Now the French say bière, the Italians say birra, and the Turkish say bira.

The word for beer wasn’t always in use. After the Norman Conquest, the word fell out of Old English. That’s because the Old English word for ale became standard for the drink. It was revived centuries later to specifically reference hopped malt beverages.

Today, most Western European—and even some Eastern European—languages use a form similar to the English word for beer.

What’s your favorite synonym for beer? Share the way you say beer below.

Drink Beer For Big Ideas

Drink Beer For Big Ideas

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Can’t come up with that big idea? It’s time to grab a beer.

That’s right. There’s another reason why to drink beer—to tap into your creativity.

Beer Under Pressure

In a recent study, a group of 18 advertising creative professionals were split into two teams, both even in level of talent and experience. One team was allowed to drink as much alcohol as they wanted while the other team had to stay sober. The groups were then tasked to generate as many ideas for a creative brief. Both teams were graded by a collection of top creative directors.

Who did better? Not only did the team of drinkers produce more ideas, but they also generated four of the top five best ideas.

The Science Behind Beer and Big Ideas

So if you’re searching for that big idea, it’s time to drink a beer (or two).


Beer helps decrease your working memory, leading to feeling relaxed and less worried about what’s happening around you. That means you’ll have more brainpower dedicated to making those creative connections.

That’s not the only reason.

It comes down to that “eureka moment.” Neuroscientists discovered that in order to produce moments of insight—the “eureka moment”—you must feel relaxed so that the front brain can make connections with the back of the brain. This activates the anterior superior temporal gyrus, that small spot above your right ear that generates moments of insight.

Seconds before the “eureka moment,” a large increase in alpha waves occurs within your brain, activating the anterior superior temporal gyrus. These waves are associated with relaxation.

That’s why you come up with big ideas while in the shower or out for a walk.

Beer also relaxes you, so it produces the same alpha waves that generate your “eureka moments.”

Putting That Big Idea To Work

Drinking a beer isn’t the only way to generate big ideas. But why pass up a pint during the next brainstorm session?

If you’re looking to execute that big idea, better wait until your buzz passes. For focus and execution, we recommend a big cup of coffee. There’s science behind that too.

Have you had a beer-influenced “eureka moment”? Share your big idea with us below.

Is Beer Good Plant Food?

Is Beer Good Plant Food?

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You’re at a graduation party and end up holding your beer bottle too long. So you dribble the rest of the warm beer onto the grass. Did you just kill the grass—or give it new nourishment?

Is watering your plants with beer a good or bad idea? Gardening is all about home remedies that go beyond the traditional watering can, so is pouring beer on your plants that eccentric?

Let’s break it down by what’s considered good for plants—and if beer lives up to the expectation.


Beer is around 90 percent water. And plants LOVE water.

But beer makes for a very expensive watering system. Especially when you already have a watering system.

Better Solution: Use the water from your hose or tap to hydrate your plants. Club soda has minerals and nutrients that accelerates plant growth and makes your plant’s leaves a deeper (and healthier) shade of green.


Carbs in beer are known as simple sugars. These carbs don’t provide any nutritional value to people or plants.

What plants need is complex carbs. Plant cells turn complex carbs into food.

Better Solution: Mix molasses into your liquid fertilizer.


Yeast is a fungus that is commonly used in baking breads. It’s also an ingredient found in beer.

When you add yeast to your plants, here’s what happens: it grows in the soil, creates an unpleasant smell and doesn’t provide any special benefit to your plants.

In other words, your plant doesn’t want it.

Better Solution: Avoid adding yeast to your plants.

The moral of this story? Beer is best sipped by you, not your plants. Unless, of course, your beer is warm.

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer

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With Mother’s Day quickly approaching this Sunday, we at Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail chose to pay tribute to the mother of the brew: Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer.

Here’s her history. She was born of sparkling fresh water and created to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart.” Her father was Enki the lord Nudimmud and her mother Ninti, queen of the Abzu. She was one of eight children created in order to heal one of the eight wounds that Enki received as a curse for eating forbidden plants.

The Sumerians worshipped Ninkasi around 3500BC and for good reason. She is said to have created the recipe for sikaru, or Sumerian beer. Ninkasi prepared beer daily for the other gods. Ninkasi’s name means “the lady who fills the mouth” and her sigil was a barley spade.

So why was the deity of beer a woman? During Sumerian times, beer was brewed and served exclusively by women.

So raise your pint glass in toast to your mother’s health and sing the Hymn to Ninkasi, a poem written around 1800 BC by an unknown Sumerian poet on a clay tablet. If you read it closely, you’ll find one of the most ancient recipes for brewing beer:

Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,

Having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you,
Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its walls for you,

Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.
Ninkasi, your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, you are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date] – honey,

You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.
Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,

You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey [and] wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (…)
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)

The filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.

Translation by Miguel Civil, Professor Emeritus of Sumerology, The Oriental Institute, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Linguistics, The University of Chicago.

5 Reasons To Choose Craft Beer

5 Reasons To Choose Craft Beer

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When it comes to beer, you have two choices: big brand beer or craft beer.

The right choice is pretty obvious.

We know that when you’re out on the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, you always choose a locally-crafted brew. But what are your friends choosing?

If you actually have to argue why your friends should choose craft beer, we crafted up some points to strengthen your argument. So here are five of our reasons why to always choose craft beer.

Craft Beer Tastes Better

When beer connoisseurs choose their favorite beers, big brand beers don’t make the list. That’s because craft beer just tastes better.

But why?

Craft brewers make smaller batches (in comparison to big brand beers) of their brew. This allows the brewers to take their time to choose the variety and quality of the ingredients that go into the beer, thus creating a quality product.

Craft Beer Has More Alcohol

Big brand beers have usually around 2.5% abv (alcohol by volume). Most craft beers range from 5-10% abv, not to mention some that go as high as 20-40% abv.

Now that’s a big difference.

This higher alcohol content lets you take your time to enjoy the beer. You won’t need to order as many beers and you’ll require fewer trips to the restroom.

Craft Beer Has Health Benefits

That’s right. Craft beer is good for you.

Craft beer holds many valuable vitamins including several B vitamins (including folate), soluble fiber, and a range of antioxidants. It’s also rich in silicon, a fighter or osteoporosis. But that’s not the only reason why beer is good for you.

Craft Beer Means More Choices

If you’re always choosing a big brand beer, you can count your options on one hand.

That’s not much variety.

That’s not the case with craft beer. There are almost 1,600 breweries throughout the U.S., not to mention 50+ breweries in Arizona (many of those are Flagstaff-Grand Canyon breweries).

And craft breweries don’t offer just one craft beer. They offer varieties of style and flavors. Some even offer seasonal beers. They’re not brewing the same beers all the time, meaning your options are constantly changing.

Craft Beer Pairs Well with Good Food

It’s not a mystery why pairing craft beer with fine cuisine is a popular trend. Unlike wine or big brand beer, craft beer has a variety of styles and flavors that complement a wider variety of food.

Why do you drink craft beer? Share your reason below.

Best Beers For Spring

Which beers are best for spring? We have the answer.

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The weather is warmer, the sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom—it must be springtime along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail!

With the change of season comes a change in beer preferences. But which seasonal beer style is best for spring?

Some beers are intentionally brewed by our favorite Flagstaff breweries for spring while other beer styles are just fitting for springtime.


Maibock, or May bock, is brewed specifically during the spring months, yet this spring beer style is not unique to the spring season. Maibock is a helles lager brewed to bock strength, making it as strong as a traditional bock but lighter in color and more hops flavor. This wide-bodied bock has an unusually high alcohol content in comparison to other light-colored beers.

Spiced Beer

Spiced beer isn’t specific to spring, but its lighter profile pairs well with the warmer season. This spring beer style is light and refreshing while still full of flavor. Think of Belgium wit beers spiced with coriander and orange peel or ginger beers.

Fruit Beer

With spring weather comes fresh fruit—so why not in your beer? Many Flagstaff breweries release seasonal fruit beers in the springtime. Fruit beers are often based on wheat beer recipes featuring fresh fruit like mango, peach and raspberry. Consider choosing a fruit beer where the fruit is grown locally to ensure freshness and best flavor.

What beer style do you consider a spring beer? What beers do you enjoy drinking in the springtime? Share your thoughts below.

Why Bubbles in Stouts Sink

Why do bubbles in stouts sink or fall instead of rise?

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Usually when you pour a beer into a glass, the carbonated bubbles rise from the bottom of the glass to the top.

That’s not the case with stouts.

When you pour a stout beer into a glass, the bubbles tend to sink or fall from the top to the bottom.


It all comes down to the glass—that is, the shape of it.

A typical pint glass is narrower at the bottom and wider at the top.

This isn’t a friendly environment for stout beers.

Stouts, like all beers, contain carbon dioxide. But stouts also contain nitrogen. Nitrogen is less likely to dissolve in liquid, resulting in bubbles that last longer than carbonated bubbles.

But the bubbles in stouts are lighter than the beer. So why are the bubbles in stouts sinking when they should be rising?

Now back to the pint glass.

The stout flows into the glass along the sides. The bubbles repel the sloping shape of the pint glass, moving to the middle of the stout liquid. This creates a high density of bubbles in the center of the glass.

The beer starts circulating in the glass, rising up in the center and sinking downward along the sides.

In other words, the stout bubbles are trying to rise but can’t—all because of the circulation created within the glass.

It’s not that the stout bubbles are sinking but that the weight of the stout liquid sinks the bubbles along the sides of the glass.

This circulatory pattern leads to a creamy, foamy white beer head.

See it for yourself. Watch this video to see why bubbles in stouts sink.

The Know-All On Nitrogenated Beer

Nitrogenated Beer, or a beer on nitro, is when a beer is carbonated with nitrogen.

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Nitro is the latest buzzword on the craft beer scene. No, it’s not short form for nitrous oxide (laughing gas), however the smooth taste of a beer on nitro from your favorite Flagstaff brewery will definitely put a smile on your face.

A beer on nitro means that it’s been nitrogenated. But what is a nitrogenated beer? Why does it taste different from other beers? And is the difference worth it?

So, What Is Nitrogenated Beer?

A beer on nitro means that nitrogen is the gas used in the carbonation process. Most beers are carbonated with carbon dioxide. A nitrogenated beer typically contains 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide.

To nitrogenate a brew, the beer is first chilled to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Nitrogen is then forced into the beer under extremely high pressure.

Can I Tell If It’s A Nitrogenated Beer?

Beers on nitro are usually porters or stouts. That’s because malty beers retain their aromas and flavors better than hoppy beers during the nitrogenation process.

Nitrogenated beers are creamy with a thick beer head. Because nitrogen is mostly insoluble in liquid, you’ll notice a thick mouth feel. A beer on nitro will be slightly flatter than a carbonated brew.

Nitro beers are poured from the tap through a restrictor plate that forces the brew through tiny holes before landing in your pint glass. This causes the bubbles on the sides of the glass to fall and the bubbles inside the beer to rise.

Are Nitrogenated Beers Served in Flagstaff?

When it comes to beer on nitro, you have lots of options along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail. Check out the nitro beers on tap or on the shelves at these Flagstaff breweries:

Gluten-Free Beer 101

What is gluten-free beer? And how is it brewed? We have the answers.

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You’ve probably seen the phrase gluten-free on menus and product labels. Now gluten-free beer is one of the many options of beer to choose from along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail.

But what is gluten-free beer? And how is it brewed? We have the answers.

What is Gluten-Free Beer?

Gluten-free beer doesn’t contain glycoproteins—that’s the long way of saying gluten. Beer that’s gluten-free is a great option for those who have gluten intolerance (including those with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis) and want to avoid a reaction to the grains commonly found in beer.

How is Gluten-Free Beer Brewed?

Way One: Gluten-Free Grains

One way to create gluten-free beer is to brew the batch with grains not containing gluten. Corn, rice, sorghum, buckwheat, millet and/or quinoa replace traditional brewing grains.

Way Two: Filtration

Gluten-free beer can also be brewed with the gluten-containing grains—that would be barley malt and/or wheat. But towards the end of the brewing process, the barley malt and wheat are filtered out of the batch. That way, it still tastes like beer with gluten grains, just without the gluten.

Does The Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail Feature Gluten-Free Beer?

Never fear, gluten-free beer connoisseurs! You can find your gluten-free beer options along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail at McGaughs Smoke & Bottle.

Drinking Beer Like A Pro

Wouldn't it be nice to drink beer like a pro? Now you can!

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The Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail is a self-guided, self-paced beer tasting adventure for beer drinkers. Both beer connoisseurs and newbies welcome!

But wouldn’t it be nice to drink beer like a pro?

Instead of swigging your first sip of beer back, enjoy all the flavors and textures your pint of beer has to offer. We show you how to slow down the beer tasting process so that you really enjoy your brew. 


Pause and admire the beauty of your pint. Hold your brew in front of you (but not in direct light, for this will dilute the beer’s true color). Note the beer head, color, and consistency.


Swirl your beer gently in the glass. This pulls out aromas and slight nuances as well as loosen and stimulate carbonation and test beer head retention.


At least 90% of your sensory experiences are through your sense of smell. So smell your beer by how you breathe. First, breathe through your nose with two quick sniffs. Then, alternate your breath between your nose and your open mouth.


Sip the beer, but don’t immediately swallow. Let it flow across your entire palate. Note the mouthfeel and beer body while you exhale. Can you detect any sweetness, salty flavors, or bitterness?

You may swallow now.

Try tasting the beer after it warms slightly. Really cold beer can mask some of the beer flavors. As beer warms, more of the beer’s flavors will be more pronounced.

What do you do to enhance your beer tasting experience? Share with us below.