If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Alcohol 101 – What is Alcohol?

This next episode is taking the project in a whole different direction.  Several months ago as I was doing one of our classic cocktail episodes, it struck me that I think I know a lot more about alcohol than I do.  I have the standard understanding of what it is and where it comes from…but not really.  There is a lot of assumption going on and over time I now realize that I’ve gotten some parts of the alcohol story completely wrong.  Now, I’ve never claimed to be very knowledgeable about the hooch, and that’s what this show is all about, but I felt like I could just begin with a review of classic cocktails.  Now that I’ve jumped in and seen what it’s like, I realize I’m in the deep end. 

I feel like I need to back up and go all the way to the very beginning of the story and really go into detail.  I approached one of my friends and Black Liver Project member Sreedhar Yedavalli, a gentleman with the technical and scientific knowledge to answer the question, “What is alcohol?”  Seriously.  That’s how far I’m going back.  And the kicker is that when I found out what alcohol is, I was blown away.  If you don’t know this process, I guarantee you will never see fermentation the same way again.

Sreedhar went in depth describing the biological and chemical processes that create ethanol.  He pulls no punches and gets right into molecular chemistry as he follows a chain of reactions that produces the essential component of all of our wine, beer and spirits.  One of the key take-aways from this episode is that the alcohol we drink is all the same.  Beer, wine and liquor alcohol all comes from the same processes and does not have different flavors or kinds.  The kick in our drinks is the same.

We’re posting the video and audio of the conversation here as Sreedhar has some graphics he addresses as he speaks, but I expect casual listeners could still get the gist without the visuals.

And we’ll continue on this discovery track learning more about the drinks we love, where they come from and what makes them special.  And then, of course, drinking them.

And here is the graphic presented during the episode for your downloading pleasure:  Alcohol%20101_03172014.pdf

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