Beer and Brewing

What do Isaac Newton, yeast, and Harold Urey have in common? They all come under the research microscope of Science History Institute fellows. 

Episode 24 | May 23, 2008

Episode 24: Beer and Brewing by Distillations Podcast

At least some members of the Distillations crew will join millions of other Americans in drinking a beer this Memorial Day weekend. Beer is produced through fermentation—a biological process whose details are greatly affected by chemistry. In today’s show we’ll explain how alpha acids in hops (pictured) affect the bitterness of beer and what pH has to do with flavor. In the final segment of the show, producer Joel Rose visits Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for a taste of an ancient brew. Element of the Week: Calcium.

Show Clock

00:00 Opening Credits
00:31 Introduction
01:04 Element of the Week: Calcium
02:57 Chemistry in Your Cupboard: Hops
05:44 A Visit to Dogfish Head Brewery
09:57 Quote: Ben Franklin
10:10 Closing Credits

Resources and References

Brew Your Own is a magazine for the home brewer. Their website is chock full of useful information, including recipes.

Another useful site for home brewers, maintained by Chris Love, is

Philadelphia is home to many craft brewers. Besides Dogfish Head, some of our favorites are Flying Fish, Dock Street, Philadelphia Brewing Company, and Yards.


This show was researched by Hilary Domush.

Our theme music is composed by Dave Kaufman. Additional music was provided by the Podsafe Music Network. The music at the beginning of the Element of the Week is “Montana de Ora,” alt. mix, by Rachel Kann. At the end of the Element is “Cuckoo’s Nest/Old French/Red Wing,” by Beyond the Pale. Next, at the show ID, is “Cincinnati Flo Rag,” by Ken Tucker and James Swafford. The music for the quotation is “Tanya—The Secret Tango,” by Romashka.

The image you see above is a detail of a hops plant in the hops fields near Olomouc. The photo was uploaded by nutto to stock.xchange.