From Yeast to Malt, This is Where Alcohol Comes From

From Yeast to Malt, This is Where Alcohol Comes From

Alcohol, specifically ethanol, is the stuff we drink. Beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, tequila, schnapps, it doesn’t matter. The alcohol itself is all the same. But where does ethanol come from? Yeast. Yeast makes alcohol. How they do it is pretty amazing.

Yeast is a microorganism, a living thing. Like all fungi, they have some plant characteristics and some animal characteristics. Yeast makes alcohol through a biological process. Sugar, dissolved in water, is ingested by the yeast organism. The sugar is metabolized, generating energy for the organism’s life processes such as reproduction. The waste product it discards consists of alcohols (primarily ethanol) and carbon dioxide.

This process is called fermentation.

Since yeast eats sugar, it is easier to make alcohol from sugar sources (fruit, honey, sugar cane juice) than from starch (grain, potato). Saccharification is the process of converting starch into sugar, thereby making it something yeast can eat. It is a prerequisite for making beer and whiskey.

Grains are seeds. To grow, new sprouts need sugar, just like yeast do. So at the beginning of the germination process, the new sprout produces diastatic enzymes that convert the starch surrounding it into sugar. The process of sprouting grain to capture those enzymes is called malting. Any grain can be malted but barley is particularly good. The enzymes produced are so effective that a relatively small amount of malt (about 10%) will convert a mash of unmalted grains.

In Scotland, the law requires that only barley malt is used in the production of whiskey. In the United States, enzymes derived from other sources may be used and sometimes are, but most whiskey-makers use malt. Some use both.

All of the alcohol we drink is still made the old-fashioned way, by feeding sugar to yeast.

Enzymes are proteins that promote chemical reactions. All chemical reactions within cells are controlled by enzymes, so enzymes are also involved in the biological process by which yeast makes alcohol. You might think that modern science could just synthesize all of these different chemicals and make alcohol in some kind of machine. Maybe it can, but all of the alcohol we drink is still made the old-fashioned way, by feeding sugar to yeast.

All of these processes take place in water so before anything else can happen the starches have to be dissolved. First, they are ground to the consistency of corn meal, then water is added. Most starches have to be cooked to fully dissolve. This is especially true of corn, the main ingredient in bourbon whiskey.

Some solids, mostly cellulose, remain undissolved. Most brewers and some distillers discard the solids. Bourbon makers typically do not and they continue through the distillation process.

Regardless, in the end, after the yeast and sugar are mixed and mashed, we have alcohol and it’s delicious!

This article originally appeared on the Chuck Cowdry Blog.

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Need Extra Cash? Pick a Side Job That Complements Your Strengths

Need Extra Cash? Pick a Side Job That Complements Your Strengths

So, you’ve managed to land a position that will give you experience in the restaurant industry. Congrats! Of course starting out, you’re not going to get rich on the salary, but at least you’re getting a start on your resume. So, how can you make a little extra cash, get some broader experience and perhaps develop related skills that will make you stand out? Something that will give you an edge, maybe even expand your career options? Pick up a side job that complements your skills and career goals; here are few ideas to get you started.

Social Media Marketing

Many restaurateurs don’t make the time or have the skill for social media marketing, but no one should underestimate its power in promoting a restaurant and growing a loyal clientele. People like the immediacy of a relationship that social media allows, and there is no better way to get into the food conversation, gain some recognition and stay in customers’ minds on a daily basis.

Do you have a camera and a computer? Develop some basic social media skills, and then offer a package to restaurant owners starting with the one for whom you work. A good starting package includes a manageable number of posts per week on popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also include others like Google+ and Yelp.

This kind of social media setup is easy to maintain.

There are several tools out there with which you can schedule posts in advance and post to multiple social media networks simultaneously. Good ones to check out are Hootsuite and IFTTT.

This kind of social media setup is easy to maintain. All you have to do is let the right people know how important it is for them to engage with social media and show them you have the skills to do it for them. Start your client search with the place you work now, and make them shine!

Blogging

It’s a big deal in the content marketing world these days with 76% of U.S. businesses using it and 77% of those saying they will increase their content marketing in the coming year. Not everyone has writing skills or likes to write, but if you do, you’re in luck!

Help them connect to their customers in a personal and thoughtful way.

You can use your skill and familiarity with the industry to blog on behalf of restaurants in order to establish them in their industry and community and to keep them in the minds of their customers. Write for individual restaurant clients or operate your own restaurant blog library from which restaurant owners can draw for a fee. Help them connect to their customers in a personal and thoughtful way.

Promotional Models/Brand Ambassadors

Do you like to talk with people? Are you reliable, outgoing and energetic? As a brand ambassador, you’ll have an opportunity to really use and develop those people skills! Usually, brand ambassadors work through agencies that pair them up with companies needing representatives for their brand at an event. The agency provides training based on the company’s instructions.

A promotional model is a specialized version of a brand ambassador. Suppose a company requests all red heads 15-20 years old to represent them. If you fill the bill and are called up, you’ll probably make a little more money because you’re harder to find!

As either a brand ambassador or a promotional model, though, you’ll get to meet people and polish up your persuasion arts, always a good thing.

Develop some unique skills through side hustles that will make you indispensable.

So if you’re headed for the stars in the restaurant industry but need to make some extra money now, develop some unique skills through side hustles that will make you indispensable in your current environment right here on earth. And who knows? If things change, as they often do, you might just find another whole universe of stars in one of these side hustles. 

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Sirvo Says: The 6 Most Unique Things To Do In Denver

Sirvo Says: The 6 Most Unique Things To Do In Denver

With its gorgeous landscape, wonderful mix of cultures, and unique attractions, Denver, Colorado is one of the most popular destinations for adventure-seekers and those just looking for a break from the norm. Not only does Denver have plenty to offer in the way of good food, scenery, and fun things to do, it’s also a haven for sports fanatics due to all the big-league teams in and around the city. For outdoorsy travelers and those who seek a bit of beauty and refreshing change, Denver is the perfect destination. Read on to find out more about the best ways to have a unique trip to the Centennial State.

1. See the town on a bike

Many people in Denver forgo a car in favor of the much more efficient bicycle, and if you don’t happen to have one with you, the city provideth. There are Denver B-Cycle stations everywhere, and you can rent a bike for a minimal fee (30 minutes or less is free!). There are also several options for guided bike tours, some of which include brewery stops! Check out some of the best here.

2. Take in some oddities

A visit to the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys will be fun for the whole family, but make sure you check out the permanent displays, like Chuck’s Circus, which features 4,000 tiny painted figurines, animals, and a complete freak show.

2. Eat some sopapillas

It wouldn’t be a visit to Denver without going to the motherland, Casa Bonita. This Denver favorite made famous by South Park is one of the most nostalgic locations for locals. The 40-year old establishment boasts cliff divers, an arcade, and world famous sopapillas that people of all ages can enjoy.

3. Live like Scrooge McDuck

Ever wanted to see a pile of money so big you could swim in it? Head to the Denver Money Museum, where you’ll find that and more.

4. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

If you’re a morning person–or decidedly not a morning person but love breakfast foods–head to Snooze, where you can get a giant stack of sweet potato pancakes complete with caramel, pecans, and ginger butter. If you’re looking for something more savory, try the chilaquiles benedict, tortillas filled with ranchero sauce, cheese, barbacoa beef, and poached eggs. This restaurant is more than your average breakfast diner and will leave you full and satisfied.

5. Experience the Alfred Packer Memorial

In Littleton Cemetery lies the body of Alfred Packer, who made the trip from Utah with fifteen friends during the gold rush and ended up stranded in a snowstorm so intense he had to eat his traveling companions to stay alive. He made it, only to be sentenced to forty years for manslaughter.

6. Visit Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining

Horror lover? You’re in luck, because just a short drive out of the city will take you to Estes Park, where the Stanley Hotel stands. The gorgeous site is the very same where Stephen King stayed many years ago and was inspired to write The Shining, and, like the setting in the book, the hotel is known for a bevy of ghostly goings on.

Come to Denver with a sense of adventure and leave your stresses behind. This beautiful, mountainous area will leave you feeling well-rested and fulfilled–at least until the next trip.

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4 Reasons a Social Media Strategy is Vital to Your Restaurant

4 Reasons a Social Media Strategy is Vital to Your Restaurant

When marketing your restaurant, you may treat social media as an afterthought. After all, does having a Facebook page or Pinterest account really matter when it comes to attracting new guests?

In short, the answer is a clear yes. Social media, when done correctly, can play a significant part in helping you grow awareness of your restaurant in the area. The key, of course, is to take a strategic approach to marketing. Here are 4 reasons a social media strategy is vital to the success of your restaurant.

1. Reach your audience where they spend their time

Social media has long moved beyond a fad that only a defined audience uses. Today, 78% of the United States population has a social media profile. More than 200 million people hop on Facebook or other networks for almost two hours every day to engage and interact with friends and family.

Through a strategic social media presence, you can become a part of that conversation. By creating relevant content for your target audience, you begin to establish yourself as a resource worth following. Sooner or later, your restaurant becomes a natural part of your guests’ social media feeds anytime they log in.

Through your social media presence, you can share visuals and attract guests to your restaurant.

2. Create a visual presence of your restaurant online

We’re visual beings. Research has long shown that if we have the choice between reading content and viewing the same content in a visual format, we will choose the latter every time. Through social media, you have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this tendency.

Restaurants have plenty of content to share on a regular basis. Pictures of meals, full dining rooms, desert tables, and outside space on a summer day all lend themselves to making your restaurant look attractive. Through your social media presence, you can share these visuals and attract guests to your restaurant.

3. Allow guests to share their experiences 

A major benefit of social media is in its name. Rather than being limited to a one-way communication channel, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks allow your guests to have a voice and share their thoughts about their experience at your restaurant.

Through a social media presence (and a social listening strategy), you can jump into these conversations and further broaden your reach. Not everything your guests share about your restaurant will be positive. But even for the occasional negative comment, wouldn’t you prefer to know about it and be able to address it?

By their nature, social media networks are more intimate and personal than print ads or other traditional promotions would be.

4. Offer a glimpse behind the scenes

Finally, don’t underestimate another benefit of a social media strategy for your restaurant: it’s ability to go beyond the types of messages that other marketing channels have to offer. By their nature, social media networks are more intimate and personal than print ads or other traditional promotions would be. If you approach social media strategically, you can take advantage of that expectation.

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The most natural way to endear yourself to your audience on social media is to share content that offers a glimpse behind the scenes of your restaurant. Who are your chefs? What’s their favorite meal to cook, and how do they cook it? What does your kitchen actually look like? If your social presence can answer these types of questions, you’re well on your way to executing a strategy that promotes both first-time and return visits to your restaurant.

In short, social media can and should be a core part of your digital efforts. The above-mentioned points are just some of the benefits it offers. As long as you understand both your audience and the medium in which you operate, you can take advantage of its benefits to strategically reach out to potential visitors and grow your restaurant.

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Pop-Up Restaurants: The Pros And Cons

Pop-Up Restaurants: The Pros And Cons

A pop-up restaurant is kind of like the culinary world’s version of a military deployment. The eatery is set up in some sort of non-traditional location, perhaps with a bit of jury-rigging that is within the bounds of the law and safety standards, and is meant to only be there for a short time or to only serve meals sporadically. Meant primarily to promote a chef or their restaurant, they are also sort of like an individualized (and more ambitious) version of the stands set up at a food festival.

The pop-up restaurant can potentially set up anywhere it can operate legally and safely. They’ve been found everywhere from the roofs of city buildings to the inside of barns. Existing restaurants are generally the easiest choice, as all the necessary equipment is on hand, and the hosting restaurant can additionally get some cross-promotion buzz going.

They also do sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This is especially true of those set up in private homes, which are almost never zoned for such things. If they “pop up” just for one night, however, there’s very little chance of a law enforcement response unless something goes horribly wrong. The ones that operate out of a residence on a regular basis usually maintain an erratic schedule, shared by word of mouth among only a relatively small group of trusted friends and acquaintances, and only the most popular or careless get noticed by the local Health Department. A bigger legal danger comes in the form of serving alcohol without a license. In some areas, this can be side-stepped around by having diners BYOB, but this isn’t always a safe legal defense.

The big appeal of the pop-up is the relatively low cost to get going.

Assuming one is going the entirely legal route to promote their work or build interest in starting a more traditional restaurant, the big appeal of the pop-up is the relatively low cost to get going. Due to the transitory nature and usual lack of a full kitchen, the menu of the pop-up restaurant is almost always limited to a few dishes. Of course, the dishes will be something very unique or original to heighten the sense of being part of a special event, usually with the chef showing off their personal best dishes.

POP-UP PROS

  • It’s a relatively inexpensive way for a chef to get their name out and start getting people familiar with their work or helping them to establish themselves in a new area.
  • It’s also an inexpensive way to do a “test kitchen” of sorts that is detached from an established restaurant. New menu items can be introduced and experimented with while keeping them disassociated from the restaurant until there is certainty that they will work.
  • Chefs from different restaurants can cook together, which is not only great for a one-off event that patrons get really excited about, but also provides them with an opportunity to share some knowledge and technique.

POP-UP CONS

  • These are not great money-making operations. Even though diners are willing to pay good money to be a part of a pop-up if the right buzz is generated, the cost will be offset by the need to have a full staff to really make a good impression. A pop-up restaurant should be looked at more as a promotional measure that the chef can break even or only spend a small amount on rather than a way to bring in extra income.
  • There’s a pretty hard cap on the number of people that can be present, and you’ll often find there’s more interest than you can accommodate.

A pop-up restaurant should be looked at more as a promotional measure that the chef can break even or only spend a small amount on rather than a way to bring in extra income.

Our conclusion? Pop-up restaurants have been popping up for a few years now, so the trend isn’t entirely fresh, but it does seem to have strong legs so go for it as long as there’s good promotion and people are actually interested in the concept.

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