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From Test Tube to Tavern: London Craft Brewery Uses DNA Testing to Create Bespoke Beer 

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If you’re willing to shell out nearly $31,000 for a bespoke brew, The Drinks Business reports that Meantime Brewing Company, a London-based craft beer company, is now offering customers the chance to create a beer that appeals specifically to their individual flavor profiles by using DNA testing.

Meantime Brewing Company has joined forces with genetics company 23andMe to make custom beverages, which they’re advertising as “the world’s most personalized beer.” Dubbed “Meantime Bespoke,” the service begins with 23andMe’s scientists, who test beer lovers’ saliva samples for hereditary variations in oral taste receptors (which involves a taste gene called TAS2R38). This helps identify genetic variants that may determine whether drinkers are disposed toward certain flavor profiles—think sweetness or bitterness—in beer. (This is reportedly determined in part based on customers’ sensitivity to a bitter compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil.)

Once your genetic makeup is analyzed, Meantime’s brewers will use the scientists’ findings to guide the brewing process. You’ll consult with a brewmaster to contribute feedback, and ensure that the final product is exactly suited to your liking. If you want, you can even partake in the fun by adding hops and grain to the mix and testing it. (To ensure your skills are up to snuff, your commissioning cost also pays for a beer-making course called “The Knowledge.”)

After the brewing process is complete, customers are supplied with more than 2000 pints of customized beer. For an additional fee, they can personalize the packaging design, purchase custom glassware, or have their personalized brew poured in Meantime’s tasting rooms and have kegs sent to their local bar.

So far, there are no testimonials from customers on whether Meantime Bespoke’s science-inspired venture really produces the perfect pint. But according to Meantime, their head brewer, Ciaran Giblin, recently became the world's first person to create his own beer inspired by his DNA flavor profile. He prefers bitter tastes, so he ended up with a hoppy Double IPA.

[h/t The Drinks Business]

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The Latest Way to Enjoy Pho in Vietnam: As a Cocktail
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James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pho is something of a national dish in Vietnam. The noodle soup, typically topped with beef or chicken, can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There’s even a version of it for happy hour, as Lonely Planet reports.

The pho cocktail, served at Nê Cocktail Bar in Hanoi, contains many of the herbs and spices found in pho, like cinnamon, star anise, cilantro, and cardamom. Without the broth or meat, its taste is refreshingly sweet.

The drink's uniqueness makes it a popular choice among patrons, as does the dramatic way it's prepared. The bartender pours gin and triple sec through the top of a tall metal apparatus that contains three saucers holding the spices. He then lights the saucers on fire with a hand torch as the liquid flows through, allowing the flavors to infuse with the alcohol as the drink is filtered into a pitcher below.

The pho cocktail
James Duong, AFP/Getty Images

Pham Tien Tiep, who was named Vietnam’s best bartender at the Diageo Reserve World Class cocktail competition in 2012, created the cocktail six years ago while working at the famous French Colonial-era hotel the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, according to AFP. He has since brought his signature drink to several of the stylish bars he owns in Vietnam’s capital, including Nê Cocktail Bar.

Initially, he set out to create a drink that would represent Vietnam’s culture and history. “I created the pho cocktail at the Metropole Hotel, just above the war bunkers where the American musician Joan Baez sang to the staff and guests in December 1972 as bombs fell on the city,” Tiep told Word Vietnam magazine. “The alcohol in the cocktail is lit on fire to represent the bombs, while spices, such as chili and cinnamon, reflect the warmness of her voice.”

Tiep has a reputation for infusing his drinks with unusual local ingredients. He has also created a cocktail that features fish sauce, a popular condiment in Vietnam, and another that contains capsicum, chili, and lemongrass in an ode to the bo luc lac (shaking beef) dish, according to CNN.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Just 5 Alcoholic Drinks a Week Could Shorten Your Lifespan
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Wine lovers were elated when a scientific study last year suggested that drinking a glass of wine a day could help them live longer. Now a new study, published in The Lancet, finds that having more than 100 grams of alcohol a week (the amount in about five glasses of wine or pints of beer) could be detrimental to your health.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation studied the health data of nearly 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries and found that five to 10 alcoholic drinks a week (yes, red wine included) could shave six months off the life of a 40-year-old.

The penalty is even more severe for those who have 10 to 15 drinks a week (shortening a person’s life by one to two years), and those who imbibe more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives. In other words, your lifespan could be shortened by half an hour for every drink over the daily recommended limit, according to The Guardian, making it just as risky as smoking.

"The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines [the equivalent of drinking three glasses of wine in a night] has roughly two years' lower life expectancy, which is around a 20th of their remaining life," David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge who was not involved with the study, tells The Guardian. "This works out at about an hour per day. So it's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette."

[h/t The Guardian]

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