Classical Beer Review: IMBĪB Abiogenesis #2

In a previous post, I already introduced IMBĪB and reviewed one of its Classically-themed beers. Today, I review another one of their tipples with a Classical “twist:” Abiogenesis #2. IMBĪB’s Abiogenesis series comprises of sour ales. The second iteration that we tried was definitely sour but not overly so. I found that the sourness mainly occurred in the back of the mouth. On Untappd, the ale is described as a “Sour Golden in Chardonnay.” Towards the end, we clearly could taste a bit of the barrel flavor, but there was also the slightest hint of butyric acid. Nevertheless, a little lemon and mandarine made for an overall rather pleasant ale. In fact, I gave Abiogenesis #2 as much as a 4.5 out of 5 on Untappd!

Abiogenesis comes from the ancient Greek for “non” (a) “life” (bio) “origin” (genesis). Today, this term is used to refer theory that life originates from nonlife or dead matter. This theory is also known as “spontaneous generation” and was first synthesized by Aristotle. In his History of Animals, Aristotle discusses the idea that certain types of animals are born from their animal parents, whereas other types of animals self-generate spontaneously from nonliving things, such as earth or dust. Already in Antiquity, there were discussions about which animals belonged to which category and how this process worked precisely. The eel is a notorious example and one that drew the attention of some authors who are by now “regulars” at BCS.

Aristotle claimed that eels could not reproduce and instead spontaneously emerged from earthworms. In response, Athenaeus proposed that, by rubbing against each other, eels would produce a fluid that would settle in mud and would generate new eels. Pliny the Elder, on the other hand, believed that eels rubbed themselves against rocks, which allowed them to release particles that would then spontaneously form into new eels. Now that’s something different from your regular ancient beer varieties and adjuncts!

Returning to the term abiogenesis, it should be noted that although the term is derived from ancient Greek, Aristotle did not use the term himself to refer to his theory (I checked!). As it turns out, this term was coined much later by biologist Thomas Huxley in 1870, who was a staunch defender of Darwin’s theory on the origin of species (i.e. evolution). Darwin argued that the animal species currently inhabiting the Earth did not generate spontaneously but evolved from other species following the process of natural selection. While certainly very famous, Darwin was not the only scholar in the late 19th century AD working on the question of origins. Another famous figure in this discussion is Louis Pasteur.

Pasteur may be regarded as the hero of modern beer brewing. First, he discovered that micro-organisms spoil beer and developed the method that bears his name, pasteurization, in order to combat beverage spoilage. Second, he discovered what role yeast plays in the fermentation process. Following these discoveries, Pasteur became convinced that the idea of abiogenesis was flawed. He conducted additional experiments that produced results that conflicted this age-old hypothesis and ultimately managed to convince the French Academy of Sciences that he was right. Upon accepting a prize from the Academy he stated: “[n]ever will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow struck by this simple experiment.”

While both Pasteur and Darwin indeed showed that Aristotle’s original theory of abiogenesis does not apply to species currently living on Earth, their work does not completely solve the question regarding the origin of these species. If life comes from life, where did life on Earth come from in the first place? Judging from the string of current theories discussed by scientists today, the jury is still out on that one.

4 oz taster
ABV: unknown
Brewed by: IMBĪB Custom Brews, Reno, NV.


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