It was none other than Benjamin Franklin who said: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." But for such a revered drink, the steps to making beer are actually quite basic -- simply bottle (or can) the alcoholic fermentation that occurs when yeast is introduced to extracts of malted grain. Still, scientists throughout the ages have spent countless hours tweaking this general formula, communicating their achievements via media ranging from ancient funerary art to this week's lecture on the science of beer at the New York Academy of Sciences.Beer has been around for at least 8,000 years, making brewing quite possibly the world's oldest biotechnology. Archaeologists have scraped beer deposits from ancient Egyptian brewing jars, historians recount how everyone from Pharaoh to farmer drank, and beer was a common offering to the Egyptian Gods. Ancient brewers formed their brew from watered-down...

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