"It’s all about the bubbles,” jokes Christy Holland, PhD, a professor in the division of cardiovascular diseases, when discussing not only her research but also one of her pastimes: beer brewing.
Holland’s lab studies the use of ultrasound for stroke therapy, mainly to break up blood clots or to deliver therapeutics—like tPA—directly to the clot. They also study the bioeffects of diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound and acoustic cavitation, or bubble activity.
"By exposing liposomes filled with drugs and bubbles to a sound wave in a targeted area of the body, the drug is released exactly where it is needed, and the bubble activity accelerates uptake of the therapeutic,” she explains. "Using ultrasound and molecularly targeted agents, we may be able to deliver targeted therapies in a more efficient and less invasive way.”
Recently, Holland, Ken Bader, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, and Jonathan (Jay) Sutton, PhD grad student—who Holland calls the "brew masters and namesake of B.S. Brewery”—decided to use bubbles for a little fun outside of the lab: to brew beer.
Their first batch, a Dopplebock, was entered in last weekend’s Bockfest event in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine (OTR) neighborhood; unfortunately, the group didn’t win, but they gave us a little insight into the secret behind their "Doppelsterne Doppelbock Bier.”
How did this project begin?
Sutton: "Ken and I designed the beer recipe that was entered in the Bockfest contest. We have both been brewing for a few years now—since undergrad—and mostly just do it for fun. It's a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon and clear the mind. We don't have a club—clubs take time, and home brewing is enough for me right now in grad school—but we got together for our annual Christmas party in December and worked as an entire lab to make it.
"As for the competition, Ken and I are a bit worried about it being competition-ready. Neither of us has brewed a bock before, and from our reading, they can be a bit tricky. I suppose that means we understand the science behind the process relatively well, since we can pick out what's difficult and what's easy to replicate within a certain beer recipe. I think that a brewer can become as engrossed as they would like in brewing science. In general, brewing does indeed involve science, but for the most part a good beer can be brewed at home with good ingredients, good equipment sterilization, time and a good palate. Beyond that, I recommend starting your own microbrewery. For Ken and me right now, we try to maintain a superficial understanding, for sanity's sake. We try to model our philosophy after one of the godfathers of home brewing Charlie Papazian, who always reminds people to ‘Relax, don't worry, and have a home brew.’”
Holland: "We also all love the OTR neighborhood and wanted to do something in celebration of the rekindling of the brewing tradition in Cincinnati. Ken, Jay and I are long-time home brewers. There's an obvious link to the science of bubbles.”
How many of you are involved in the project?
Sutton: "The whole lab, so eight in total.”
So explain a little bit about the bock you entered.
Holland: "We brewed a recipe for a Doppelbock that Jay developed. We named it ‘Doppelsterne’ after Doppler's original paper, ‘On the colored light of double stars...’ (Doppler is in reference to Austrian physicist Christian Doppler.) Kind of a geeky ultrasound joke—Doppler ultrasound. ‘Doppelsterne’ means ‘double stars’ and is tongue-in-cheek for two stars in the lab—Jay and Ken. My friend and neighbor, Barb Siegel, designed the label; she's a professional graphic designer.”
How many batches did it take to get to this particular beer?
Sutton: "Uhhh, zero practice batches, and I guess we're hoping the beautiful label will make up for any taste deficiencies.”
Bader: "We're experimentalists, so this is version 1.0. There will be a few errors, but that's why version 2.0 will be better and much more expensive. Also, in my heart and in my belly, every beer is a winner.”
Said like a true beer lover. Good luck next year!