Someone’s been embellishing the truth about the world’s most famous golden beverage. So, as a service to everyone, we’re setting the record straight and separating the beer facts from the fiction.
Fact or fiction: All beers contain preservatives?
This is a simple one to bust!
“Beer does not need preservatives,” explains nutritionist and award-winning author, Catherine Saxelby. “Brewers in Australia don’t tend to use preservatives as it’s not necessary – if they did they would need to state it on the bottle.”
So how does beer stay fresh without preservatives?
“The answer is simple – it’s the hops, the spice of beer,” says Catherine. “When added during the brewing process it plays an important role in balancing the flavours and aroma of the beer, and it also has preserving qualities, as does alcohol.”
“Also, breweries handle beer under strict hygienic conditions and use packaging technology that prevents bacterial contamination. The beer is packaged quickly and the extraction process removes the air from the top of the bottle.”
Fact or fiction? Beer is high in calories
Fiction! Most beers get a pretty bad rap when they shouldn’t.
Catherine says like all food and drink, beer contains energy – and calories and kilojoules are measures of energy –beer just like everything else should be enjoyed in moderation and as a part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
“There are four sources that can give you calories – protein, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol,” Catherine explains. “Generally speaking beer doesn’t have a lot of carbohydrates – beers featured on Beer the Beautiful Truth contain, on average, less than 4% carbohydrates. However, beer does have alcohol, which is the main source of the kilojoule content.”
If you are looking for a low calorie alternative, choose a beer that is a mid-strength or low alcohol option, advises Catherine. “The lower the alcohol’s percentage, the less kilojoule’s it should contain compared to a higher strength beer.”
Fact or fiction: In moderation, beer can be consumed as part of a balanced lifestyle?
You bet it can. In fact, Catherine says beer has been enjoyed by many cultures for centuries. But Catherine reiterates, it’s all about moderation. “While alcohol has been an integral part of society for centuries, it should be enjoyed in moderation and as a part of a balanced lifestyle that includes good eating and regular exercise.”
Catherine says beer actually dates back to early Egyptian times. “It is said that the first beer was created by accident when the Egyptians worked out how to make bread, which also uses the fermentation process. Perhaps the grains were sitting around in water, they became heated then started to ferment… we don’t know exactly.”
But, voila! The result was the discovery of a new kind of treasure, and one in which Europe, Asia and many other corners of the globe would embrace.
Then there’s Asia, who brew more than a few fine ales.
“If you look at these countries, they don’t really have a wine culture – they drink beer and pair it with their food,” explains Catherine. “Try a nice, refreshing and cleansing beer with your Indian food, Thai, spicy Korean food or any other hot dishes to balance your taste buds against the heat!”
Fact or fiction: Beer is high in sugar?
“Beer is not high in sugar!” says Catherine. “Many beers are actually on average 99.9% sugar-free!”
So who sweetened up those facts?
“I think it’s a misconception related to the brewing process!” says Catherine. “If you’ve ever brewed beer at home, chances are you’ve added natural cane sugar, honey, agave, fruits, or malt syrup. It’s normal for sugars to be added to beer, as well as the natural sugars that are produced before fermentation. However, during fermentation, the yeast breaks down the sugar, eating them up to produce the carbon dioxide (bubbles), alcohol and the delicious beer flavours. Leaving almost no sugar in the finished brew.”
The sugar content varies depending on the style of beer, as well as to influence the wonderful flavours. “There are actually four core ingredients in beer – barley, yeast, water and hops,” explains Catherine. “All of these ingredients, and their treatment during the brewing process, affect the style of beer, its delicacy, the floral characteristics, bitterness and overall flavour. For example, the way barley is roasted can affect whether it’s a dark ale or a light ale and the amazing rich malt flavours. Hops added early in the boil will impart bitterness while hops added later in the boil will provide more aroma and taste to the final beer. Other ingredients such as added spice, and even the way the yeast breaks down the starches will also affect the flavour.”
Fact or fiction: Low carb beers are low in alcohol?
“Generally, low carb beers are not low in alcohol!” says Catherine. “They usually have about the same alcohol content as a full strength beer.”
If you are looking for lighter beers to moderate, Catherine advises choosing a low alcohol beer rather than a low carb one.
If it’s your energy intake you are focused on, replacing full strength beer with mid to low strength beers (3.5% ABV or less) can be a great way to help reduce your kilojoule intake. “Look at James Boag Premium Light, XXXX Gold, Hahn Super Dry 3.5 -these beer range from 2.5% -3.5% in alcohol/vol” suggests Catherine.
We are passionate about beer and want to share this passion by telling you more about this fine beverage. Because the truth is a wonderful thing. #beerisbeautiful
Head to Beer The Beautiful Truth to find out the facts about your favourite beers.