Ingredients in beer

I have an older relative who tells me she likes the taste of beer, but is concerned about things like sodium, carbohydrates, and other components which are suspect when it comes to the beer-drinker’s health–and I’m not talking about the alcohol content. Is there some current information on this? Thanks very much.

She could always play it safe by sticking to traditionally brewed German beers.

Reinheitsgebot anyone?

Danke. :slight_smile:
(Incidentally, this thread wound up on the General Questions board three times because my browser kept failing to acknowledge it–I had to keep pressing the F5 key.) :mad:

Well most North American mega brewers beers are made up of malted barley, rice, water, hops and yeast. I would guess that corn sugar is sometimes used as well. Carbs are a given, just by the nature of the beast, while sodium is likely coming from the municipal water supply the brewery uses. That means she’s getting the same sodium dosage as she would if she drank tap water.

Basically, if she only tends to drink occasionally it seems unlikely to me that beer consumption would be the deciding factor in her health.

German beer is made under the German beer purity law which only permits four ingredients: water, hops, barley, and yeast. Drinking German beer is one way to make sure there aren’t any additives in it.

A typical beer would have about 3 grams carbohydrate per 100 ml, maybe 0.5% protein, and less than 0.1 g/100ml fat. Sodium content would average maybe 15-20 mg/12oz. Go to Google, enter “beer nutrition,” “beer sodium,” etc. to get more info.

All in all, I seriously doubt that the “other components” in beer are at all significant.

In the U.k. there is an organisation named CAMRA - Campaign for Real Ales - I wonder f you can find something similar in your area, as they would, I am sure be able to help.

It’s rumored (I don’t know if it’s true) that beers in Southeast Asia have formaldehyde (or something similar) added to keep it shelf stable in the heat. So if you’re at an Asian restaurant it might be best to eschew the Singha or what have you in favor of something German.

You know, I was about to call urban legend! on that but, eh.

From Taiwan:
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Monday that it will ban imports of mainland-brewed beer found to contain cancer-causing formaldehyde.

And this site here blames the canning process for the presence of formaldehyde in some beer.

However… (Sorry for the double post.)

I wasn’t all that far off with the urban legend. According to this article:

To recap:

  1. Old canning methods used to leave some traces of formaldehyde in the beer. Not anymore.
  2. Some smaller Chinese breweries add small amounts of formaldehyde to clarify the mash. Taiwan doesn’t like that.
  3. There is no formaldehyde added to any beer outside China.

Or so the Great Vat of Knowledge that is the Internet sez.

We have Camra in Canada as well … and I know that there is awareness of real beer in the US as well. Charlie Papazzian, the author of ‘The complete joy of homebrewing’ is American.

Slight hijack due to a pet peeve - the Reinheitsgebot is a tax document. It doesn’t say you can’t use other (presumably cheaper) ingredients; just that you’ll be taxed at a different rate (or fined). Most of the translations you’ll find on the Web are excerpts from the complete document…the full translation is pretty long.

We now return you to you regularly-scheduled malt beverage.

Anecdotally, Singha gave me the worst bloody hangover I’ve ever had in my life - if it’s not formaldehyde, then it’s something else horrible.

Jjimm, the hangover was probably from the rice whiskey you drank after drinking enough Singh. Or from the fried tree frogs you ate while drinking the beer. Or any number of other things one might encounter in Thailand.

As to the formaldehyde thing, I found this on the Oxford Bottled Beer site, I’m still trying to chase down one of the original sources that talked about this (and allegedly has serious ties to some of the Thai beer/liquor cartels).

It would certainly be easy enough to get a bottle of Singha, Chang, or Leo and see if they contain any “impurities”.

Well I’ve drunk Chang too and didn’t get the same effect. Maybe it wasn’t the formaline then - perhaps it was the deep-fried bees…

Um, doesn’t beer have a list of ingredients on the label? I thought that was required for all consumables.

Nope. Go check your nearest beer bottle. I’ve checked a few, and there’s no ingredients. None on cigarettes, either. Weird, huh?

Like sausage, it’s oft better not to know.

I can tell you some funny things get added to stabilize/clarify/adjust beer. Some beers add lactose to increase “mouth feel.” I know Bell’s Oberon Ale always, always gives me a unique, shit-like-a-monkey hangover, and I’m convinced its due to added lactose. Too bad- its tasty.

How come there is isn’t a shit-like-a-monkey emoticon? Some posts would benefit greatly from it.

Many of the less expensive beers not only include stabilizers and chemical foaming agents (I’ve read that Miller does), but are made with brewing processes that produce fusel oils and higher alcohols that will help you feel like poopoo.

Drink good beer.

Even if the beer is brewed according to the Bavarian Food Purity Law (worlds oldest food purity law) you are still going to get carbohydrates and sodium.

These are not bad things. Just normal food ingredients. In the case of beer they come mainly from the malted barley, which provides the sugars (carbs) for fermentation. Beer can be brewed with low carbs by using a yeast that will eat up all the sugars before it ‘dies’ of alcohol poisoning or by putting a small amount of sugars in from the start.

As far as ‘other components’, the reason I brew my own beer is because I know what goes in it.

Your older friend should relax, there is nothing in beer* that is more toxic than ethanol.
*save some Asian beers perhaps