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The Shocking Ingredients In Beer

 

I have to confess, I’m not a beer drinker, but there’s someone in my household that loves it, so I had to figure out the truth. Is beer really healthy? Why are the ingredients not listed on the label? Which brands can we trust? Which brands are trying to slowly poison us with cheap and harmful ingredients? All of these questions were going through my head at once at lightning speed. So a year ago, I started to research what was really in beer and after questioning several beer companies, reading books about food science, and talking to experts, the information I discovered was downright shocking.

I see it all the time. Someone who eats organic, makes the right choices at the grocery store, is fit and lives an extraordinarily healthy lifestyle but then drinks beer like it is going out of style.

Caring about what you eat doesn’t necessarily translate into caring about what you drink and this is a HUGE MISTAKE.

Before we get into what exactly is in beer that you should be worried about, let’s talk about how body reacts to alcohol in general.

Alcohol is metabolized by the body differently than all other calories you consume. Alcohol is one of the only substances that you consume that can permeate your digestive system and go straight into your bloodstream. It bypasses normal digestion and is absorbed into the body intact, where it goes straight into the liver.

Your liver is your main fat-burning organ. If you are trying to lose weight or even maintain your ideal weight, drinking alcohol is one of your worst enemies. The liver is going to metabolize alcohol first vs. the fat you want to get rid of – making weight loss even harder. Additionally, one of the primary functions of the liver is to remove environmental toxins from your body – if it is overtaxed with alcohol, the normal removal of these toxins becomes extremely diminished and can result in rapid aging, loss of libido, and other diseases.

The one thing that has gotten me before and I’m sure many of you – is the health marketing claims on alcohol products making drinking them seem like a good idea and an added “benefit” to your health. The low alcohol content of beer makes it appear as an innocuous beverage and something people throw back without even thinking about it. Who hasn’t seen those studies that say a beer a day is great for you (I want to ask who ever stops at just one beer?)?

 

So, inherently, alcohol by itself is not a healthy person’s best friend – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Beer, especially American beer, is made with all sorts of ingredients beyond the basic hops, malt and yeast. There are numerous other ingredients used to clarify, stabilize, preserve, enhance the color and flavor of beer.

When you drink beer, there is almost a 100% chance that you don’t know what you are drinking (unless you quizzed the beer companies like I did). The ingredients in beer are not required by law to be listed anywhere on the label and manufacturers have no legal obligation to disclose the ingredients. For regular beer, calorie levels and percent alcohol are optional and for light beer calories are mandatory but alcohol levels are optional.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer, author of Appetite for Profit, and president of Eat Drink Politics told me the reason that beer companies don’t disclose ingredients is simple: they don’t have to.

“Ingredient labeling on food products and non-alcoholic beverages is required by the Food and Drug Administration. But a whole other federal agency regulates beer, and not very well. The Department of Treasury – the same folks who collect your taxes – oversees alcoholic beverages. That probably explains why we know more about what’s in a can of Coke than a can of Bud. You can also thank the alcohol industry, which has lobbied for years against efforts to require ingredient labeling.”

I figured if the beer companies aren’t required to tell us the exact list of ingredients, I needed to investigate this for myself and asked them the pointed questions until I got the truth.

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First of all, I was able to obtain a baseline list of “legal” additives allowed in beer from the book “Chemicals Additives in Beer” by the Center of Science and Public Interest. This list allowed me to ask specific questions about each beer I investigated. For example – beer sold here in America can contain several of the following ingredients:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) –  alcohol is already addictive with some people, but with MSG?! Holy smokes.

  • Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)

  • Calcium Disodium EDTA (made from formaldehyde, sodium cayanide, and Ethylenediamine)

  • Many different types of sulfites and anti-microbial preservatives (linked to allergies and asthma)

  • Natural Flavors (can come from anything natural including a beavers anal gland)

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

  • GMO Sugars – Dextrose, Corn Syrup

  • Caramel Coloring (Class III or IV made from ammonia and classified as a carcinogen)

  • FD&C Blue 1 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

  • FD&C Red 40 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

  • FD&C Yellow 5 (Made from petroleum, linked to allergies, asthma and hyperactivity)

  • Insect-Based Dyes: carmine derived from cochineal insects to color their beer.

  • Animal Based Clarifiers: Findings include isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin (from skin, connective tissue, and bones), and casein (found in milk)

  • Foam Control: Used for head retention; (glyceryl monostearate and pepsin are both potentially derived from animals)

  • BPA (Bisphenol A is a component in many can liners and it may leach into the beer. BPA can mimic the female hormone estrogen and may affect sperm count, and other organ functions.)

  • Carrageenan (linked to inflammation in digestive system, IBS and considered a carcinogen in some circumstances)

During my investigation, I couldn’t get a single mainstream beer company to share the full list of ingredients contained in their beer. But I did get some of them to fess up to the use of these ingredients in writing so I’m going to share this information with you now.

Carcinogenic Caramel Coloring

Newcastle, a UK brand, confessed to using what I would consider one of the most controversial food additives. Toasted barley is usually what gives beer its golden or deep brown color, however in this case, Newcastle beer is also colored artificially with caramel color. This caramel coloring is manufactured by heating ammonia and sulfites under high pressure, which creating carcinogenic compounds. If beer companies were required by law to list the ingredients, Newcastle would likely have to have a cancer warning label under California law because it is a carcinogen proven to cause liver tumors, lung tumors, and thyroid tumors in rats and mice.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Many of the beers I questioned contained one or more possible GMO ingredients.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (Guinness – unable to provide an affidavit for non-GMO proof)
  • Corn syrup (Miller Light, Coors, Corona, Fosters, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Stripe)
  • Dextrose (Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch Light, Michelob Ultra)
  • Corn (Red Stripe, Miller Coors Brand, Anheuser-Busch Brands)

Most beers brewed commercially are made with more GMO corn than barley. Many of the companies I contacted dodged the GMO question – however Miller Coors had a very forthcoming and honest response. They stated “Corn syrup gives beer a milder and lighter-bodied flavor” and “Corn syrups may be derived from a mixture of corn (conventional and biotech.)”, admitting their use of GMOs.

Slide2

Pabst Blue Ribbon responded saying their corn syrup was “special” and “made of carbohydrates and some simple sugars like dextrose and maltose.  The sugars are fermented into alcohol and CO2, and the carbohydrates, both from the corn syrup and the malt, remain in the beers as flavor, color and body components.”

Dextrose and maltose can come from a variety of substances that are sweet, but likely are derived from GMO corn because it is super cheap for a company to use corn instead of fruit or other non-GMO sources. With cheap beer – you are not just getting a cheap buzz, you are getting the worst of the worst.  Just like with cheap fast food – if you don’t invest in your beer – you will be drinking a lower quality product like Pabst Blue Ribbon that is made from GMO Corn and Corn Syrup.

In 2007, Greenpeace found unapproved and experimental GMO Rice strain in Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser, Bud Light) beer. Anheuser-Busch responded saying their US-grown long-grained rice “may have micro levels” of a genetically engineered protein called Liberty Link, but added that the protein is “substantially removed or destroyed” during the brewing of beer sold domestically. Don’t you think it’s hard to trust any beer company that gets caught using experimental food made in a laboratory? GMOs have not been tested long term on human beings and one of the main pesticides (Roundup) they spray on GMO crops are linked to inflammation, cancer and other diseases. 

Guinness

High Fructose Corn Syrup & Fish Bladders

Speaking of trusting companies, let’s get one thing straight, Guinness beer is no longer owned by the Irish, they are now owned by a large beer conglomerate called Diageo and manufactured in over 50 different countries. No matter how many St. Patty’s Day celebrations you’ve had with this dark stout, it’s time to stop because they use high fructose corn syrup in their beer (4/2/14 Update: Guinness Beer claims they do not use high fructose corn syrup any longer, but refuses to disclose ingredient affidavits or full of list of ingredients.) But, Guinness beer also contains isinglass, a gelatin-like substance produced from the swim bladder of a fish. This ingredient helps remove any “haziness,” solids, or yeast byproducts from the beer. Mmmmm… fish bladder sounds delicious, doesn’t? The sneaky thing this beer company does like many of the companies mentioned here today is create an illusion of using the best ingredients when in actuality what they tell you publicly on their websites is a complete farce. On Guinness FAQ’s – they have a question that states: “What are the key ingredients in Guinness” and the answer doesn’t reveal the whole picture – it only states “Our key ingredients – other than inspiration – are roasted, malted barley, hops, yeast and water.” What BS, right?  You have to call, email, question and know the right things to ask to even have a chance at getting the truth. This is insanity.

So What Beers Are Additive and GMO Free?

If you enjoy the occasional beer and wish to maintain your healthy lifestyle, choosing one without GMOs and additives is ideal. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream beers available have additives, but luckily, there are a few that don’t. For example, Sierra Nevada, Heineken, and Amstel Light (7/31/13 UPDATE: It has come to my attention that Heinken USA has changed their formula to use GMOs – I called their customer service line 1-914-681-4100 to confirm and asked for the list of ingredients – the man told me “water, yeast, malted barley and hops” – then I asked if their beer contained any genetically engineered material and he confirmed “YES,” but wouldn’t tell me what ingredients are genetically engineered. They recently changed their formula after my initial research that started in late 2012.) (8/1/13 Update: Heineken reached out to me personally to say their customer service department made an error in telling me and others who called their beer has GMOs. I met with a head brew master and have viewed affidavits from the company and confirmed Heinken and Amstel Light do not contain GMOs – they apologize for the confusion.) appear to be pretty clean (but these companies still wouldn’t disclose the full list of ingredients to me. They did say they use non-GMO grains, no artificial ingredients, stabilizers or preservatives).

German Beers are also a good bet. The Germans are very serious about the purity of their beers and enacted a purity law called “Reinheitsgebot” that requires all German beers to be only produced with a core ingredient list of water, hops, yeast, malted barley or wheat. Advocates of German beers insist that they taste cleaner and some even claim they don’t suffer from hangovers as a result.

An obvious choice to consider is also Certified Organic Beers. They are required by law to not include GMOs and other harmful additives. Organic beers also support environmental friendly practices and reduce the amount of pesticides and toxins in our air, support organic farmers – which is a huge plus. (To this day, the beer drinkers in my family haven’t found one they love so if you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments!)

Craft & Microbrews Beers – For certain local craft and micro beers, you can ask those companies for a list of ingredients and many of them will be up front with you. However, companies like Miller Coors are slowly closing in on craft beers and buying them up one by one… like they did when they created the unique popular variety called Blue Moon (the beer you drink with an orange) and Anhesuer-Busch did this with Rolling Rock and Goose Island Brewery. Make sure your favorite craft and microbrew is still independently owned and controlled before taking a sip.

In the end – if you decide to drink beer, you are definitely drinking at your own risk for more reasons than just the crazy ingredients that could be in them. The key point to remember is – if you like to drink beer and want to be healthy, drink it infrequently and quiz the beer companies for the truth. Find a beer that you can trust and stick with it.

For your reference, here are some important questions to ask your favorite beer company:

  1. What are the ingredients in your beer – all of them from start to finish?

  2. Are any of your ingredients GMO?

  3. Do you use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients? (Examples include: dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)

  4. Do you add any natural, artificial flavors or colors to the beer? (Examples include:  yellow #5, caramel coloring, red #40, MSG, natural flavors)

  5. Are there any additional preservatives, stabilizers and/or clarifying agents added to your beer during processing? (Examples include: propylene glycol, Calcium Disodium EDTA, anything ending in “sulfite” like sodium metabisulfite, Heptylparaben, isinglass)

If you know someone who drinks beer – share this post with them.

These ingredients are no joke. We must inform and protect each other from these industrial chemicals, untested and potentially harmful ingredients and it starts by sharing your knowledge with the ones you love.

Bottoms up!

Food Babe

 

Enjoying Dinner copy

UPDATE: In June 2014, I launched a petition to ask the two most popular beer companies in the U.S., Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, to publish the complete ingredient lists for all of their beers online. Within only 24 hours, the petition received over 40,000 signatures and gained exposure on several mainstream media outlets including ABC News, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. This same day, Anheuser-Busch announced that they would agree to publish their complete ingredients online, and MillerCoors quickly followed suit. Anheuser-Busch has since published the ingredients for several of their beers online (they have not published all of them), revealing that some contain high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, and other additives. MillerCoors also listed ingredients on their website for many beers which contain corn syrup (GMO), high fructose corn syrup, sucrose (sugar), and natural flavors. 
 
UPDATE: In October 2015 Guinness announced that they are stopping the use of isinglass in their refining process so that their beer will become vegan-friendly.
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1,462 responses to “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer

  1. seems u made some drinkers mad, cause u bashed there beer. some would rather die then stop drinking it or even drink it occasionally. our health should be more important. gmos are bad and anyone that wants to say they arent well there research needs checked again. i fing ur info helpful and i appreciate it. the free recipes are awesome. i like many others just got the info on gmos and eating organic. i was getting sick from all the processed foods and i didnt know it. so thankful i know now for me and my kids. so thanks i will be using all the info u can give so i can learn whats best to eat and buy. cheryl bursa

  2. And that’s not even counting the fact that even the real ingredients in beer like wheat and barley are already either GMO or contaminated with neuro-toxins during growing, shipping and handling.

  3. Go ahead and google “Levaquin”, you doubters that fluoride is a poison (as correctly labled on all the toothpaste you buy).
    Levaquin is an antibiotic, which was for a while properly given the black label warning. It uses fluoride as an antibiotic, because it is a fantastic killer of things biotic, like yourself.
    It melted people’s tendons! Caused some to become disabled. Kicked me into diabetes. It’s a horrible poision.
    Doubt it? Fluoride was the only active ingredient in my Grandmother’s mouse poison. Killed mice in small doses.
    Former dentist or not, don’t be ignorant just because educated people think fluoride is great, doesn’t mean they aren’t simply brainwashed.

    1. There is a difference between Fluorine and fluoride. H2O is water. H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide. Botulinum toxin is made up of the same atoms and structures that make up you. Just because you can see similar parts, be it atoms, molecules, complex biological structures, etc., does not mean they are the same or react the same. You insist on others not being ignorant. I ask the same of you. The fact is Dentists are very well educated in their field. Study what they study as well as the contradicting arguments you have apparently attached yourself to. Do not limit yourself to a confirmation bias that only allows you to understand and believe that which you already agree with. If you cannot or will not try to fully understand the claims you make and beliefs you hold true, you have zero respect for yourself and the people to speak to about these things.

  4. Interesting article. I have a very good friend who is anaphylactic to fish, and is very sensitive to even fish odours or contact, but yet drinks glasses of Guinness with no problem.. If there were fish bladder components in Guinness surely they would by law have to issue a warning of its allergic ingredients. Interested to hear what you think. Thanks

    1. Isinglass (the ingredient extracted from the swim bladder of fish, usually sturgeon) is traditionally used in British brewing as a “fining agent.” Consisting mostly of collagen proteins, it is added to the beer after fermentation where it binds to remaining yeast and malt proteins in suspension, and settles out. This improves beer clarity and flavor stability. The yeast and proteins would eventually settle out on their own over a period of anywhere from weeks to months depending on a range of factors including yeast strain, recipe, and storage conditions, but that would be impractical and cost prohibitive for stubborn beers. Filtration is commonly used for the same purpose in American mass-market lagers, but is less prevalent in craft and British brewing.

      As to your question about the fish allergy, virtually no isinglass remains in the finished product as it precipitates along with the yeast and malt proteins. It is less an “ingredient” than a process aide. I am not particularly fond of the giant conglomerates like Diageo, AB-InBev, and SABMillerCoors, but here the author is clearly looking for a story where there isn’t one. (If you want some shocking beer ingredients, check out 19th century porter production. Makes me thankful for modern food safety regulations!) Whether the beer is a mass-market lager, an aggressive west coast IPA, or a fine barrel-aged English barleywine, the biggest health risk is of course the alcohol.

      1. Isinglas also is allowed under German beer purity laws since it doesn’t remain in the beer. Carageenan (Irish moss) also falls out of the product during the aging process and doesn’t remain the finished product. I’m not knocking people that care about what goes in their food, but these two products are fine.

    2. Isinglass (using fish bladder) is a very common practice in both the beer and wine industries and has been for a very long time.

  5. I totally love your articles! This one on beer is another reason why I am happy I have moved to Munich, Germany. I was born and raised in San Diego, California but recently moved to Munich because of many reasons – mostly that America has changed and there is a lot we cannot control and we need to raise our children in safe places… away from these crazy foods, for example. The beer in Germany is definitely pure! I have had quite a few some nights and then I find myself totally fine the next day. I never feel that way when I drink beer in America. I do agree with you! It is a shame that America keeps manipulating our products and not sticking to pure ingredients that have worked for centuries with other countries.
    Thanks for fighting for us all and doing such an incredible job changing our thinking and changing American products. Awesome!

  6. I crave a cold drink at night and came across coors light silver bullet cans in the local Rite Aid pharmacy which stays open late. I figured I can drink something cold without putting on too many calories. The first few nights went well. Then I started developing a severe allergic reaction, deep coughs, sneezing, and running nose. That would last till early morning hours. Initially, I didn’t know what is going on till I tried some import beers and hard liquor and saw no reaction. I would wait for a while and then try coors light silver bullet and he same severe reaction. It prompted me to search Internet and was shocked what I found. It is mind boggling the crap they put into this beer and get away with it. FDA wake up and take charge.

  7. I discovered Omission (omissionbeer.com) gluetn free beer back in the fall and have enjoyed it. I emailed them the questions Vani suggested and they responded in less than 24 hours. I was pleased with their responses!!!!!!!!! See below.

    What are the ingredients in your Lager (all of them from start to finish)?
    Malted barley, hops, yeast and water.

    Are any of your ingredients GMO? NO

    Do you use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients? (Examples include: dextrose, corn syrup, etc.) NO

    Do you add any natural, artificial flavors or colors to the beer? (Examples include: yellow #5, caramel coloring, red #40, MSG, natural flavors) NO

    Are there any additional preservatives, stabilizers and/or clarifying agents added to your beer during processing? (Examples include: propylene glycol, Calcium Disodium EDTA, anything ending in “sulfite” like sodium metabisulfite, Heptylparaben, isinglass) Yes, the enzyme we use to destroy the gluten is called Brewer’s Clarex. It is considered a process aid rather than an ingredient.

      1. A “process aid” is something used in the processing of the product that does not remain in the finished product. There is a comment somewhere above this that describes the “EVIL FISH BLADDER” in detail as a process aid that has been used for hundreds of years by most breweries around the world, and does not remain in the finished product.

  8. There ia a comment above about flouride not being in Australia. Australia is a huge Country and the places listed in the link are all in Queensland. I live in NSW and the water has flouride in it unfortunately. I dont understand why Governments put flouride in the water unless it is to dumb down the general population. Why not let water be water naturally and if anyone wants to add their own flouride, its up to them. Attatchment and egos get in the way and thats why people will always be at odds with each other.
    I thank food babe from the bottom of my heart for contributing to my good healtj. I used to take about 21 pills now down to 4, cant get rid of the prednisone which is the most damaging, your great advice is helping so many, I wish i could hug you, keep up your most excellent work from a very happy customer in Australia

    1. Hi Sarah, QLD intro’d fluoride week Anna Bligh became premier, and I think a couple of councils have wound it back, not many. Even medical professionals who want it out are being threatened. It is using our kidneys to flush the waste from aluminium industry – and we pay them them for our poison, and meds are administered by council workers, who have made overdosing errors. About Money for corporates, corruption of politicoans, some are just dumb and able to be manipulated! Intention.is cause disease, artery/heart, and reduce IQ.

  9. I am a huge fan of Abita which is brewed in Louisiana where I am from. Their Strawberry Lager and Purple Haze are some of my favorites. I was concerned after reading this so emailed them the questions above and here is their response. GMO-free!

    1) What are the ingredients in your beer? All of them from start to finish.

    The main ingredients that we use are water, malted barley, hops and yeast.
    Examples of hops we use are: Willamette, Columbus, Cascade, Perle & Vanguard hops.
    Examples of malts we use are: Chocolate, Pale, Pilsner & wheat malts.

    2) Are any of these ingredients GMO?

    No, we do not not use any genetically modified products in our beer.

    3) Do you use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients: ex dextrose, corn syrup, etc.?

    No, we do not use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients in our beer.

    4) Do you add any natural or artificial preservatives or colors to the beer: ex red #5, caramel coloring, MSG, natural flavors?

    We do not add any coloring to our beer, however caramel coloring is produced naturally during the brewing process by the malts and hops. As for flavoring, we do add real orange peels, coriander, and whole satsumas to our Satsuma Wit – real raspberries to our Purple Haze – and real Ponchatoula strawberries to our Strawberry Harvest Lager. These are all natural flavors without any artificial preservatives.

    5) Are there any additional additives, stabilizers, or clarifying agents you add to the beer?

    No, we do not add any additional preservatives, stabilizers and/or clarifying agents to our beer.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  10. Orlando Brewing so far is my all-time favorite of the organic beers… Especially the Pale Ale. I believe they have 4 types of beer. I’m not sure how far out of Florida they distribute, but I can get it at Whole Foods here in Orlando.

  11. from Samuel Adams:

    We do not add ANY preservatives to our beer. Additionally, unlike many folks in the beer industry, we do not use adjuncts (sugar, rice, and corn) in our beer, which lighten and cheapen it. Our beers are made with all-natural high-quality ingredients. For example, our Sam Adams Boston Lager consists of 4 ingredients: Water, two-row malt, Bavarian hops, and lager yeast; our lager does not contain wheat. Many of our other recipes call for other ingredients (not to be confused with adjuncts); vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, lemon zest, and orange peel, are just a few, and add complexity to the beer.

    1. You mentioned that Sam Adams doesn’t use wheat in their lager. Do you know if they use gluten? I’d love to be able to drink that again. Please let me know. Thanks!

      1. Barley contains gluten, so yes – Sam Adams contains gluten.

        BeerAdvocate lists their best and worst gluten-free beers online. I’ve tried a few from my local stores that were ok. Nothing memorable.

        On the other hand, I’ve had some GREAT French cidres which could easily replace beer as a gluten-free alternative. One of my favorites was Cidre Triple from Domaine Dupont, which was ASTOUNDING. Unfortunately, commercial cidre suffers the same problem as beer – Stella’s Cidre for example reads like a soft drink:

        “water, apples from the orchard, sugars (including glucose syrup), caramel and cochineal for colour, sulphites for freshness and malic acid which gives tartness to the flavour.”

        Err… No thanks.

        Look at BeerAdvocate’s list, and ask your local liquor store if any of their distributors have a line on authentic French Cidre or Chistr from Brittany or Normandy. These would be made from apples, not grains, and are naturally gluten-free. Have them with a buckwheat crêpe on the side!

      1. I assume there would be GMO wheat and corn in their flavored beer beverages. I emailed a follow-up to them about Boston Lager specifically and am waiting a reply. To the best of my knowledge, there is no GMO barley or hops *yet* in 2014, but there is a frankenyeast which is marketed to the beer industry… I’ll post here as soon as I receive a reply…

  12. Try Peak Organic beer out of Portland Maine. 7.1% alcohol and delicious!!! Certified organic.

  13. I always have an Irish beer on St. Patrick’s Day. Does anyone know a good Irish beer without the nasty stuff?

  14. Lakefront Brewery make an AMAZING organic beer called “Beer Line” Organic barleywine style ale. Very high alcohol content 12.5% and absolutely amazing. and i am a complete beer snob, mostly drink hard to find Belgians and a lot of Dogfish Head (Burton Baton, Olde School, Palo Santo, etc…). My wife has been geting us more and more into organics so when i saw Beer Line on my store shelf i figured i’d try it since i love Dogfish Head Olde School, which is also a barelywine with high alcohol. Lakefront needs to make as much of this beer as their brewery can.

  15. Great article…I’ve been wondering about this for a while now. My hubby loves Sierra Nevada and we drink moderately except for an occasional weekend 🙂 My question is, what about hard ciders? They’re not as widespread but they’re all I drink. Here in MN we have a local organic company called Crispin – excellent stuff. I know apples are really important to eat organic due to chemicals penetrating the skin, and ciders actually list a lot more of their nutrition facts than beer is required to do. For instance, Angry Orchard crisp apple lists its ingredients as: hard cider, natural flavors, carbon dioxide, malic acid (the acid naturally occurring in apples), and sulfites. Not the best list, clearly, but no one drinks an alcoholic beverage for their health (unless they’re deluded by the advertising mentioned above). I do totally agree with avoiding the horrible ingredients though. I’d also be interested in hearing about hard liquors and the processing they go through.

    1. Do a little research… this article is on macro beers that fall under either ABInBev or MillerCoors or one of the other multinational conglomerate brewing umbrellas. Sierra Nevada, on the other hand, is not one of these. None of the beers Sierra Nevada produce contain adjuncts.

      1. You clearly did not read my comment, which was about CIDER, not beer. Also, I find the suggestion that I “do a little research” incredibly UNhelpful. So thanks for that.

  16. If you get them in your area, Uinta brewery brews delicious beers. Their BABA black beer is a great substitute for Guinness, it’s delicious and organic! (I think most of their beers are.)

    Squatters is another micro brewery in Utah. They use a lot of local, organic ingredients (they might be all local and organic ingredients, I can’t remember).

    That’s a bummer about Guinness. Their beer is delicious.

  17. Including isinglass and carrageenan on here is likely a mistake. Isinglass is even an allowable ingredient under the famous German beer purity laws. Both products are clarifying agents that are used during the clarifying process of the aging and fall out of the finished product before consumption. Carrageenan is often confused with poligeenen, which has given it a bad rap. It comes from natural seaweed and is often referred to as Irish moss. If you are drinking almond milk, you already consume the stuff, but in beer it falls out of the product and isn’t in what you actually drink.

  18. Samuel smith organic lager (best organic beer I’ve had) they also do a quite a bit of other organic ciders and stouts that are delicious!

  19. The assertion that “Most beers brewed commercially are made with more GMO corn than barley” is silly and unfounded. It takes the enzymes (primarily amylase) present in barley (not present in corn) to break down the starches with are present in both into the sugars necessary for alcohol fermentation. Even with the more enzymatic and less commonly used variety of barely (6 row) it is more difficult and uncommon to make a beer of 50% or more corn.
    Also: Corn syrup is a fructose glucose mixture. Those sugars are converted to alcohol without residual dextrins or anything else. As they say, it thins the beer (while maintaining alcohol content). Beers using corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup do NOT contain either, since all of these sugars are easily converted to alcohol. It aint bad stuff to use. In fact the sugar in HFCF, fructose, is the same sugar converted into alcohol during the fermentation of any wine.
    Cheers.

  20. You should see this… I’m wondering if they robbed your article! I saw yours via Pinterest, and days later I was doing beer research (because of your article – my family is really interested in Yuengling – when they enjoy the occasional bee). I couldn’t believe it when one of my search results yielded nearly the same information that you wrote! I’m a Library Teacher, so I’m “big” on copyright. Thanks for all of your research and writings!!!

  21. Great article! What does anyone recommend about Yuengling? Also, what are the safest and trustworthy NON-GMO and non-toxic liquors or wines to stick with?

  22. Always drink the local brewers always natural ingredients and found some awesome stouts in the process.

  23. Great Post, will 100% share this post to my husband. This is awful to read, and I will make him very sad. Ehh, what to do – will tell him to switch to wine. The only problem is that how to convince him to loose beer for all those nhl games – when he is watching them on tv?

  24. Hi. Firstly, tell that beer lover to try Coopers Brewery and Little Creatures from Australia… Organic, natural and tastes amazing. So much better than most of the ones you list.

    BTW – When are you coming to Australia to do some investigations and maybe live talk shows??? Come on. if Oprah can do it so can you!

  25. Best tip of the article: German Beer (and Chech. Beer)

    However evil budwieser has the rights to BECK ( a good German beer) but it is now brewed by budweiser and they have promptly ruined it.

    Here is the best organic beer in the WORLD! Come to Portland and try some!

    http://hopworksbeer.com

    Peace.

    -Marco

    1. Becks was owned by InBev before InBev took over Anheuser Busch.
      It was a Belgian owned brewery using British ingredients and no better than most other Euro lagers.
      Although the Reinheitsgebot is called the Purity Law it was never anything of the kind, simply a measure to prevent brewers using wheat needed by the bakers.It is no guarantee of quality whatsoever, just a restriction on ingredients.

  26. Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
    In Milwaukee has an organic beer that is very good. They also have a gluten free beer called New Grist. The price is @ 8.99 a six pack. If you don’t tell people the organic beer is organic people just think it’s a good craft beer. The New Grist tastes like Cider and Beer mixed together. The listed ingredients are sorghum, rice, hops, water and yeast.

  27. What about the beer Yuengling beer as touted as 100 old yr old family beer with natural ingrediants, Can we see what they contain

    Thanks Luv you site and hard work

  28. Your family will fall in love with Samuel smiths organic chocolate stout. They’ll thank me but buy me a beer instead!!

  29. I wish other alcoholic beverages/liquors would be up front with their ingredients as well… Thank you for the insight, I always wondered why ingredients were not listed on any of these!

  30. I think the Samuel Smith Organic Cider is delicious. I don’t have luck finding anything organic on tap, however Samuel smith had a broad selection of organic beers.

  31. Where is Samuel Adams Boston Lager (my favorite beer) in this? Years ago they claimed they follow the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot which you mentioned). Is it still the case?

    1. They are still a craft brewery who does not use adjuncts in their brewing process. They use real natural ingredients. The Reinheitsgebot law, simply stated that beer should only be made with three ingredients: water, barley, and hops. They didn’t even know yeast existed back then.

      So any beer that is made with any kind of fruit, or spices, pumpkin, etc. all break that German purity law. So breaking that has zero bearing on the quality of ingredients, merely the type.

      In fact, a group of young scientists in Germany have been experimenting with yeast strains to develop various fruit and other flavors directly through the yeast growth, so that they can make flavored beers in Germany, that still technically meet the requirements.

      1. They most certainly did know about yeast. Beer has been around for thousands of years. There are beer recipes written in cuneiform. While they may not have fully understood the process, they knew yeast was an essential component to brewing beer and baking bread.

    2. I contacted Sam Adams directly and got a response right away: Thank you for your question regarding the ingredients in our beer. When a drinker contacts us, we take their words as seriously as we brew our beer.
      We do not add any preservatives to our beer, nor do we use any adjuncts (sugar, rice, and corn), which lighten and cheapen it. Our beers are made with all-natural, high-quality ingredients. Samuel Adams Boston Lager was the first American beer to pass the German Beer Purity Law also known as the Reinheitsgebot. The Reinheitsgebot requires German brewers to only use the traditional ingredients found in beer: water, malt, hops and yeast. Samuel Adams Boston Lager consists of 4 ingredients: Water, a special Samuel Adams blend of two-row malted barley, Bavarian hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnanger, and proprietary Samuel Adams lager yeast. To add additional complexity to our brews, some of our other recipes use spices or fruit (not to be confused with adjuncts) including vanilla, grains of paradise, cinnamon, chocolate, rose hips, lemon zest, and orange peel.
      Because we do not use any preservatives, we strive for freshness at Samuel Adams. This is why all of our beers have a freshness dating that gives a recommended date to consume by. Although beer doesn’t expire in the sense that milk does, we believe freshness is a fundamental component of any quality beer.
      We hope this answers your question. Thanks again for contacting us, and please continue to enjoy Samuel Adams beer knowing we use only the finest quality ingredients!

      1. So, even following that German purity law, could Sam Adams still use GMOs in their beers?

        That response from their customer service rep is nice, but it doesn’t answer the GMO question. Or did I miss it?

      2. Dan –

        It says it here:

        “We do not add any preservatives to our beer, nor do we use any adjuncts (sugar, rice, and corn).” All the big beers have GMO cause they use corn as an adjuncts.

  32. Hopworks brewery!! All of their beers are certified organic and delicious! From Portland, Oregon. Many other microbrews who most likely are gmo free in the State of Oregon as well as many Certified Organic.

  33. Thank you for publishing this. I will go back to sipping wine on occasion and drinking good German and Micro beer. I am offended by some these rude and ignorant comments from people that are blind to the fact that we are at war with our own people. Don’t take away their pacifiers cause they will cry.

  34. I completely agree with the information here regarding macro breweries, in the US and throughout the world. However, as a supporting of craft beer and a homebrewer myself, I know that there is a very important part of this story that is missing.

    American craft brewers do not use these adjunct ingredients in their brewing processes and take great pride in using quality, fresh ingredients as a primary distinction between them, and the macro-brewers.

    In fact, a group of them once tried to put ingredients on their bottles and the labels got denied by the government! They literally aren’t allowed to. Alcoholic beverages are treated differently than food products, largely because of the lobbying power of the macro-breweries.

    Please DO NOT lump quality, local craft breweries in with this crowd.

    There is no more association between Bud/Miller/Coors and the craft beer industry than there is between an organic vegetable farm and an industrial slaughter house.

    1. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited from listing nutritional and health info because of laws dating back to the days of “Snake Oil”. It has nothing to do with the brewers.

  35. I’ll stay with Spaten from Germany. I like real beer. I was drinking Beck’s Dark until they sold out to Bush and is made in the US now. I only drink 1-2 beers a week so I don’t mind paying more for good German import beer.

      1. Spaten, as well as Anheuser-Busch, were bought out by INBEV. SO, AB does NOT own Spaten, INBEV owns them both. There is a difference. And the reason why is they got a deal when the US currency went down after our economy crashed due to GWB’s policy of starting un-neccessary war. But that’s a different debate.

      2. Anhueser- Busch InBev is what the company is now called and every brand they sell is to be avoided. Carlos Brito is notorious for using the absolutely cheapest ingredients available. Some of the most historic breweries around the world have now been ruined.

  36. Minor side note… Isenglass actually gets filtered out (along with certain proteins etc) before packaging. So unless it is against your morals it doesn’t affect the taste of the beer in any way.

    Also as pointed out methyl alcohol (polypropylene glycol) is a natural by product of fermentation, the amounts in beer are quite minute. It is not an added ingredient.

    1. methyl alcohol (methanol) is not the same as propylene glycol. methyl alcohol is also know as wood alcohol and it is not a bi-product of yeast fermentation, that would be ethanol.

      1. You’re wrong. Methanol can in fact be produced by primary fermentation if pectins are present (as in cider).

      2. OK there is a small amount of methanol produced if pectin is present, but that mostly occurs in sugary mixtures like wine or cider and its still only around 2 – 3 parts per million. Not sure if there is any in beer at all. Its definitely different the propylene glycol.

  37. Another reason to enjoy making my own beer – esp since the beer supply store deals with local growers when possible & researches all other distributors of his ingredients

  38. We love St Peter’s Organic Ale and Sam Smith Organic Ale. Both are English beers but not easy to find locally. I always have to ask my local store to track it down. Whole Foods used to carry both beers but just recently stopped.

  39. It would be nice to alternatives included in these articles, not just what NOT to eat/drink.
    There are hundreds of small organic breweries making small and large batches of quality, locally sourced organic brews.
    I live in the bay area, California, so I am spoiled for choice of fantastic and ethically produced beer. But nationwide we have so many choices. You never have to drink a adjunct macro-brew again if you just pay a little more.

    http://www.brewersassociation.org/attachments/0001/4531/CBP13-Top-50_HR.jpg

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