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.
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.
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.
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:
What are the ingredients in your beer – all of them from start to finish?
Are any of your ingredients GMO?
Do you use any soy, corn, or rice processing ingredients? (Examples include: dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)
Do you add any natural, artificial flavors or colors to the beer? (Examples include: yellow #5, caramel coloring, red #40, MSG, natural flavors)
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.
1,462 responses to “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer”
Watch out for many store-bought, ready-made Ice Tea’s. Many have less real tea and more flavorings and caramel.
Thanks for all your diligent research it is very informative. Tell your husband to try any of the beers by EEL RIVER they are a 100% certified organic brewery in the US and they make delicious beer. Try the Pale Ale or the golden Ale. He will definitely enjoy them.
Thanks for the heads up! Making note of this brewery 🙂
I’ve never seen of heard of this brand;. where is it from/manufactured?
They are in a small, rural town in northern California where I lived as a kid, near the Redwoods. Beautiful place! Check out their website here: eelriverbrewing.com.
Solution: brew your own beer. See, problem solved!
This would be the most ideal scenerio, but myself and most of the population can’t afford to brew their own beer. It’s a very expensive hobby.
Brewing your own beer is “NOT” more expensive than buying it off the store shelf. It is the same cost or cheaper(depending on what you are brewing of course).
It costs me $35-40 for a 24-pack of what I like to drink(mostly craft beers and imports) and it costs about that to brew 2-24 packs at home. So about half the price. What it does cost you is the initial investment in the equipment needed for brewing and, of course, time.
It’s cheaper than buying beer
depending on what a dollarnd how much you drink, home brews are far cheaper. the cost of initial setup with quickly be offset compared to buying 11, 13 dollar 6packs and 14, 16 four packs.
Unless you use organic products, brewing your own beer will not solve the problem.
Even home brewers use corn sugar, carrageenan (in the form or Irish Moss) and/or eisenglass.
The thing with the last two is that they are used to help protein solids (that cause chill haze) coagulate…..and drop out of suspension. You then siphon the beer off the trub and leave the proteins and eisenglass / Irish moss behind.
As a home brewer, I can use organic ingredients if I wish. I have full control over what goes into my mash and ultimately my bottles.
No, you don’t have to use corn sugar, clarifiers, or other harmful ingredients if you make smart choices of what you are using. As I said, I have complete control over what goes into my bottles.
Right on! Brew your own!
So do we now know what’s in Blue Moon? The miller nutrition site (http://www.millercoors.com/our-beers/nutrition-facts-codes.aspx) does not list any corn product in Blue Moon, while other sites claim corn or corn syrup is in the beer. I don’t know what to believe…
You don’t want to know what’s in treated water, I like Heineken because they use reverse osmosis process for there beer, I don’t suffer hangovers with it.
I go by the German purity law, when it comes to beer, thus most American beer does not qualify. I have a bone to pick with Beck USA, who claims it follows the German recipe. Beck USA uses fluoridated municipal water to make its beer, thus violating the German purity law. Germany does not fluoridate its water supply, thus German beer has no added fluoride.
I would be surprised if AB disclosed the presence of fluoride in its beer. Check http://www.fluoridealert.org for the widespread prevalence of fluoride in the USA food and beverage industry.
The German Purity Law was a protectionistic measure. It has nothing to do with purity. This law WAS only valid for one type of beer.
Plain, boring pilsner type beers come from this Reinheitsgebot beer.
Indeed, there is no fluor added to the German water supply.
The German Purity law is still in effect. It was modified in 1993 to include sugar and yeast besides the original water, malted barley and hops. By law they are only allowed to use these pure ingredients. There are beers in Germany that are not strictly following the law when they brew with wheat (wheat beer). But this law applies to the purity of beers brewed and consumed in Germany, not to exports. Many exports will have preservatives. The criticism of protectionism comes from other countries that want to export beers with Rice or Corn to Germany, which is prohibited by the Reinheitsgebot. Unfortunately, there is nothing comparable to have a nice cold pure beer in Germany. Prost!
I’ve never tasted a boring German beer yet, and Pils is just one style of German beer. The flavored additive laden beers in the US are terrible. There are some purer ones here now, and the industry has come a long way better craft and local beers. No flouride in the water and non-GMO EU standards are quite a benefit. Prost!
@Marlyc. The 1516 text only ever covered a tiny bit of Germany. It was relayed in 1551 to include other ingedients, namely coriander and laurel, and then repealed in 1616 to be replaced by a text that allowed coriander, laurel, salt, caraway and juniper. So that 1516 text is not in force anymore.
What is in more or less in force in Germany is a 1993 ordinance, with its roots gong back to protectionist bavarian legislation which dug out the Reiheitsgebot idea, notably altering it to include yeast, and “barley” being replaced by “malt”, in the 1860s to ward off competition from the rest of Germany, and from the neighbouring Austrian Empire.
The current version of that text allows hop extracts, clarifying agents if they can be removed mechanically, sugar in top-fermented beers, and allows for exceptions when beer is produced for export.
It therefore does not give consumers any solid guarantee, and is a misleading claim when it refers to the 1516, since yeast is added, whereas it was not mentioned then.
Drink German Beer it tastes good and the Reinheitsgebot is a law !!! check it out
GERMANY”S PURITY LAW
No it’s not a law (anymore), it was only ever a tax move, and it was on pilsners for the most part (boring beers ahoy)
Read your own links 😉
pils? boring beer? amateure !
I love good ole ‘merican Lager like Bud
Peak Organic Brewery has something like 20 different breweries and they’re ALL organic! Only beer I drink.
Hi Rory…I sometimes buy their IPAs, but wonder if the can lining contains BPA.
Question for the experts: Just called one of my favorite beer companies (Yuengling beer) and questioned their quality control office with the question list from this article. They stated that the DO NOT use GMO products and DO NOT contain any of the additives listed on this website. How reliable is this information from them? Love this website by the way, keep up the great work.
no, they use weasel piss instead
If you can’t say anything constructive it is better to say nothing. Yuengling is excellent beer and is still a family owned operation as compared to the many megabrewaries out there!!!
Why don’t they say on their label they are organic if they don’t use GMO’s unless they also use some more questionable ingredients. Do they in their a labeling state that they only use organic ingredients? It would help their sales if they do.
Waterway Brewing Company in Pfafftown, NC uses only the natural ingredients of Water, Barley, Hops and Yeast to produce their delicious selections of small-batch hand-crafted beers.
Found an excellent tasting Organic Beer and it’s light too!!! Mill St. Original Organic. I wrote them and here’s what they had to say.
Our Original Organic Lager (and new 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager) are made to Canadian Organic Regime standards and as such they contain no GMO’s. In fact we don’t use any GMO’s anywhere in our production and never will. The ingredients are water, certified organic malt barley, certified organic hops and certified non-GMO derived lactic acid (this comes in from the European Union to make sure that the lactic acid producing bacteria are not fed GMO corn syrup as part of the process). Let me know if you have any more questions Daniel and thanks for writing and supporting our brewery.
Yes, do not drink beer unless you want to live longer…
Is there ANY brewery not using modified malts? Everyone is making a fuss about the corn syrup while the main and most important ingredient is most likely a GMO already.
My beer of choice has, for the last 20 or so years has been “Pilsner Urquelle”. It is made in Czechoslovakia. As I live in Canada, it must be imported. I don’t know what’s in it, but it has a nice hop finish to it. That’s my 2 cents…
Honestly, what the hell is wrong with fish bladder? It’s organic.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with fish bladder, or Isinglass as it is called and most are left out of the bottled (or kegged) product, as it will sink to the bottom of the tank as sediment.
What Isinglass (and probably any gelatin/collagen from whatever source) is doing in beer is that it is highly flocculating agent that is binding the yeast and other small particles helping clearing the beer (and wine, as it is also used in wine production) while slowly sinking thru the liquid.
I have heard that some have used egg whites to do the same, but I am not able to validate how it works
It is mainly in the production of craft beer, and industrial beers that not necessarily have to 100% clear that you use Isinglass, as most of the mainstream industrial beers are filtered by other methods that are removing even more of the taste from the beer.
Dear Food Babe, do you certify that all pictures are you are 100% unretouched?
Be safe, don’t eat the pictures.
why is beer so bad for gout
It contains a lot of purines, which create the uric acid that causes gout.
I live in Canada and I only drink German beer. The last time I was in the US I made the mistake of buying Becks, thinking it was impoted from Germany. It turned out it was brewed in St. Louis. It didn’t taste anything like the imported Becks we get here in Canada – it was more like 7-UP and obviously a US version of a good beer. It was the worst beer ever. So, I then bought Peroni instead which was imported and tasted real.
For those of you who keep arguing with the disinformation trolls, it is important to be able to recognize the astroturfers, disinformation stooges etc.- read up: The Gentleman’s Guide to Forum Spies, etc. http://pastebin.com/irj4Fyd5 . When you can readily identify one (Sia and Eric above are great examples) post the above link with a comment “Nice example of Hit & Run” Not only do you refute their obvious bias, but you wake others up to the fact there are paid disinfo agents out there. Cheers!
how about Genesee Beer? We drink Genesee Lite, now we wonder what we are drinking. Can you help with that one?
Could anybody tell me anything about lagers in the UK? I have always thought German beers were cleaner, whether it is a ‘law’ or not, I just want to know if the UK bypass it to add unnecessary health harming ingredients in their imported German beers. Any advice on the following would also be greatly appreciated.
Some of the most famous brands are Carling, Carlsberg, Stella Artois, Estrella, Heineken, Beck’s, Fosters and Peroni.
Stella Artois is not German, but Belgium. It’s distributed by Anheuser-Busch.
Sure Stella Artois is Belgian, but it is not just distributed by the former Anheuser-Busch but owned by AB InBev or sometimes Anheuser-Busch InBev, as the Belgian/Brazilian company InBev changed it’s name to when they acquired Anheuser-Busch.
And Foster’s is Australian, Peroni is Italian.
About two years ago I wrote the FDA about the lack of labeling on all alcoholic drinks.( Compare the info on alcohol containing egg nog and margarita mix and non-alcoholic egg nog and margarita mix!!….what is “specially sweetened wine?……) Their answer was: everything in those drinks is food grade! I wrote Dr. Mercola, who has a health website, hoping he would jump on the bandwagon with all his followers…nope. .I think that because of the judgement on alcoholic drinks it is hard to get people to jump up (“if you get sick, it is your own fault” attitude) I also think that stuff like MSG is added to aggravate the tongue – which is its action – so that you get thirstier and drink more………I am allergic to MSG and have had occasions where a beer would cause my mouth to break out with blisters. like a couple of days ago with a “Bush classic “nothing artificial added” . MSG comes from natural sources….There are some more websites that mention all possible chemicals and toxins created and added during the process. Thank you for doing what you are doing!!!! We have the right to know what we are putting into our bodies!
Would adding one of the water ‘purifiers’ to your faucet get rid of (or diminish) flouride like it (is supposed to) get rid of other impurities???
PRE-DIABETIC. I went to my doctor 2 times in past 5 months. The first time I was warned that my cholesterl and blood surgar numbers were high, so I needed to change my diet. I went on a low carb high fat diet, and I changed from a regular beer to lite beer.. The second time I went to my doctor he was please to tell me that my cholestoral level when way down (due to low carb, high fat diet), yet my blood sugar was still high; which didnt make sense to me because read labels and stayed away from all sugars.
I would later learn that my favorite lite beer had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), yet NO WHERE on the label did it say it had high fructose corn syrup – why not?
The only thing that the labet says is that it contains water, hops, and barley. That’s it.
False advertising. I warn you, don’t let this happen to you. Stay away from beers that contain HFCS as they could lead to high blood surgar and diabetes.
I immediately stopped drinking lite beer, in fact, I switched to organic wine. I read the studies that suggest that red wine helps reduce blood sugars – wish me luck.
I highly suggest that you switch over to an all organic diet, including beer, because almost all conventional foods have HFCS in them along with a myriad of other chemicals. That’s the reason most diets don’t work and people just keep gaining weight and getting sicker and sicker. Besides, who would rather pay? The doctor or the farmer??? Look up Dr. Tent on YouTube…great stuff!
There are two things to remember when reading these lists of ingredients. One is that simple sugars added in are not found in the finished beers. That is because of the natural process of fermentation, as in bread, where the yeast is removing sugars and creating a combo of CO2 and alcohol. Very strong sweet beers have some remaining sugar the yeast couldn’t conquer, but generally it’s all turned to alcohol.
Corn syrup fermented out by yeast efficiently yields alcohol. (It’s cheap and not characterful, but it’s super-fermentable by yeast.) Now, if there is a measurable trace of Roundup or pesticides of any kind in the crop, that would be another matter, but in terms of the corn syrup sugars, beer or wine drinkers are not drinking sugars that the microbiota have already consumed. They are food for the yeast, not for us. They are part of the process and recipe, but you will not find them in dry wines or beers. That’s the miracle of fermentation.
Second, the old fashioned methods of clarifying a hazy brew included three main things that may still be in use as super-traditional, from the British side of brewing. Put some protein in, and the stuff will coagulate together so you can leave it on the bottom of the boil kettle before even sending it off for the yeast to ferment. Meat or fish products would work, and a particular part of some fish – a flotation bladder, NOT a urine bladder – did the best job of attracting particles and dropping to the bottom. Seaweed, in the form of Irish Moss, was a vegetarian substitute, again falling to the bottom and pulling things out, not being dissolved in.
Technology has offered another choice: the centrifuge. If you don’t support these traditional processes and techniques, ask if the beer is centrifuged. It has the same effect, and midsized to large brewers can afford that solution.
Organic beer is getting better as organic barley and hops become more diverse and available. These are tough crops to grow without pesticides, and if the marketplace supports more production at the prices required, then we will see more and better varieties of hops and malted barley available for brewers to work with.
Supporting or home-brewing with organic ingredients are the best ways to contribute to having choices.
Finally some science that will help people be less afraid of big words! “What Fermentation Means”
Samuel Smith has some of the best organic beer i’ve ever tasted. http://www.samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk/
I love beer but i have severe allergies and most alcoholic drinks make my allergies act up. By act up, i mean it is unbareable! Organic beers are usually the exception. Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout is amazing! A must try for Stout and Chocolate lovers alike.
Also, i really love Dogfish head. It is a small brewery in Delaware and it can be a little tough to find, and a little pricey but it’s well worth it. They use mostly organic when it is available.
Thank you for an interesting article. Puzzled about the very old ingredient Isinglass (derived from fish swim bladders) used as finings for clearing beer. What is exactly wrong with it? Does it make you ill? What’s the risk? They are used to clear real (or craft) beer and drag the sediment to the bottom of the barrel. They are not consumed as they hold the sediment.
Cheers from the UK
Nothing really except it is not vegetarian.
There is some misleading info in your bit about Guinness.
First, while certain varieties are made in breweries throughout the world, any draught Guinness (whether that be from the tap, or Guinness Draught in bottles and cans) sold in Ireland, UK, and US comes directly from St. James Gate in Dublin. Other Guinness varieties, such as Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, is made elsewhere and always has been (Foreign Extra was originally brewed for the somewhat different taste preferences of those in Southeast Asia and northern Africa, which is where it is made).
Second, “fish bladder” isn’t an ingredient in the beer, per se, it is a substance that is used in the filtering process. The isinglass remains in the vat after the beer is filtered. Yes, it is possible that microscopic trace amounts could remain in the beer (like single ppm) but this is like arguing that your banana is radioactive because bananas (and everything on Earth) has a certain amount of radioactivity. BTW, isinglass is also commonly used with wine production as well (especially in the production of Kosher wines, which require it’s use). It is also useful to note that the use of isinglass is actually the NATURAL way to filter these beverages… some larger brands have done away with isinglass in favor of synthetic/chemical filtration alternatives… which would you prefer? I’ll risk knowing there might be one or two parts per million of isinglass in my pint, thank you very much!
Warsteiner Beer (my new favorite beer) from Germany has just confirmed to me on their FB page that their beers do NOT contain any GMO’s.
ingredients: Water, Barley Malt and Hop Extract…That’s it.
Good to be old. do you want to live forever. all this is sad and depressing.
I am extremely sensitive to MSG, such that just a teaspoon of soup with MSG in it will cause a 3-day migraine. About 12 -1 5 months ago, I went from being able to drink a great many beers with no real problem, to not being able to touch the stuff without getting a 3-day migraine. Even a sip – nearly every beer would cause this terrible reaction. I researched (interweb) and found thousands of other people posting the same problem – they used to drink beer with no problem, and now get violently ill. I suspect MSG is present in many beers now, simply because of this severe reaction. If so, and the brewers notice the forums on this subject, maybe they will remove the worst offenders in the manufacturing process. In the meantime, I feel pretty good in health, and mostly glad I can’t touch beer. But that occasional test sip calls, and sometimes I answer, and then I pay. Darn.
I am having the same problem. I used to drink lots of different beers and now have an MSG reaction to a lot of them. Blue Moon has made me very sick. I drank half a Sierra Nevada tonight and got an immediate migraine headache. I thought Sierra Nevada was MSG free?
I tried contacting several beer makers to get information about ingredients. Nobody wanted to tell me what is in their beer- except for Sierra Nevada Ale. They were very helpful and eager to answer my questions. So that’s what i drink now- as fr as the rest go- if they won’t even tell me what’s in their beer, I won’t drink any it. What ever happened to people taking pride in what they make?
Whew! I thought you were going to name good beer on this list. Since you only listed crap beer, the type served at baseball games and frat parties, I’m good!
Great information. What about MSG in beer. Are the Italians ones (Peroni and/or Moretti) safe against MSG, GMO and fish bladders??
Cheap Beer has ATTACKED my KNEE joints. Swollen and stiff for the past six months…! I stopped drinking all beer and my KNEE’s are getting better…..!
I think the added ingredients in ‘Old Style’ is just what the doctor prescribed.
Finning agents are used in wine making too and most of them are animal derived. This is unfortunate, of course, for vegans like myself.
Thanks for the great information and keeping up the pressure on the food industry!
Bell’s Brewery. Great beer that is non gmo. http://bellsbeer.com/
Flourine is a member of Group 17a, the occult halides that the chemists won’t admit exist. Its anion, flouride, is found in periodic table salt, which is made from the waste from milling of a secret type of Triticum.
A family member works at the local water treatment plant and he takes his own well water to work to drink. He said the fluoride comes in bags with the poison symbol on them from China! It is a byproduct from fertilizer which it is scraped off the floor. He puts it in the water supply. I’m glad I have a deep well.
Thoughts on drinking a glass of red wine a day? Did anyone else see that article in Elite Daily that appeared all over Facebook stating that a glass of red wine a day essentially has the same health benefits as going to the gym?
Samuel Smith (a brewery in England) makes an organic cherry beer. I’m not huge on fruit beers but this thing is delicious. I’ve never seen it in any packaging other than what appears to be a pint or 22oz bottle. Worth a try if you can find it. Bonus: because of the fruity (but not overly so) taste, people who don’t normally like beer might actually like this one.
Bison Organic Beer makes an excellent chocolate stout and other flavors as well. They are in Berkeley, Ca.
Thanks for a great article. If the EU has EFSA, America has ‘The Food Babe’.
It’s really sad that GMOs have become so prevalent in our food now. Thirty years ago they were unheard of, now they’re in everything we eat. Just goes to show how corporations like Monsanto or Monsatan run our government to allow this crap to happen. These GMOs are going to bite us in the butt in a generation or two. Thirty or forty years from now there will be a spike in diseases and nobody will know why. And beer only say on their label “water, hops, yeast” and not mention corn syrup. How can they get by with not mentioning corn syrup? On top of that, it’s GMO corn syrup. It’s really messed up.
Now I know why I liked some of the American beer, they are full of crap including GMO. I love america just not the people who allow Americans to be poisoned.
Meaning or Govenment, or do I mean Monsanto well they all work together.
The people of the Us realy have no say thanks to our Money corrupted Goverment.
Who is worse the Democrated or Republicans? Well they are about the same
they both take money from Monsanto big chemmical pesticide co., Big drug, big oil, Bg insurance. Ever notice the Republicans said nothing when Obama assigned high ranking political position for people from Monsanto.
There is a new pesticide going into our food maybe even beer containing Agent Orange a toxic banned chemical form the Veitnam war!
Read this below
Still think GMO is safe in our food?
Monsanto’s Glyphosate Pesticide: Cancer Deaths Have Doubled in Argentina’s GMO Agriculture
A new report by the Ministry of Health in Cordoba, Argentina, has documented a disturbing trend for those who live in areas where pesticide-intensive GM crops are grown — specifically, a dramatic spike in cancer deaths.
The report covered five years of collected data. The average cancer deaths in the province is 158 per 100,000 individuals. And yet, four of the “Pampa Gringa” districts have much higher death rates — between 216 and 230. “Pampa Gringa” is considered the premier agricultural region of the Cordoba province.
The Report on Cancer in Cordoba 2004-2009 is the official investigation which links the use of pesticides — especially glyphosate — to the staggering increase in cancer deaths.
‘Cancer cases are multiplying as never before in areas with massive use of pesticides’
“What we have complained about for years was confirmed and especially what doctors say about the sprayed towns and areas affected by industrial agriculture. Cancer cases are multiplying as never before in areas with massive use of pesticides,” said Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez of the University Network for Environment and Health, as reported by The Ecologist.
Dr. Fernando Manas of the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis Group at the National University of Rio Cuarto, agrees. He doesn’t believe that the increasing number of cancer cases in agricultural areas are a fluke.
After studying the population of Cordoba for eight years, researchers at Rio Cuarto have confirmed —in 15 scientific publications — that individuals exposed to pesticides have a much greater risk of genetic damage and cancer.
Manas notes that glyphosate — the herbicide used mainly on genetically modified crops — has shown up in samples from lakes, soils and rainwater.
Slow response from the government inflames scientists
According to the article “Cancer deaths double in Argentina’s GMO agribusiness areas,” Damian Verzenassi, a doctor and professor of social and environmental health at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Rosario, is livid about the failure of the government to take quick and effective action.
“The study of Cordoba matches the surveys we conducted in eighteen industrial agriculture areas. Cancer has skyrocketed in the last fifteen years. They keep demanding studies on something that is already proven and do not take urgent measures to protect the population. There is ample evidence that the agricultural model has health consequences, we are talking about a production model that is a huge public health problem.”
Suggestions on how to safeguard the public include immediately prohibiting aerial spraying, banning terrestrial pesticide applications that are within 1,000 meters of houses and discontinuing the use of agro-chemicals in urban areas.
But as Lawrence Woodward, author of the article and founder of GM Education, points out:
“[T]hese could only be initial measures to curb the excessive and extreme use of pesticides which is blighting the health of Argentina. The only real long term solution is to change the GMO driven, intensive, industrial agricultural system that Argentina and other countries have become wedded to and to put in place a genuinely sustainable, agro-ecological alternative.”
I wrote to Guinness and asked about the ingredients, this is there reply.
Dear Mr Seitz,
Thank you for your recent email. It is always good to hear from our loyal consumers. We are delighted to receive any feedback on our products and communications, as it keeps us in touch with the people that matter – you.
In answer to your query the ingredients of Guinness are as follows : Brewing water
Malt, Barley, Roast barley, Hops and Nitrogen. In addition, we use yeast to ferment the beer and isinglass to help clarify the beer. Nitrogen is important in producing the creamy head on the pint.
I have contacted our Brewing /Technical Team who have confirmed that High Fructose Corn Syrup is not used in the production of Guinness and we do not use any GMO in our product.
I hope the above information is helpful and I thank you for your interest in Guinness.
A simple solution to this might be to ignore the fearmongering writings of an unqualified, uneducated blogger who knows nothing about food science or chemistry. For the record, the ingredient in beer is propylene glycol alginate which might have a similar name to the antifreeze stuff but is a totally different thing that is extracted from kelp for goodness sake.
Propylene Glycol is NOT antifreeze. Ethylene Glycol is antifreeze. Propylene is a safe food additive. Ethylene Glycol is poison.
One carbon more or less makes a big difference in toxicity. Ethanol is an intoxicant, while methanol and isopropanol are highly toxic. There is a difference.
Not pretending to know the science, but did read somewhere, once, that hops contain an intense degree of natural estrogen; have read, also, that estrogen suppresses testosterone, causes excessive fat, and have been told by my doctor that each cell of fat puts out more estrogen, then that estrogen causes more fat, so it’s a vicious cycle. In addition, given that testosterone, or so I’ve, again, read, significantly promotes the thinking function as well as keeping a man a man rather than becoming a woman; then, to drink hops laden beer would not only be one of the causes of the celebrated beer-gut so often referenced, but have a “man” over to the local Macies (sp?) getting fitted with a training bra! Kinda turns the stomach; and I, for one at least, and will be 78 end of January, still prefer a real woman, though that can be of no particular interest except maybe to me.