Beer lovers can rest a bit easier today. Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby has handed down her report card on our favourite alcoholic beverage, and the diagnosis may give cause for people to rethink some of the myths about beer they have been conditioned to believe.
“Most beers generally contain very little sugar. James Squire 150 Lashes, for example, is on average 99.9% sugar free. James Boags Premium is on average 99.9% sugar free,” she says.
So why has beer had such a bad rap? Saxelby believes people’s exposure to home brewing, which often involves adding sugar at the early stages of the fermentation, may have contributed to the falsehood.
“People could see the sugar going in, so I think they assumed that the beer at the other end is high in sugar,” she says.
“But in fact, it is because the yeast ferments the majority of that sugar to produce the alcohol and bubbles, the carbon dioxide gas. So there’s sugar going in but there’s very little sugar in the finished product.”
Saxelby says it was a landmark move when Lion, the brewer behind leading brands such as Tooheys, Hahn, XXXX and James Squire, recently put nutritional information about its products on the label in plain sight for consumers.
The move to share nutrition information of these beers followed a 2015 study commissioned by the brewer, which found an overwhelming number of Australians (73%) wanted more information about what is in beer.
“I think it was a very bold move and a very positive one for consumer awareness,” says Saxelby.
In fact, further research by Lion suggests the nutritional information panels are already having an impact.
Forty per cent of surveyed respondents in 2017 believe the information had helped them make more informed choices when it comes to choosing alcoholic beverages.
Saxelby hopes consumers will start paying more attention to the nutrition facts on beer and be able to make more information decisions in the future.
“Drink no more than two standard drinks a day, and if you drink out, I recommend no more than four drinks over any 24 hour period. Enjoy alcohol in moderation in part of a balanced lifestyle,” she says.
In other welcome news, many beers sold in pubs and bottleshops today are preservative free, meaning no substance has been added to prolong shelf life. This is the case for all of the beers featured on Beer The Beautiful Truth.
Adding preservatives to beer is unnecessary, because hops, the spice of beer, and alcohol, are both natural preservatives which help to keep beer fresher for longer.
Also, breweries handle beer under hygienic conditions and use packaging technology that prevents bacterial contamination.
Another common myth is that beer is high in carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrates used in brewing; starches (from grain) and any added sugar.
Starch breaks down into sugar in the early stages of the brewing process. This means prior to adding yeast, almost all the carbohydrates in the brew are in the form of sugar.
Little of these sugars remain in the final beer, as almost all are eaten during the fermentation process to produce alcohol.
As far as calories are concerned, all the beers featured on Beer The Beautiful Truth contain between 80 and 174 calories per serve.
As per the ANZ Food Standards Code, 2080 is the typical recommended daily calorie intake. People may need more or less, depending on age, gender and physical activity levels.
So there’s no need to fear the beer. The human body needs energy to survive and fuel everyday boy processes, and the food and drink we consume provides these calories – beer is no exception.
The majority of calories in beer come from the alcohol content. Replacing full strength beer with mid to low strength beers (3.5% ABV or less) can be a great way to help reduce your calorie intake.
If enjoyed responsibly, beer can be consumed as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
Beer The Beautiful Truth campaign aims to educate adult consumers in Australia about what’s in our beer and just how versatile beers are with meals. Our research showed that 78% of people surveyed said they don’t drink beer because they think it’s high in sugar, when in fact most beers are on average 99.9% sugar free. So to help address these misconceptions, we are sharing the Beautiful Truth about our beers – so that consumer can make informed choices about what they drink.
From sugars to carbs, calories and more, there is a lot to discover about beer. No matter which brand or style, every beer will have a different nutrition content. There are things to learn about the ingredients and brewing to help you understand the basics. This will help you make more informed choices when enjoying your favourite beer in moderation.
You can also look out for the nutrition information panels on some of your favourite beer brands. Visit our Beautiful Beers for more detail.