Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beer is Good For You

It is entirely possible that I do way too much thinking. In fact there are few things I enjoy as much as a beer, a book and a ponder - preferably all at the same time and in a good pub. One thought that recently trundled its way through my brain was just how beer advertising has changed over time, and how advertising standards may have impacted beer production in the years before craft brewing took off, especially over on this side of the Atlantic.

From my understanding of labelling laws over here, it is illegal to claim on a beer label that the beverage in the bottle has any health benefits - and mandatory to include this delightful phrase:

"GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon general, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems."

So most American beer labels are devoid of interesting information for the consumer, such as how calorific the beer is - just a quick point, the average beer is lower in calories than a 55g (2oz) bag of crisps (chips for my American friends), oh and beer has no fat, no cholesterol, and on average about 1/6 of the sodium in said bag of fried potatoes. Then there are the raft of B vitamins, the hops add antioxidants and a natural antibiotic to the mix and the interesting fact that Germany and the Czech Republic have lower than average heart disease rates, and higher than average beer consumption - linked perhaps?

Given that American brewers are banned from making health claims for their drinks, in spite of the scientific evidence to the contrary for moderate beer drinking, is it any wonder then that beer in this country became the pale, flavourless and cold tipple exemplified by Millers, Budweiser and Coors? You can't claim your brew is nutritious, but you can claim it is refreshing - so beer becomes more about refreshment than flavour, with the decrease in hops and malt I guess the nutritious element of beer went out the window.

For centuries before the insanity of Prohibition, beer was considered a staple part of the diet, admittedly because the water was usually full of junk, but it was always about more than simple refreshment. being cynical, you really have to wonder how the human race evolved with Surgeons General telling us how to live? Beer is part of a healthy lifestyle, whether we are talking physical or social - I always wonder about people who claim to love beer but never go to the pub, but that is a separate issue. So yes, in many ways the old Guinness adverts were right, beer is good for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Märzen/Festbier Review

So far this year I have drunk at least 53 examples of lager made wiith Oktoberfest in mind. I say "at least" because there are a c...