Have you been feeling guilty about your craft beer obsession? You say your significant other would prefer you drink something “healthier.” Well, shed your guilt, brethren of the brew. Contrary to popular misconceptions, all-natural beer truly is the miracle food — health in a glass.
New studies are demonstrating that consuming fresh, all-natural beer can yield surprising health benefits. Just remember, we’re talking moderate consumption (one or two pints a day before or with a healthy meal). Here are some study results that may change your perceptions of your favourite beverage.
Cancer: Many studies have identified xanthohumol as a powerful anti-cancer agent which aids in ridding your system of cancer-related protein compounds. Fortunately for craft beer acolytes, our beer contains this important antioxidant in significant quantities. The conclusion of these studies was that moderate beer drinking reduces certain cancer-causing enzymes — specifically, those linked to prostate and breast cancer.
Dementia: Your hunch may be right! Maybe you are smarter after a few pints. The silicon content in beer is believed to guard the brain against metallic toxicity, particularly aluminum. A high level of aluminum in the brain is said to be one of the causes of Alzheimer’s. Loyola University School of Medicine researchers reviewed several recent studies and concluded that moderate beer drinkers were less likely to develop different forms of dementia and perceptual disablement — including Alzheimer’s. So drink smart and stay away from aluminum cans — have a crafted draft pint in a glass.
Diabetes: A Harvard study found there was a 25% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes in beer tipplers compared to non-imbibers. Apparently darker unfiltered beers are a good source of soluble fiber, which plays an active role in treating the onset of diabetes. Also, an increase in insulin sensitivity is triggered by the lighter alcohol content in beer. Hops in beer contain isohumulones, a natural form of insulin which helps treat diabetes.
Kidney Stones: You can reduce your risk of kidney stones by an amazing 40% by tipping a pint or two daily, according to a recent Finnish study which concluded that beer’s high content of pure water helps flush the kidneys of toxins. The alpha acids from hops prevented kidney stones while beer’s silicon content prevents the loss of bone calcium (a leading cause of kidney stones).
Heart Disease: Italy’s Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura found that people who drank a pint of beer daily reduced their chance of heart disease by 31%. Beer’s natural antioxidants (phenols) seem to be an agent in healthy heart function.
Stroke: The benefits of beer just keep pouring. The American Stroke Association studies state there is an incredible 50% reduction in stroke risk for moderate beer drinkers compared to non-drinkers. The Harvard School of Public Health deduced that moderate beer intake prevents the blood clots which are the leading cause of stroke.
Bone Density: Chemical analysis of beer reveals it contains high levels of silicon — an element vital to bone health. A Tufts University study revealed that regular beer consumption gave older beer tipplers higher rates of bone density than those who did not drink beer. This was attributed to the silicon content in beer.
Cholesterol: If you’re looking for a fun way to improve your cholesterol level, quaffing a crafted pint daily could provide the motivation. The grains used in the brewing of craft beer contain soluble fibers known as beta-glucans. Studies have shown this natural compound to be instrumental in lowering cholesterol levels.
Blood Pressure: Women may be interested to find out that their favourite beverage factors into managing proper blood pressure levels. Another Harvard study has found that female beer tipplers aged 25 to 40 had significantly less risk of developing high blood pressure conditions compared to women who drank wine or other alcoholic beverages.
Acne: Recent studies have confirmed that beer sediment (brewer’s yeast) can reduce/improve acne by slowing down sebum production and killing off the bacteria that triggers acne. This component of beer, the inactive (flocculated) brewing yeast, helps maintain a balanced pH level in the skin.
Dandruff: Your grandmother might have known that beer is a natural treatment for dandruff. What they probably didn’t know was that this was because of the high vitamin B content in beer from yeast. Rinse your hair with a pint of beer regularly — it’ll make your hair soft and shiny. But the pungent scent may attract bar flies.
The Final Word: These studies were conducted with subjects who moderately consume pure adjunct-free beer. Enjoy those guiltless pints — they’re good fer ya!
Malt Monk Recommendations
I don’t know how you’ve been staving off the winter doldrums, but at my favourite craft beer bistro we have seen a lot of new European imports making an appearance on the tap handle forest. Of course there are always the benchmark Euro brews but recently some lesser known premium Euro brewers have been distributing their bistro-grade draft beers through import agents and The Beer Store. These beers are available in new smaller capacity disposable draft kegs for bars, restaurants, clubs or parties. Here are my impressions of some that I have tasted in the last few weeks.
Jopen Hoppenbier (available in kegs from The Beer Store) — A truly unique and remarkable brew from this Haarlem Netherlands craft brewer which defies categorization. Its claims to fame are the use of three grains (barley, wheat and oats) in brewing, and being double hopped with Hallertau hops. The hazy golden brew starts at the nose with a demure fresh fragrance of mild fruit aromas and spicy bay leaf tones. The palate receives substantial body and maltiness for such a crisp hoppy beer, with a spicy clove and bay leaf under tone. Crisp dry bitter finish — a wonderful twist on a Belgian golden ale and a must try.
Åbro Bryggmästarens Premium Gold (LCBO #433508 in cans, or on tap) — This seems at first blush to be an undistinguished Euro lager — but looks can deceive. I recommend the kegged version as it seemed to me to taste better (fresher) on tap. What sets this strong Swedish golden lager apart is that it’s made by one of the last independent family breweries in Sweden in a traditional eight-stage process, which includes a substantial cold aging cycle. The result is a surprisingly rounded, mellow, malty golden lager which displays balance, rich flavour and great drinkabilty — pretty much everything you could want in a bistro lager.
Ottakringer Wiener Original (Beer Store kegs available) — An actual Vienna lager from Vienna of all places — this is not exactly the traditional red lager but a modern interpretation of Anton Dreher’s elegant soft lager. It is made with traditional Viennese pale malt and red melanoidin malt, and premium grade Saaz hops. The results are a brew with eye-catching amber-orange colour and an aroma and taste which reveal a defined nutty and elegant malt tone. Opulent malting with a dry finish leaving a distinct, yet smooth bitterness on the palate. This highly drinkable creation would pair well with traditional Viennese cuisine.