Beer Goggles.

Written by Changing Habits

July 29, 2010

There is knowledge of
beer being produced and drunk as far back as 5000 years ago and with
production now being worth world wide $294.5 billion it is not going
away. So I thought I’d do some investigation into the ancient art of
beer making.

Once upon a time beer was made with 3 ingredients but now it is made up
of a concoction of additives, to create different tastes, better heads,
and so much more.
Like France is with bread, that bread can only be called bread if it is
made with just 5 ingredients, so Germany is with beer. 

The German beer market
is sheltered from the rest of the worlds beer market by the German
Brewers adherence to the Reinheitsgebot otherwise know as the German
Beer Purity Law dating from 1516 and recently updated in 1993.
According to the law the only allowed ingredients for making beer are
water, hops and barley-malt. The law also requires that beers not using
only barley-malt but rather wheat and rye must be top fermented. After
its discovery yeast became the fourth legal ingredient and for top
fermenting beers the use of sugar is also permitted.
What is interesting is that it is said that the invention of bread and
beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity’s ability to develop
technology and build civilisations. It is to do with the fermenting
Australian beer history starts very early in Australia’s colonial
On 1 August 1768 as Captain Cook was fitting out the Endeavour for its
voyage to Australia, Nathaniel Hulme wrote to Joseph Banks recommending
that he take “a quantity of Molasses and Turpentine, in order to brew
Beer with, for your daily drink, when your Water becomes bad. … Brewing
Beer at sea will be peculiarly useful in case you should have stinking
water on board; for I find by Experience that the smell of stinking
water will be entirely destroyed by the process of fermentation”. 
Beer is no longer made
with just 3 ingredients although I’ve noticed that some beers are going
back to traditional methods, by writing on the front no artificial
additives or preservatives, but the idea is to read the ingredients.
Well that’s what I thought. I decided to go on a beer hunt and found a
bunch of cans in a recycling bin. To my surprise there was no
ingredient list. So I had to call the consumer hot line, to find out
exactly what is in beer. Many different man made sugars are used to
create different tastes. Head improvers are also used like corn syrup
and malto-dextrin, fermentation modifiers, preservatives, flavours and
what ever else they need to add to make it low carb, low sugar, full
flavoured or whatever other selling trick is working at the time. 

Some beer
manufacturers told me that they were secret ingredients (yeah pull the
other leg!) and wouldn’t tell me. Coopers however said that they only
made their beer with 4 ingredients. Beer made in most other countries
apart from Germany are adding flavour preservatives and other additives.
The tradition of real beer brewing is a dying art amongst producers.
So to be sure you are drinking a beer without all the additives you will
probably have to look around for German Beer or Coopers. Now I know
that’s not buying Australian but unless the rest of the Australian beer
makers decide to start making the original stuff then they may have to
suffer the consequences. Not all German beer is expensive, the Aldi
chain of supermarkets has German beer at very competitive prices. Or
start brewing your own, but remember try and stick to the 4 main
ingredients. Enjoy

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