Low carb beer – the low down

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There is a lot of advertising around alcohol that is promoting the “no carb” or “low carb” quality of beer, which can be 99.9% sugar free. Has this always been a thing? Or is it a trendy new advertising ploy based on what is most popular in social media right now?

Beer is made from four main ingredients – barley, hops, yeast, and water, in various combinations which produce different end products. There are also other flavours added, such as fruits, wood notes, and chocolate flavours which cater to so many taste preferences!

The in between process before beer is an end product includes:

  1. Malting – where the grains are harvested, heated, and cracked to extract the enzymes needed to produce beer.
  2. Mashing – the grains are heated in water to release the enzymes, and when the water is drained, a thick sticky liquid called the wort is left which is the start of beer.
  3. Boiling – this is when hops is added to provide bitterness to outweigh the sweet taste of the sugar present.
  4. Fermentation – after the boiling, the beer is the cooled, strained and filtered, then stored under the right conditions to produce the alcohol and carbon dioxide needed to produce the desired beer product.
  5. Ageing and bottling – this is when the beer can be carbonated before bottling and then is stored to age or sent out for delivery.

The end product? The yeast will consume the sugars from the grain (primarily barley), turning them into alcohol and carbon dioxide and there you have beer! So essentially, all beer will be low in sugar due to the yeast consuming it and turning it into an alcohol instead, and this is true of all beers since the first creation of beer. If there is an imbalance of products during the manufacturing process, there may be more sugars in the beer, but often this product is thrown away and doesn’t make it to the shelves of liquor stores.

So don’t be fooled by the low carb products, they can still contain a large amount of alcohol, which also means a good deal of energy. As alcohol has a higher energy level per gram (27kJ/g as opposed to 16kJ/g in carbohydrates), low alcohol beers are a good choice for when you are monitoring weight. It will also impact less on your liver (your liver says thank you in advance), and will leave you feeling better the next day.