Do you really know as much about beer as you think you do? Let’s break down five common myths about beer.

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Myth 1: Beer is full of preservatives

There’s a perception that beer is full of preservatives, a type of food additive intended to prolong shelf life.

But the truth is that many beers sold in pubs and bottle shops today — beers like XXXX Gold, XXXX Summer Bright Lager, James Squire One Fifty Lashes and Hahn SuperDry — are actually preservative-free, meaning no substance has been added with the sole purpose of prolonging shelf life.

Preservatives are unnecessary in beer for a couple of reasons.

First off, hops (the spice of beer) and alcohol are both natural preservatives, so they’re already keeping beer fresher for longer.

Secondly, the breweries that make your favourite beers know what they’re doing. Beer is handled hygienically and packed using technology that prevents bacterial contamination, so you’re not going to see the sort of microbial growth that spoils food products and creates a need for preservatives in the first place.

The Verdict: This myth is… busted!

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Myth 2: Beer is heavy on carbohydrates

This one seems pretty straightforward — beer is brewed using cereal grains like barley and wheat, which are mostly made up of carbohydrate. Sugar, which is often an added ingredient in beer, is also a carbohydrate.

So, with those facts in mind, beer must be high in carbohydrate, right?

Wrong.

There are two types of carbohydrates used in brewing beer — starches (from grain) and any added sugar.

In the early stages of brewing, the starches from grain are broken down into sugar. So that means almost all the carbohydrates in the brew are in the form of sugar, before yeast is added.

Once the yeast is added, it eats almost all these sugars during the fermentation process to produce alcohol — and that’s why most beer isn’t packed with carbs.

It’s science!

For instance, XXXX Gold only has 1.9 grams of carbohydrate per 100 millilitres. XXXX Summer Bright Lager has even less carbs, with just 0.8 grams per 100 millilitres. Hahn SuperDry is lighter again, clocking in at just 0.7 grams per 100 millilitres. James Squire One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale has 2.6 grams of carbs per 100 millilitres, but that’s still relatively low.

The Verdict: This myth is… busted!

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Myth 3: Beer contains a lot of sugar

Okay, so you might still be a little fuzzy on this sugar thing.

Make no mistake – when it comes to beer, sugars are essential. During the first stages of the brewing process, sugars are extracted from barley. Sometimes, cane sugar is added to finesse the taste balance of the beer.

So, how can it possibly be true that there is very little sugar in beer?

“Actually, sugar is used in all breweries around the world,” says master brewer Chuck Hahn. “But most of that sugar comes from the malted barley that’s cooked up in the brew house. It’s in that mashing process, when we cook it for one to two hours, that barley starches are converted to barley sugars. So that’s where the yeast then metabolises those sugars, those fermentable sugars, to form the alcohol.”

In other words, the sugars are consumed by the yeast.

“These are yeast cultures, they aren’t wild yeast,” Chuck explains. “They’re kept in test tubes, and then cultured up to cause that fermentation.”

It’s this process of fermentation that produces alcohol, carbon dioxide (bubbles) and delicious beer flavours, reducing the sugar level by varying degrees — in many cases, to less than 0.1 per cent.

For instance, XXXX Gold, XXXX Summer Bright Lager, James Squire One Fifty Lashes and Hahn SuperDry are all on average 99.9 per cent sugar free.

The Verdict: This myth is… busted!

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Myth 4: All beer is packed with calories

A calorie is a unit of energy. The human body needs energy to survive and fuel everyday body processes, and the calories in the food and drink we consume provide that energy.

The problem comes when you consume too many calories. The Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code outlines an average daily intake of 2080 calories for adults. You may need more or less energy than that, depending on your age, gender and physical activity levels.

Since beer is generally low in carbohydrates and sugars, the majority of calories in beer come from the alcohol content. There’s no way around that — alcohol will always contain calories — but if you drink mid to low strength beer, you can reduce your calorie intake relative to a full strength beer.

James Squire One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale, for instance, only contains 126 calories per 345mL serve. XXXX Gold contains 109 calories per 375mL serve. Hahn SuperDry has 99 calories per 330mL serve, and XXXX Summer Bright Lager contains just 94 calories per 330mL serve.

Overall, it’s important to balance your calorie intake with being physically active – moderation is key!

The Verdict: This myth is… busted!

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Myth 5: Beer can’t be part of a balanced lifestyle

Alcohol has been a part of our society for centuries, and when you enjoy it in moderation, it can form part of a balanced lifestyle that also includes good eating and regular exercise.

Alcohol affects each of us differently, and it’s important to be aware of how it affects you so you can make more informed choices.

On average, it takes one hour for the human body to process one standard drink (that’s 10 grams of alcohol). The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks a day to reduce long term harm, and no more than four standard drinks in one occasion to reduce the risk of short term harm.

There are three simple things you can do to make sure you’re drinking responsibly.

Plan: Know your limits and make sure you’ve got plans to eat before, during and after you drink.

Pace: Space your alcoholic drinks with water to stay hydrated.

Protect: Pick a wingman for the night, and be sure to keep an eye on each other.

Enjoyed responsibly and in moderation, there’s no reason beers can’t be consumed as part of a balanced diet and active lifestyle.

For any specific advice, chat this through with your health care professional.

The Verdict: This myth is… busted!

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For more of the beautiful truth about beer, visit beerthebeautifultruth.com.

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