This script is from the second season of Beer Notes, which you can listen to at beernotes.org.
Many of us watched SuperBowl LIII and saw the Bud Light commercial knocking Miller Light and Coors Light for their use of corn syrup. This week on Beer Notes, we’re exploring the role of sugars in your beer.
Beer is created by combining water and grains. A brewer can also add flavoring ingredients and yeast. Yeast can be naturally occurring – as in open air fermentation processes – or it can be added. The sugars come from the grain, but can also be added. The yeast then eats the sugars to create alcohol. It doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from, whether it is derived from corn or from the brewing grain itself, or from honey or maple syrup, or fructose, lactose, or glucose.
Most beer is not meant to taste sweet, so the ideal is “to brew in such a way and use a sugar that can be consumed by brewers yeast in the most efficient way possible so as to create as much alcohol as possible” according to Mike Anderson from Big Oyster Brewing in Lewes, Delaware. There are some “unfinished or rushed beers” which do have residual sugars, but most do not.
The bigger contribution to the flavor and quality of the beer comes from the grains used. Hops, malted barley, and wheat are common ingredients in the production of local craft beers. Rice is a staple ingredient in Budweiser. Craft brewers have eschewed rice as an ingredient for years. However, some brewers are now experimenting with pre-Prohibition style beers that use rice and others are adding specialty rice varieties that create interesting flavors.
So, for craft brewing in the United States, ingredients do matter, a lot, but according to Big Oyster, even though they don’t use corn syrup, a good craft beer is a good craft beer and having efficient sugars to feed the yeast to create alcohol is more important than the type of sugar used.
For Beer Notes, this is Ann McGinnis Hillyer.