Beer News (June 9–15)

BWJlogoOK, let’s start with a couple listicles from the southern US. Texas Monthly suggests 8 things to drink in the summer and Travel Pulse discusses beer drinking destinations in the south.

Now that that is out of the way, I would like to deliver a short rant. Normally, I take a “just the facts” approach to Beer and Wine Journal articles. Opinions are fine, everyone has them, but the facts are much more interesting and are actually worth reading. It takes time and energy to uncover facts, and therefore they have value. In contrast, it takes no time to develop an opinion and hence they are worthless . . . but they might have some entertainment value. So, with that in mind, enjoy my rant (or skip it) and I will return to explaining the nuts and bolts of brewing beer in my next post.



The “Food Babe” is Ignorant and the Media Can’t See the Facts Right in Front of Their Face

As you probably know, the food blogger who calls herself The Food Babe recently posted a bunch of ridiculous anti-beer nonsense that got a lot of play on social media. At the time, most homebrewers and craft beer lovers didn’t pay much attention because it was mainly aimed at macros that we don’t drink anyway. This week, however, she was back and organized a petition drive to force the big beer companies to list the ingredients in their beer. And remember, she had a laundry list of things that she claimed were bad and were in beer. [Her list mostly relied on the trotting out the GMO bogeyman, the fact that many people think that anything that’s a chemical must be bad, and not understanding the difference between an ingredient (like malt) and a processing agent (like glycol, that’s used to cool beer tanks, but never contacts the beer). Also, just because something can legally be added to beer doesn’t mean that it is.]

So, in response, Budweiser released the ingredients in Bud and Bud Light. This is no big deal because the ingredients and processing aids used in Bud are well-known. For example, they’re listed on Budweiser’s Wikipedia page. More importantly, they’ve been listed on the label of Budweiser since the label was in German and the beer was called Budweiser LagerBier. And guess what? The beer doesn’t contain propylene glycol, EDTA, insect-based dyes, or any of the crap she claimed. In other words, she was shown to be completely wrong.

However, on her website and social media outlets, she declared victory. Why? Because she “forced” Bud to reveal their ingredients. You know, the ingredients that they have voluntarily listed on their label since 1876. [To be fair, they don’t list water or yeast on the label, and they don’t mention using Beechwood as a surface for the yeast to collect on, but everyone knows that beer is mostly water and is fermented by yeast. And, the wood isn’t in the finished beer, doesn’t add any flavor, and has been prominently featured in their advertising over the years. So, it’s neither relevant nor a secret — nor something she initially listed as bad.]

And the media fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Numerous media outlets presented her comeuppance as a victory for her. Ironically, many of the articles — including one in the New York Daily News — incorrectly reported that Anheuser-Busch had never released this information before. And ironically, they choose a shot of the beer label to illustrate the story! (You know, the beer label that shows that they didn’t bother to check their facts and just accepted the Food Babe’s version of events uncritically.)

Even though most homebrewers don’t drink Bud, we should all be concerned when anyone tries to fool the general public into believing any scientifically-illiterate and false information about any beer. Nonsense like this can spiral out of control and have a negative impact on brewing as a whole. For example, one of the things she accused Guinness of containing was fish bladder. Now, most homebrewers know that isinglass is a substance isolated from the swim bladders of sturgeons. It is used to fine many homebrews and craft brews. It isn’t present in the final beer and it comes from a swim bladder, not a urinary bladder, so it’s only “icky” if everything inside a fish is icky to you.

So, if you see any of your Facebook friends posting about the Food Babes “victory,” take the time to explain that she is completely wrong and doesn’t understand how beer is brewed. The news media obviously isn’t going to spend any time fact-checking beer stories, so it’s up to brewers to communicate the facts to the public. The facts are important and we shouldn’t cede any ground to any scientifically-illiterate attacks on any beer or brewers (even if they aren’t our favorites). Hopefully, that will stop her — or the next version of her — when she decides to attack craft beer or homebrew . . . which contains dihydrogen monoxide — a chemical that kills people every year!!

Now, back to the news.


The Beer Business

The Guardian ran a story on starting a craft brewery in the UK. CBS reported that US breweries will face less red tape when launching new products. The Daily Beast reported that John Maier likes hops. And, the Wall Street Journal gave the history of craft beer in California. Finally, some Fools ask if the craft beer industry is really a threat to the big beer manufacturers.


The Environment 

These days, lots of breweries are striving to be more environmentally-conscious. This week there was a spate of “green” brewing stories. InBev wants to reduce their carbon emissions. So does some brewery in Sierra Leone. Likewise, big brewers are trying to use less water. This includes Miller-Coors.




Related article

Last Week’s Beer News


  1. Go Chris! Right on the money as usual.

  2. Great post Chris. I try to eat and live healthy(ish), and had been introduced to the Food Babe long before the whole beer thing came out. She annoyed me with her sensationalism (she seemed as bad as the people she was trying to “out”), and mostly ignored her until that beer story came out. I was floored by the misinformation in it, and of course all the people jumping on it on Facebook. I went from disliking her, to… well, something else, and it also made me sad how people were jumping on it, simply assuming it must be true…. so is life in today’s media age I guess, and gone is actual fact-checking :(.

  3. Sorry Chris, but I must dissent. If I suggested we remove ingredient labels from all packaged foods, what kind of reaction would most consumers have? It’s in the consumer’s best interest to know what is in any packaged food so they can make informed choices. It’s also not particularly healthy for you to judge others based on their choices.

    As for GMOs, that issue goes far beyond just gene splicing and your dismissive reduction of it to chemistry. From my perspective, the bigger issue with GMOs is the privatization of the intellectual property that defines our food supply, and the litigious nature of companies like Monsanto to protect those patents as economic rents.

    • Chris Colby says

      Nobody suggested removing ingredient labels. I just pointed out that she was completely misinformed, make some incorrect statements, and was shown to be completely wrong. This has nothing to do with labeling — as she is now trying to spin it — and everything to do with learning the facts and practicing responsible journalism.
      And, if the issue with GMOs goes beyond just gene splicing, then why all the scientifically illiterate attacks on GMOs? If the main point of anti-GMO activism has to do with intellectual property rights, why lead with misinformation about GMOs? Why continually try to conflate GMOs with Monsanto (one company among many that uses GMOs)?

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