Sipping a cold one while watching the sun go down may be your favourite way to wind down from a busy day, but if you’re watching your carb intake and trying to avoid gluten, does drinking beer still fit into your lifestyle?
Traditional beer is made from water, hops and barley or wheat. Barley and wheat are grains which contain carbohydrate and gluten and so beer also contains these two in varying amounts.
While the gluten content in beer is usually pretty low, it’s still in there, so if you’re gluten-intolerant and serious about cutting it out, it would help to steer clear of traditional beers too. You can shout and jump for joy though because you don’t have to give up beer entirely – the Red Sky Brewing Company’s Red Sky Goshawk Gluten Free Beer is made from sorghum and is, you guessed it, gluten-free.
What about the sugar content of beer? Well, very simply explained, beer is created when the yeast converts the malt sugars (from barley or wheat) into alcohol and CO2. The amount of residual sugar will depend, among other things, on how much is extracted from the malt during the fermentation process. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a sweet beer has more sugar than a bitter beer. Rob from League of Beers explains that there’s a difference between the actual sugar levels and the perceived sweetness of a beer because it depends on which ingredients and temperatures are used throughout the process . Then you also get beers where sweetness is added, says Brandon from Den Anker in the V&A Waterfront, like the Liefmans Fruitesse which is matured on cherries and then blended with various berry juices.
So the bottom line is this: f you’re trying to keep your carb content to a minimum, then your beer consumption needs to be taken into account. There’s no need to get too caught up with the numbers though; when you want an occasional beer, have it and enjoy it – just remember that it adds to your carbs for the day. If you do want to know the sugar content, here’s a little tip from Troye May and David Savage from SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club on how to work it out: “You can work out the amount of sugar by taking the decimal after the . of the FG and dividing by 4. For example, a final gravity of 1.010 gives you 010/4 = 2.5% sugar (also expressed as 2.5 Plato)”.
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