Five Things You Didn’t Know About Your Beer

Posted on October 1st, 2009

Thanks to their ubiquitous advertising and numerous sponsorship deals, light lagers are by far the most well known beers in America. While everyone knows their catchy jingles and funny commercials there is plenty that the average consumer doesn’t know about light lagers. Today we’re going to take a look at a few things those commercials leave out.

1.There are fish guts in your beer.

Beluga_sturgeonIsinglass is an ingredient made from the swim bladder of fish (specifically the beluga sturgeon) that has been traditionally been used by brewers as a clarifying and finning agent in beer. Although most of the major macro brewers in America have discontinued to use of this product, plenty of other notable brewers such as Guinness, Red Stripe, Foster’s and Newcastle still put it in your beer. For a more complete list of what brewers still use this and other animal-derived products check barnivore.com.

2. All lagers are brewed cold, it’s nothing to brag about.

Many different brewers over the years have bragged about how cold their beer is brewed. As we’ve pointed out before though, all lagers are brewed cold, that’s just how lager beer is made, so bragging about it in commercials doesn’t really mean much, all you’re saying is that you followed directions.

3. Drinking light lager isn’t saving you money.

beerA common defense among folks that prefer light lagers is that it’s cheap and they’re just drinking it for the alcohol. We happen to think that beer should be enjoyed for its flavor, but if you feel otherwise that’s cool too. It’s true that light lagers like Coors and Miller have some of the lowest prices on the market but they also have some of the lowest alcohol content as well. Miller Light, Coors Light and Bud Light all clock in just above 4%, while the average for the style is usually at least 5%, so you’re hardly getting your money’s worth.


4. Light lagers aren’t made with barley, they’re made with corn and rice.

As we’ve explained many times on this blog, barley is one of the main ingredients of beer, and probably the ingredient which defines beer the most. While other traditional grains such as rye and wheat are sometimes used, barley is the ingredient which really makes beer what it is. The Germans even passed a law in1516, the Reinheitsgebot, that forbade the brewing of beer with anything other than barley. Don’t tell this to Miller, Coors or Budweiser though, as there’s hardly any barley in their beer at all. They mostly use rice and corn because it’s cheaper, and they think you can’t tell the difference. Miller has been even known to use high fructose corn syrup in their beers, the same stuff that sweetens Kool-Aid. I doubt that would past the Reinheitsgebot.

5. There aren’t real hops in your light lager.

tetraAs we’ve mentioned before, the reason beer can get ‘skunked’ after being left out for awhile is due to a reaction between the hops in beer and sunlight. How can some breweries like Miller and Newcastle get away with clear bottles? Because they don’t use real hops. Thanks to the miracle of modern science there is a synthetic chemical known as Tetrahop available to brewers that mimics hop flavor, while being immune to the adverse effects of the sun. A downside is that Tetrahop has no aroma, which is too bad as aroma is a major component to perceived hop flavor.

  • johnyp03

    I'll believe that items 1, 2, 4 and 5 are true. I have no problem with those. But I'd like to see the numbers that claim you are “hardly getting your money's worth” with cheap beer. Here's some numbers:
    Alcohol % #ounces Price ounces of Alcohol/$10
    Bud Light (case) 4.2 24×12 $16 7.56
    Guinness Extra Stout 7.5 12 $3 2.89
    Arrogant Bastard 7.2 22 $3 5.50
    Delirium Nocturnum 8.5 4×12 $22 1.85
    Skol Vodka 40 59.2 $15 15.7

    I'd like to see a “quality” beer reach 7 ounces of alcohol per $10. Really, if you want the most bang for your buck, I included Skol Vodka, although you will surely pay for it the next day. If you can show me a “quality” beer that can even get close to Bud Light (which is surely not the best price per ounce for cheap beers), I would gladly switch.

  • johnyp03

    I'll believe that items 1, 2, 4 and 5 are true. I have no problem with those. But I'd like to see the numbers that claim you are “hardly getting your money's worth” with cheap beer. Here's some numbers:

    _______________Alcohol %___#ounces___Price__ounces of Alcohol/$10
    Bud Light (case) ____4.2______24x12____$16_____7.56
    Guinness Extra Stout _7.5_______12 ______$3_____2.89
    Arrogant Bastard ____7.2 _______22 ______$3_____5.50
    Delirium Nocturnum _ 8.5_______4x12____$22_____1.85
    Skol Vodka_(handle)_40 _______ 59.2 ____$15 ____15.7

    I'd like to see a “quality” beer reach 7 ounces of alcohol per $10. Really, if you want the most bang for your buck, I included Skol Vodka, although you will surely pay for it the next day. If you can show me a “quality” beer that can even get close to Bud Light (which is surely not the best price per ounce for cheap beers), I would gladly switch.

  • Danwbrews

    Item 5 is not exactly true. Tetra-hop is an extract of hop oils.

  • Anonymous

    and the difference being fresh strawberries and strawberry extract..I bet they don’t have the same properties.

  • Caitlyn J

    Why do they use Isinglass in beer? How does something so obscure even get added to beer in the first place?

  • Nate

    It has a property that makes proteins that cause beer haze to form to cling to it. Then after the beer is done fermenting, the isinglass and the protein it captured fall harmlessly to the bottom with the now-dormant yeast. So you get clear beer instead of hazy. Who wants hazy beer??? Works great, cheap, re-purposes waste from fishing, all natural, been used for hundreds of years. Why it’s supposedly so controversial, well, beats me.