Thursday, May 05, 2005

Low Carb Me

Someone needs to make a documentary about you "low carb" folks. I had a conversation with one of my customers recently about her beer selection. She told me that she and her husband are from Humboldt County, California, home of some of the finest ales on the planet. She said they love Great White from Lost Coast Brewing Co, as well as some of Mad River Brewing's selections. So, what did she buy, you ask? Coors Brewing Co's Aspen Edge "premium" low-carb beer. When she saw my disappointment, she blamed it all on her husband: "I know, I know. But this low-carb thing was his idea. We're just trying to be healthier." I mustered up a smile and a shrug, and I bit my tongue. But I was thinking, "What could be less healthy than drinking mass-produced, adjunct-laden, watered-down beer?" People use the term "watered down" a bit too often to describe bland beer these days. But in the case of low-carb beers, it's literally true. They actually add water to it! The result is low in carbs, as well as alcohol (about 3% by volume), flavor, character, and imagination.

Don't get me wrong. I am definitely in favor of people changing their diet in terms of carbohydrate intake. But I think people should concentrate on the type of carbs rather than on the number. Eat more whole foods. Choose whole wheat and sprouted grains. Eat fresh fruits and veggies with the skin included. Choose grilled fish on the menu. Reject anything that has been stripped of its nutrients such as white rice, white bread, and light beer. These are inventions of the 20th century with one purpose in mind: to separate you from more of your money. They are all slickly packaged and stylishly advertised. And, frankly, low-carb beer isn't going to do diddly-squat except make you disappointed in the long run when you realize that you still don't look like those young, sexy people in the ads.

Yes, finely crafted ales and lagers are higher in carbs than Aspen Edge, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, and the rest of that stuff. But not much higher! I dare anyone to tell me that they got fat on beer. Show me a fat beer drinker, and I'll show you someone who also indulges in pizza, french fries, milkshakes, and fettucini alfredo on a fairly regular basis. What's more, people who drink more flavorful, more alcoholic beer usually drink less of it. And, because their beer hasn't been stripped of its nutrients by intense filtration and industrial pasteurization, it's much healthier! That's right. And darker beers contain the same flavonoids that red wine contains which have been linked to diminished rates of heart disease and stroke. Don't believe me? Listen to this short piece from NPR. Don't know which dark beers to try? Here are four world-class dark beers to start with if you are interested in getting those health benefits:

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Celebrator Doppelbock, Anchor Porter, and Deschutes Obsidian Stout.

Okay. Look into my eyes. You are going to start drinking more flavorful, darker beers from smaller, real-people-oriented brewers. You are going to drink less of it than you would have of the light beer. It's going to enhance your meal and uplift your spirits. And if you are concerned about your weight, you are going to exercise more, and eat more whole foods, and eat fewer industrial foods. You will be helping your body. You will be helping your community. You will be helping your planet. When I snap my fingers you will awake. *SNAP!*

Oregon Trail

This is me enjoying a Ginseng Porter from Oregon Trail Brewing Co. in Corvallis, Oregon.

4 comments:

Annie & John said...

This one gets a standing ovation!! I can't agree more. low carb should translate to Wheat bread instead of bleached bread, lean meat instead of bacon, and one beer instead of two. Anything but lifeless, flavorless, watered down beer that leaves you unsatisfied and drinking twice as much anyway.

Greeneyedlady said...

If your English teachers could see you now! Where was all that passion for writing then? I'm impressed and predudiced!

The Sophomore said...

John,
You post... "People use the term "watered down" a bit too often to describe bland beer these days. But in the case of low-carb beers, it's literally true. They actually add water to it!"

Actually EVERY big domestic beer (not just low carb) is made this way.

The big three American and most import brewers use a method called dilution-water process or high gravity brewing to make their beer. A flat "beer concentrate" is brewed, and blended with carbonated water at packaging to create the final product. A good analogy is the soda gun at the bar or pop dispenser at a fast food joint; syrup from the bag-n-box is mixed at the dispenser to make a cheap beverage. When you only brew 50-60% of the beer you sell, your costs in brewing capital are minimized.

Want Light beer? Turn up the add-water. Want a new brand? Mix two or three "concentrates" together.

Apples to apples, this is the main reason craft brews cost more than domestics. A quality craft brewer will brew everything in the bottle, and use natural carbonation instead of adding it at packaging.

John said...

Great comment. Thanks for contributing! (I'm still just a Freshman, BTW).