Scientists analyse nutrition in beer

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Brewing

Opportunities await for Europe's beer industry to tap into growing
consumer health trends as Belgian brewing scientists offer newly
developed testing to assess the nutritional quality of beers.

Scientists at the Meurice Institute in Brussels have spent the last three years developing an expertise in characterising the nutritional quality of speciality and refermented beers.

And the researchers are now offering their services to brewers, through joint-venture or collaboration agreements, in order to help firms "improve their production processes to maximise the vitamin content of their finished products"​.

There have been varied reports claiming several ingredients in beer have beneficial effects on health. "Certain types of beers seem to present a high folate content and could help to prevent lack in B9 vitamin often observed in Western Europe,"​ said the scientists.

Nutritional analysis could give brewers better marketing tools among today's increasingly health-conscious consumers; something that could help big firms dig themselves out of a rut in Western Europe.

Beer markets in France and Belgium in particular have suffered alongside other sectors from the nation's poor economic growth and reduced consumer confidence.

Anne Bietercelie, of the Brussels team, told​ the project could help to "rehabilitate beer as a daily beverage to be consumed in moderation"​. She likened the idea to the existing notion that moderate wine drinking carries health benefits.

However, Bietercelie said it may be very difficult for brewers to get official health claims for their products because of the strict conditions on such claims set by the European Union and US authorities.

The research in Brussels has so far concentrated on folates in beers, but Bietercelie said the team was looking for research partners to secure enough funding to carry on its project.

She said the institute wanted to explore the nutritional value of beers further, possibly by examining fibre and gluten content. "We are still open to various propositions,"​ she added.

The team is also preparing a report on the relationship between folate content and beer ageing, set to be published within the next few months.

Bietercelie said that most of the folates in beers come from malt and yeast. Content is significantly higher in refermented beers because the yeast remains active.

Related topics Markets Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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