It's common knowledge that a glass of red wine at dinner is a healthy addition to an adult diet, but most people ignore the healthy aspects of wine's ugly cousin – beer. Consumed in moderation, beer can offer many nutrients the body needs.
Which Beers are Healthy?
Although there is nothing wrong with having a light domestic lager with dinner, they are more traditionally considered a "session beer," or beer meant for getting drunk with your friends. As hangovers tend to remind us, our body does not find this behavior healthy. Our national macro breweries use corporate farms, which are notorious for leaving pesticide residue on barley, the main ingredient to beer.
Ales offer a larger variety of styles with ingredients that can bolster the immune system, help prevent cancer, or provide extra energy. For those of you that confuse calorie count with healthiness, it is common for many ales to clock in at 130 calories, about as much as a Keystone light. Many microbreweries that focus on ales try to use as many organic ingredients as possible, reducing the risk for nasty adjuncts in your beer.
Fruit – Antioxidants anyone? Many breweries add flavor to beer with anything from cherries to pomegranates. Sam Adams’ Cherry Wheat is a favorite among my friends, but if you want something a little more subtle, try Magic Hat’s apricot-flavored #9.
Yeast – Home Brewers rejoice! The annoying silt at the bottom of every bottle you brew is actually very healthy for you. Yeast includes B vitamins and proteins that are essential to our diet. The B vitamins have the added bonus of reducing hangovers if you decide to over-indulge.
Examples of Healthy Beers
New Belgium Skinny Dip – from the makers of the prolific Fat Tire, this American Blonde Ale has only 114 calories in a 12 ounce serving. Wow.
Green Flash West Coast IPA – Lots of hops means lots of polyphenols. This also happens to be the best IPA I have ever had. Mike n’ Molly’s usually has a few bottles in stock.
There are some truly nutritious brews available to the people of Champaign-Urbana, but really any beer can be good for you, as long as you keep it to one or two with your meal.