Ditch the glass of red for a schooner of craft beer

Stockade worker Luigi Mensi. Picture: Chris Lane
Stockade worker Luigi Mensi. Picture: Chris Lane

Craft beer may actually be healthier than a glass of red wine, a new study has found – though this is no surprise to Camden brewers.

Work by Associate Professor Mike McCullough, at California's Polytechnic State University, has found craft beer has health benefits overlooked by drinkers.

"We all know that a glass of red wine is good for you, but it turns outs a pint of craft beer is better, it has got more good things in it," Professor McCullough told AAP.

Those good things include niacin, know as vitamin B3, and brewers yeast which is fantastic for lowering bad cholesterol.

The basic premise and reason craft beer is healthier than mass produced beer is that it is less pasteurised, Prof McCullough said.

"Your instances of heart disease and your instances of type 2 diabetes decreases on an amount that's comparable, if not a little bit more, than if you are drinking red wine."

Anton Szpitalak, founder of Smeaton Grange-based brewery Stockade Brew Co, was not surprised with the new findings.

“Beer is a very natural product,” he said.

“It’s water, hops, malt and yeast - that’s it.

“Certain wines can have a lot of different additives to it (sulphur, preservatives, filtration agents) that are not as natural as beer.”

Mr Szpitalak said a bottle of craft beer a day would easily fit into most lifestyles.

“Beer is a journey for us at Stockade, and for sure that is something that we enjoy in moderation daily,” he said.

“The reason is that craft beer presents a tremendous amount of diversity, that mirrors the diversity of our lifestyles.

“Beer is actually much more diverse than wine with regards to the characteristics of its variants.

“Think of all of the food choices and experiences that we enjoy today, we want just as many types of complementary drinks to match – and craft beer delivers.”

Picture: Ben Chenoweth

Picture: Ben Chenoweth

Mr Szpitalak said wine-drinkers making the jump into the beer sphere should try Stockade’s Hop Splicer XPA (“something fruity and refreshing”) or 8Bit IPA to “enjoy with heavier foods”.

“Both of those beers are great starters to showcase that beer can be different to what people thought it once was,” he said.

Despite his proclivity for the frothy stuff, Mr Szpitalak doesn’t want locals to abandon the vino altogether.

“There are loads of good organic and biodynamic wine makers out there that make amazing wines that we enjoy,” he said.

“Although we are brewers at Stockade and love beer, we can appreciate great wine too.

“If people want “good stuff”, and that’s a broad term that may encompass health, flavour, diversity and more, then buy local and from artisans that you can connect with.”

Professor McCullough said science had long told us a glass of red a day helped reduce the risk of problems including heart disease and dementia.

But he said the health benefits of craft beers were overlooked because it was associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.

"You associate a beer drinker's diet with nachos and unhealthy eating habits but the trend with more differentiated beer and higher-end beer is that you are eating it with meals," Prof McCullough said.

There has been an explosion in the production and consumption of craft beers over the past five years, with a recent report estimating the industry is worth $500 million a year in Australia.

Prof McCullough will present his findings at the annual conference of Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society in Adelaide.

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