If you’re a fan of light beer, you may have heard the recent buzz about corn syrup.
Bud Light’s Super Bowl ads made a big deal about not using corn syrup in their beer, while calling out competitors who do.
But what exactly is corn syrup, and is it really something to be concerned about when it comes to your brew?
In this article, we’ll dive into the controversy and separate fact from fiction.
So grab a cold one (corn syrup or not) and let’s get started.
Does Light Beer Have Corn Syrup?
The short answer is yes, some light beers do use corn syrup in their brewing process. However, it’s important to understand that the corn syrup used in brewing is not the same as the controversial High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in many processed foods.
Corn syrup used in brewing is simply dextrose, a type of sugar derived from corn. During the fermentation process, yeast consumes the sugars in the corn syrup and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. By the time the beer is ready for consumption, there is no corn syrup left in the final product.
So while it’s true that some light beers use corn syrup in their brewing process, it’s not something to be overly concerned about from a health perspective. The fermentation process eliminates any potential negative effects of the corn syrup.
What Is Corn Syrup?
Corn syrup is a type of sweetener made from corn starch. It is a clear, viscous liquid that is commonly used in the food industry to sweeten processed foods and beverages. Corn syrup is made by breaking down the starch in corn into glucose, a simple sugar that can be easily digested by the body.
Unlike high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which has been linked to health problems such as obesity and diabetes, corn syrup used in brewing is not the same as HFCS. Corn syrup used in brewing is simply dextrose, a type of sugar derived from corn. It is used as a source of fermentable sugar for yeast during the brewing process, and is not present in the final product.
It’s important to note that not all light beers use corn syrup in their brewing process. Some brewers use rice or other grains as a source of fermentable sugar instead. However, for those that do use corn syrup, it’s important to understand that it does not pose any health risks in the finished product. The fermentation process eliminates any potential negative effects of the corn syrup, and leaves behind only alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Why Is Corn Syrup Used In Beer?
Corn syrup is used in beer for its fermentable sugars, which are necessary for the brewing process. Yeast requires a source of sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide, and corn syrup provides a readily available source of glucose. Corn syrup is often used in mass-market light beers because it is an inexpensive source of fermentable sugars. It also allows for a lighter, crisper taste compared to other sugars like maltose, which can result in a heavier, sweeter taste. However, it’s important to note that not all beers use corn syrup in their brewing process, and there are many other types of sugars that can be used instead. Ultimately, the choice of sugar used in brewing is up to the individual brewer and their desired flavor profile for their beer.
The Controversy: Bud Light’s Super Bowl Ads
During the 2019 Super Bowl, Bud Light aired a commercial that took a jab at its competitors, Miller Lite and Coors Light, for using corn syrup in their brewing process. The ad showed the Bud Light king delivering a barrel of corn syrup to the castles of Miller Lite and Coors Light, implying that the use of corn syrup was a negative aspect of their beers.
This sparked controversy among corn industry groups and rival brewers, who accused Bud Light of spreading misinformation about the use of corn syrup in beer. The ad also led to discussions among major beer producers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Molson Coors Brewing, Heineken, and Constellation Brands, who had been discussing a potential alliance to revive lagging U.S. beer sales.
MillerCoors, Molson’s U.S. division and the parent company of Miller Lite and Coors Light, pulled out of a scheduled meeting to discuss the beer alliance after the Bud Light ad aired. They argued that the ad was misleading and could damage their brands.
However, dietitians have pointed out that the use of corn syrup in brewing is not as harmful as some may believe. During the fermentation process, most of the added sugars are consumed by yeast and converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. As a result, there is little to no residual corn syrup left in the final product.
The controversy surrounding Bud Light’s Super Bowl ads highlights the competitive nature of the beer industry and the importance of advertising in shaping public perception. While it’s true that some light beers use corn syrup in their brewing process, it’s important to understand that it’s not necessarily a negative aspect of the beer itself.
Do Other Light Beers Use Corn Syrup?
Yes, other light beers besides Coors Light and Miller Lite also use corn syrup in their brewing process. Bud Light made headlines during the Super Bowl by calling out their competitors for using corn syrup in their beer, but it’s important to note that Bud Light uses rice syrup instead.
While some may argue that using corn syrup is not a traditional method of brewing beer, it’s still a common ingredient used by mass-market brewers. However, there are also many light beers that do not use corn syrup in their brewing process.
For example, big European beers like Heineken and Guinness do not use corn syrup in their brewing process. In fact, Guinness is actually considered a more nutritious choice than light beer, regardless of whether or not it contains corn syrup.
Ultimately, whether or not a light beer contains corn syrup should not be the deciding factor in choosing which beer to drink. The fermentation process eliminates any potential negative effects of the corn syrup, and there are many other factors to consider when choosing a beer, such as taste and alcohol content.
Is Corn Syrup Bad For You?
According to registered dietitian Suzanne Dixon, there is nothing inherently bad about brewing with corn syrup. Corn syrup used in brewing does not affect the health of your beer in the slightest. The process of fermentation gets rid of all the corn syrup. Yeast, used to add both alcohol and bubbles to beer, uses up the sugars in corn syrup during fermentation. “Yeast need a ‘substrate’ they can convert into ethanol,” Dixon said. “The substrate is a simple sugar, often in the form of glucose or fructose. It doesn’t matter if that substrate (simple sugar) comes from corn syrup (100 percent glucose), cane sugar (about half glucose and half fructose) or high-fructose corn syrup (ranging from about 40 to 55 percent fructose and the remainder glucose). Yeast can ferment glucose or fructose; regardless of the substrate or sugar used to create alcohol, none of that substrate is left in the finished product.”
In fact, even if there is some sugar left behind by the yeast used to ferment beer, all of it is filtered out before the beer is bottled. So there is no actual corn syrup left in a can of Coors Light, Miller Lite, or any other beer that uses corn syrup during fermentation. Though it’s not necessarily bad for you, brewing with corn syrup — or with rice syrup, which some brands use instead — is not exactly a traditional method, and it tends to be employed by mass-market brewers like Budweiser and MillerCoors. Many other beers do not use corn syrup (including some big European beers like Heineken and Guinness), which may be a factor to consider for those who prefer more traditional brewing methods. However, when it comes to health concerns, consuming a little bit of corn syrup in your light beer is unlikely to have any negative impact on your overall health.
The Bottom Line: Should You Be Worried About Corn Syrup In Your Beer?
In short, no, you should not be worried about corn syrup in your beer. Despite recent marketing campaigns by some beer companies claiming that their beer is superior because it doesn’t use corn syrup, the reality is that the claims are more about marketing than science. Corn syrup used in brewing does not affect the health of your beer in any way, and it is fully consumed during fermentation. In fact, many other beers around the world use corn syrup or other types of sugars in their brewing process without any negative effects on the final product.
It’s important to note that while corn syrup used in brewing is not harmful, it’s also not the most traditional method. It tends to be employed by mass-market brewers like Budweiser and MillerCoors. Some other beers use alternative sugars like rice syrup or even honey to achieve a similar effect. Ultimately, the choice of sugar used in brewing comes down to a matter of taste and preference.