German beer doesn’t get the attention it deserves from today’s beer snob, who gravitates toward extreme flavors and marketing. You’re not going to find a German beer containing massive hops with Hindu deities on its label or a snowboarding reference in its name.

Good German beer (and there’s a lot of it—this is a country with 800 years of brewing history) is like a well-made Shaker chair: simple, traditional, and perfectly balanced, with clean, wholesome flavors. Many brewers still adhere to a now-repealed 16th-century law called the Reinheitsgebot,  which forbids adding anything to beer besides the basic water, hops, and malt.Germany’s  strict beer purity laws (enacted in 1516) guarantee that their brews are made of nothing but water, hops, yeast, and barley. There are  no such laws in America, so you never know exactly what you’re getting. Most of the bigger brewers put rice or corn in their beers to keep prices down. They can also load it with preservatives and chemicals.

So, perhaps it’s time we gave beer – especially German beer – another look. A bevy of recent studies seems to indicate that beer may well be the healthiest alcohol we can drink.

According to England’s Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) recent study, Beer: Quality, Safety and Nutritional Aspects, German beer is loaded with good things: proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants, even fiber. Taken in moderation, beer can offer a host of nutritional benefits.

Recent studies have been revealing many positive associations between German beer and health. These include a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, an improved mental state in women, and increases in life span. Drinking German beer can help reduce homocysteine levels, lower triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol, and reduce blood clotting. An important note is that a constant here is moderate consumption, but that should go without saying. So let’s take a closer look at just what’s in German beer that makes it healthy. One might be inclined to lump excessive carbohydrates in with the list of beer’s problems, but this just isn’t the case. Although it does have some carbohydrates, the idea that each brewski is a carb bomb is a myth. Generally, there are 5 to 11 carbohydrate grams in one 12-ounce bottle of beer. Milk has 18 grams. Soft drinks have 36 grams. Thanks to its malted barley, beer also contains protein, at the rate of 0.7 to 2.1 grams per bottle. While most of the larger proteins are lost during the brewing process, beer still contains all the essential amino acids. Malted barley also gives beer plenty of vitamins, particularly B vitamins. A bottle of beer can contain 10 to 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and folate. But mass-produced beer lovers take note: beer’s riboflavin comes from its barley, as well as its yeast. Beers brewed with barley substitutes such as rice (Budweiser, for example) contain fewer vitamins. Another benefit of drinking German beer is the water, which, among other things, prevents dehydration and helps maintain electrolyte balances. A bottle of beer has between 327 and 337 grams of water, as opposed to 12 ounces of wine, which is 302 to 323 grams water, or soft drinks, which have 315 grams of water. Because good beer uses good, pure water, you’ll also find a lot of minerals within, although which ones and how much depends entirely on the water’s source. It’s safe to say you’ll usually find a good amount of potassium and magnesium, and plenty of calcium. Both hops and malt add several phenolic compounds into the mix. Many of these compounds are the same as or similar to the antioxidants found in wine, tea, and several fruits and vegetables, all of which have been known to protect against cardiovascular disease. So it would appear that “The French Paradox” applies to ale drinkers as well.

So get out there and enjoy your Oktoberfest with the knowledge that you could be doing yourself some good. Just don’t overdo it. As a general rule, if you’re looking for a healthy beer, drink German beer, either  in Germany on here at Jeanette’s Edelweiss.  –

Source: Leslie Anderson, How to be Fit