While the sugary, caffeinated soda I’m guzzling to get through this Friday morning has all manner of ingredients listed on the can, the beer in my fridge might just reads “beer,” and not because I’ve watched Repo Man too many times. Fact is, beer makers in the U.S. only need to tell you if there’s an allergen contained in the brew. But under pressure from a petition calling for more transparency on what’s in the beer we drink, the folks at Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have offered up some insights that — so far — don’t reveal anything shocking.
Earlier this week, FoodBabe.com launched an online petition asking the country’s two largest beer makers to come clear about the beer-like water they sell, claiming there might be all sorts of alarming ingredients — like “high fructose corn syrup… stabilizers that are linked to intestinal inflammation… ingredients found in airplane deicing liquid, genetically modified ingredients, even fish swim bladders” — in people’s beer.
The two companies quickly responded with what they claim are ingredients list that comply with federal standards for food labeling. Alas, those ingredients lists lack the predicted fish bladders and other scary stuff.
Anheuser-Busch has started posting ingredients to beers listed on its TapIntoYourBeer.com site.
As of this morning, it’s only posted info for its two biggest sellers, Budweiser and Bud Light, both of which have the same items listed: Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Yeast, Hops.
The company says ingredients for others will be added in the near future.
Then the MillerCoors folks went on Facebook and posted the following ingredients:
Coors Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Lite: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller High Life: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Keystone Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Blue Moon Belgian White: Water, barley malt, wheat, oats, yeast, hops, orange peel and coriander
Coors Banquet: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Genuine Draft: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Fortune: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
So yeah… Budweiser uses rice and MillerCoors uses corn. Aside from the extras thrown into the Blue Moon mix, it all seems rather simple.
Of course, these are all just the common-use names for the ingredients. They don’t describe the form of each ingredient when it’s put into the mix. For example, later in that Facebook post, MillerCoors admits that its corn is a “liquid corn brewing adjunct” but denies that it is high fructose corn syrup. And neither of the companies answer the questions of whether their grains come from genetically modified seeds.
And some say the companies are leaving out various chemical agents that may be used during the process. Anheuser-Busch has invited FoodBabe to tour one of its plants, so that may either remove some petitioners’ concerns or compound them, depending on what they see.
Regardless of whether there are indeed swim bladders or dangerous chemicals in our beer, this all does at least start the public conversation about whether or not beer should have proper ingredients lists like other packaged food products. The lack of labeling only gives people reason to be suspicious, so it seems like it would behoove brewers to be transparent in order to preempt rumors and speculation.