Grain, yeast, and hops may instantly come to mind when asked to name ingredients in beer. Probiotics probably does not.
Beer enthusiasts could now be getting more out of the alcoholic beverage than just good taste –health benefits, too– as a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created a new type of beer by adding probiotics into the mix, which include components like live bacteria and yeasts.
Probiotics are usually consumed in dairy products by people looking to boost their immune system and improve digestive function.
After experimenting with five other strains, researchers settled on Lactobacillus paracasei L26, which can neutralize toxins and viruses, and had been isolated from human intestines.
The idea for this one-of-a-kind beer came from Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a fourth-year student from the university’s faculty of science, since she wanted to provide anyone who is lactose-intolerant or allergic to proteins an alternative way to consume probiotics.
She describes the taste of the beverage as “sharp and tart”, adding there are currently no other beers like it on the market.
“Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics,” she said.
There are one billion probiotics per 100ml of beer, equaling the recommended serving by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.
“It is also unfiltered and unpasteurised, which allows the drink to retain live probiotic counts,” stated the Straits Times article.
The final product, which took Chan nine months to complete as her final-year project, produced with the assistance of Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, has an alcohol content of roughly 3.5 per cent.
Chan and Liu have filed a patent for their beer that takes a month to brew, and with a Japanese company already expressing interest, beer lovers could soon be reaping the health benefits after cracking open a cold one.
While all other beers, sans probiotics, are mostly known for being bad for you, on the contrary can have advantages, with some brands being healthier than others.
In an updated 2016 Huffington Post article, Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant in the L.A. area as well as a beer enthusiast, was involved in the ranking of the top 10 healthiest beers.
At the top of that list was Pacifico, a Mexican pilsner containing 135 calories per 12 ounces, and 12 grams of carbs. At number two with a reputation for being heavy on the stomach was Guinness. This traditional Irish stout consists of 128 calories and 11 grams of carbs. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale came in at number three, and while it has more calories and carbs, 175 and 14.1, the abundance of hops equals more phytochemicals, which are active compounds found in plants.
So, the next time brands of beer are debated between, there are slightly healthier options out there, especially if that beer has probiotics as a main ingredient.