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By now, you’ll know the words ‘pro-biotic’ and ‘pre-biotic’ as they’ve been popped onto the packets of products for years. Ever since those ads for little, one-a-day yogurts started talking about ‘good bacteria’, we’ve been aware of the effect they have on our digestion and the potential benefits to health.
You’d be forgiven for thinking a little pot of yogurt is the only way to get a dose of digestive goodness; there are actually huge numbers of food and drink items globally that do the exact same thing. The common feature between them is that they’re all fermented – and we bet you can see where this is going! Almost every culture has some form of fermented food and drink.
In Korea, kimchi remains extremely popular, which is fermented cabbage and Korean radishes, seasoned and traditionally sealed in jars and left underground over the winter to ferment. Kombucha is a drink rapidly growing in popularity, but it’s been around for over 2,000 years. Its popularity started to pick up with young people in the USA, who liked the slightly sparkling drink made from green or black tea. Although kombucha is fermented, it shouldn’t contain much alcohol at all, as it also produces a tangy acid compound that limits the amount of ethanol produced. One problem with a number of kombucha products on the market, however, is that due to their brewing process, they continue to create alcohol through the fermentation. Rejuvelac is similar to Kombucha, in that it’s a cultured, lightly sparkling pro-biotic rich drink, but is made from freshly sprouted grains steeped in water, in a very similar principle to creating the wort that goes to create beer.
Beer can also have pro-biotic properties, but it depends on the beer. Mass-produced, pasteurised or artificially carbonated beers certainly aren’t pro-biotic as they’re heated to sterilise them and then heavily filtered. Beers produced on smaller scales and bottle conditioned fit into the pro-biotic category.
The Beer Making Process
Just to explain the brewing process, grains are heated to release sugar, and this sugary wort is boiled with hops to give it flavour. Then yeast is added and it’s left to ferment, where the yeast eats the sugar, creating alcohol and producing carbon dioxide. Secondary fermentation, or bottle conditioning, means once the yeast has consumed all the sugar, the brew is racked into bottles and sealed in with a touch of added sugar. This bit of sugar gives the yeast a last little kick, where it makes the carbon dioxide that makes the beer sparkling.
These refermented beers contain living yeast cells that help to support the microflora in the gut. By the time the refermentation happens, the ‘single sugars’ have been eaten by the yeast, but there are residual polysugars act as soluble fibre, helping the intestines. That’s satisfying “psht!” you hear when you open a bottle of Green’s is the carbon dioxide made from the refermentation and you know it’s the proper, natural way of doing things.
None of Green’s beers are heat treated or pasteurised – not only does this mean the beer tastes as it should, but also means that they’re still offering the benefits of a pro-biotic. We also avoid products like sulphites, as these create a nasty environment for the yeasts and they won’t be able to do their job. Perhaps even bigger, all of Green’s beers are gluten free. Gluten is a protein that’s known to be inflammatory, especially to the gut lining, meaning that a zero gluten beer that still retains all of its pro-biotic qualities could really do some good for you! If that’s not a reason to celebrate with a long, cool beer, then we don’t know what is!