Last year I had the pleasure of talking to a group of young entrepreneurs at the Henley Club in Melbourne and one of the questions asked afterwards was “Why don’t you have a big beer gut?” At the time, I laughed it off and made a few jokes about having a lucky metabolism, but it’s something that stuck in my mind ever since… I’ve always been a strong believer that it’s not the beer that packs on the weight – it’s lethargy combined with too much beer and 3 burgers and chips on the way home from a big night that give people the so-called (and I think mis-named) “beer belly”… I have friends who drink far more beer than I do and yet they are far fitter and slimmer than I am, so I started doing some research to find out just how healthy or unhealthy beer is for you.

Source: Henley Club Melbourne (c)

Source: Henley Club Melbourne (c)

All good things in moderation. That’s why the experts say French women don’t get fat – they eat a little bit of everything. It’s also what my mother and her mother before her used to say. Enjoy the good things in life; just don’t enjoy them too much. Make the right choices… etc. etc. – we’ve all heard it before I’m sure. I remember reading a trashy magazine in my teens where a particularly skinny celebrity said she’s thin because she eats a couple of potatoes instead of a piece of cheese. According to calorieking.com.au, a couple of average potatoes (steamed) equates to around 879kJ. Calorie king also says a 50g piece of typical cheddar cheese is about the same. Obviously the potatoes will keep you fuller for longer, right? (Although personally I would always go for a wedge of triple cream brie over a boiled potato any day; I understand the concept of low GI food and moderation but I’m not crazy!)

Photo taken by H.Laas at Seville Hill Winery, Yarra Valley

Photo taken by H.Laas at Seville Hill Winery, Yarra Valley

A witbier typically has around 600kJ (Source: MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter). That’s about 2 whole small avocadoes and you wouldn’t eat 10 small avocadoes on a Friday evening as well as your dinner without planning at least a light jog or a bike ride on the weekend, right? I mean, avocado is named one of the “healthy fat” foods but only if you eat it in moderation. The calories in a witbier is also the same as a full cream milk, medium sized cappuccino and we Melbournians don’t think twice when we drink a couple of coffees every day, so why cut back beer because we’re “watching our weight”? It’s more filling so you’re less likely to drink litres and litres, but you can’t say that about wine or a G&T, which incidentally has the same kJ or more than a standard 5% beer, according to both MyFitnessPal and Calorie King.

But what about other health benefits?

Source: Robert L Schram (c)

Source: Robert L Schram (c)

Eric Warner, author of “German Wheat Beer” (Brewers Publications 1992), lists the top 11 reasons why Weissbier drinkers like this style. Many of these include health benefits and I’ll share some of the wittiest ones (no pun intended…):

#11     “Earlier I always had problems with my stomach and digestion in the clinic I was advised to begin carefully with Weissbier after my gall operation. For several years now Weissbier has been my elixir of life”

#6     “If we drink 2 pints of Export in the morning, we’re tired; with Weissbier in the same quantity this isn’t so.”

#5     “When I was 15 I had a lot of zits. Our doctor prescribed me pills, and every evening I was supposed to drink a pint of Weissbier… Within a few weeks the zits had disappeared. That came from the nicotinic acid in the beer yeast, maintained the doctor.”

#3     “Recently, a women’s magazine wrote that Weissbier yeast is even supposed to help with haemorrhoids”

#2     “The nicest thing about Weissbier are the burps, which also bring the bad air out of the stomach”

I’m certainly not a medical professional nor can I confirm or deny these benefits, but as a devout Weissbier drinker, I have never suffered from any of the aforementioned ailments and I have certainly enjoyed a “Weiss-burp” or two in my lifetime…

In addition, Warner discusses the benefits of Weissbier for the skin. Yeast is chock full of protein compounds, vitamins and minerals, however he does warn that you that doctors say one must not consume more than 7 litres a day as this could jeopardise the health due to an overdose of nucleic acid, known to lead to gout (yeah, that’s also the best reason I can think of for not drinking too much!!). I don’t know about you readers, but I’d much rather follow the German doctor’s orders take one Hefeweizen a day rather than a daily multivitamin pill :-)

I say forget about beer calories and get moving-

Lofoten Islands, Norway 2008

Lofoten Islands, Norway 2008

- it doesn’t have to be a strenuous hike in the Norwegian fjord lands…

… you could even combine beer, socialising and exercise with a low key cricket match!

"The Big Bashes" 2015 brewers vs The Local Taphouse cricket match for CBR

"The Big Bashes" 2015 brewers vs The Local Taphouse cricket match for CBR

My point is that you don’t see many brewery workers around that are overweight due to beer drinking as they’re on their feet all day carrying hops, lifting grain bags and filling kegs. And next time you feel like a beer, why not grab an unfiltered wheat beer and tell your partner/friends/colleagues that you’re simply undertaking your daily beauty routine?… just don’t overindulge and have more than 7 litres ;-)

(Note: this is a beer pyramid made by 4 people - ie. less than 2 beers each - Always drink in moderation!)

Prost!

We’re off to create and calculate some new beers for 2016…

Annabel & Henry

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