The craft beer scene is exploding, and no, we are not talking about over-carbonated bottles. Daily we here about new quirky (and sometimes unpalatable) “craft” beers that are making a splash. But can they be good for us? Beer is, after all, a fermented product and many fermented products are touted as having health benefits.
Published ahead of print on the website of the Journal of Functional Foods is a beer that deserves a mention. You may have heard of beers that rely on wild yeasts and bacteria floating around the brewery to get fermentation going, such as lambic beer, or other sour beers that are inoculated with a mix of yeast and some of the bacteria normally used in yogurt. Well, this publication is taking about kefir beer.
What is kefir you may ask? Kefir is a traditional fermented milk drink that has been prepared in Russia for hundreds of years. To inoculate cultures, kefir “grains” are used which, according to Wikipedia, are actually a mix of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars. A variation of this, water kafir, is used to produce a fermented sugar based drink with lemon juice and ginger. So why not use it to make a beer?
That is exactly what these researchers did, they prepared a beer and then fermented it with either kefir grains or normal beer yeast as a control. They then fed their beer to rats and included two additional controls of kefir grain fermented molasses and a 4% ethanol solution.
It seems that all of the fermented drinks, so both types of the beer and the kefir fermented molasses caused the rats to lose weight. I guess that means that the rats were not allowed to indulge in beer munchies then. The kefir beer led to nearly a 5% decrease in body weight while the control beer caused just shy of a 2% decrease.
Despite the weight loss, none of the treatments caused a change in cholesterol levels.
The researchers say that with the increasing popularity of probiotics, kefir beer could really be a contender. Sounds great, I think I will try it out on a small batch of my next beer. Or maybe just drink a beer and eat a yoghurt, I haven’t decided yet.