Sour taste over sugar row

Dave Mayhall with a pint of Allgates Brewery Mad Monk beer
Dave Mayhall with a pint of Allgates Brewery Mad Monk beer

BREWERS in Wigan have reacted furiously after national reports said ale drinkers are risking their health consuming sugar-filled pints.

Representatives from local microbreweries responded after reports suggested a single pint of real ale contained up to nine teaspoonfuls of sugar and brewers added substances such as honey to the brewing kettle to improve the taste.

Industry figures dismissed the figure as “nonsense” and accused the researchers of scaremongering and not knowing how the brewing process works, saying sugar was created but converted to alcohol during production.

Roy Pearson, brewer at Standish-based firm Prospect and a long-standing member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “The figure is nonsense, and the claim about adding sugar and honey to improve the feel really annoys me. It’s just not true. It’s the combination of malts, hops and grains that decides the taste.

“If there was really that amount of sugar in the beer it would taste really strong and sweet, and most ales tend to be bitter.

“It seems they are trying to put people off beer, but real ale is made with natural ingredients and doesn’t have anything added to it.”

David Mayhall, owner of the AllGates brewery based in Wigan town centre just off Wallgate, also suggested ale was a better choice than other alcoholic drinks if enjoyed in moderation and said the published findings were unhelpful at a time when ale is enjoying a renaissance.

Mr Mayhall said: “Long-standing beer drinkers know it is misleading but misinformation like this does no good for our industry in general.

“If you are new to beer you could be forgiven for it making you think twice before drinking real ale.

“I would seriously question the research as I would argue beer in moderation is good for you. It doesn’t contain fat or cholesterol, it’s high in soluble fibre, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and anti-oxidants and two pints gives you 10 per cent of your daily fibre requirement.”

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has also hit back strongly at the research in support of brewers.

However, Wigan health experts reminded drinkers that any alcoholic beverage could put their health in danger if consumed recklessly or in excessive quantities.

The borough’s director of public health, Professor Kate Ardern, said: “Drinking any form of alcohol on a regular basis can do a lot of harm.

“Regular drinking over the recommended guidelines increases chances of suffering cancer, heart disease, liver disease and high blood pressure. It is important to keep an eye on the amount and strength of alcohol you are drinking.”