Is Purine The New Gluten?
My cousin has gout. OK, by his admission, he had a gout attack. In a heartbreaking email, he told me that his doctor, as a result of the attack, told him to avoid beer!!! The reason, he continued, is that beer is full of purines. Before we get to what purines are and their place in beer, let’s do a quickie stat. When we checked in on the surge in gluten-free beers, we learned that 1 in 133 Americans is allergic to gluten, hence the rise in GF brews. But 1 in 119 people are afflicted with gout. Five percent of those with arthritis suffer from what is considered one of the most painful rheumatic conditions. Where are the beers for them?
If you’ve never heard of purine–kinda sounds like a dog food made from dried plums—your doctor will tell you that’s a good thing. What the heck is a purine? “Purine is a compound found in nucleic acids, heterocyclic compounds made of imidazole rings and pyrimidine.” (Glad ya asked?) A build-up of purines prevents kidneys from performing their job of eliminating uric acid, which is more painful than it sounds. Worst of all, lists of foods and drinks high in purines start with beer (and not because they go in alphabetical order, otherwise they’d start with anchovies.) Surprisingly, it’s mostly brewer’s yeast to blame. Gout was considered a rich man’s disease and used to be called “the disease of kings” because it tends to strike those who overindulge in food and drink, especially nibbles not everyone is accustomed to eating such as caviar and organ meats (sweetbread, anyone?)
Now, personally, if I ever get the gout, I’ll easily give up pate and foie gras—foods that ever so rarely pass my lips but the very same lips that welcome in an abundance of beer. The aforementioned cousin works for a Japanese company and as such often travels to the land of the rising sun. Cousin John said, “In Japan I saw a low-purine beer. I imagine it tasted as good as low-carb, low-calorie, beer, but it was interesting.”
Indeed, the large Japanese breweries make and sell happoshu, a low-malt beverage designed to evade the higher tax category that beer fits into. Then they turn around and tout these cheapo drinks as being brewed for health benefits. Kirin Tanrei W is marketed on its strength of being 99 percent purine-free.
Can a highly-hopped, berry-infused, patented purime-centrifuging technique be far behind?