A lighter stout

University group's experiment produces ale with 60% fewer carbs

Feb 24, 2005 - Scientists at University College Cork in Ireland have brewed an Atkins-friendly stout that has 60% fewer carbohydrates and a quarter fewer calories than regular stout. The inventors claim the lighter pint, to be presented at a food industry showcase next month, has the same consistency, taste and texture as its full-bodied equivalent.


Students in the food science and technology department in UCC have been working on the beer for the past six months. It is brewed from the same malt, water, yeast and hops, but modifications to the brewing process cut the carbs.

Normal stout has about 2 grams of carbohydrate and contains 32 calories per 100ml (3.3 ounces) while the new version has 0.6 grams of carbs and 24 calories per 100ml.

"We modified the mashing procedure, which is part of the brewing process, by adding an enzyme which can degrade carbohydrate," said Elke Arendt, who is leading the research. "We also modified our fermentation process to get a lower carbohydrate content by picking a specific yeast strain."

Arendt said the full-bodied taste that is typically lost by reducing carbohydrate content has been retained in the light stout. The beer has done well with student focus groups. "I definitely think there is a market for it," said Arendt. "In America, the market potential of light beers has increased enormously and we are usually following close behind."

UCC, which has several experimental breweries on campus, is hoping that one of the main beer manufacturers will decide to produce its invention commercially.

Could it be Guinness? Jean Doyle of Diageo, which owns Guinness, points out that stout already has fewer calories than most lagers, ale or cider. "We do keep a very close eye on consumer trends but we don't have any plans at the moment (for a low-carb stout)," she said.

Guinness previously launched Guinness Light in 1979. Described as a "light-bodied drink with a balanced flavour, ruby colour and a Guinness head," it survived just two years.

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