International Beer Day a celebration of fermentation

The first Friday of August is a very special day. It is International Beer Day! Time to gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer and to unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together.

For us at Perstorp it is a yearly reminder to think about how molecules are everywhere, and make up everything. So too, chemistry is everywhere, and beer is a beautiful example of how to highlight this.

A product of fermentation

Beer is one of the best known, most consumed product of fermentation in the world. In the process of brewing the starches in malted grains (most notably barley) are turned into sugars. During the subsequent fermentation process, over a period of weeks yeast gets to feast on these sugars and turn them into flavor compounds, carbon dioxide and ethanol (an important reason why celebrating international beer day can be so much fun). This fermentation process in fact is what makes beer, beer. Everything else is optional – even the hops! 

Fermentation is all around us

Like molecules and chemistry, fermentation is all around us. Even in our own bodies! Our colon is home to fermentation processes in which soluble non-starch polysaccharides are metabolized to short-chain fatty acids. Unlike beer this fermentation is done by bacteria and not by yeasts. The short chain fatty acids metabolized by these bacteria include some of Perstorp staple products such as propionic, butyric and valeric acid. 

The short chain fatty acids that are created through this fermentation are a significant part of the body’s daily energy requirements. They are absorbed from the gut and metabolized into various body tissues. Butyric and valeric acid are essential for the development of the gastrointestinal tract and they both take direct part in the architecture of intestinal tissues. That is why we developed products around these wonderful molecules such as ProPhorce™ SR and Gastrivix™ Avi.

Butyric and valeric acids also occur naturally in beers. Though they contribute to the overall flavors, proper brewing practices try to keep them under the flavor threshold because in large quantities their contribution to flavor is not appreciated. You certainly don’t want to supplement these wonderful molecules through the consumption of beer 😊. 

Good gut health and celebrating International Beer Day, certainly have one more thing in common: they both make you happy! Enjoy! 
Bacteria or yeasts?

Earlier in this article we mentioned that in our gastro-intestinal tract fermentation is done by bacteria and in beer it is done by yeast. There are exceptions to this statement in both directions. Some beer styles are fermented with yeasts AND bacteria. You can recognize those by increased acidity. In other beer styles this acidity is a clear flaw and sign of infection.

Yeast can be the cause of fermentation in the gastro-intestinal tract too. Some people may suffer of what is called ‘auto-brewery syndrome’, which means that yeasts ferment carbohydrates into amongst others ethanol in their bodies. One speculation on the cause for this is long term use of antibiotics which can seriously unbalance our internal the bacterial flora.


References available upon request.

International Beer Day - a celebration of fermentation