Formaldehyde in beer

A friend of mine who is very sensitive to alcohol told me the other day that imported beers in Taiwan contain formaldehyde. She said that when she drinks beer in the states she never gets headaches, but in Taiwan whenever she drinks beer she gets really bad headaches. She said its because of the formaldehyde in beer to keep it fresh longer in the hot and humid weather in Taiwan. Anyone heard of this before? If this is true, how does formaldehyde affect our bodies?

From what I know all exported beer from every country contains a small amount of formaldehyde. I have also been told that even Taiwan beer contains formaldehyde even though it is produced locally. A small amount of formaldehyde should not cause any problems unless you are allergic to it, but drink alot of it, I’d imagine you’d get sick.

Are you sure it was formaldehyde? I think most beers contain a trace amount of methanol, but I don’t understand why formaldehyde would be added. Formaldehyde retards collagen breakdown that occurs naturally in dead flesh, helping to retain its rigidity (that’s why it’s featured so prominently in embalming fluid, I believe), but I doubt it does a thing for beer. This seems to be a cottage industry in Taiwan–slandering competing brewers.

I remember that back in mid-July or so the Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp. sponsored a beer festival in Hsinchu, I believe. In fact, I think President Chen attended the weekend’s festivities, and on the following Monday there was a story about how Chinese beers were unsafe to drink since they contained too much methanol. I remember thinking to myself, ahem, ah, yeah right, right after the big festival wotta boost to TT&L’s marketing it would be to disparage imported Chinese beer. I mean, what a happy coincidence! Here’s the result of the (slimy, imo) investigation that resulted: … 2003061456

It’s slimy, imo, because it appears that brewers who refused to submit their beer, and its brewing process, to be tested were added to the MOF’s watch list. According to this article, … 2003060266,

TT&L wanted to boost its domestic market share from 74% to 80%. To do that, it certainly helps to lower your unit price, if necessary, and thus to know each of your competitors’ process-cost floor. Sheesh, TT&L needs a little help seeing where its process costs are lagging the competition, and presto!-an investigation! Nothing like getting a little industrial espionage in, legally, what a fortunate set of circumstances for TT&L!

At any rate, are you sure it’s formaldehyde that’s added to beer?

Thanks tigerman, interesting article. I read that formaldehyde was used as a biocide to protect a lubricant used during the can-making process (from bacteria that eat the lubricant), not to protect the beer itself. And since the 1940s, it hasn’t been used at all (but here in the Far East, who knows? I used to work with a guy who worked for Alcan, and he always said that there are only 2-3 can makers in the world and that all their processes are extremely similar. Still…). Nowadays, though, something that tastes like formaldehyde is used, just because most “Budweiser or whatever” drinkers are used to its taste in beer. Farking yuck.

One interesting tidbit, imo, from the article:

Extensive tests are run to make sure the lubricant and additives taste like formaldehyde. “It’s not that it tastes okay. It’s just what people are used to tasting,” he [Prof. Schmid] says. (Miller Genuine Draft and similar brews, Schmid says, use biocides that have no flavor.)

Now that’s a bad job, making sure the new lubes and additives “taste like formaldehyde.”

“Taste like formaldehyde, dude? You sure? You wanna take another swig of formaldehyde just to double check?”

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: thanks tigerman, amazing story.

It’s also why generations of students know not to store leftover baked beans in the can in the fridge.

Bottled beer always tastes better. Kegged beer is by its very nature stored in tins anyway. (Unless you can get real cask ale… Tigerman ?)

[quote=“hexuan”]It’s also why generations of students know not to store leftover baked beans in the can in the fridge.

Bottled beer always tastes better. Kegged beer is by its very nature stored in tins anyway. (Unless you can get real cask ale… Tigerman ?)[/quote]

Personally, I prefer bottled over kegged over canned. But real casked ale is very, very good. The problem, at least in the US with casked ale, is that there are many variables involved in serving it correctly… and many in the US are still not used to how to do it correctly. I’ve had it in the US and it has been at times real nice and at other times, not such a treat. I think it would be fantastic at a nice British pub (in the UK) where the publican knew what he was doing.

I wouldn’t mind hearing what sheepshagger has to say on this subject.