A few weeks ago I had a very interesting and wonderful conversation with one of the beer crafters at Abita Beer. The representative I spoke to was not only knowledgeable about beer crafting in general, but also had detailed knowledge about Abita’s practices and procedures. He was also happy to talk to me at length to determine why I had unfortunately, had an allergic reaction to one of their beers. Out of all the hundreds of conversations I have had with companies over the last 8 months, that conversation sticks out in my mind. They have genuine interest in their customers and want their customers who enjoy their beer. Who could ask for more?
Abita Beer uses Louisiana sugar cane (instead of corn syrup) and does not use preservatives, additives, or stabilizers. All in all, it should be a relatively safe choice for those avoiding corn. Which is what made my situation a little confusing…
In the past I have successfully enjoyed Abita Turbodog Beer (no reaction) but didn’t get five minutes past the first sip of Abita Purple Haze before my eyelids began to swell. I even did a second test run a few days later (Purple Haze is very good beer, I had to be sure!) but indeed had another allergic reaction after just a few sips.
As it turns out, there is ascorbic acid in the Raspberry Puree that is added to Purple Haze. Bingo – that explained my allergic reaction. So what does this mean for Abita and a Corn-Free status? In my conversation with Abita I learned another place where corn may hide in beer production – something that Abita does NOT do. Often ascorbic acid is added during the final stage of beer bottling to act as an oxygen scavenger. The purpose of an oxygen scavenger is to consume the oxygen, allowing the beer to stay fresher longer as it travels to shopping store shelves and later to your refrigerator. Since Abita Beer does not add ascorbic acid to their beer, I have confidence that the majority of their beers will indeed be safe for those of us allergic to corn.
In the last few weeks I have tried another one of Abita’s beers, their Amber beer, and also returned to the safety of one of my all time favorites – Turbodog. Still reaction-free for those two beers. I have confidence that Abita brews good, pure beer, but I will stay away from their beers that contain added fruit such as Purple Haze, and their Strawberry Harvest.
For the time being, only Amber and Turbodog will be listed in The Guide, but others will be added as I learn they completely corn-free.