We do not live in the Paleolithic Era. Sorry to shock you like that, but it’s pretty important that we’re clear on that. Why? Because understanding that (hopefully) obvious fact presents a fairly complex problem for practitioners of the Paleo diet – an eating style that seeks to mimic the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors. Since the world has changed significantly in the past several eras, many people who are new to Paleo often find themselves asking “Is this Paleo?”
In fact, this is such a common issue that entire books and apps exist to help you answer that question quickly throughout your day. But, for right now, we’re going to look at an especially pressing problem facing those trying to live by the Paleo diet: Beer.
The Basic Dilemma
Beer is a much more ancient drink than many people realize. According to many experts, beer was actually the motivation for the agricultural revolution – which, of course, occurred well after the Paleolithic period. So far, this does not bode well for beer drinkers.
Then, we have beer’s ingredients. Traditional beers are made from wheat, barley and hops – the first two are grains and definitely not Paleo. Many modern beers, though, are made with rice but that still doesn’t make it Paleo friendly.
The final strike against beer is that Paleo is also about removing processed foods and toxins from your diet. All alcoholic beverages are produced via fermentation, a form of processing. And, even though we don’t like to admit it, alcohol is a toxin. So, things really don’t look great for beer.
But, does that mean that you have to totally shun beer to be Paleo? Strictly speaking, yes. If you’re willing to make some concessions, though, you may be able to find a beer that won’t completely destroy your Paleo-trained conscience.
Making It Work
The trick is to look for a beer that will have the smallest impact on your generally Paleo lifestyle, reducing the number of conflicts with your beverage. You can’t do anything about the processing or the toxin issues – since those are what make beer great. You can, however, find beers that are not wheat or barley based and are thus gluten-free.
Again, no beer will be totally grain-free. For that, you will have to look at meads, ciders or red wines. These options are made from honey and fruits with no grains included. They are also minimally processed.
But, if you really want beer, you’re going to have to get creative. Fortunately, by opting for a sorghum beer, you can at least stay gluten-free even if its not totally Paleo. And, according to many, sorghum beer still offers the flavors you would expect from more traditional beers.
In the end, there’s really no such thing as a Paleo beer since fermentation, toxins and grains are all un-Paleo. Sorghum, though, at least lets you avoid gluten and reduces the number of issues you’ll have with the occasional alcoholic indulgence. To really get a better idea about the concerns involved, take a few minutes to read up more on the Paleo movement and nutrition in general.