Unibroue and "Natural Flavors" -- how disgusted should I be?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Avangion, Dec 25, 2012.

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  1. chefkevlar

    chefkevlar Disciple (336) Apr 17, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Assuming your reply to me it absolute is true for ciders. We just pulled some from our shelves because we found out they contain HFCS and we don't allow it in anything we sell. Keep in mind that alcohol ingredient labeling is not regulated the same way as it is for food.
  2. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,205) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I would love some stout aged in beaver ass gland barrels
  3. Droogins

    Droogins Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2012 Massachusetts

    If I saw a beer label that read "brewed with natural flavors" (as opposed to "brewed with orange peel/coriander", "brewed with spices", etc), my first inclination would be to think they're adding "natural flavors" that they don't want to come out and name unless you ask.
    RyanLigeia and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  4. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,451) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    When? Source of information? Thanks.
  5. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

  6. StuartCarter

    StuartCarter Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2006 Alabama

    friend of mine is a brewer. He makes a peanut butter porter with de-fatted peanut butter. TTB requires him to label the beer as "beer with natural and artificial flavors", despite the fact that it is just peanut butter with the fat removed (because we know how fat interacts with the beer's head!).

    In other words, you're probably making a big fuss about nothing :wink:
    lancecenter likes this.
  7. chefkevlar

    chefkevlar Disciple (336) Apr 17, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Source was a rep for the importer. They should make a bigger announcement when they are certain all of the old stuff is gone.
  8. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    friend of mine is a flavor chemist and he says there is no difference between man made or natural chemicals, they are all chemicals. Used properly? That's a different story.
    lancecenter, mclaughlindw4 and MrOH like this.
  9. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,205) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    TheBoog013 likes this.
  10. Brunite

    Brunite Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2009 Illinois

    Imagine the money to be made if we could figure out a way to get the glands in a human's backside to work that way!!
  11. luwak

    luwak Aspirant (269) Mar 2, 2010 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    This has been discussed before as there are several beers with this phrasing on the label.

    Shiner, Leinenkugel's, Clown Shoes and Magic Hat come to mind

    See for instance:


    from the FDA:

    the key line of relevance may be:
    According the FDA website:
    spices, natural flavors or artificial flavors may be declared in ingredient lists by using either specific common or usual names or by using the declarations “spices,” “flavor” or “natural flavor,” or “artificial flavor.”
  12. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    This has been really fascinating. Thanks, everyone. I looked at the other thread, and I wonder if Unibroue would just say "trade secret" like AV. On the other hand, a brewery that is doing contract beers for a supermarket chain may have gotten away from the whole craft concept. Anyway, I just don't feel comfortable with "natural flavors". I was going to say that Dogfish Head never does this, and someone else already did. I am also a big drinker of sake, and sake is just rice and water (sometimes a little added alcohol). Shouldn't beer just be barley, hops, and water? OK, I'm oversimplifying... There are some great beers that have other stuff added and the greatness of beer is in fact how malleable the recipes are. But adding spices is not the same to me as adding a chemical flavor produced in a factory, however it was derived. And I think the argument that anything humans create is as natural as anything any other animal creates is patently specious. There's too much great beer out there to compromise, in my opinion. But I think this has been a great conversation. I'm new here, so I REALLY appreciate it.
  13. tehzachatak

    tehzachatak Initiate (0) Sep 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    Go read the Pangaea label and tell me how you feel reading that by itself, with no context.
  14. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    Next time I see Sam C. at an event, I'll put it to him. He seems like a straightforward guy. You're right: no idols. No mercy.
  15. Hopdaemon39

    Hopdaemon39 Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2011 New York

    Good point that we can only really speculate as they don't specify on the bottle or on their website. Personally, I find all of Unibroue's beers disgusting because of their house yeast strain. The TJ's vintage ale (though brewed by them and still with the, IMO, offensive yeast) to me tastes better than their regular offerings, and is about half as expensive, so regardless of the "natural flavors", whatever they may be, I'll get it and maybe give it six months in the cellar.
  16. Hopdaemon39

    Hopdaemon39 Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2011 New York

    Is this true? If so, that's pretty awful... high fructose corn syrup is a major enemy to good tasting food/beverages...

    BEERMILER12 Poo-Bah (2,429) Sep 11, 2010 Maine

    I hate thread jacking... but I'm a chemist and naturally have a little problem with this statement. I have absolutely nothing wrong with your views here and fully support trying to only consume things that are organic, all-natural, etc. I'll just throw out a simple contradicting example and leave it at that....

    Yeast cultures...

    A little food for thought, maybe, on the reality that almost nothing is 100% "natural" anymore... It sucks, but it's true.
    TheBoog013, tewaris and MrOH like this.
  18. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,279) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    We are in agreement then. Havent gotten the quoting thing down here yet...but wasnt meant. Be personal, just general reply.

    You can't call a sweetener a flavor in fruit juices...ever. I remember a beet sugar scandal a decade or so ago. Manufacturer saying it was a colorant. I don't even know what you would call a cider with sugar or HFCS dumped in there. I don't know where to find the alcohol labeling rules. The juice ones are enough of a nightmare for me!
  19. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    Hmm.. interesting point, but apples and apples? You really think so?
  20. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    I'm sure your getting what he finds so offensive.

    It's not orange peels, honey, fruits, vanilla extract, etc being added. It's "something" they obviously aren't too proud of so they use the phrase "natural flavors" to pretty it up and mislead you.

    I love everything Unibroue, but that "natural flavors" thing always threw me off...
  21. MrOH

    MrOH Crusader (795) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    Well, the BJCP would call it a New England Cider, Applewine, or Other Specialty Cider, depending on what else is going on. A long precedence for this.
  22. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    Well stated... better than I did. As far as I know, "natural flavors" and artificial flavors are the same chemicals derived by different procedures. So vanilla extract may be a natural ingredient but it is not a "natural flavor." My confusion is whether or not something like orange peel or vanilla extract would be included under the natural flavor label as some have suggested. Btw, sorry for all the scare quotes! And it's pretty neat there are chemists around here. Good check on my tendency to be a sanctimonious purist.

    BEERMILER12 Poo-Bah (2,429) Sep 11, 2010 Maine

    Perhaps not apples to apples, but seed to seed... yes :slight_smile:
    dachshunddude86 likes this.
  24. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    My thinking is, if i add all these awesome ingredients, i would list them proudly like most breweries do. But if i added something kinda sketch and was worried it would effect sales, i would either not mention it or if law dictates, file it under natural flavors.

    Pretty much, i would say you assumptions hold some ground. Your going to have to decide if it's that much of a problem, that you would give up on such an awesome brewery.
  25. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    The lost question in this thread is why you are cellaring Maudite?

    Seriously though, the reinheitsgebot and the rest of the 15th century are over that way...

    You're worrying about absolutely nothing, and is in fact extremely common in beer today. Plus, the difference between natural flavorings and artificial flavorings is more often than not a function of emotional depth charge more so than any meaningful impact to your health.
    StuartCarter, MrOH and franklinn like this.
  26. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    Regarding Maudite: seemed like a good idea at the time. No?

    As for flavors, in my case it's less a function of health concern than personal preference.
  27. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    I didn't really want to bring this part up, as some ppl think artificial flavoring is poison, while others (like me) have no problem with it and use it on a daily basis.

    Touchy subject my dude. Like religion & politics :wink:

    As for Maudite, i never thought to age it.
  28. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,061) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, if you think they use water from Antarctica every time they brew a batch, you're just kidding yourself. But the label says so, so it must be true, right?:rolling_eyes:
  29. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,566) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Who cares as long as it tastes good? :sunglasses:
    NoLeafClover44 and Photekut like this.
  30. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    It's basically a dubbel, and dubbels hold up well for a couple of years but don't really improve. It's generally one to drink right off the shelf.
  31. hooliganlife

    hooliganlife Meyvn (1,311) Apr 12, 2007 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    "Natural flavors" is the biggest load of bullshit ingredient ever.
  32. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2008 New York

    You shouldn't be disgusted at all. All that label means is that Unibroue probably uses extracts instead of whole spices. Natural extracts are made by soaking real, natural ingredients in neutral-flavored alcohol to "extract" the flavor, then adding the alcohol to the finished beer. This is done for the purpose of consistency and is actually a fantastic tool for producing consistent spiced beers. I do this with homebrewing all the time and the results are indistinguishable from using whole spices, and are far easier to dial in.

    While we're on the topic, it's worth noting that Chimay uses both hop and malt extract after their beers are brewed, to fine tune the gravity and bitterness and put out consistent products. Russian River also did (and may still) use hop extract in Pliny in addition to real hops, for a whole host of manufacturing benefits. It isn't scary at all. It's a perfectly acceptable way to make great beer.
  33. DanzBorin

    DanzBorin Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2012 Texas


    Everything is natural. Plastic comes from elements in nature. Just because it's altered doesn't make it not come from nature. I hate the fact that people think natural means better than anything else.

    That said, I'd prefer not to have plastic in my beer.
  34. MGambleWWS

    MGambleWWS Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2007 Massachusetts

    I just wanted to pop in and mention that the TTB can require you to put "natural flavors" on a label even if you use orange peels or spices in it and not just a "flavor". Often times it seems that the TTB can just require you to put whatever they feel like on the label, I've had a beer approved with one thing on it, resubmitted the same beers keg neck label and been required to change the wording on it, even though that wording had been previously approved on the bottle label.
  35. Avangion

    Avangion Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2012 New York

    Maybe after a few I won't care anymore. Even if I am drinking plastic.
    DanzBorin likes this.
  36. baconman91

    baconman91 Initiate (0) Dec 13, 2009 Ohio

    excellent point -- 5 Stars :wink:
  37. puboflyons

    puboflyons Poo-Bah (4,405) Jul 26, 2008 New Hampshire

    Beer is all natural anyway. It's made of water, malts, yeast, sugar, and hops. I am not as seasoned a home brewer as many other BA members but lots of the flavoring depends on how these ingredients interact with the yeast. So I wouldn't get too worried about Maudite promoting their beers as "natural flavor."
  38. dachshunddude86

    dachshunddude86 Initiate (0) Dec 21, 2012 Florida

    I thought that if you did this you would have to force carb the beer since there would be no yeast left to naturally carbonate the beer.
  39. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2012

    Just drink it yo, you'll get over it once you take a sip of anything Unibroue.
    MarioM likes this.
  40. Nutwood

    Nutwood Aspirant (232) Jun 30, 2012 Kentucky

    To answer your question, I don't think you should be disgusted at all. Life is messy, don't sweat the small stuff, and don't let labeling like this freak you out. There are a lot of things out there on a lot of labels that should scare you way more than this.

    Pour it, drink it, enjoy it. When you get right down to it, the alcohol is by far the most toxic thing in the beer, and nobody ever seems freak out about that at all. So it goes.
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