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Q:

Does Draught Beer Contain Formaldehyde?

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6 Answers

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Yeah, this has got to be BS. I have seen far too many bartenders drink draught beer. The beer that goes into the bottle is the same that goes into most kegs. You need to go to better bars (brewpubs) and drink better beer (micros or Guinness or Sam Adams). more
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Much of this urban myth can be attributed to breweries in China, Korea etc where higher levels of formaldehyde were detected. This was accepted as truth by pretty much everyone here in Korea back in the mid- to late-90's, and the dire chemical foulness of the draft beer at the time seemed to confirm it. Although the beer is better than it was (but is still no great shakes), many foreigners still take it as gospel. I don't know how urban-mythy it is, or was, here in Korea though. It is true still that most Korean drinking establishments that serve draft have no idea that they should keep their lines clean, or how to do it. more
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I would, however, stick to bottled beer if to guarantee a healthy beer if your local bar is a bit suspect. Draught beerlines should be cleaned every 7 days. After 10 days you should see the crap that builds ups in the lines with beer basically going cloudy with a "foosty" smell evident in the glass. And an improper clean makes it very easy to get a tainted pint, either chemically or moudly. My friend used to work cleaning taps in college (it was a great job; make your own schedule -- the bartender usually pours you a couple beers -- gotta test the tap -- sometimes you get tipped). However, he'd tell me to avoid some places because their taps were set up in such a way that the lines couldn't be cleaned (most of the time this was because they were real long, and went out to the cellar or something). He also mentioned that occasionally there'd be big ass tapeworms that would somehow get into the taps, and just sit there, guzzling away beer until they became large enough to be discovered. ... more
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On the second page, it actually says (in a roundabout way) that methanol (not ethanol) is converted to formaldehyde. There should not be any harmful levels of methanol in any beer. more
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Much of this urban myth can be attributed to breweries in China, Korea etc where higher levels of formaldehyde were detected. Read more here. more
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This is coming from the dark recesses of my memory, so it will be a bit vague, and a bit related to this question. About six years I had a flatmate who was the chief chemist for an upmarket "organic" cosmetic company. He was involved in formulating their products. He told me that one of their ingredients, which was not listed on the label (and did not have to be), broke down over time to form formaldehyde, which then preserved the product. He also may have said that this was a common practice, and he thought that the main benefits from moisturisers was the formaldehyde acting to "preserve" the skin. Unfortunately I cannot remember what the chemical was, but perhaps it is possible that this technique is used for other products. If the levels are low enough for it to be safe to rub into your face, perhaps they are also safe enough to drink. more

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