I must admit that I don’t pay much attention to NFL teams or the games they play, except when it comes to the Super Bowl. If you happened to tune into the big game Sunday night, you and roughly 92 million other people watched the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.

The low-scoring game was arguably not very interesting, and in fact, had the smallest television audience in years. Many viewers like me simply tune in to watch the commercials – which often prove to be funny, trendy, entertaining, and sometimes, controversial.

One Super Bowl LIII example involved American agriculture. Perhaps you recall seeing the commercial for Bud Light, “America’s favorite beer,” set in medieval times? The commercial went something like this - an extra enormous wooden barrel of corn syrup was mistakenly delivered to the Bud Light castle. But alas, the Bud Light castle doesn’t use corn syrup to brew their beer, so the quest to find the rightful owner begins first by visiting the Miller Lite castle then the Coors Light castle.

This commercial comes on the heels of Anheuser-Busch’s advertising campaign to provide transparency and inform consumers of the “purity” of ingredients in their beer. For example, Bud Light has only four ingredients – hops, barley, water and rice. No corn syrup, no preservatives. They cast shade on competitor beers produced with corn syrup, inferring that it is unhealthy and bad for consumers.

One note here, the beers mentioned in this commercial are brewed with corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is commonly found in sugary beverages like soda and juices along with other food products. The FDA and other organizations have recommended that Americans limit their intake of high fructose corn syrup, but not corn syrup used to brew beer. As you might imagine, this has corn producers and the National Corn Growers Association up in arms, and here’s why:

Beer is made by converting starch into natural sugars that are combined with water. This sugary mix feeds the yeast that produces alcohol through fermentation. While barley is the most common sugar source in brewing beer, other grains such as wheat, rye, rice, and corn are also used. Both corn and rice are used to partially replace barley in the making of lighter beers. It has also been suggested that rice and corn are more economical in brewing beer when compared to higher-priced barley.

Regardless of what grain is used as the sugar source for fermentation, the sugars are used up in the fermentation process and don’t actually make it into the final product. Thus, corn syrup as an ingredient for brewing beer has no real health consequence for consumers as compared to traditional barley.

Interestingly, when looking through the numerous alcoholic beverages produced by Anheuser-Busch, the lesser-regarded beers like Busch and Busch Lite contain corn and corn syrup as primary ingredients. So, even though the absence of corn is a selling point for Bud Light, it is still included in their other beverages. As is the case with many marketing tactics and ploys today, it is difficult to get the full story when only presented with half-truths.

The take home message from this year’s Super Bowl “Brewhaha” - it sure seems like American farmers can proudly promote corn used to brew American beer. Cheers to that!

For other information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at Scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.