A post here on the use of E300, sometimes called vitamin C, as a preservative in Czech beer got a bit of attention and a few comments, also bringing up an interesting question or two. Specifically: would vitamin C continue to exist unaffected in the presence of alcohol? And is this E300 the selfsame ascorbic acid many of us take as a nutritional supplement? If not, does it have similar health benefits?
The answers, apparently, are: Yes, No, and Probably not.
To find out, I contacted Dr. Victoria Drake at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. In an email interview, Dr. Drake emphasized repeatedly that we should not recommend that people drink beer for the vitamin C. (Everyone clear on that?) In addition, she offered a few clarifications on the use of ascorbic acid as a food preservative.