A number of potential antioxidants have been evaluated for their effect on formation of radicals in beer using the electron spin resonance (ESR) lag phase method. Sulfite was found to be the only compound that was able to delay the formation of radicals, whereas phenolic compounds such as phenolic acids, catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidin dimers had no effect on the formation of radicals. Ascorbate, cystein, and cysteamin were on the other hand found to be prooxidants. It is suggested that antioxidants must be able to either scavenge peroxides or trap metal ions in order to be effective in beer. The effectiveness of sulfite is suggested to be a consequence of its two-electron nonradical producing reaction with peroxides.