The MYTH: Beer Calories 17

This post is dedicated to my Ma, for reasons you shall discover later on…

I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and complain about calories, carbs and fat.

Okay, I understand that these things exist. However, there are more important things in life to obsess over …

When it comes to health, beer has a bad rap.


“Belly Belly” … “Beer Gut” … Beer makes people fat, right?


Allow me to present an arguement in regards the caloric content of beer. Please note that there is no “scientific evidence behind my assertions. All of my observations are …  well, just that. Observations. And my conclusions are neither “credible” nor “official.”

However, I am not exactly uneducated … so there may be truth to what I have to say.

If you know nothing about nutrition, know this: not all calories are created equal.


Some calories are readily transferred into energy, while some are stored as fat.

The 100 calories in a glass of coke are NOT digested and processed the same as the 100 calories in a plate of vegetables.

Once upon a time, monks in Belgium started brewing “bread water” [aka Trappist ales] as a way to sustain themselves throughout fasting. To this day, Trappist beers are produced with only the best and highest quality ingredients. Said monks were able to sustain themselves on this “bread water” for several days at a time. Why? Because the beer that the monks brewed was full of readily digestible matter. AKA … it was actually nutritious.


Truth be told my mother inspired this blog.


She responded to my post: “Please Put Down The Budweiser.” In her comment, my mother said: ” So here’s your newest task, Wench. Find me a less caloric, tasty, crafted beer.”

DEAR MOM: YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER! And I say this with love.

My mother is a brilliant woman: She’s a vegetarian (her choice, NOT mine), a liberal, a feminist, an environmentalist … and the list continues for miles. But the point is: my mother is UBER healthy and ridiculously conscientious.

(No offense, Ma … well then again, you are a New Yorker born and raised … so you, more than anyone, should be able to handle the truth)


So why the hell is my intelligent mother drinking crap like Michelob Ultra Light? (Aka … this beer sucks, has virtually no nutritional benefits WHATSOEVER and tastes like watered down piss)

Because she is a CHICK. And like most chicks, she fears gaining weight. And most people equate drinking beer with being fat.

NO ONE WANTS THE “BEER BELLY”. Trust me, even those who have it don’t want it.


Try this experiment: Ask people who have these “Beer Bellies” and “Beer Guts” … what beer do you drink the most? And your response will be something like “Bud, Coors, Corona, Miller and so on and so forth.”

Hmmm COINCIDENTALLY, people who brew and drink craft beers are less likely to have these things that people call “beer bellies” or “beer guts.”

Evidence? Well , I drink beer and seem to be relatively healthy and of a “decent” size.

My friend and renowned beer writer, Stephen Beaumont, is virtually stick thin.

Another chick beer blogger, The Beer Babe, is anything but fat and absolutely STUNNING.

1WineDude drinks almost as much beer as he does wine … and he is as fit as a fiddle (and cute as a button).

And then, of course, there is the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. Sam Caglione is definitely a hottie (… ummm I mean an extremely attractive gentleman whom I respect emmensely).


Bottom line: the higher quality shit you put in your body (whether it be food or booze) … the more likely your body will transfer the calories to energy as opposed to FAT. Stephen Beaumont wrote an excellent article entitled “Beer Makes You Fat, or NOT” that, very eloquently, argues this very same issue. “I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again: Beer is as dignified and sophisticated a beverage as any other, and in and of itself, does not make you fat or lazy or stupid or boorish. And stereotypes suck.” - Stephen Beaumont’s A World Of Beer

When it comes to the caloric content of brews, one must ALWAYS consider ABV – aka Alcohol By Volume.  Most people need to drink 2 or 3 “so called lite beers”to reach the same ABV of the “heavier beers.”

Need further proof? Let’s play the math game.

Coors Light= 104 cal/ 4.15% abv

Bud Light= 110 cal/4.2% abv

Miller Lite= 96 cal/ 4.2% abv


New Belgium Trippel Ale= 215 cal/ 7.8% abv

Dogfish Head Midas Touch= 309/ 9% abv

Dogfish Head 120 Min IPA= 450/ 18% abv

And with the few examples we have, let us play math …

In theory, one bottle of Dogfish Head 120 min IPA is equivalent to FOUR and a half bottles of any of the corporate light beers on the market.

One more time, I will CLARIFY this to all you calorie obsessed kids.

ONE WHOLE bottle of Dogfish Head 120 IPAalso known as one of the best damn beers on the planet … is equivalent, both in caloric and alcohol content, to FOURwhole bottles of ANY FREAKING Joe Schmoe lite beers on the market.


It is like telling you that you can have one scoop of the most decadent ice cream made from the most amazing ingredients in the entire world … or 4 scoops of sugar-free, fat-free … wanna-be ice cream made of chemical ingredients.


Hello, what is the point of ice cream without cream?

FLAVOR … is the most important factor to all things consumable, including beer.


Instead, drink craft beer … and know that your calories are being converted into something other than FAT.

Yes, I have opinions. I am The Wench. Cheers.

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17 thoughts on “The MYTH: Beer Calories

  • 1WineDude

    *GREAT* topic (as always). Just yesterday a friend told me that she’d discovered Guinness had fewer calories than many “lighter”domestic brews. I’m not sure where the dark beer = fat equation came from, but it’s wrong. It’s like trying-to-get-on-the-elevator-when-everyone-is-trying-to-get-off-the-elevator wrong.

    The ice cream analogy is spot on – I’d rather have ONE totally decadent, amazing piece of chocolate than an entire box of chemically-addled candy crap.

    But I’m biased, because in this article you had me at “cute as a button”!


  • Scott

    I think the whole dark beer has more calories thing started because of the texture of nitrogen beers. It feels creamier on your tongue due to the gas, so people just assume that it is heavier.

  • Cheryl Harrison

    Love this post. There’s also this crazy thing called *excercise* if people are so worried about weight. Personally, I’m not, but I heard it’s what all the kids are doing these days. Enjoying a quality brewsky is worth a couple extra calories, “good” or “bad” or whathaveyou.

    – Cheryl

  • Brew Hilda

    It was all blah, blah, blah, until you mentioned the magic word- ICE CREAM! That analogy I can relate to and it made your point perfectly clear!

    Ok, so today (March 17) I’ll go to Sweeney’s and have a Guiness instead of a Killeans,
    and then from now on,
    I’ll carefully purchase craft beers instead of the old reliable 6-pack.

    For those with “beer bellies,” those grew because drinking a few beers on the ride on mower replaced the old fashioned “PUSH” mower
    because we’ve gone from a weekend that used to be enjoyed outside as a bunch of football players
    to a weekend insides as football watchers!

  • Mark

    Great post! And it’s all so true! Gimme the great ice cream any day or gimme the one quality beer over the 4 crappy light ones!

  • Robbin

    I’m sorry, I got distracted after scrolling past a picture of Sam Caglione…

    But yes! I got a wine pooch because I spend more time drinking than exercising.

  • beercommdood

    Beer bellies… They don’t exist! There’s nothing magical about beer that gives you a gut. It’s all calories in vs. calories burned. If you take in more than you burn, well, do the math.

    Nice post!

  • James Cain

    Excellent points! And a great post. And yes, it is not only better tasting to drink a quality beer, but actually costs less as well. What a bonus!

    Speaking of APV, I was surprised to learn that Guinness, according to Wikipedia, is only 4.1 to 4.3 ABV.

  • Amy

    Great post! This stigma is certainly one of the reasons that more women aren’t into good beer. Thanks for helping to spread the good beer word! Love the blog :)


  • LuvsChandon

    Spot on Wenchie! I’ll take quality over quantity any day! I’d be in fine shape if I only worked out a little more…..

    I love the first hairy belly pic by the way!


  • Stephen Beaumont

    “Stick thin,” Ashley? You’re too kind…

    I think it’s an excellent point to note quality of flavor over amount of consumption. I pour a good amount of beer down the drain and leave plenty on the bartop — beer I really do pay for — not because it’s infected or oxidized or otherwise spoiled, but because its flavor doesn’t thrill me. That’s called drinking for enjoyment rather than drinking for alcohol.

    Sure, the buzz is part of why we drink, but it should only ever be part of the reason. The rest is sociability, fun and pleasure.

  • Jeff

    While I’d 100% love to believe that drinking Microbrews is less likely to make you fat, the truth is that most people I know who drink micro brews are people with slightly larger incomes. People with larger incomes tend to be more fit on average than those with lesser incomes.

    Just playing the devil’s advocate.

    P.S. I got super fat drinking nothing but delicious craft beers. I didn’t exercise at all during that time, but.. ya know…

  • Gary

    Spent a week in Country Clare (western Ireland)..loved it….a region with a lot of dairy farms and the pubs (all 3 out of 11 buildings) closed at 9:00PM and the day started at 4:30AM…..friggin’ cows…..but the local pubs had Guiness at 5:00 AM on tap….

    Well, the music was great and the people were friendly….and the Guiness was great!

  • Twirrim

    Great blog, came across this whilst googling for a similar topic.
    Weight is a simple equation:

    Calories in Calories used = Weight gain.
    Calories in = Calories used = Weight neutral.

    All this fuss over diets just masks that simple equation. If you’re putting on weight you need to either cut down the calorie intake, or bump up the exercise level :)

  • Dave

    Just wondering, what is New Castle considered? Its my favorite on tap and one of my favorites in the bottle/can. Just curious. Thanks