Men’sHealth Attacks Craft Beer 23

There are many reasons why I don’t read women’s lifestyle magazines. Most of them insult me in some sort of fashion as well as frustrate me to no end. Same goes for a lot of the men’s lifestyle magazines. The random studies and articles completely perplex me. For someone who studied statistics and social epidemiology, the methods of research and how they analyze and determine the results make no sense at all.

In a recent internet-based article, Men’sHealth made the outlandish claim that “Americans have developed a severe drinking problem.” And by drinking problem, they are not referring to alcohol abuse. Oh no. Men’sHealth is lashing out on beverages across the entire spectrum — from waters, to sodas, to beers. The argument is that Americans consume a damaging amount of “empty calories” from what Men’sHealth considers to be unhealthy beverages.

The article details a list of the 20 Worst Drinks in America. It appears that the criteria that use to define “worst drinks” is caloric content, grams of carbohydrates, grams of sugar and alcohol content (if relevant). The organization and method in the madness behind the list is perplexing. Whereas it is completely obvious that a 2,000 calorie milkshake and drinks produced from artificial flavors and colors with obscene amounts of additive and sugars are not the healthiest beverages on the planet, the argument against craft beer is just plain ludicrous.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Alcohol, when consumed in excess, is extremely unhealthy, if not deadly. If you find yourself in this situation, here is a list of specialists who can help people with drinking problems. However, when consumed in moderation, craft beer actually has health benefits.

Men’sHealth has declared Sierra Nevada’s Big Foot the Worst Beer and Sam Adam’s Light Lager the Worst Light Beer. These allegations are farce. Both of these beers are artisanly crafted fine beverages, brewer with quality NATURAL ingredients. To put them in the same category as artificial sodas, teas, lemonades and other non-fine beverages is pretty damn ignorant.

Men’s Health called Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot “the undisputed beast of the beer jungle.” And why? Because it contains just about twice the amount of calories as most mass-produced yellow fizzy beers. They also admit that most of the calories come from its hefty 9.5% alcohol by volume content. Well, DUH. Big foot is a Barleywine. The style itself dictates a high malt content, high alcohol level, big bold, rich and flavorful beer.

Most consumers of fine beverages are not looking to drink flavorless, low quality, mass-produced products. We demand quality. We demand flavor. We will not settle for sub-par beverages.

Sure, you could consume a yellow fizzy corporate beer for less calories. But let’s be honest, anyone who is drinking mass-produced swill produced from adjunct ingredients is not drinking it for its taste. They are drinking it for the alcoholic side-effetcts (aka to get buzzed or drunk). And when it comes down to it, when it comes to total calories consumed in relation to alcohol content, there is no significant difference between drinking an adjunct lager and a barleywine. If you really want me to break it down, let us look at the numbers.

Bigfoot 12 oz. = 330 calories + 9.5% alcohol

Budweiser 12 oz. = 145 calories + 5% alcohol

In order to get the same buzz from Bigfoot, one must consume two of bottles Budweiser. Which essentially puts both drinking experiences around 300 calories — give or take 40 (and if you are worried about consuming 40 extra calories, you have issues to worry about).

Now say, you aren’t looking for the buzz. Well, for the same amount of calories in a bottle of yellow fizzy lager, you could consume half a bottle of Bigfoot. It’s called portion control. You can either consume a lot of (what I argue to be the unhealthy option) an adjunct beer made with sub-par ingredients, or you can consume a smaller amount of a craft beer made with pure ingredients. Quality over quantity, folks. What a novel concept.

And as for Men’sHealth, next time you want to make such outlandish claims and attack the craft beer industry, do some freaking research. In no parallel universe does a craft beer produced with natural ingredients and natural sugars even come close to being as unhealthy as artificial sodas made in a laboratory with chemicals or fatty milkshakes with 2,000 calories.

Viva La Beer Revolution! Cheers!

About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of & as well as a regular contributor to

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

23 thoughts on “Men’sHealth Attacks Craft Beer

  • Phil (the ferm)

    I knew I changed my Men’s Health subscription to Beer Advocate for a reason!

  • Matt

    THANK YOU, Ashley. As the temperature warms, I find myself once again having to explain the myth of light beer and explain how I would much rather drink a 6 pack of Bigfoot than a case of Piss Light and wind up with the same calories, the same buzz, a much happier mouth and a less-full bladder.

  • Rossthefireman

    If it were up to Mens Health, we would all be drinking Michelob Ultra. Those magazines prove over and over again their ignorance of the Craft Movement. This just keeps proving that too many people in America think ‘beer is beer’ its up to all of us Craft Beer Geeks to spread the gospel. We will prevail!

  • beercommdood

    Articles like the one in Men’s Health really miss the mark. Where was the research? Bigfoot is the worst, based on their calculations? Not something like DFH 12 Minute? Or Utopias? Or Tactical Nuclear Penguin? And even in all of these cases, when you consider the Bud Point values (which you kind of used in your own calculations) and consider quality over quantity, you’re right, Men’s Health’s argument is heavily flawed. Then again, they’ll print a counter-argument in a few months that touts the health benefits of beer, because their business is pushing advertising by selling magazines and generating page views, not in circulating well-researched studies and facts.

  • FieldpointeBrew

    America needs more common sense individuals such as the Wench. Printed “social media” thinks we all are to stupid to see things as they really are. Too many people want to be told what to believe now-a-days rather than use their own cognative ability. Look at what it’s doing to America. The Wench has it all together. Common (Uncommon?) Sense People – need more of them.

  • Erin

    I have an idea, why don’t we sacrifice our tastebuds and all gastronomic enjoyment for a diet of Eggbeaters, fat free Kraft Singles, Equal and MGD 64? Any takers?

    Great bit of common sense. Self control, who’d have thunk it? ;)

  • Mike Kopera

    I saw this article. Afterwards, I had the same questions you did. But then I said to myself, “People who enjoy what they eat, drink, and do in life are who I like to hang with and associate with. Can I have a beer with someone who reads into calorie counting when it comes to beer? Probably not. But with the Wench, absolutely”

    Bogus article on their part. Good debunking!


  • Tim Dennis

    This article is a ridiculous rebuttal to the Men’s Health article. I feel dumber having read the lame attempt at calling a craft beer better for you just because it’s an artisinally crafted beverage.

    I love craft beer… and rum… and cigars. Gimme a Ten Fiddy or Terrapin Wake N Bake over a Bud Light any day. But I’m not stupid… the beers I drink are very high in calories and don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. Men’s Health isn’t arguing against the beers being delicious. And they’ve already printed an article saying that beer (in moderation) can be good for you. Some research has shown that it can battle cancer, boost metabolism and reduce blood clots and improve flow.

    Taste aside, if you’re at a party where you’ll drink 6 beers and the choices are Bud Light or Bigfoot then you’ll save 1,110 calories by choosing the BL. That’s a lot of calories and I believe that is the point that the article was trying to make.

  • Goats_Udder

    This stinks of the dirty fingers of the beer lobby… “Drink out beer! It’s like sex in a canoe!”

    They fail to mention the harmful chemicals that are in fizzy piss-beer! Yeah the calories are low, but when I sit down with a brew that was carefully developed by a craft brewer, everything was done by hand with love and passion, I know Im not consuming rat poison or whatver they put in there to make you want to drink more. This is rubbish and pardon the internet troll talk but I think their article is “fake and gay.” This is just another well placed, paid for ad trying to stomp out the little guy in the name of health. Site yourself MensHealth, we want to see your numbers.

  • Jason Harris

    It’s not an attack on craft beer to mention that the beer has a lot of calories. Nevermind that these articles as a whole tend to be stupid (milkshakes have calories? WTF!) but you can probably bang out even more in say, a 22oz bomber of IRS or something.

    I love craft beer of all types but I’d never delude myself into thinking it’s anywhere near healthy. 300 calories in a 12oz drink IS a lot…it’s just a tradeoff I choose to make to enjoy beer.

  • bierfesten

    As a male in my 30’s that lives a pretty healthy lifestyle other than beer,I never pick up the Mens Health Mags to learn how to do 200 different styles of stomach crunches or learn what they deem is healthy/unhealthy.

    The issues of calories in high end craft beer is an issue that many don’t realize. Since moving to the west coast2 years ago I definitely put on the pounds due to the Imperial Stouts & IPA’s. Who knew that 1 12 oz bottle of Brooklyn Choc Stout is worth 300 Calories, or 20 minutes on the stairclimber? I think its the fact that craft beer lovers know that a few good beers on a Friday/Saturday night is better than a 12 pack of Bud.

    I dont think its attack on the Craft Beer market as much as stating the obvious to those that don’t know. Craft beer is getting stronger and some people don’t realize a Sierra Torpedo is more calories than a MGD? But definitely better than a 2000calorie blizzard from DQ.

    Enjoy your articles Wenchie..

  • Mike


    Good account and thanks for sticking up for us!

    I’ve tried to explain to others the argument about price. A lot of people won’t buy good because of the price. So they drink a $18 case of Light beer and I drink a $10 six pack of beer and we are probably equal in terms of alcohol intake.

    Regardless, I stopped subscribing to Maxim magazine for the same reason. They picked Bud Light Golden Wheat as the #1 Employee pick… WTF is that? They surrounded BLGW with all these other craft beers just to legitimize the marketing A/B is doing and I’m sure that article was written just for A/B and they were paid a hefty sum. So I said screw it to that magazine.

    You can see my rant if you want.

    Review of Bud Light Golden Wheat

    I personally feel all these types of magazines are written for the guys in high school that none of us hung out with because they were to worried about their status and girls than their actual life and friends.

    Nice article!

    Mike’s Brew Review

  • In With Bacchus

    Hate to say it, but agree with Tim and Jason (of SoCal Beer Hound).

    This article isn’t saying: “YOU SHOULDN”T DRINK CRAFT BEER BECAUSE ITS ICKY AND UNAMERICAN”. It’s going about drinking beer from a purely caloric and nutritional standpoint. If you look at the recommended beer replacement (Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown) they’re not exactly saying “stick to fizzy, yellow, corporate beer”. They’re clearly trying to advocate a replacement with something that has more flavor than your traditional canned American lagers. It just has less calories. Granted, the whole “it’s totally the worst” is complete bunk (I’d wager that Belgian Tripels would be more caloric due to increased malt and higher ABV) but it’s definitely not a slam against craft beer.

    Finally, the “Americans have a drinking problem” isn’t an outlandish claim at all. Only in America could people only find water palatable if given exotic and sweet fruit flavors or be put in a pretty bottle with a fancy name. Soda used to be a beverage you had to go to a special shop to buy. Now it’s almost mandatory in every fast food meal, convenience store, and grocery. The fact that high-fructose corn syrup is actually cheaper than sugar (thanks to government aid to farmers for corn and importation taxes on sugar from foreign countries) is concerning as well. To say that America doesn’t have a problem with beverages is not just folly but irresponsible.

  • Dave

    I would have to agree. The thing about the mass produced beers, same as all other processed foods, is that you are lured into eating more because your body craves the flavor, nutrition or some other aspect of the eating or drinking. By giving your body a good beer, one from better ingredients and with minimal processing, you are actually offering yourself a better alternative.

    I think that Men’s Health might be targeting a reader that is less likely to care about the difference in quality or taste and just want to consider calories.

  • Eric

    I have to say I’ve actually lost weight working out and drinking only craft beer paired with healthy eating habits. Seems like its easier on your body than the hard stuff imo. Too me drinking a corporate beer is a total waste of calories and money, at least im getting my money’s worth drinking a good craft beer. Put down the junk food, and junk beer, and grab yourself something nice.

  • adam
    from the article
    Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream (venti, 20 fl oz) = 660 calories, or twice that of a SN Bigfoot.
    and why are they comparing it to a low carb beer, whereas if you compare the carbs in a bagel = 16 oz of SN Bigfoot.

    or we could also compare the hops: and say that you’d need 10 Mich Ultra’s to equal one SN Bigfoot in consumed IBU’s…..but then, that’s just a stupid comparison, as were most of those in the article.

    Let’s spend time on more important comparisons like Colon-Blow Cereal.

  • Hops and Gnarly

    Since switching exclusively to craft beer and fresh ingredients as opposed to soda and packaged food, I’ve lost weight, gained muscle mass and energy, and feel friggin’ fantastic. Men’s magazines are garbage anyway, and this just proves it to me even more. Bravo, Beer Wench.

  • James

    Men’s Health is Maxim on a fad diet. You can really tell that they struggle to say something relevant on a consistent basis.