by Hervé Loux Journaliste et Sommelier en bière 31 October 2019
Calories in beer
And other common questions about beer answered
We hear a lot about beer, misconceptions, pseudo-science and counter-truths. Here are some answers to common questions about beer that can be answered by experts once and for all.
It is a water-based drink, therefore the calorific value for a classic beer with 5% alcohol is no more calorific than a fruit juice or cow's milk! Of course, you can get stronger beers, so the answer becomes more nuanced in this case.
Beer is not necessarily more calorific than any other alcoholic beverage per 100 ml. However, the quantities consumed may be higher. The pint for example is 568.26ml, whereas a medium glass of wine is 175ml. That's more than three times the volume!
One unit is the equivalent to 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Alcoholic drinks vary in strengths and sizes; therefore, a standard measure or “unit” is a universal way to determine how strong a drink is.
There are 2.3 units in a pint (568ml) of 4% beer 1.6 units in a bottle (330 ml) of 5% beer.
In other words, 6 pints of 4% beer equals 14 units. 6 glasses of wine also equates to 14 units. The percentage is higher (avg 13%) but the volume is lower (175ml).
Funnily enough, there’s no official or clear definition for ‘craft beer’ although there is one for ‘craft brewer’, even though we don’t say that ‘craft beer is brewed by craft brewers’. A craft brewer is ‘small, traditional and independent'. But even Heineken started out that way.
Perhaps a definition isn’t necessary: craft beers are immediately recognisable by their taste and appearance. The craft beer revolution lives in the heart of the beer drinker and that is where the battle has long been fought!
If a beer freezes all the way through the bottle or can, it may well also be damaged. If this happens it could become unsealed, then it will lose carbonation and end up being flat. If the can has burst (which is quite likely), your beer might even explode. This is because liquids expand when frozen, the added pressure can cause a rupture.
“Chill haze” will also make your beer look very unappealing. Put simply, "Chill haze" is due to the haze-producing proteins residing in beer that bind to each other. When they get cold, they become visible enough to reflect light, this can appear to look anything like an opaque sheen to chunky floating bits.
In other words, beer with chill haze? It may look bad but sure, drink it.
No! Do not freeze your beer. As mentioned above, this can ruin it.
However, if you want to make an Ice Bock, then the answer is yes! You can do this through freeze-distilling, this is how Snake Venom is made. To put it simple: put beer in a plastic bottle. Freeze it. Open the bottle, put it above a glass and defrost. The first thing that melts is alcohol (and taste), so the result is a liquor like “beer”.
Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages. The traces of its existence date back to around 4000 BC in Mesopotamia, at the dawn of cereal agriculture. Spontaneous fermentation can take place with wild yeasts found in the air and the sugars found in most cereals. Therefore, it is reported that drinks resembling beer were independently developed globally after the domestication of cereal.
At the time it was called ‘liquid bread’. Recent new discoveries show that it would even date back 13,000 years! Traces of a fermented cereal-based beverage have recently been discovered in Israel in the Raqefet cave south of Haifa.
Plato is famously recorded to say, "he was a wise man who invented beer." It is therefore poignant to mention that; it was women who invented the ‘liquid bread’. Men were destined for hunting, or war if necessary. Not only that, but the contributions of women throughout brewing history has been pivotal to informing and shaping many processes we still use to brew today.
The tulip glass, type INAO is the glass that will suit all styles. The TEKU glass also is the best glass for beer tasting all kinds of beers, with the exception of Pils.
We have a detailed article about which beer glass to use for which beer style. You can find it HERE.
"Snake Venom" by Scottish brewery, Brewmeister is 67.5% alcohol! For comparison, Vodka is typically 80 proof, or 40% alcohol.
This is achieved through several successive rounds of freezing and defrosting during the fermentation process.
World consumption of beer is 200 billion litres, about 30 litres per year, per capita on land. Brits get a bad reputation for drinking, but actually the UK is 25th in the world, with a consumption rate of 67.7 litres per capita.
The world champions are the Czechs with 145 litres per year per capita. The next country down is Namibia with 108 per capita. The Czech Republic has been at the top of the per capita beer drinking table for 24 consecutive years now!
White beers are actually wheat beers, the name of the style comes from the confusion in German between the word wheat: Weizen and the white colour: Weiss. A German white beer is a beer made in part (50% minimum) with wheat: wheat malt. For the rest, we can use barley malts of different colours, so we can find amber or brown white beers in Germany.
Try, Paulaner Hefeweizen for a nice example!
Read about Witbier and Weizens
Vertically, this will reduce the aging due from oxidation. Also, storing beer on its side can cause a “yeast ring”, where sediment clings to the bottle. This will make your beer look very unappealing, and you don't want that! However, some say you should lie down bottles with a cork (like some geuze) in order to keep the cork moisten, like with wine.
In terms of temperature, a general rule of thumb: the lighter the flavour of the beer, the colder it can be served. As beers go up in alcohol, they are generally drunk at a warmer temperature. Stronger beers are often cherished for the complexity of flavour and aroma, therefore sip them more slowly. Weaker beers are often consumed for their refreshing characteristics. A Cask Ale can be be drunk anywhere between 11 – 13°C, whereas Lagers and kegs should generally be dispensed between 5 – 8°C. There are even some that flourish most at 14°C!
Read our article on beer serving temperatures.
There are two ways to do it, either by using a portion of naturally gluten-free cereals and thus lowering the allowed level of molecules under 20 ppm (parts per million). The alternative technique called deglutenisation works by breaking down the gluten molecules with natural enzymes to go below the threshold of 20 ppm.
Read this article : Gluten free beer
Cans are the best way to protect beer against the inevitable decrease of flavour over time.
Beer is a product made from natural ingredients, and therefore, sadly, does not have an eternal life. The taste reduces rapidly when beer is exposed to light, air and high temperature. Light, especially UV-rays, react with hops and cause nasty sulfur compounds - but tin is 100% light-tight, and thus beats every bottle. Oxygen reacts with beer and causes it to oxidize, making the beer smell like a wet newspaper - but tin is also 100% airtight.
Cans also have countless environmental benefits over bottles. Read more about canned vs bottles beer.
Root beer is not particularly common in the UK. It is most commonly carbonated and non-alcoholic, although not exclusively. It usually has a thick and foamy head and generally tastes quite sweet. The most distinct flavor is sassafras, the closest parallel is Dandelion & Burdock.