Calories in beer
After all, knowledge is power
With 2022 rolling in, it is understandable that you may be interested to hear what the nutritional value of your favourite drink is. Whilst we are not in the habit of endorsing “diet” culture or labelling higher calories as ‘unhealthy” it’s always good to be informed. You can then choose to do what you wish with that information. Media has been quick to peddle the false agenda that beer is always high in calories and drinking it will give you an overnight “beer belly”. This is not true, and as with most things in life, it’s all about balance. As beer is a water-based drink, 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. Knowledge is power, just as long as you know what you’re drinking, you can make a judgement call and can’t go too far wrong.
So, we have established that being in the know is vital and the first step in leading a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle. But, to make things complicated, although many light beers are quick to advertise their calorie content, many others do not. Beer labels are obliged to show appropriate allergen information and alcohol percentage, calories are not a requirement, so it can be difficult to track.
Ok, so those on the continent wouldn’t dream of it, but us, we like a pint measure, nothing less. And we mean that, we even feel short changed when we get too much foam. And as lager is our most possible pint, let’s start there. A pint of standard 5% lager will have around 239 kcal.
Pint of beer is quite generic, bigger pours and higher ABV are both indicators of higher calorie content. For example, it is highly likely that a strong spicy Quadrupel will contain more calories than a standard strength lager. We have listed a few beer styles and their calories:
You might be surprised to know that a pint of Guinness, or 568ml, has 210 kcal. People often expect darker beers to have a higher calorie count, however with an ABV of 4.2%, it's on the light side.
Whilst most mainstream beers have an ABV ranging from 4% to 5%, on average craft beers have an alcohol percentage of 5.7%. And as alcohol volume goes up, so do the calories. Let’s take a look at some more crafty styles.
And with that knowledge, you can only imagine the calories in the world's strongest beer, Snake Venom. The beer comes with a warning on the label, do not have more than one at a time. Not only does one 275ml bottle cost £50 but it contains 2025 calories.
Beer is not necessarily more calorific than any other alcoholic beverage per 100 ml. However, the quantities consumed may be higher. Especially when you compare a fresh, easy-drinking beer with a full-bodied red wine. Below we compare a standard measure of each type. So, for example, the volume for beer is a pint which is 568.26ml, whereas a medium glass of wine is 175ml. That's more than three times the volume.
Our infographic compares the ABV in different types of alcohol per 100ml.
As we explained, a lot of the calories in beer come from alcohol. This means that low-alcohol beer tends to be much lower in calories. There are usually some calories though as they are brewed just like regular beer, so contain some carbs and sugars. But, as a general rule, the calorie content is less. Read more about alcohol-free beer here.