The world of beer has changed. The growing aisles of microbrews at Jewel. The taps full of craft beers at the local dive. The awkward point at a party when you have to decide if flip-cup can be played with Two-Brothers Prairie Path. I’m not complaining. I love the variety present in Chicago’s beer scene and enjoy taking the time to try new brews. However, learning isn’t easy and people with mustaches are intimidating.
Beer snobbery aside, the variation in taste, calories and nutrients in these microbrews are quite extreme. And you can’t judge calories by things like ‘heavy’ or ‘dark’ or other words that typically indicate ‘too much’. For instance Guinness, often described as a meal in a bottle, clocks in at only 120 calories. So, with this post, I’ll offer a quick guide to the nutritional value of beer and some of my favorite picks. In the words of a beer company that won’t get mentioned in this post, Here We Go!
Pilsners: a light and simple style of pale lager, these brews are relatively new in the beer world and are most commonly found under labels like Miller and Coors. However, many breweries are experimenting with fun and interesting styles of pilsners that feature floral and fruity flavors. They rarely offer nutritional value beyond their alcohol content, but are a great choice if you’re drinking multiple beers in a night.
My favorite: Firestone Pivo Pilsner, 5.3% ABV, 159 calories
Wheat Ales: a mixture of barley and wheat grains that uses yeast to develop flavor. They have a light and cloudy appearance and can be quite delicious. However, the carbohydrate content of these beers is high, causing a disproportional alcohol to calorie ratio. Don’t drink too many!
My favorite: Not really worth it, but: Allagash White, 5% ABV, 175 calories
Pale Ales: gently roasted barley and pale malt combine to make the earthy flavors found in these ales. With phenol and anti-oxidant levels similar to a glass of red wine, these beers can offer health benefits beyond their calories. A good choice for regular drinking.
My favorite: Two Brothers Domaine Dupage, 5.9% ABV, 187 calories
IPAs: these brews have added hops that are balanced with malt to level the flavor. They are typically very strong, have high alcohol content, and can be quite caloric. Similar to pale ales, their nutrition content can be high, but should be drank in moderation.
My favorite: Double Dog Double Pale Ale, 11.5% ABV, 292 calories
Stouts: very little hops, slow roasted barley, these brews are quite interesting nutritionally. In many varieties, the thick creamy texture is derived from specific yeast and occasionally added nitrogen. They often have coffee, liquorice, or chocolate flavors and high alcohol content. However, their calorie value ranges.
My favorite: New Holland Dragon’s Milk, 10% ABV, 325 calories
If you’re simply counting calories, you can use this nifty formula based on the alcohol content.
APV x 3 x oz = calories per bottle
So a 12oz bottle with 4% alcohol content would look like this:
4 x 3 x 12= 144 calories
It wont be 100% accurate, but it’s a good general guide