In Living Commentary

That next pilsner might send you to the treadmill.

Talking beer, carbs and calories

"Here's to beer: the cause of -- and solution to -- all of life's problems" --Homer Simpson

Ah, beer. We love to quaff (or whatever word you want to use) it. It tickles our taste buds and then, well, sometimes it's quick rental, and sometimes those carbs up in our bellies... to stay for a while. It all depends, of course, on the beer. Some beers tout their caloric and carb counts; most don't. Mainly because if you're drinking of one of those beers, it shouldn't matter, but that doesn't mean it didn't make us curious.

Miller Lite tried the carbohydrate angle as a product benefit when the brand first went into test markets in 1973. However, few people in the 70s cared about carbs; they were too busy pruning handlebar mustaches and playing the latest rock and disco songs on their 8-track players while marveling at the new push-button keypads on wired telephones and complaining that the price of gas was an outrageous 40 cents per gallon.

But I digress. People in this millennium are generally more health-conscious. Miller Lite continues to point out that one 12-oz serving has 3.2 grams of carbohydrates. Based on sales, people seem to be listening this time.

But is that really a lot less than other beers? And what exactly DO you get in the fuller, heavier beers, anyway? How many carbs and calories are in some of the beers many of us enjoy that lack a nutrition (ha!) label?

Since I'm willing to make s sacrific to answer such important questions, I did a little research. This isn't an exhaustive list; it's based on looking at several sources of info and there's a bit of a margin for error on these. But it gives you an idea of what you're getting when you order your favorite suds as you enjoy the game, talk smack with friends, or attempt a clumsy pass in the bars. Bottoms up!

So here we go:

Among the light beers, here's how they stack up (per 12 oz.):

  • Budweiser Select 55 -- 1.9 carbs, 55 calories
  • MGD 64 -- 2.4 carbs, 64 calories
  • Michelob Ultra -- 2.6 carbs, 95 calories
  • Natural Light -- 3.2 carbs, 95 calories
  • Busch Light -- 3.2 carbs, 95 calories
  • Miller Lite -- 3.2 carbs, 96 calories
  • Milwaukee's Best Light -- 3.5 carbs, 98 calories
  • Coors Light -- 5.0 carbs, 102 calories
  • Corona Light -- 5.0 carbs, 109 calories
  • Keystone Light -- 5.1 carbs, 104 calories
  • Amstel Light -- 5.3 carbs, 95 calories
  • Leinenkugel Light -- 5.7 carbs, 105 calories
  • Bud Light -- 6.6 carbs, 95 calories
  • Michelob Light -- 6.7 carbs, 113 calories
  • Heineken Light -- 6.8 carbs, 99 calories
  • MGD Light -- 7.0 carbs, 110 calories
  • Miller High Life Light -- 7.0 carbs, 110 calories
  • Leinenkugel Amber Light -- 7.4 carbs, 110 calories
  • Bud Ice Light -- 7.5 carbs, 115 calories
  • Bud Light Lime -- 8.0 carbs, 116 calories
  • Old Milwaukee Light -- 8.3 carbs, 114 calories
  • Sam Adams Light -- 9.7 carbs, 124 calories

Among regular beers (per bottle, some are 12oz, some are 11.2): calories

  • Miller Chill -- 6.5 carbs, 110 calories
  • St. Pauli Girl Lager -- 8.7 cabrs, 148 calories
  • Dos Equis Lager -- 9.0 carbs, 130 calories
  • Stella Artois -- 9.0 carbs, 135 calories
  • Grolsch Lager -- 9.5 carbs, 145 calories
  • Icehouse -- 9.8 carbs, 149 calories
  • Heineken -- 9.8 carbs, 166 calories
  • Guinness Draught -- 10.0 carbs, 125 calories
  • Rolling Rock Premium -- 10.0 carbs, 120 calories
  • Busch -- 10.2 carbs, 133 calories
  • Budweiser -- 10.6 carbs, 143 calories
  • Miller High Life -- 11.0 carbs, 156 calories
  • Foster's -- 11.0 carbs, 156 calories
  • Colt .45 -- Malt Liquor 11.1 carbs, 174 calories
  • Mickey's -- Malt Liquor 11.2 carbs, 157 calories
  • Coors Banquet -- 11.3 carbs, 148 calories
  • Dos Equis Amber -- 11.6 carbs, 146 calories
  • Leinenkugel Honey Weiss -- 12.0 carbs, 149 calories
  • Pabst -- 12.0 carbs, 153 calories
  • Hamm's -- 12.1 carbs, 144 calories
  • Schlitz -- 12.1 carbs, 146 calories
  • Old Milwaukee 12.9 carbs, 146 calories
  • Blue Moon 12.9 carbs, 171 calories
  • Pacifico 13.0 carbs, 146 calories
  • Corona Extra 13.0 carbs, 148 calories
  • Miller Genuine Draft 13.1 carbs, 143 calories
  • Leinenkugel's Original 13.9 carbs, 152 calories
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale -- 14.1 carbs, 171 calories
  • Pilsner Urquell -- 14.7 carbs, 160 calories
  • Fat Tire -- 15.0 carbs, 160 calories
  • Leinenkugel Northwoods -- 15.3 carbs, 163 calories
  • Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat -- 16.0 carbs, 165 calories
  • Leinie's Red -- 16.2 carbs, 166 calories
  • Sam Adams Cherry Wheat -- 16.8 carbs, 166 calories
  • Leinenkugel Creamy Dark -- 16.8 170 calories
  • Pete's Wicked Ale -- 17.7 carbs, 174 calories
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager -- 18.0 carbs, 160 calories
  • Sierra Nevada IPA -- 20.0 carbs, 231 calories
  • New Belgium 1554 -- 25.0 carbs, 205 calories
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot -- 32.1 carbs, 330 calories

Talkbacks

joebin | Nov. 29, 2010 at 12:44 p.m. (report)

Come on fellow beer drinkers...don't get caught up in all of the marketing hype. First of all, I think these numbers are as reliable as the local weather forecast. For all of you carbohydrate and calorie nazis, just realize that the the total calorie count equals calories from carbohydrates plus calories from other stuff. Assuming that beer provides little protein or fat, the other stuff includes ethyl alcohol plus the myriad of other metabolized substances that provide flavor and smell and/or other immediate or delayed sensations experienced from the fermented beverage. I'm thinking that those "nasty" carbs aren't that evil compared with the other "poisons". If you feel compelled to drink half-brewed beer, just look at the calorie count. Would you prefer two bottles of pale yellow water or one Guinness? I don't usually drink "light" beer, but when I do, I prefer Michelob Golden Draft Light. One other somewhat tangential query. Would you prefer to drink something that originated from the Milwaukee river basin, the Mississippi drainage system or from "the land of sky blue waters"? :)

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swoakes | Nov. 29, 2010 at 10:07 a.m. (report)

The best source I've found is at Livestrong.com. I think the nutrition info is uploaded by users like us, so it can vary a bit, but by and large I think it's accurate. I found that website last winter when I got curious about how many calories were in the Old Rasputins I was downing. 369 calories per bottle caused me to scale back my consumption. But only a bit.

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Fast Foodie | Nov. 29, 2010 at 9:21 a.m. (report)

What about the good Belgians or Belgian-style beers? Any info on things like Chimay Blue, St. Bernardus ABT, Unibroue Trois Pistoles, Delirium Tremens, etc.? I shudder to think about those...

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