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Beer Town: 50 Most Fattening Beers?

Is beer good for you? And can drinking beer be part of a healthy diet?

Nowadays, those kinds of questions come up in all sorts of guises. But one of the craziest is the recent Daily Beast (thedailybeast.com) list of the “50 Most Fattening Beers.”

The news and opinion website introduced it this way: “Beer guts be damned, the classic brew has fewer calories than most fruit juices and fewer empty calories from sugar than hard alcohol. Beer also contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In moderation, it can be good for nerve production, concentration, and circulation.”

So far, so good.

But then there was this: “The Daily Beast decided to determine which beers may not be the best for the buzz. Specifically, the beers were ranked based on which packed the most calories and carbohydrates for the least amount of alcoholic punch.”

Using that criterion, it was determined that Leinenkugel Berry Weiss was the worst beer you could drink because of its relatively high calories and carbs and low alcohol — 207 calories, 28 grams of carbohydrates and 4.8 percent alcohol by volume.

Beery Weiss

Other beers in the “most fattening” top 10 include New Belgium 1554 (205 / 25 / 5.6%), Sierra Nevada Stout (225 / 22.3 / 5.8%), and Sam Adams Boston Lager (160 / 18 / 4.75 %).

As my friend, beer writer Jay Brooks pointed out on his excellent website, Brookston Beer Bulletin (brookstonbeerbulletin.com), “It seems incredibly wrong-headed to me to take into account high alcohol as a positive attribute just because it gives the beer more ‘punch.’ ”

Like Jay, and other craft beer devotees, I enjoy drinking good beer for the same reason I enjoy eating good food. It’s all about taking pleasure in the sensual dance of aromas, flavors and that thing beer judges call “mouthfeel.”

It is true that higher alcohol beers are often more complex, simply because they also often pack more of everything, including malt, hops and lively yeast strains.

One great example is Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (330 / 32.1 / 9.6%), which is 17 on the “most fattening” list. The award-winning, rich, strong ale is one of the premier examples of the American barleywine style. It’s a winter seasonal, only released once a year in limited quantities, and it’s revered as a perfect beer to cellar and sample in “vertical tastings” of various vintages.

The late, great British beer critic, Michael Jackson wrote that Bigfoot, “captures the imagination, and its character is as big as the name implies, with a huge hoppiness in its earthy aroma, a chewy palate, and a great depth of flavor.”

2010_Beer_Bigfoot

But you can find plenty of examples of distinctive lower alcohol beers, such as Guinness Draught (125 / 10 / 4%), which is 49 on the list. Of course, it’s world-famous for its voluminous, nitrogen-enhanced head and creamy mouthfeel.

Comparisons between Bigfoot and Guinness are ridiculous, really. They’re totally different in style and flavor, and that has very little to do with one being higher in calories or carbohydrates.

Lists like the “50 Most Fattening Beers” can be fun, though confusing and not very useful. When it comes to food and drink, the oldest and simplest advice is still the best. As the Daily Beast intro suggests, moderation is the key.

What do you think about carbs, calories and alcohol content in beer? And what you think about the beers on this list?

1. Leinenkugel Berry Weiss: 207 / 28 / 4.8%

2. Grolsch Blonde Lager: 120 / 15.8 / 4%

3. New Belgium 1554: 205 / 25 / 5.6%

4. Sierra Nevada Stout: 225 / 22.3 / 5.8%

5. Budweiser & Clamato Chelada: 186 / 20.3 / 5%

6. Leinenkugel 1888 Bock: 194 / 18 / 5.1%

7. Michelob Honey Wheat: 175 / 17.9 / 4.9%

8. Pilsner Urquell: 156 / 16 / 4.4%

9. Sam Adams Boston Lager: 160 / 18 / 4.75%

10. Sam Adams Boston Ale: 160 / 19.9 / 4.94%

11. Miller Classic Chocolate Lager: 195 / 18.4 / 5.5%

12. Leinenkugel Creamy Dark: 170 / 16.8 / 4.9%

13. Boulevard Brewing Unfiltered Wheat Beer : 155 / 15 / 4.4%

14. Budweiser American Ale: 182 / 18.1 / 5.3%

15. Sierra Nevada Kellerweis: 168 / 15.6 / 4.8%

16. Michelob Irish Red: 196 / 19.2 / 5.7%

17. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale: 330 / 32.1 / 9.6%

18. Red Stripe: 153 / 17 / 4.7%

19.Michelob Pale Ale: 200 / 19.3 / 5.9%

20. Smithwick’s Ale: 150 / 15 / 4.5%

21. Yuengling Porter: 150 / 14 / 4.5%

22. Yuengling Black & Tan: 150 / 14 / 4.5%

23. Henry Weinhard Classic Dark Lager: 164 / 16 / 5%

24. Coors Winterfest: 185 / 17.4 / 5.6%

25. New Belgium Mothership Wit: 155 / 15 / 4.8%

26. Genesee Brewing Premium Beer: 148 / 13.5 / 4.8%

27. Anchor Steam Beer: 153 / 16 / 4.9%

28. Corona Extra: 148 / 14 / 4.6%

29. George Killian’s Irish Red: 162 / 14.8 / 5%

30. Shiner Bock: 142 / 12.9 / 4.4%

31. Blue Moon Full Moon Winter Ale: 180 / 15.3 / 5.5%

32. Redhook Nut Brown Ale: 181 / 16 / 5.6%

33. Genesee Cream Ale: 162 / 15 / 5.1%

34. Harp Lager: 153 / 13 / 4.7%

35. Henry Weinhard Blue Boar: 147 / 13 / 4.6%

36. Henry Weinhard Summer Ale: 155 / 14.5 / 4.95%

37. Shiner Blonde: 140 / 12.4 / 4.4%

38. Shiner Hefeweizen: 174 / 14.3 / 5.4%

39. Rolling Rock Extra Pale: 142 / 13.2 / 4.6%

40. New Belgium Fat Tire: 160 / 15 / 5.2%

41. Aguila: 122 / 10.4 / 3.88%

42. Genesee Red: 148 / 14 / 4.9%

43. Miller Genuine Draft: 143 / 13.1 / 4.7%

44. Miller High Life: 143 / 13.1 / 4.7%

45. Negra Modelo: 165 / 14 / 5.3%

46. Yuengling Lager: 135 / 12 / 4.4%

47. Schlitz Beer: 146 / 12.1 / 4.7%

48. Schaefer Beer: 142 / 12 / 4.6%

49. Guinness Draught: 125 / 10 / 4%

50. Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale: 180 / 14.7 / 5.8%

5 comments Add your comment

kp

October 30th, 2010
2:39 pm

Where are the Southern Tier sugar bombs like Creme Brulee or Choclat? Sure they are higher in alcohol but I bet a single bottle of Creme Brulee packs more calories than an adult male’s daily allowance.

And as far as calories in beer vs hard alcohol, all I can say is I’ve steadily been dropping pounds since switching from beer to whiskey. According to my doctor, since spirits are metabolized by the liver the calories do not accumulate in the body like calories (and carbs) from beer and wine.

Bob

October 31st, 2010
10:18 am

KP – That’s an interesting perspective. From my understanding, alcohol has a low glycemic index, but the residual (or added) sugar in beer and wine is the problem,

Jay has another entry on his blog that takes on the Daily Beast’s newest list of 50 Healthiest Beers.

brookstonbeerbulletin.com/calories-in-beer-can-we-please-stop-part-2

I wouldn’t drink any of the top 10, and very few of the 50. Would you?

The Beast’s Top 10 Healthiest Beers (calories per 12 oz. / carbohydrates / a.b.v.)

1. Pittsburgh Brewing I.C. Light: 95 / 2.8 / 4.15%

2. Michelob Ultra: 95 / 2.6 / 4.1%

3. Anheuser-Busch Natural Light: 95 / 3.2 / 4.2%

4.Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Select: 99 / 3.1 / 4.3%

5. MillerCoors Miller Lite: 96 / 3.2 / 4.2%

6. Anheuser-Busch Select 55: 55 / 1.9 / 2.4%

7 .Anheuser-Busch Busch Light: 95 / 3.2 / 4.1%

8. MillerCoors MGD 64: 64 / 2.4 / 2.8%

9. Grupo Modelo Modelo Especial: 145 / 4 / 6%

10.MillerCoors Milwaukee’s Best Light: 98 / 3.5 / 4.2%.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/…/the-50-least-fattening-beers-ranked-by-carbs-and- calories

kp

November 2nd, 2010
1:09 pm

I’d rather have one good beer rather than a whole six pack of light beers. Rather than have a single 98 calorie beer that tastes like metallic water, I’d prefer to have a clean tasting glass of water and save the 98 calories.

Lori

November 2nd, 2010
1:26 pm

Silly list and awful methodology. Eat, drink, and be merry. Just get a little exercise daily too.

Erin

November 3rd, 2010
7:48 pm

Like they said, moderation is key. The recommendation for daily alcohol intake for men is 2 drinks and for women, just one drink. One drink being 1.5 oz hard liquor, a 12 oz beer, or a 5 oz glass of wine.

KP, your doctor was right in saying that alcohol is metabolized by the liver. All alcohol is metabolized by the liver and all alcohol has 7 calories per gram (whereas carbohydrate and protein each have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram). The calories from alcohol are metabolized and stored in the body just like any other calories from food are stored and/or utilized in the body. Any calories consumed in excess will be stored as fat, no matter where they come from.

Again, moderation is key. Enjoy.