Calories In Beer: Can We Please Stop, Part 2

diet-beer
Here’s part two of some nonsense that began last week, with Calories In Beer: Can We Please Stop?, in which I analyzed a very weird list where the Daily Beast created what they called the unhealthiest beers, under the title the 50 Most Fattening Beers.

Using an impenetrable combination of calories, carbohydrates and alcohol that ultimately showed no patterns, it ended up just being a list that made no sense, and provided no real guidelines that could be considered useful. Here’s what I said last week.

So the reality is that there’s not that much difference between most beers in terms of calories, and carbs too for that matter. Since drinking in moderation is the goal, 2-4 beers per day, then you should never choose a beer the beer with the least flavor. And that’s pretty easy to do since most are within a fairly narrow range by the numbers. It’s never enough to sacrifice what the beer tastes like for some meaningless number, be it carbohydrates or calories. And perhaps most importantly, you should never take advice from someone telling you what not to drink, not even me. Decide for yourself what to drink — not what not to drink — and let flavor be your guide.

This week, the Daily Beast has released a new list, this time The 50 Healthiest Beers, Ranked by Carbs and Calories.

Unfortunately they start with this premise. “How can you drink beer but avoid the belly?” Except that the beer belly is a myth and recent studies have essentially completely discredited it.

They’re also behind the times when they say “drink more than two per day, and the [health] benefits disappear.” The latest dietary guidelines from the FDA now recommends that a man can remain healthy if he consumes four drinks a day, so long as he doesn’t exceed the weekly maximum recommendation of 14 drinks. And another study recently found drinking six beers a day could lead to a healthier heart.

Instead, they focused again on “alcoholic punch” as a determining factor, which is unfortunate. This is what they calculate as “the best beers for your buzz.” Here’s the nuts and bolts of how they compiled the list:

To ensure a wide range of beers were considered, we looked at the offerings of the largest 15 domestic breweries and the largest five international breweries based on import volume to the U.S. Our final list was whittled further so that no more than three variations of brews from a single brand of beer were included in the top 50. We used data from the manufacturers when available, using reliable third-party databases if necessary.

But perhaps the lowest point of the exercise comes when they claim their list proves “that beer lovers don’t necessarily have to sacrifice taste for health.” The list includes 24 low-calorie light beers (48%), 8 ice beers (16%), 5 adjunct lagers (10%) and 10 malt liquors (20%). That’s 46 (or 92%) [1 beer is both an ice beer and a light beer] in styles I wouldn’t drink with a ten-foot straw. So much for diversity. The remaining four beers include a European lager, a blonde ale, a stout and an IPA. But as with the last list, there doesn’t seem to be any discernible pattern. There’s two, maybe three, beers on the list that I’d willingly order. Now maybe that’s just my own pickiness, what do you think? How many of them are beers you’d drink, regardless of their supposed healthy nature?

Like the last list, I don’t find the criteria here very good for finding good beers to drink. All the number crunching avoids the more important intangibles like aroma, taste and flavor. That’s the best reason to choose one beer over another. That, and other intangible factors like context, food, weather, etc. In the end, if the beers on this list are really the healthy beers, I don’t don’t want to be healthy. Better to actually enjoy what I’m drinking.

The Beast’s 50 Healthiest Beers

KEY: Brewery Beer: 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%
  11. Michelob ULTRA Amber: 95 / 3.2 / 4%
  12. MillerCoors Miller Chill: 100 / 4 / 4.2%
  13. MillerCoors Keystone Ice: 142 / 5.9 / 5.9%
  14. Grupo Modelo Corona Light: 109 / 5 / 4.5%
  15. MillerCoors Coors Light: 102 / 5 / 4.2%
  16. Anheuser-Busch Bud Ice: 123 / 8.9 / 5.5%
  17. MillerCoors Milwaukee’s Best Ice: 144 / 7.3 / 5.9%
  18. Michelob ULTRA Lime Cactus: 95 / 5.5 / 4%
  19. MillerCoors Icehouse Light: 123 / 6.6 / 5%
  20. MillerCoors Southpaw Light: 123 / 6.6 / 5%
  21. MillerCoors Keystone Light: 104 / 5 / 4.1%
  22. Anheuser-Busch Bud Light: 110 / 6.6 / 4.5%
  23. MillerCoors Keystone Premium: 111 / 5.8 / 4.4%
  24. Guinness Foreign Extra Stout: 176 / 14 / 7.5%
  25. Leinenkugel Light: 155 / 15 / 4.8%
  26. Anheuser-Busch Natural Ice: 157 / 16 / 4.9%
  27. Yuengling Light: 98 / 6.6 / 3.8%
  28. MillerCoors Miller High Life Light: 110 / 7 / 4.2%
  29. Grolsch Light Lager: 97 / 5.7 / 3.6%
  30. MillerCoors Molson XXX: 201 / 10.9 / 7.3%
  31. MillerCoors Icehouse 5.0: 132 / 8.7 / 5%
  32. MillerCoors Steel Six: 160 / 11 / 6%
  33. MillerCoors Olde English 800 7.5%: 202 / 13.4 / 7.5%
  34. MillerCoors Icehouse 5.5: 149 / 9.8 / 5.5%
  35. MillerCoors Olde English 800 5.9%: 160 / 10.5 / 5.9%
  36. MillerCoors Olde English High Gravity 800: 220 / 14.6 / 8%
  37. MillerCoors Mickey’s Ice: 157 / 11.8 / 5.8%
  38. MillerCoors Steel Reserve High Gravity: 222 / 16 / 8.1%
  39. MillerCoors Steel Reserve Triple Export 8.10%: 222 / 16 / 8.1%
  40. MillerCoors Molson Golden: 133 / 10.9 / 5%
  41. MillerCoors Hamm’s Special Light: 110 / 7.3 / 3.9%
  42. Heineken Light: 99 / 6.8 / 3.5%
  43. MillerCoors Magnum Malt Liquor: 157 / 11.2 / 5.6%
  44. MillerCoors Mickey’s: 157 / 11.2 / 5.6%
  45. MillerCoors Tyskie: 153 / 10.6 / 5.4%
  46. MillerCoors Molson Canadian: 136 / 11.1 / 5%
  47. Yuengling Light Lager: 96 / 8.5 / 3.6%
  48. Redhook Long Hammer IPA: 188 / 12.66 / 6.5%
  49. Genesee Ice: 156 / 14.5 / 5.9%
  50. Beck’s St. Pauli Girl Lager : 148 / 8.7 / 4.9%

Comments

  1. Mr. Nuts says

    I’m from Pittsburgh and want the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (that doesn’t operate it’s own brewery anymore) to survive — but for IC Light to come out on top in any kind of contest is a hoot.

    And Budweiser Select 55? That stuff tastes the same going in as it does going out.

    Truly an amazing “competition.”

  2. Alex says

    I think that the alcohol factor is taken into consideration on the grounds that there needs to be a relativizing factor for alcohol, or else high alcohol imperial stouts would comprise the entire list. This makes it, at least in this one aspect, easier to compare beers to one another on their own terms, rather than have a comparison between a light lager and a high alcohol, calorie-rich ale.

  3. Steve says

    Well hell, does this list surprise anyone? Light beer, light beer, light beer, etc.

    The most entertaining part of this list is imagining the raging debate on whether Steel Reserve High Grav deserved that coveted #38 ranking or whether it was the very special Steel Reserve Triple Export.

    Agree w/ Alex – it should bring alcohol content into consideration more appropriately. Oh well, thanks for posting J

  4. beerman49 says

    Bottom line: LOL & WGAS! Beer geex drink what they like & like what they drink, save for those 1st-time tastes that aggravate one’s palate.

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