The Great Beeramid Of Calories & Carbs

Here’s an interesting infographic, though for most craft beer drinkers it won’t be of much use. It’s a pyramid — or beeramid — showing many of the most popular mainstream beers with their calories and carbohydrates shown, ranking them with the lowest in both at the top of the beeramid and the beers with the most calories and carbs as the foundation on the bottom.

It’s hard to read at this size, but you can see it full size at HellaWella.

It was created by HellaWella, a health-oriented website. And while I realize they mean well, I’ve never been convinced that calories or carbohydrates should ever be part of the decision-making process for choosing a beer. I realize other people feel differently, but watching the caloric content necessarily means sacrificing flavor so you can drink more. I say drink less, but better.

They believe that with their chart “you can figure out ahead of time how to keep the calories and/or carbohydrates to a minimum.” But by that criteria, Budweiser’s Select 55 is the best choice. The Top 10 include two non-alcoholic beers (which frankly shouldn’t even be here) and the other eight are low-calorie light beers, not one of which would I voluntarily drink or ever order at a bar or restaurant. But that’s the problem with these health suggestions. When you stick to the numbers, health means giving up what makes beer a great choice in the first place: flavor. If I have to give up beer that tastes of anything to be healthy, to my way of thinking there’s just no point. Except that beer is already healthy (even though the anti-alcohol folks have seen to it breweries aren’t aloud to say so) and since moderation is already the best course to take, why anyone would ever choose a beer with the lowest calories is beyond me.

So I’m a sucker for infographics, and this one is very well done, but in the end its flaw is in the intention, which is to steer people to the blandest possible beers imaginable, supposedly in the interest of health. That’s a mistake, I believe, and not part of a healthy lifestyle. Health also includes mental, as well as physical, health. If drinking responsibly and moderately means (according to the most recent dietary guidelines) having no more than 4 beers in a singe day (3 for a woman) and no more than 14 in a week (7 for women) then you should make them count. Choose the most flavorful, best-tasting beer you can. The difference in calories or carbs just isn’t worth the sacrifice. Skip the piece of cake and go for the better beer. To me, that’s a healthy choice.


  1. The Professor says

    Interesting piece, and yes, a nice graphic presentation. But I’m with you…I never consider the calorie load of a beer (even when I’m deep into one of my periodic maintenance “diet” periods…that dreaded battlefield I’ve visited regularly since my college days.

    I may enjoy the occasional mid-day NA beer with lunch on a work day (not quite beer, but refreshing enough and a hell of a lot better for me than either diet or regular soda pop). Other than that, I’ll limit myself to one beer that I’ll really enjoy, rather than choke down several lite, low cal/carb, or other things that don’t suit my palate (and as far as I’m concerned, are merely masquerading as beer anyway).

    And you’re right. Skip the desert. A good beer is better than any cake can ever be. 😉


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