beer calories and carbs

The time has come for me to address a long-standing myth that has pained me to hear for many years: that “‘good'” beer has too many calories, too many carbs, and will make me fat.” While I readily admit, most good beers do have a few more calories and grams of carbohydrates than your average light beer, unless you are at a college frat party and need to slam 8 to 12 beers over a 4 hour period, it isn’t enough to make that much of a difference. However, if you are at a frat party, have fun with your Natty Light and you can stop reading here.

I will now submit my evidence. Below are a few samples of beers that are commonly found in most places: (amounts per 12 oz. serving; Source:

Beer % Alcohol Calories g Carb
Bud Light 4.2 110 6.6
Miller Lite 4.2 96 3.2
Michelob Ultra 4.2 95 2.6
Guinness Draught 4.0 125 10.0
Samuel Adams Boston Lager 4.9 170 18.0
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5.7 175 14.1
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 6.6 214 19.4
Blue Moon 5.4 171 13.7
Bass 5.5 140 13.0
Olde English 800 8.0 220 14.6

I know some of you are now saying, “I told you so! Mich Ultra has 70 fewer calories and 12 fewer grams of carbs than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale! That adds up!” I grant you, it does add up. But have you considered what 70 calories is? It’s a piece of bread, it’s half a cookie, it’s one bite from a Big Mac.

Don’t get me wrong, if you like light beer, and there is nothing wrong with that, then that’s ok. I even enjoy a Miller Lite or PBR in the right setting: at the beach, camping, or a hot afternoon on the porch. My point is to those that drink light beer simply because they are afraid that the heavier beers will add to their waistline or they just haven’t given other beers an honest try. There is a whole world of delicious beer out there, and I encourage people to explore and find what they really like and not to settle for something simply so they can save 40 calories.

I guess it all depends on what your priorities are. If you have to have the cookies (and 4 beers to wash them down), then by all means, grab the nearest Miller Lite. Me, I’ll enjoy a Sierra Nevada and leave the cookie on the plate.


About Brian

I like beer.
This entry was posted in Beer, Practical Beer Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to beer calories and carbs

  1. pritcher says:

    “I even enjoy a . . . PBR in the right setting.” Like when it’s a dollar a can at a club in a strip mall.

  2. Izzy says:

    I like the stats on Guinness. Who knew all that flavor would weigh in so close to a light beer? I may just have to por myself another slice.

    mmmmmm…. Guinness!

  3. Bob Skilnik says:

    Much more on beer, calories, carbohydrates and the TTB and its proposed new labeling laws;

  4. Alex Harrison says:

    People that make a habit out of light beer are like people that eat Lean Cuisines every day for lunch at the office: sad, and difficult to respect. Sometimes I wonder if some people are born with taste-bud deficiencies.

  5. Bob Skilnik says:


    Since light beer accounts for more than half of the beer sales in the U.S., seems kind of ballsy to claim that the people who drink them are “difficult to respect.”

    You sound like a beer snob, not a geek, a snob. And what’s wrong with Lean Cuisine?

  6. Princess Jax says:

    DING DING… Fighters clink gloves and keep it above the waist…

  7. Alex says:

    Somehow I doubt that light beer sales in the U.S. have much at all to do with finding a good pairing with a meal. (Unless all those folks are pairing their bland beers with their bland Fettuccini Alfredo Lean Cuisines.) My guess is that habitual light beer drinkers are not just drinking, they’re “drankin’”.

    Example dialog:

    Randy: “What did you do last night, man?”

    Rodney: “Aw, just the usual, man- I went drankin’.”

    There are lots of things that sell well that aren’t good- squirt cheese, iceberg lettuce, Folger’s Crystals, etc. Taste is subjective. I’m in it for good taste, and so light beer just isn’t at the top of my list.

  8. jet says:

    I know this is an old post, but if you want a tasty light beer with low carbs, the New Belgium Skinny Dip is great at 114 calories and 7 grams of carbs with plenty of flavor. I actually don’t care about the calories, just the carbs, so when I’m on my low carb diet, skinny dip is my favorite. Though you can’t find it in the winter easily. :)

  9. bobby says:

    “And we shall drink until such time that we are fighting drunk” -Alvis
    I’ve never measured carbs in beer mates, I just love drinking ’em. But then again this can prove to be very useful. I do bar reviews come visit my site to find out about local drinking in the Philippines.

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