How Many Calories Are in Beer?
The sad truth is that beer can be pretty high in calories. After all, the term ‘beer belly’ was invented for a reason. Whether you’re watching your weight or simply want to take better care of yourself, it's really useful to know how many calories are in the beer you're drinking.
Calculating exactly how many calories are in your beer depends on a number of things, not only size of the serving, but also the type of beer and its alcohol content. So here’s everything you need to know about beer calories, with a little lesson in biology to kick things off.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A CALORIE?
To understand beer calories, let's start with a refresher on exactly what a calorie is. According to Live Science, a calorie can be defined as “a unit of energy which provides enough heat to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 0 to 1 degrees Celsius.”
We need calories to survive, and you get them from most kinds of food and drink. The NHS guidance on calories states that the average man should consume about 2,500 calories per day, while the average woman needs around 2,000. Of course, everyone is built differently, but one thing is the same for everyone: if you consume more calories than you use up, your body turns the energy into fat.
WHY IS BEER HIGH IN CALORIES?
The calories in beer essentially come from two sources: alcohol and carbohydrates. According to the Homebrewer’s Association, about 60% of beer calories come from alcohol and the rest are from carbs.
Beer is made by fermenting cereals (most commonly malted barley), a process which produces alcohol. Alcohol is highly calorific. A gram of alcohol contains seven calories - almost as much as a gram of pure fat. The rest of the calories in beer come from residual carbs which weren’t fully fermented during the brewing process.
Different types of beer contain different quantities of carbs. Lagers, for instance, tend to contain fewer carbs than ales, which in turn have fewer carbs than stouts. It is also mostly the case that lagers contain fewer calories than other beer types. This rule isn’t hard and fast though – some lagers may contain as many calories as a dark beer.
IS BEER FATTENING?
While beer does contain a relatively high number of calories, it is not in and of itself fattening. The occasional pint of beer won’t make you overweight.
However, as noted above, you’re likely to gain weight if you regularly consume more calories than you need. So, if you drink three pints of standard strength beer in an evening, you can easily clock up 600 calories. If you do the same a couple of nights a week, without regular exercise, you can see how it’s really quite easy to start gaining weight.
HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN A PINT OF BEER?
On average, a typical pint of beer contains around 215 calories. The exact amount of calories varies across brands and styles, but across the 10 most popular beers in the UK, we found that it ranges from 188 to 257 calories per pint.
There is a clear correlation between the strength of a beer and its calorie content, as is demonstrated below:
- Strong Lager: 235 kcal per pint
- Dry Cider: 225 kcal per pint
- Mid-Strength Lager: 200 per pint
- Small Beer Lager: 125 per pint
A pint of mid-strength lager - around 4.5% ABV - typically contains 200 calories, while stronger lagers typically contain around 235 calories in a pint glass.
WHAT BEER HAS THE LEAST BEER?
It’s not something we always shout about, but our Small Beer Lager is naturally low in calories, as it contains only 77 calories in a 350ml bottle. It packs in all of the flavour of a continental lager, but contains a good 40-50% fewer calories than most other beers.
If you’ve browsed the beer aisles in your local supermarket lately, you may have noticed a bottle or two that are labelled as low calorie beers. Although these beers are less calorific when compared to premium European lager brands, it’s often the case that these low calorie beers still contain as many as 80 or 90 calories in a 330ml bottle.
Our 350ml glass bottles of Small Beer are actually bigger than most long necked beer bottles, but they still contain fewer calories per bottle.
HOW TO CALCULATE BEER CALORIES
If you want to get scientific about calculating the number of calories in your next pint of beer, the following formula can help.
Calories in an alcoholic drink = (ABV% x 2.5) x fl oz
To do this calculation, you will need to know the percentage of alcohol in the beer (known as ABV or alcohol by volume), which should always be labelled on bottles and cans, as well as the pump clips you see in pubs. You'll also need to know the volume you're drinking in fluid ounces (fl oz). For reference, there are 20 fluid ounces in a pint.
If you ordered a pint of beer at the pub at 4% ABV, you first need to multiply 4 by 2.5 to get 10. Then, you multiply 10 by 20 to work out that your pint of beer contains 200 calories.
HOW TO CUT DOWN ON BEER CALORIES
If you’re being mindful of gaining weight or would like a more balanced lifestyle, there are several things you can do:
- Drink lower alcohol beers: Choosing a beer with a lower ABV is a good option. With less alcohol in each glass, bottle or can, you consume fewer calories - so you can still enjoy a few drinks without worrying so much about the impact on your weight.
- Try to avoid rounds: If you're drinking rounds with friends or colleagues, you can easily end up consuming more calories than you'd want. Try asking for a non-alcoholic drink every other round, or simply choose to buy your own drinks and enjoy them at your own pace.
- Drink less regularly: You can, of course, avoid calories in beer by simply drinking less often.
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HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN SMALL BEER?
The whole Small Beer range is low in calories. This is because we brew all our beers below 2.8% ABV, which means they naturally contain less alcohol and sugars compared to most other beers. The number of calories per bottle or pint differs across our range, as is shown below:
|Calories per can
|Calories per pint
Small Beer Lager
Small Beer Session Pale
Small Beer IPA
Small Beer Hazy IPA
At the Small Beer brewery in South London, we exclusively brew session beers for people who appreciate great taste and want to enjoy a balanced lifestyle. Our beers are all naturally lower in calories, so that you can strike the perfect balance.