How Many Calories Are in Non Alcoholic Beer?
We all love a good beer. There’s nothing better than sitting down and drinking an ice-cold brew at the end of a long day.
But what if you’re watching your weight? Beer has the reputation of being one of the least diet-friendlybeverages you can drink. Known for its relatively high-calorie content, beer is often affectionately nicknamed bread in a can––and for good reason. A 12 oz. serving of:
- Budweiser contains 145 calories
- Pabst Blue Ribbon contains 144 calories
- Yuengling Traditional Lager contains 128 calories
- Guinness contains 125 calories
- Bud Light contains 110 calories
This puts many beers in the same unhealthy category as soft drinks, which tend to have between 140-160 calories depending on the brand of soda.
Now compare that to Heineken’s alcohol-free beer, which has a meager 69 calories in one 12 oz. bottle. It’s safe to say that non alcoholic beer is the better choice for dieting beer drinkers, but why?
How many calories are in craft beer compared to light beer?
If you think that the calorie counts of those light beers seem high, wait until you hear what they are for your favorite craft beer varieties. Many of the calories in beer come straight from the alcohol content. Craft beer typically has a higher alcohol content than light beer. Craft beer also often contains a number of ingredients that add to the overall calorie count. Put all of this together, and you will be hard pressed to find a good craft beer that doesn’t have substantially more calories than those listed above. Here are some examples of popular craft beers and their corresponding calories counts:
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale has 212 calories per 12-ounce serving
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has 175 calories per 12-ounce serving
- Founders All Day IPA has 147 calories per 12-ounce serving
- Samuel Adams Boston Lager has 175 calories per 12-ounce serving
These are all popular, widely distributed craft beers with fairly moderate alcohol content. When you start getting into more experimental offerings with even higher ABV, you will only find further increasing calorie totals. Something like a rich, barrel-aged stout can potentially be up over 300 calories in a single can. The main thing that NA beer does that makes it healthier is simply removing the calorie-dense alcohol, which means the flavor doesn’t have to go anywhere just because you are going NA.
How Do Beer Drinkers Stay Health Conscious?
Now for the sobering truth. No matter how you cut it, alcoholic drinks are going to have higher calories than non alcoholic ones.
There are seven calories for every gram of alcohol, and a 12 oz. can of Budweiser contains approximately 14 grams of alcohol. That’s 98 calories, which is a significant portion of the beer’s total caloric value.
Breweries started making ultra light beers as a way to get around this. These beers have fewer carbs and slightly lower alcohol content, but there’s a trade-off––they taste watered down.
If you’re a beer drinker and you want to cut calories, you only have a handful of options:
- Consume the calories anyway
- Drink a light or ultra light beer, but sacrifice some of the flavorsassociated with good beer
- Switch to a non alcoholic brew
If you love beer for the taste and don’t care about its alcohol content, non alcoholic beer is your best bet.
A 12 oz. can of Michelob Ultra, a popular ultra light beer, has 92 calories.
How Many Calories Are in Non Alcoholic Beer?
The simple answer: a lot less than alcoholic beers.
A 12 oz. can of Michelob Ultra, a popular ultra light beer, has 92 calories. For an alcoholic beer, that’s a pretty low caloricvalue. It has fewer calories than the 14 grams of alcohol found in a can of Budweiser, and that’s not counting the rest of the ingredients that in a Budweiser beer that add to its caloric value.
But Michelob Ultra isn’t a non alcoholic beer. With an alcohol content of 4.2%, it’s not even considered a low alcohol beer. Let’s look at how many calories are in a 12 oz. can of non alcoholic beer, starting with a few popular picks.
- Beck’s Non-Alcoholic (aka Beck’s Blue):46 calories
- Pauli Girl Non-Alcoholic:96 calories
- Heineken 0.0: 69 calories
- Run Wild IPA by Athletic Brewing Co.: 70 calories
- Nanny State by BrewDog:21 calories
- Oatmeal Stout by Bravus: 100 calories
- Special Effects by Brooklyn Brewery:103 calories
As you can see, there isn’t a whole lot of consistency when it comes to calorie content. While none of the aforementioned non alcoholic beers have more calories than the classic beers mentioned above, three have more calories than Michelob Ultra.
But here’s where things get interesting.
Take a sip from the Oatmeal Stout, Special Effects, or non alcoholic St. Pauli Girl, thentake a sip from Michelob Ultra or another popular low-calorie beer. Chances are, there will be a significant difference in flavor, body, and aroma.
Many people find ultra light beers to taste watered down and borderline flavorless, especially when compared to non alcoholic beer. Let’s look at why.
What About Non Alcoholic Craft Beer?
This is where the built-in advantage that non alcoholic beer has really matters. For decades, the only NA beer that you could find at your local grocery or liquor store were twists on domestic light lagers. But in recent years, the non alcoholic beer industry has taken a gigantic step forward in both flavor and availability. This is not only great news for those who have been stuck drinking flavorless NA lagers for much of their lives. It also provides a tastier and healthier option for all of the people who have grown to love everything that the alcoholic craft beer market has to offer.
If you are trying to lose some weight or reduce your calorie intake for any reason, you might have thought about turning to light beer rather than your favorite craft brews. But with all of the NA craft options available nowadays, why not cut the alcohol altogether? You can drastically cut the amount of calories you are taking in without losing any of the great tasting beer flavor that you enjoy so much.
So when you are considering the shift toward NA beers, there may be no need for your first instinct to push you back into a world of flavorless light beer. As you can see from some of the numbers above, even something like an oatmeal stout NA has just 100 calories per can. And Athletic’s Run Wild IPA has just 70, which is even less than a Pauli Girl NA lager. In addition to all of these offerings, there are non-alcoholic IPAs and the like out there on the market that have calorie counts as low as 25. Now that there are plenty of flavorful NA beers on the shelves, there is no reason that trying to drink healthier means you have to sacrifice taste.
Why Non Alcoholic Beer Is More Flavorful
Now that we’ve looked at how many calories are in non alcoholic beer, let’s compare tastes.
We know that traditionalbeers like Budweiser, Guinness, and Heineken are flavorful. And they’re not trying to market themselves as low calorie, either.
But many light and ultra light beers lose their flavor, while most non alcoholic beers do not. Remember when we said one gram of alcohol is seven calories? Light beers tend to have anywhere between 3.5-4.5% ABV, so a significant portion of their calories come from alcohol. Thismeans, to effectively reduce calories, other ingredients contributing to the beer’s caloric value need to be removed or diluted. And more often than not, those ingredients also contribute to the beer’s flavor.
Naturally, this isn’t a problem one has to worry about when brewing non alcoholic beer. Consider the following:
A 12 oz. can of beer with 0.5% ABV has 1.4 grams of alcohol, which equals 9.8 calories.
Alcohol contributes heavily to a beer’s caloric value. Since non alcoholic beer only has traces of alcohol in it, the numberof calories fromitsalcohol contentis negligible. This means brewers can still make low calorie, non alcoholic beer without cutting back on other flavor-rich ingredients that contribute to a beer’s taste and aroma.
The truth is that the number of calories in a non alcoholic beer varies depending on how the brew was made.
Is Every Non Alcoholic Beer Low Calorie?
The absence of alcohol means brewers have more flexibility when making flavorful beer under 100 calories. It doesn’t mean that every single non alcoholic beer on the market is low calorie––although many are.
Take Budweiser’s Prohibition Brew, for example. A 12 oz. can of this non alcoholic beer contains 150 calories, which is five calories more than a classic Budweiser. But it also has 36 grams of carbohydrates, slightly more than double the carbs found in most non alcoholic beers (between 13-16 grams).
The truth is that the number of calories in a non alcoholic beer varies depending on how the brew was made. On the lower end of the calorie spectrum, you can find non alcoholic beers with 20-50 calories a bottle. The average non alcoholic beer has around 60-80 calories, and heavier or sweeter non alcoholic beers tend to have100 calories or more.
If you drink beer because you like the buzzand you’re watching your calorie intake, then a light or ultra light beer is probably your best option. But if you’re a beer lover who enjoys the taste of a good beer, consider switching to a non alcoholic brew. That way, you can enjoy a diet-friendly beer without having to cut back on flavor.
Plus,non alcoholic beer has a number of health benefits that traditional beer doesn’t.