April 8, 2009

Craft beer and losing weight

I weigh too much. It's not news to me but I weigh about ten pounds heavier than I expected and significantly more than I really should. My usual reaction is to consume less of what am already consuming. The simple hacker's guide to dieting. It works for me.

This will be the first time I have ever thought to factor in beer though. I enjoy learning about, trying out and making my own beer. It has, sort of, become my thing. However that extra consumption of calories have taken its toll and it is time to arrest the rate increase and reverse some of my gains. I don't want to give up good beer though so I decided to do some research to help myself out.

I enjoy beer when I am out to dinner and on the rare occasions I am at a pub or bar. This site will help me to get a general sense of what I am consuming:

Real Beer's Calorie, Carbs and Alcohol

It is neither comprehensive nor perfect but it will allow me to get a generalized sense of what I am drinking. Further investigations may get me specifics but the general knowledge I came away with was:
General full-flavored beer ales and lagers alike tended to come in at around 200 calories.
Most were less but if I budget 200 calories per beer then I can keep an easy mental note. It also builds in a general leeway in my daily calorie count to accomodate for overruns. Bigger beers cause bigger hits, so if you enjoy Double, triple or Imperial anything, expect to budget accordingly.

Homebrewed beer though is not calculated on any lists and most homebrewers probably are not in a position to have their product tested. There are a multitude of calculators out there that can help a concerned brewer out.

The first calculator is a standard recipe calculator. A brewer simply inputs their materials list and the calculator will output standard info about their beer such as: original gravity (OG), final gravity (FG), bitterness in IBUs, coloring in SRM and alcohol content.

Tastybrew's Recipe Calculator

The second calculator will help a brewer calculate calories and carbs simply by inputting the original gravity (OG) and final gravity (FG). A brewer really should be determining their original and final gravities but it is sometimes easy to forget. The recipe calculator can help you estimate the original and final assuming you know the attenuation of your yeast.

Mr. Goodbear's Calorie Calculator

I'll give you an example for comparison:

I often make a 'Pale/Amber' out of 6 lbs of Light Dry Malt Extract and steep with 1 lb of Crystal 60L. That is my base extract recipe and I manipulate hops to obtain different tastes. The recipe calculator indicates an OG of 1.056 and an estimated FG of 1.014. My measured was about 1.015 so it was fairly close.

Mr. Goodbeer calculated 185.5 calories and 19.9 carbs. That places it squarely in the realm of commercial full-favored beers.

For my own purposes, I will start cutting down on my dry malt extract. I have made one pale ale before that used only 3 lbs of Light Dry Malt extract and steeped with 1 lb of Crystal 60L. It turned out very well and did not lack for flavor.

Mr. Goodbeer estimates this to be 95.3 calories assuming an OG of 1.029 and a FG of 1.007. We'll see how those numbers actually pan out.

The point of all of this is that monitoring your weight does not mean you have to sacrifice full flavored beers or homebrews. Budget for taste and you will succeed.


Bob said...

"Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? Nutritional Values Of 2,000 Worldwide BEERS" gives calories, carbs, abv and even Weight Watchers POINTS for all the beers listed. It also explains why nutritional labeling will one day be a fact of life for the entire alcohol industry.

I've followed a Weight Watchers approach to dieting and have so far dropped 70 pounds.

It's all about moderation, not deprivation.

Dave said...

That's why you need to go all-grain. You can make a beer very dry so that the little yesties eat all the calories. With LME its middle of the road with some fermenbtable sugars and some not. The "some not" go to your stomache, or other places.

Gish said...


You kill me with humor. All good folk know that alcohol has calories too. Would it were that all I cared about were carbs?

Bob said...

"...some fermenbtable sugars and some not. The 'some not' go to your stomache, or other places."

Another alcohol and nutrition urban legend. Sugars do NOT go to certain parts of your body as though they have a built in genetic homing device. Although it's been refuted a zillion times, maltose, for instance, the bane of The earliest version of The South Beach Diet, is one of the first simple sugars to succumb to fermentation. It's the alcohol content that has more to do with caloric content than anything else. Make a "dry" beer and you'll be making a higher alcohol brew with more calories than a regular brewed beer. The yeasts each the sugar, sure, but the end result is MORE calories, not less. You'll get less carbohydrates, but that's another story.