Many of you who know me are aware of the fact that I have been working on shedding a few pounds this year. I’ve had varying levels of success, mostly when I pay attention and focus. My theory has been that cutting back on total calories consumed for the day … staying under a certain number of calories … leads to weight loss. And it works.

Now, this is a beer blog, and you’re wondering what on Earth I’m talking about. I cannot tell you how many people have said, “I guess your new weight loss plan has made you give up the beer, right?” No. Never. If I budget my calories correctly, I can still enjoy beer at night. (And maybe have an occasional cheat day.) It’s all about planning. And that’s where this post comes into play.

There are several apps that I have used that will help you track your calories. Think MyFitnessPal, et al. Enter a food item (or even scan its barcode), and the app will list the calories associated with it. Easy peasy. But what about beer? New beers, special releases, and barrel-aged one-offs come up every few minutes; it’s essentially impossible for a database to track all of those. So how can you know how bad you’re being? If only there were a handy-dandy rule of thumb that could give you nice ballpark estimates …

There’s a great article from Beer of Tomorrow that really gets into detail laying out the science behind how to calculate the exact calories in a beer. The problem here is that most people don’t run around bars with slide rules or a TI Graphing Calculator. So we have taken the in-depth info (and subsequent table) to give you the following.

Without getting too math-y on you … for every 1% in ABV, a 12-ounce serving will have 30* calories. A 16-ounce serving will have 40* calories. Some examples:

  • 12 ounces of a 4.5% beer will have approximately 135 calories (4.5 x 30 = 135)
  • 16 ounces of a 9% beer will pack roughly 360 calories (9 x 40 = 360)
  • Another way to look at it … (ABV) x (# ounces) x 2.5 = calories
Some of you are more visual in your learning. Maybe this graphic will help …
* Please note that these numbers are approximate, but they do give a decent estimate when you’re out on the town.
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September 13, 2018
Mike Pennington

Author: Mike Pennington

Mike Pennington, normal, 40-ish, father of three, living the suburban dream north of Atlanta.  

2 Replies to “How Many Calories in that Beer?”

  1. Avatar
    Mike Pennington says: September 13, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Before anyone says it … I do realize that the final example says five Abita 'bottles' and there are five cans in the graphic. It was late and I was tired, and I don't have the energy to update it right now. HA!

  2. Avatar
    RussWebb says: September 17, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    All the Chimay..all the time.

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