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Counting Beers and Calories: Big Breweries Add Nutrition Information to Their Labels

Photo: Bart Sadowski/iStockphoto

Not all beers are created equal, and all beers certainly rank differently on the caloric and nutritional totem pole. In a recent announcement, big breweries have decided to add nutrition information and alcohol volume to their labels in response to the demand from consumers who want to know what's in their beverages.
 

Incorporating alcohol as part of a healthy diet may seem nearly impossible. With so many different beer varieties, it's especially difficult to determine exactly which kind (and how much) is okay to drink before it starts to negate an otherwise healthy day of eating. Lucky for us, the four largest American brewers, who collectively account for eight of ten beers sold in the U.S., have announced that they will start putting nutrition information on their beer labels.

This decision is a response to an announcement by the Beer Institute, which encouraged member companies to begin labeling their products with specific information, such as ingredients, calories, protein, fat, and alcohol volume, as per request of the consumer. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage among Americans, and a recent study found that 72% of beer drinkers think it’s important to know nutrition facts when it comes to buying foods and beverages.

The spirits industry has voiced their approval of this news by saying the information that will be made available to consumers will help them better understand just how much alcohol is in their favorite beers. The Distilled Spirit Council points out that "nearly one in four (23%) beers launched globally in 2014 had an ABV of 6.5% or higher." This is important to note because U.S. Dietary Guidelines consider a standard drink to be 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer.

Although this comes as great news for the consumer, it could be a burden for the thousands of smaller craft breweries throughout the country. In order to add nutrition facts to their labels, brewers must gain approval from the the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau for each different bottle size, label, and beer. For craft breweries, this could be more than 50 different beer varieties a year, which could ultimately add a huge financial burden on the company.

At the end of the day, this news is a step in the right direction for both large breweries who are hoping to create a transparent, honest relationship with their consumer, as well as beer drinkers who want to know the nutrition of the beverages that they’re consuming. With this information, it will be possible to make smarter beer choices, without feeling guilty about wrecking your diet.