Nutrition IQ: Beer

Crying in your beer? You will be, if you want a way to know exactly what you're drinking. Neither color nor labels tell the whole tale.

Beer Compilation Image
Photo: Randy Mayor

Guinness Stout looks dark and heavy but has about the same calories as Bud Light. A Bud Light label lists calories but not alcohol content (4.2% compared to regular Bud's 5%—a smaller difference than you might guess). A 12-ounce bottle of specialty ale may pack a walloping 8% alcohol and say so, but not reveal calories. Welcome to beer labeling, courtesy not of the USDA but a division of the Treasury.

Confused? So were we. But be stout of heart and know this: The new Dietary Guidelines recommend the alcohol equivalent of up to one beer a day for women, two for men, defined as 12 ounces of regular beer with 5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV). Second: more alcohol means more calories, as a general rule.

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