In America’s ever-expanding brewing scene, here’s what you should know to prevent your waistline from expanding too.  

By Jamie Vespa MS, RD
June 09, 2017
Scott Olson. 2017 Getty Images.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “craft beer kind of person,” you may still wonder how many calories are in that pint of craft beer ("craft" = from a brewery that produces 6 million barrels or less per year) you ordered on a whim at the bar last night. I hate to be a buzz kill, but probably more than you expected.

There are two main contributors to the calorie content in beer: Calories come from alcohol (7 per gram) and carbohydrates (4 per gram). A higher alcohol content = more calories.

High-gravity is synonymous with a high alcohol percentage. Though the semantics of what is considered “high-gravity” in terms of alcohol percentage may be ambiguous (gravity has to do with the density of fermentable and unfermentable sugar in the beer), expect most high-gravity brews to be above 7% ABV.

Also be aware that pints are 16 ounces, not 12, like the typical can or bottle. A pint of 7% ABV beer is going to deliver between 250 to 280 calories, an 8% around 300 to 320 calories, 9% up to 350 calories, and anything above 10% you’re heading into the 400 calorie zone.

My advice is if you’re going to be sipping on a higher calorie brew, think of it as your appetizer or dessert for the evening. Sure, you could go for a light beer instead, which tend to have 100 to 120 calories per bottle, but if you’re looking to take the edge off, it might take a few of those, whereas it may only take one IPA to get you to your happy place.

M. Okimoto & G. Kaye

Bottom line:

Practice moderation and be mindful that you may be drinking a meals’ worth of calories in your beloved high-gravity brew. If you’re a devout craft beer lover, perhaps ignorance is bliss in this case, but if you are calorie conscious, the higher-alcohol brews are indeed hefty hitters.