Beer: Making Sense of All the Choices

  • Post category:Beers

Marketing of beer has changed drastically in the past five years. Let’s face it: United States domestic lagers taste pretty similar. Companies have realized this and have moved to advertising based on calories and carbs.

The first point to note is that carbs aren’t really all that important. They help determine calories, but taken alone don’t tell us anything interesting. What’s more important to the drinker who would like to remain fit is how many calories he or she has to take in to get the desired effect of alcohol.

The Alcohol By Volume has come up with a metric to determine how “efficient” a beer is. This means minimizing the calories for a given amount of alcohol consumption, or how to get your buzz without gaining tons of fat. Here is the methodology: the efficiency ratio measures the percentage of a beer’s calories from alcohol versus other sources. So, the efficiency ratio says nothing about price or taste — it’s simply a measure of which beer to drink if you want to look good.

While the most efficient beers might not be the tastiest, the efficiency ratings are useful for relative comparisons. Which domestic lager is the best? Which microbrew is the best?

The calories and alcohol by volume (ABV) were compiled from various sources, often directly from the brewers. This site will do its best to stay current and maybe one day sponsor an actual study of its own like this one from many years ago. Note that the below figures apply to beer in the United States and may not apply to states with different beer regulations (CO, KS, OK, UT and some counties elsewhere).

50 Select Beer Calories (per 12 oz.), ABV, Efficiency (see Extended for all 265)