Don’t Drink Your Calories: 15 Seasonal Beers You Should SkipArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Alcohol—not cocktails, not beer, not wine, but alcohol itself—has a lot of calories: For every gram of pure alcohol you consume, you toss back seven calories.
Compare that to other nutrition: Protein only has about four calories per gram, and your body uses it to build muscle and stay full. Carbohydrates can fuel your workout or your day, bring along some fiber, and they’re only four calories per gram. But alcohol is just alcohol: Your body has to process it, you don’t get any fiber or protein to build muscle or stay full, and you’re gulping down double the calories in every gram. No wonder, then, that many diets start with slashing or eliminating these empty calories.
And although even alcohol can be incorporated in moderation into a weight loss plan, it’s important to know which drinks will do the most diet damage so you can make informed decisions. Seasonal beers, like the spicy, pumpkin-y beer that’s only available in the fall, might feel great after a day of pumpkin picking, but it often comes with a big bump in calories and in alcohol percentage. While many mass market American brews are five percent alcohol, most fall beers are in the six, seven, eight or even higher percentage of alcohol by volume—meaning they’re increasing calories by 20 percent or more. So be mindful if you do decide to indulge this season.
Here are 15 seasonal beers that are hiding high calorie numbers:
1. Sam Adams “20 Pounds of Pumpkin”
Alcohol: 5.7 percent
As this list goes, Sam’s new pumpkin offering is relatively low in calories and alcohol. But it’s one of the most ubiquitous beers around, and packs a lot more calories than other options under the same brand. The big American craft brewery’s Light offering, for example, is just 119 calories, and boasts more flavor than most mass market light beers.
2. Sierra Nevada Celebration
Carbs: 19.4 grams
One of the biggest bumps in American beer calories has come from the love affair with the pale ale: These hoppy, high-alcohol offerings are almost all loaded with calories. Sierra Nevada’s original Pale Ale is already 175 calories, but this winter offering ups the ante, clocking in at more than 10 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet, and about as many carbs as a candy bar.
3. Strongbow Honey Apple Cider
You might not think apples can get so caloric, and usually you’d be right. But Strongbow is already one of the higher-calorie ciders, with the regular variety clocking in at 172 per bottle. But this honey version adds even more. If you absolutely must indulge in an alcoholic apple cider, look for one that’s lighter in calories like the Crispin cider, which has 150 calories per bottle.
4. Pumpkick by New Belgium Brewery
Alcohol: 6 percent
This beer, from the makers of Fat Tire, is actually comparatively low in calories on this list—but if beer experts are to be believed, it’s not worth the calories. While many beers on this list score very high among reviewers, Pumpkick only gets a 50/100 rating on Ratebeer, one of the most trusted sites. If you’ve already made the decision to indulge, get a higher rating with less caloric hit: Rogue’s Pumpkin Patch Ale gets rated an 89—and has just 168 calories.
5. Funky Buddha Sweet Potato Casserole Beer
Alcohol: 7.9 percent
Sweet potato beer sounds like a tempting pairing for a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, but this bottle is almost a meal in itself: At 237 calories, it’s just short of a serving of real sweet potato casserole.
6. The Bruery: Autumn Maple Beer
Alcohol: 10 percent
The Bruery’s website claims that this beer is brewed with 15 pounds of yams per barrel—and all those starchy calories wind up in this high-alcohol glass. There’s fewer calories in a quarter cup serving of maple syrup—which is basically all sugar—than there is in a bottle of this brew.
7. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale:
Alcohol: 8 percent
The emperor is going to look like a pumpkin if this is what he’s drinking: There are more calories in this pumpkin ale than in six Twizzlers.
8. Victory Moonglow Weizenbock
Alcohol: 8.7 percent
This one isn’t pumpkin, but instead features fruitier flavors in a wheaty beer. But you’d be better off with eating actual fruit and drinking a regular beer: 260 calories is enough for a fruit salad of a whole orange, a whole apple, a half cup of blueberries, and one cup of strawberries.
9. Flying Dog “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Alcohol: 9 percent
The biggest thing you have to fear with this Maryland-based brew is a beer gut. Skip the beer belly and opt for a light beer, which is significantly less scary. And don’t forget to drink water in between sips. It will make your drink last longer and will result in fewer calories consumed.
10. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Alcohol: 8 percent
This St. Louis-born brew is said to be delicious, but has more than double the calories of another beer from nearby, Bud Light. If that’s too light for your taste buds, though, and you really don’t want to resist the fall flavor, you’d be better off opting for an Anchor Humming Ale, a 177-calorie offering from one of America’s oldest craft breweries.
11. Founders Breakfast Stout
Alcohol: 8.3 percent
This unique brew, with flavors of oats, chocolate and coffee, is one of the highest-rated on any list of beers: It gets a 100/100 rating on Ratebeer. But it’s also got enough calories to be a breakfast in its own right: At 249 calories per bottle, it’s one calorie short of a McDonald’s Egg White McMuffin. You’re better off eating a big breakfast that dishes out some nutrition with all those calories.
12. Southern Tier Pumking
Alcohol: 8.6 percent
So many pumpkin beers, so many calories… but pumpkin itself doesn’t actually pack that big a caloric punch. A bottle of this pumpkin brew has more calories than three cups of pureed pumpkin!
13. Lagunitas Brown Shugga
Alcohol: 9.8 percent
This slightly sweet beer, made with brown sugar, is advertised as “dangerously slammable” by the brewery—and dangerous is right. It’s got triple the calories of a mass market light beer, so if you start slamming, the calories will add up three times as fast. If you want a lower-calorie fall beer that isn’t pumpkin-flavored, Abita’s Octoberfest seasonal has 167 calories—safer for slamming, though that’s definitely not a serving strategy that fits with any weight loss plan.
14. Cigar City Good Gourd
Alcohol: 9.6 percent
This gourd really is good—it gets a rating of 98 out of 100—but it’s also really high in alcohol content, and thus has more calories than a Snickers bar.
15. Avery Rumpkin
Alcohol: 18 percent
At 18 percent alcohol, this beer has as much booze inside as some spirits: If it were labeled like a spirit, it would be 36 proof, the same as some cognacs! And if it were labeled like a food, it would be labeled “DANGER!”: At 543 calories, this bottle of beer has more energy than a whole portion controlled meal, and more than some fast-food hamburgers.
*All nutritional information taken from respective company websites or the USDA’s nutrient database on 10/03/2016.