Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Believe it or not, there are Calories in beer. So while you’re being careful with that poached chicken and steamed vegie dinner[1] the two beers you wash it down with might double your Calories! [2]

Alcohol is much more a carbohydrate than a protein or far and for nutritional purposes you can count it as such. Note however that alcohol gives you 7 Calories per gram, rather than the 4 from normal carbs. Most beer will also contain sugars which contribute to Calories. The unfortunate thing is that brewers don’t have to put any nutritional information on their beer (nor wineries on wine for that matter). Luckily for us we can get a vague idea of the damage we’re doing to our careful planning from the alcohol volume. In some beers (much more so for wines) the sugar content is much less significant a contribution to Calories than the alcohol, although others can have a fairly high carbohydrate contribution from sugars. So alcohol-only derived Calories are a minimum and the true calories could be higher still (some examples of alcoholic Calories versus published Calories are given below).

The calculation is simple, but if you try to find information on the ‘net you mostly seem to get not-so-useful “select number of drinks” weekly calculators, where the drink classifications may or may not be relevant to whatever you’re guzzling. (“Red Wine” hey, 10% or 14% alcohol volume?)

My example is an Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer. A 330ml bottle at 6.6% alcohol volume.

The calculation:

  • Calculate millilitres of alcohol, 6.6% of 330ml:
    • 0.066 x 330 = 21.78
  • Calculate weight by multiplying millilitres by the specific gravity of alcohol:
    • 21.78 x 0.789 = 17.18442
  • Calculate Calories by multiplying by Calories per gram of alcohol:
    • 17.18442 x 7 = 120

So, there are at least 120 Calories in a bottle of Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer.

Another useful number to know is the number of Calories in a “standard unit” of Alcohol, in the UK and Australia this is 10ml:

  • 10 x 0.789 = 7.89
  • 7.89 x 7 = 55

This is a very useful number to know, no matter where you are you just need to know that your alcoholic Calorie intake is: <std-drinks>x55! Though that might be a bit hard to deal with after eight pints of larger.

So, food for thought:

A pint of Guinness, 568ml at 4.3%:

  • 0.043 x 568 = 24.424
  • 24.424 x 0.789 = 19.270536
  • 19.270536 * 7 = 135

The official figure for a pint of Guinness is 210 Calories, as you can see there is a good number of Calories from other sources.

A 187.5ml (¼ bottle) of 12.5% wine:

  • 0.125 x 187.5 = 23.4375
  • 23.4375 x 0.789 = 18.4921875
  • 18.4921875 x 7 = 129

Average figures available on the ‘net for “dry white” are around 140 Calories for this volume.

40ml of Lagavulin 16yo single malt whisky at 43%:

  • 0.43 x 40 = 17.2
  • 17.2 x 0.789 = 13.5708
  • 13.5708 x 7 = 95

So there you go, maybe you’ll hold that third beer now? Regretting those 6 pints of Guinness every Friday after work, and maybe a few other days too?

[1] 200g chicken breast, 100g broccoli, 7.5g olive oil, plus herbs and spices: 320 Calories.

[2] It is a somewhat unusual convention that “Calories” with a capital “C” represents “kilo-calories”. A Calorie is enough energy to raise the temperature of one litre of water by one degree, a calorie is enough to raise the temperature of one millilitre of water by one degree. Almost always when you see calories discussed in the context of nutrition (even with lowercase “c”) people are talking about kilo-calories.