Beer Alcohol and Calories: A Study

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Alcohol and Calorie Content of About 200 Popular Beers


Consumption of beer in the United States is about 33 gallons per person per year based on persons over 18 years of age (6). In all, over six billion gallons of beer are produced each year in the United States (6,7).

Generally three types of beer are sold: regular, light, and non-alcoholic. The term light intends to signify a product with less alcohol and fewer calories than regular beer. About 2-3 percent of beer sales are now of the light type (4). Non-alcoholic beer usually claims less than a half percent of alcohol and is intended for people who desire a product with little or no alcohol.

In all, 202 samples of beer were tested. The alcohol and calorie content for each sample are reported. In comparison to regular beer which averaged 5 percent alcohol and 43 calories per 100 ml, light and non-alcoholic beer averaged 16 and 94 percent less alcohol and 27 and 60 percent fewer calories, respectively.

Analysis of Beer

Brand/Brewer (Country)% AlcoholCalories/100ml
Anchor Porter Anchor (USA)5.6659
Anchor Steam Beer Anchor (USA)4.6343
Asahi Draft Beer Asahi (Japan)5.2141
Ballantine Prlvate Stock Malt Liquor Narragansett (USA)6.0147
Ballantine Indla Pale Ale Falstaff (USA)6.1753
Ballantine Premium Lager Beer Falstaff (USA)4.8243
Ballantine XXX Ale Falstaff (USA)5.0846
Bass & Co’s Bale Ale Bass (England)5.5145
Beamish Irish Cream Stout Beamish – Crawford (Ireland)4.9541
Beck’s Beer Brauerei Beck (Germany)5.1342
Big Barrel Australian Lager Cooper & Sons (Australia)4.6639
Black Horse Premium Draft Beer Black Horse (USA)4.7445
Blatz Beer G. Heileman (USA)4.8643
Blatz Milwaukee 1851 Beer Blatz (USA)4.4838
Boulder Porter Boulder (USA)6.0753
Budwelser King of Beers Anheuser Busch (USA)4.8240
Busch Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)5.1943
Carling Black Label Canadian Style Beer G. Heileman (USA)4.3839
Cerveza Carta Blanca Cerveceria Cauhtemoc (Mexlco)4.0236
Cerveza Tecate Beer Cervecerla Cauhtemoc (Mexico)4.4941
Chester Golden A]e Greenall Whitley (England)5.4344
Colt 45 Malt Liquor G. Heileman (USA)6.1149
Coors Banquet Beer Adolph Coors (USA)5.0341
Corona Extra Beer Cereveria Modela SA (Mexico)4.8445
Dos Equis XX Imported Beer Cauhtemoc (Mexico)4.7942
Dos Equis XX Special Lager Cerveceria Montezuma (Mexico)4.9644
Dragon Stout Desnoes – Goeddes (Jamaica)6.7962
Foster’s Lager Garlton & United (Australia)5.2542
Furstenberg German Beer Fustlich Ferstenbergische4.4339
Genesee 12 Horse Ale Genesee (USA)4.9844
Genesee Beer Genesee (USA)5.0343
Genesee Cream Ale Genesee (USA)4.7042
George Killian’s Irish Red Ale Adolph Coors (USA)5.7950
George Killian’s Irish Red Brand Beer Adolph Coors (USA)5.5449
Great Wall Imported Chinese Beer Green Bamboo (China)4.6345
Greenall’s Cheshire English Pub Beer Grecnall Whitley PLC (England)5.0040
Grizzly Canadian Lager Hamilton (Canada)5.4B43
Grolsch Lager Beer Grolsch Bierbrouweri (Holland)5.1744
Guinness Extra Stout Gulnness (Ireland)4.2743
Harfenrefrer Private Stock Malt Llquor Narragansett (USA)6.8750
Hamm’s Beer Pabst (USA)4.5340
Harp (mported Lager Beer Harp (Ireland)4.5540
Heineken Lager Beer Heineken (Holland)5.4145
Heineken Special Dark Beer Heineken (Holland)5.1748
Hofenperle Special Feldschlosschen Bier (Switzerland)5.2845
Kaiserdom Rauchbier-Smoked Bavarlan Dark Beer5.8849
Kirin Beer Kirin (Japan)6.8553
Knickerbocker Natural Beer Ruppert (USA)4.1638
Kronenbourg Beer Kronenbourg (France)5.1143
Kronenbourg Imported Dark Beer Kronenbourg (France)5.0846
Kuppers Kolsch Kuppers (Germany)5.3845
LA Anheuser Busch Premlum Pilsner Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)2.2926
Labatt’s 50 Canadian Ale5.3443
Liberty Ale Anchor (USA)6.1253
Lord Chesterfield Ale D.G. Yuengling & Son (USA)5.5744
Lowenbrau Dark Special Beer Miller (USA)5.0045
Lowenbrau Special Beer Miller (USA)5.1245
McEwans Scotch Ale Scottish & Newcastle (Scotland)9.5083
Michelob Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)4.9945
Michelob Classic Dark Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)4.7645
Michelob Classic Dark Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)4.9345
Mickeys Fine Malt Liquor G. Heileman (USA)5.7045
Miller High Life Beer Miller (USA)4.8043
Miller High Life Genuine Draft Beer, Miller (USA)5.0243
Molson Canadian Beer Molson (Canada)5.1943
Molson Golden Beer Molson (Canada)6.0448
Moosehead Canadian Lager Beer Moosehead (Canada)5.0843
O’Keefe Canadian Beer O’Keefe (Canada)4.9640
Olde English Brand 800 Malt Liquor Pabst (USA)6.1348
Old Milwaukee Beer Stroh (USA)4.5141
Olympia Premium Lager Beer Pabst (USA)4.7841
Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer Pabst (USA)5.0143
Piels Premium Draft Style Beer Stroh (USA)4.2339
Pilsener Urquell Beer Pilsener Urquell Pilzen (Czechoslovakia)4.2545
Red Strlpe Lager Beer Desnoes & Geddes (Jamaica)5.0443
Red White & Blue Special Lager Beer G. Heileman (USA)5.1543
Rheingold Premium Beer Rheingold (USA)4.7842
Rolllng Rock Extra Pale Premium Beer Latrobe (USA)4.6440
Rolling Rock Premlum Beer Latrobe (USA)4.5134
Samuel Adams Boston Lager Boston Beer (USA)4.8848
Schaefer Beer Stroh (USA)4.6640
Schlitz Beer Stroh (USA)4.7041
Schlitz Malt Liquor Stroh (USA)6.2952
Sheaf Stout Carlton & United (Australia)5.2849
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Sierra Nevada (USA4.8245
Sierra Nevada Porter Sierra Nevada (USA)5.3448
Sierra Nevada Stout Sierra Nevada (USA)5.1056
Signature Stroh Beer Stroh (USA)4.8443
Sol Cerveza Especial Cerveceria Montezuma (Mexico)4.1337
Spaten Munich Special Dark Beer Spaten-Brau (Germany)6.6352
St. Pauli Girl Beer St. Pauli (Germany)5.0039
St. Pauli Girl Dark Beer St. Pauli (Germany)5.0245
Stroh’s Beer Stroh (USA)4.6842
Suntory Draft Beer Suntory (Japan)4.6439
Superior Imported Beer Cerveceria Moctezuma (Mexico)4.3443
Thos Cooper & Sons Adelaide Lager Cooper & Sons (Australia)4.2736
Thos Cooper & Sons Naturally Brewed Real Ale Cooper & Sons (Australia)6.7745
Thos Cooper & Sons Naturally Brewed Stout Cooper & Sons (Australla)7.1058
Tolly Origlnal Premium Ale Tollei-ache & Cobbold (England)4.8541
Tsingtao Beer Tsingtao (China)4.7943
Tuborg Deluxe Dark Export Quality Beer G. Heileman (USA)5.1146
Tuborg Export Quality Beer G. Heileman (USA)5.0244
Tusker Malt Lager Bia Ni Bora (Kenya)5.2442
Utica Club Pilsener Lager Beer West End (USA)4.8227
Watney’s Red Barrel Beer Stag (England)3.9240
Wurzburger Hofbrau Pilsner Beer Wurtzburger Hofbrauag (Germany)5.4245
Yuengling Porter D.G. Yuengllng & Son (USA)4.1340
Yuengllng Premium Beer D.G. Yuengling & Son (USA)4.6539

Brand/Brewer (Country)% AlcoholCalories/100ml
Amstel Light Bier Amstel Brouwerij B.V. (Holland)3.9628
Anheuser Busch Natural Light Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)4.1231
Bud Light Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)3.8833
Coors Llght Beer Adolph Coors (USA)4.3630
Dribeck’s Light Low Calorie Beer Brauerei Beck (Germany)3.3928
Genesee Light Beer Genesee (USA)3.5527
Michelob Light Beer Anheuser Busch (USA)4.5239
Miller Lite Pilsner Beer Mlller (USA)4.4029
Molson Light Beer Molson (Canada)2.4123
Nordik Wolf Light Imported Beer A.B. Pripps Bryggerier (Sweden)4.7031
Old Milwaukee Premium Light Beer Stroh (USA)3.8232
Pabst Extra Light Low Alcohol Beer Pabst (USA)2.5019
Piels Naturally Light Beer Stroh (USA)4.4940
Rheingold Extra Light Beer Rheingold (USA)4.3227
Schaeler Light Lager Beer Stroh (USA)4.0734
Schlitz Light Pilsner Beer Stroh (USA)4.2831
Stroh Light Beer Stroh (USA)4.4535
Watney’s London Light Beer Watney Combe Reid (England)3.5629
Wurtzburger Hofbrau Pure Bavarian Light Beer Wurtzburger Hofbrau Ag (Germany)5.4443

TABLE 3–ALC0H0L AND CALORIE CONTENT OF NON-ALCOHOLIC BEERBrand/Brewer (Country)% AlcoholCalories/100mlBass Barbican Non-Alooholic Malt Beverage Bass (England)0.1015Clausthaler Non-Alcoholic Herbfrisches Schankbier Bindlng Brauerei (Germany)0.4413Clausthaler Hon-Alcoholic Herbfrlsches Schankbier Bindlng Brauerel (Germany)0.4814Elan Swiss Brew Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage Feldschloschen (Switzerland)0.5025Kallber All Natural Non-Alcoholic Brew Light Malt Beverage Guinness (England)0.1014Kingsbury Non-Alcoholic Malt Bev. G. Heileman (USA)0.1014
Metbrau All Natural Draft Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage Metropolls (USA)0.5021
Moussy Non-Alcohollc Malt Beverage Cardlnal Filbourg (Switzerland)0.1016
Saint Michael’s Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage St. Michael’s (USA)0.7317
Wurtzburger Hofbrau Non-Alcoholic Light Malt Beverage Wurzberger Hofbrau Ag (Germany)0.1030


Beer is a generic name for beverages made by fermentation of extracts of cereal grain, particularly barley, or other starchy material (1,8). Beer is a beverage known since antiquity and next to wine is probabLy the oldest of prepared food drinks. In modern times the countries of northern Europe set the style of beer as it appears today. In fact, the words “beer,” “brewing,” and “Lager” are all of German origin (1,8).

Beer is defined in Connecticut Statutes (2) as any beverage obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of an infusion or decoction of barley, malt and hops in drinking water and containing more than one-half of one percent of absolute alcohol. Taxes on beer sold in Connecticut are collected by the Excise Tax Division of the Department of Revenue Services at the rate of $3 per barrel (not less than 28 nor more than 31 gallons per barrel).


Samples were collected at wholesale beer distributors in Connecticut by inspectors of the Excise Tax Division of the Department of Revenue Services during April and May, 1987. Analysis for alcohol content was by AOAC methods (5) using gas chromatography (3). Proteins, ash, and solids were analyzed by AOAC methods (5). Carbohydrate content was calculated as percent total solids – (% protein + % ash) Calories were calculated as (% alcohoL X 6.93) + ((96 carbohydrate + %protein) X 4) (3). Duplicate analyses for alcohol in the same container of beer showed an average deviation of 0.057 percent and duplicates for protein 0.05 percent.


Of the 202 samples tested, 163 were regular beer (Table 1), 26 were light beer (Table 2), and 13 were non-alcoholic beer (Table 3). These represented 81, 19 and 9 different brands of regular, light, and nonalcoholic beer, respectively. Each Table lists the brand name of the beer, the name of the brewer, the country of origin, alcohol content, and the calories per 100 ml (milliliters) (3.5 ounces).

Alcohol in regular, light, and non-alcoholic beer averaged 5.0, 4.1, and 0.3 percent, respectively (Table 4). Calories in regular, light and non-alcoholic beer averaged 43, 32, and 17 per 100 ml, respectively. The range in values for alcohol and calories was wide. Alcohol in regular beer ranged from 1.0 to 9.5 percent, while light beer ranged from 2.4 to 5.4 percent and non-alcoholic beer from 0.1 to 0.7 percent. Similarly, calories varied among all types of beer. Some variation was noted in alcohol content among different containers of the same type of beer. A dilference of 1.5 percent was found in one type of regular beer and 1.6 percent in another. Although the labels showed no code numbers, each container of beer is likely from a different manufacturing batch.

A comparison of alcohol and calorie content between regular and light beer from the same manufacturer can be made by examining Tables 1 and 2. For example, eight regular beers made by Anheuser Busch (does not include beer claiming half the amount of alcohol as regular beer) averaged 5.11 percent alcohol. Four light beers from the same manufacturer averaged 4.17 percent, 15 percent less than found in the regular beer. Calories in the same Anheuser Busch regular beer averaged 44 per 100 ml and 35 in light beer, or 20 percent lower calories. Similar comparisons may be made for other manufacturers.


Analyses were by Lucia McLean, Dr. Vipin Agarwal, Lois Hornig, Deborah Behnfield, and John Hayes. Arrangements and collections of samples were made by Pasquale Oronzo, James Pyne, and Robert Brown of the Excise Tax Division.


1. Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Vol. 1, 15th edition, 1974, Chicago, IL.

2. General Statutes of the State of Connecticut. revised January 1, 1987, sections 12-433 and 435.

3. Hankin, L. 1986. Analysis of wine and beer coolers. Bulletin 840, CT Agricultural Experiment Station.

4, Messenger, B. 1988. Coors Target: Beer across America. Prepared Foods 157:58-61.

5. Official Methods of Analysis. 1984. 14th edition, S. Williams (ed.). Assoc. Official Analytical Chemists, Arlington, VA.

6. Statistical Abstracts ol the United States. 1985 105th edition, Washington, DC.

7. Statistical release Dept. of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF R A:I 5130-2.

8. The Chemistry and Technology of Food and Food Products edition. M.B. Jacobs (ed.). 1951. Interscience Publishers, Analysis of Beer.

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Carla Lauter was the founder of The Beer Babe and has been a beer blogger and expert for several decades. She's been interviewed in beer publications and podcasts about her favorite brews and the craft brewing scene. While she's ceased her involvement with The Beer Babe, her legacy remains in the various reviews and articles she has written.