How Much Do You Know About … Beer?

29 facts and tips to savor with your favorite malt beverage.
Beer Cheat Sheet

Beer bellies are B.S. "This is a silly myth," says Charlie Bamforth, Ph.D. chair and professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis and author of Beer: Health and Nutrition. "If folks get fat from drinking beer it's because their total calorie intake is too high and they are not working it off."

The Good News
Beer contains B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Also:

  • NO cholesterol
  • NO fat
  • very little sugar

What’ll ya have?

There are thousands of different beers. Here’s a selection of popular brews. Some are smarter grabs that save PointsPlus™ values. All are 12 ounces.

Beers with 2 PointsPlus values
Miller Genuine Draft Light 64 (MGD 64)

Beers with 3 PointsPlus values
Budweiser Select
Busch Light
Michelob Ultra
Miller Lite
Milwaukee's Best Light

Beers with More PointsPlus values
Miller Genuine Draft
Miller Highlife

The Bad News
Alcohol is one calorie-dense nectar, packing seven calories per gram. That's almost as much as fat, which has nine calories per gram. Don't blame the malt. "The most significant source of calories in beer is the alcohol itself," says Bamforth, "The stronger the beer, the more calories."

  • Most 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol by volume contains a PointsPlus value of 5.

  • The typical 16-ounce draft pint contains a PointsPlus value of 7.

  • Most 12-ounce "light" beers have a PointsPlus value of 4.

  • A 1-pint draft of light beer has a PointsPlus value of 5.

  • A 12-ounce non-alcoholic beer has a PointsPlus value of 2.

Another Reason It's Good to Be a Man
Some studies show that moderate drinking may help lower the risk of heart disease, particularly in men over 45 and women over 55. But what is moderate? For men, it's no more than two drinks per day. For women, it's no more than one. Exceed your quota, and the risk of heart and liver disease, stroke and accidents negate any perks.

Don't follow the lite
The terms "light" and "lite" (or any other cutesy variation) have no legal definition. They could mean the beer is light in color or lighter than lead—or anything else the guys at the brewery decided.

Watch your low-carb language
If the labels reads "low carbohydrate," the beer must have no more than 7 grams of carbohydrates per serving. But any beer can tout "reduced carbohydrates" or "lower carbohydrates" on its label, just so long as the brewery makes a more carb-heavy beer. Shifty, eh?

Do suds wine-style
A tip that adds civility and can shave PointsPlus values: "There's nothing wrong with pouring a beer into two glasses at dinner like you would with wine," says George F. Reisch, brewmaster for Anheiser Busch, Inc. Yes, you read correctly. One of the guys who makes Budweiser takes his Bud in a white-wine glass. "I actually think people should share beers more," Reisch adds. "It's smart and your last sip will still be cold."

Nix the nuts
Those robotic grabs of peanuts or cheddar fish can add up to triple the calories and PointsPlus values than all the beers you down. Be prepared: Drinking can lead to snacking, so keep the right stuff on hand—or bribe the bartender to stock better choices. Instead of party mix, try:

Unsalted pretzels 1 oz 3 PointsPlus values
94% fat-free microwave-popped popcorn 5 cups 3 PointsPlus values
Radishes (a German favorite) 1 cup 0 PointsPlus values

About the Writer
Jeffery Lindenmuth is a fine dining writer and lecturer, who has written for Esquire, Wine & Spirits, Men's Health and Cooking Light.