Where Do Calories in Beer Come From?

Anyone who loves beer knows about the on-going debate between low calories and great taste. Is it possible to have a low-calorie, great tasting beer? And where, exactly, do the calories in beer come from?

Beer is made up of four ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. In some cases, ingredients other than barley are used, such as rice, corn, or wheat. These may be used for cost, flavor, or body reasons.

The majority of calories in beer come from the carbohydrates, most of which come from the malt. As mentioned above, barley is the most popular grain used in the malt, but others are used, too. These grains all have different carb counts, which means that using one instead of the other will affect the total carb amount in the beer. You can also brew with greater or lesser amounts of malt to increase or decrease the total carbohydrate count.

It’s important to remember that the malt style and quantity play a huge role in – and therefore have a huge impact on – the flavor of the beer.

In addition to carbs, a smaller number of calories come from the alcohol in beer. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, so beers with higher alcoholic content (the beer’s alcohol by volume [ABV], usually represented as a percentage) will have more calories than those with a lower alcoholic content.

There are many good reasons to be cognizant of the amount of calories one is consuming throughout the day. Just as important, though, is enjoying that which you are eating and drinking. And maybe a low-calorie beer isn’t exactly what you have a taste for. No problem. Enjoy what you like, just do so in moderation.

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