Beer Calorie Cheatsheet
Brooklyn Black Ops Oak Aged Imperial Stout-1
Image by lemasney via Flickr

I find it very important to have some idea of what I’m drinking in terms of calories, because I’ve lost over 100 pounds, and the only struggle I’ve encountered in keeping it off is my absolute love of really great beer. With this in mind, I’m sharing a simple formula that I modified from a few other bloggers (such as beercommdood) struggling with the same concept:

fl. oz. *ABV = potency / 60 = beers * 150 C = Estimated Calories.

With an average beer (indicated as beers below) at 5% in a 12 fl oz size coming out to about 150 calories on average, applying this formula to a standard brew (e.g. a Budweiser) works like this:

A 12 fl. oz. Budweiser * 5% ABV = 60 (potency)/ 60 = 1 beers * 150 Calories = 150 estimated Calories

Based very much on the idea that we know grams of alcohol are specifically increasing along with ABV, even though grams of carbs/fat/protein if any may be  staying the same or becoming less per volume in order to make room for the alcohol grams, we can gather that calories are increasing along with ABV. You might not have known but calories per gram of alcohol are similar to fat grams, and here’s some nutritional science on that:

Calculating calories per gram of carbohydrates, fat or protein is easy. All you need to remember is that:

* 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
* 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
* 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
* 1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories
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So with this in mind, we can derive a scale with which we can fairly accurately guess at the caloric content of beers according to the ABV rating, which is usually able to be determined via thebottle or web site.

12*5% = 60 / 60 = 1.0 * 150 = 150C (e.g. Budweiser American Ale)
12*6% = 72 / 60 = 1.2 * 150 = 180C (e.g. half a Rogue Shakespeare Stout)
12*7% = 84 / 60 = 1.4 * 150 = 210C (e.g. Sierra Nevada Torpedo)
12*8% = 96 / 60 = 1.6 * 150 = 240C (e.g. Russian River Pliny the Elder)
12*9% = 108 / 60 = 1.8 * 150 = 270C (e.g. half a Brooklyn’s Local 2)
12*10% = 120 / 60 = 2.0 * 150 = 300C (e.g. half a Brooklyn Black Ops)
12*11% = 132 / 60 = 2.2 * 150 = 330C (e.g. Rochefort Trappistes 10 Ale)
12*12% = 144 / 60 = 2.4 * 150 = 360C (e.g. Dogfish Head Santo Palo Marron)
12*13% = 156 / 60 = 2.6 * 150 = 390C
12*14% = 168 / 60 = 2.8 * 150 = 410C
12*15% = 180 / 60 = 3.0 * 150 = 440C
12*16% = 192 / 60 = 3.2 * 150 = 470C
12*17% = 210 / 60 = 3.4 * 150 = 500C (e.g. Mikkeller 黑)
12*18% = 222 / 60 = 3.6 * 150 = 530C (e.g. half a Dogfish Head World Wide Stout)
12*19% = 234/ 60 = 3.8 * 150 = 560C
12*20% = 246 / 60 = 4.0 * 150 = 590C
12*21% = 258/ 60 = 4.2 * 150 = 620C (e.g. Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA)

With this, we can deduct that a 12 fl oz Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (at a whopping 21% ABV) is a bit less than 2x our caloric rating for a 12 fl oz at 11% ABV (660C) or 12% ABV (720C). No matter, one bottle is about a third of a 2000 calorie daily diet.

We might also want to use these numbers to indicate how many average beers (the beers in my formula an the bud points in beercommdood formula) in order to get a guage of of Blood Alcohol Content. The following link is a BAC chart for men (look on that page for the Women’s chart) that breaks it down by hours of drinking. In America, a BAC of 08 is the legal threshold.

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24 Comments so far
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Nice! I’ve been trying to drop weight as well (having lost 60 lbs myself, and have hit a plateau of sorts for the past few years), and never thought to use my Bud Points system for caloric intake! DUH!!! Thanks for the tweak!

Comment by beercommdood

Thanks for the spark! I was using a far less formulaic (and far less accurate) method before. I’ve gotten some negative feedback on twitter from @dogfishbeer on the difference between Dogfish Head’s listed Calories for some of the bigger brews (Fort, Red & White, Palo Santo Marron, etc.) and my estimates using the formula.

I got told that what I was saying was ‘not cool‘ about these three beers (consumed as bottled) being over a day’s worth of calories for me (for a 2000 C daily intake), but if they’re not going to publish actual nutritional facts with nutritional breakdown and portions, I see it as up for debate. Your Bud Points gave me a great way to begin to more accurately estimate calories.

Cheers to you, and I hope it helps in every beer drinker’s battle of the bulge. By the way, my caloric counts and resulting weight gain or loss has improved dramatically since I started using the new method.

Comment by lemasney

Your proposed formula would be ok if all beers stated above would have the same final gravity. But some beers, especially the higher abv beers (12 to 21%), the double ipa’s (80 to 200 IBU and more…), have a way higher final gravity, this to balance the alcohol or the bitters. A higher FG means more residual sugars in such a particular beer. More sugars = more calories.

Comment by Geritt

I love the correction, and have very little knowledge of this aspect of the brewing process, nor what this might mean. Do you have a proposal for ways in which OG and FG could be added to the formula in such a way as to make the final number more reasonable? Maybe multiplying the FG (when available) with the ‘potency’ (ABV * fl oz) would do it? I imagine if we start with beercommdood’s numbers for bud points and make the equation work in reverse for a standard beer (150C for a 12 fl oz 5% ABV brew) so that the equation still comes out to 150C while reflecting the addition of FG as a factor, we might have something. What is the FG for a Budweiser Lager?

Comment by lemasney

I was thinking that using alcohol by itself fails to account for all of the calories supplied by residual sugars that the yeast *didn’t* ferment, and the carbohydrates. One formula that accounts for this (by way of final gravity), is:

cal per 12 oz beer = [(6.9 × ABW) + 4.0 × (RE – 0.1)] × FG × 3.55

“RE” is real extract. Rather than go on about that, you should really just read this:

Comment by m0j0

Agreed, but while ABV is almost always available, how can I determine OG and RE and FG if the brewer does not publish it? I’m planning on taking the caloric findings on the site and comparing them with my simpler formula to see how accurate it is, relatively speaking. Thanks very much for the find, and I hope that I can find the numbers published, it’ll make my caloric counting more accurate, if not easier.

Comment by lemasney

2,000 beers

Comment by Bob Skilnik

Easy to remember equation – thanks.

Comment by Georgia

My pleasure, and thanks again to beercommdood for the spark.

Comment by lemasney

I’m glad other people are trying to tackle this challenging question about beer and the waistline. For Brewers the below formula is how we calculate the Calories in Beer:

cal per 12 oz beer = [(6.9 × ABW) + 4.0 × (RE – 0.1)] × FG × 3.55
ABW = Alcohol By Weight
RE = “Real Extract” (RE, in °P) is a measure of the sugars which are fermented
FG = Final Gravity

Without these numbers any “formula” will only be an approximation. Which is why for my Calorie Range chart I used a specific final gravity and calculated backwards to determine the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) which you can then convert to ABW by a simple formula (ABW = (0.79 × ABV) / FG). This is the only accurate way to determine calories. Since most breweries do not list these “Beer Secrets” we have to guess based on one data point, ABV, instead of two.

So based on above formula:
If a beer has a OG (original gravity of 1.048 and a FG of 1.010 would result in a beer of 5% ABV and 163 calories.
If a beer has a OG of 1.055 and a FG of 1.017 you will get a beer that is also 5% ABV, but has 189 calories.

So you see without the Original Gravity (OG) and Final Gravity(FG) it is not an accurate measure of calories because when a beer is done fermenting the attenuation for every beer will be slightly different resulting in more or less unfermented sugar in the beer. The more unfermented sugar left in the beer the more “sweetness” (and calories) a beer has as opposed to a beer with less sugar will taste “drier” (and have less calories then a sweeter beer with the same ABV)

Comment by Simply Beer

Thanks for the info, I just don’t always have the benefit of the OG or FG. I’m aware of the inaccuracy, which is why I use the word ‘estimated’. I’m not too worried about the inaccuracy, I’m really just looking for a ballpark. If the FG and OG were as widely published as ABV, we’d have something here. Thanks for continuing the conversation. Really, though, when are brewers going to be held to the same nutritional labeling standards that every other beverage company is?

Comment by lemasney

lets just say that the truly good beers have alot of calories and make adjustments for a good brew!

Comment by

A lot of calories doesn’t mean anything to someone who’s counting, with all due respect. Is a lot 200, 300, or 600?

Comment by lemasney


Comment by mark

btw. for all intents and purposes, your cheatsheet is good enough. residual sugars are largely inconsequential next to the calories from alcohol. I am pleased with your work.

Comment by mark

Thanks, Mark!

Comment by lemasney

great formula! Thanks, as I have lost 20 lbs so far, and I love great beer too. I am actually trying to find the carbohydrates in beer, as I would like to take that into account as well (when I am drinking high ABV Belgian ales that I love so dearly).

Comment by Brendan

Thanks, Brendan! Yeah I happen to love DIPAs, and they’re loaded with cals.

Comment by lemasney

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In your table, your math starts going wrong at 12*17, which is 204, not 210. You can simplify the formula to (oz * abv * 2.5). Reduce multiplier to 2.25 for dry/clear beers, increase multiplier to 2.75 for sweet/dark/heavy beers.

Comment by Joe

Good catch Joe. I stopped writing this blog a few years ago, and stopped drinking about 8 months ago, so my advice now is that the best way to watch your calories in regards to beer is just not drink, but still, good catch.

Comment by lemasney

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Simplified: calories= 30. ABV

Comment by Eric T. Schellekens

For a 12 fl ounce bottle that is.

Comment by Eric T. Schellekens

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