During the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted effort to eat better, exercise more, drink less beer and basically get my shit together. I’ve never really been a health-conscious person, so all of these things were a challenge at first. Hell, they still are. But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and when I set my mind to something, I do it.
I set my mind to losing a bunch of weight, and so far I’ve dropped more than 60 pounds. My success can largely be attributed to a drastic reduction in the amount of beer I consume and a shift in the types of beer I drink. Like it or not, beer is not healthy, and frankly, drinking lots of beer over time will make you a fat fuck. Trust me, I know.
But I love beer. A lot. And there was no way I was cutting beer out completely. That meant I had to come up with some strategy for drinking beer that would not counteract all of my other efforts to get in shape.
The obvious answer: Drink only light beer. But therein lay a problem. Light beer, in general, sucks. It’s flavorless and uninteresting.
All of this got me thinking about the amount of calories in the beer I drink. After some cursory research, it became very clear that the amount of calories in beer is directly related to the alcohol content or alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV, the more calories. That 12-ounce Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, with an ABV of somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent, has many, many more calories than that Anchor Brewing California Lager, which has an ABV of 4.9 percent.
This may seem obvious, but I didn’t really think of it that way. So the calorie-conscious beer drinker wants to limit the amount of high-ABV brews he consumes or at least balance them out with some low-calorie beers. And, thankfully, low calorie doesn’t always mean “light beer,” or at least not the way the average beer drinker thinks of light beer. (Think: Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, etc.)
“Session beers,” or beers with an ABV of less than 5 percent, are a good place to start. Session beer is quite popular today, and lots of great breweries are experimenting with the concept. Though they’re generally less flavorful than “bigger” beers, I’ve found some session options that I really enjoy. The one that comes to mind is Allagash Brewing Co.’s House Beer, which unfortunately is only sold at Allagash’s brewery in Portland, ME. (I travel to Portland fairly often, and I always pick up a case of House Beer when I do.) Notch Brewing Co. and Full Sail Brewing Co. also make some quality session brews.
I still drink my fair share of big double IPAs and imperial stouts, but I’m much more conscious of the ABV of the beers I consume these days. And I’m always on the lookout for great, low-ABV session beers.
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