It’s Friday night and you’re browsing the tap list at your local beer bar. Not much is left of your New Year’s resolution to eat better, drink less, and be a generally healthier person. But it’s not entirely gone. You figure, you might as well get a light beer instead of a dark beer.
Sadly, you’re making the wrong choice. Well, you’re making the wrong choice if you’re actually trying to stick to your dying resolutions. Dark beer, contrary to popular belief, can be just as light in alcohol, calories, and density as a light beer.
Dark beer comes from heavily roasted grains. Just like a gentle toasting will result in a beer amber in color, a heavy hand on the heat will turn the grains darker. Darker roasts also add chocolate and coffee flavors. What they don’t add is more alcohol, which has a direct correlation to more calories.
In general, the higher the alcohol by volume, the higher the calories and how heavy the beer seems. Stouts, porters, and black lagers that hover in the range of four to five percent alcohol by volume can have less alcohol and calories than a light pilsner that feels and tastes like water. Take, for example, Guinness. A serving of Guinness has 125 calories, while one of the most common light beers out there, a Bud Light, has 110 calories. Or, if you’re into flavor, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has 175 calories, and the higher alcohol Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA has close to 300 calories.
Of course, dark beers don’t always have fewer calories than light beers. Just don’t write off all of the dark beers you see before giving them a chance. Judge a beer by its alcohol content, not its color, if you’re looking for something light on calories, light on alcohol, and light on the tongue.