No, the number of calories in a pint has not somehow miraculously fallen, or found to be overstated. But new research carried out by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has found that a significant majority of people in Britain believe there are more calories in beer than there really are.
When asked, 60 per cent of men overestimated the calories in a pint, and a whopping 74% of women did the same.
The fact that three out of four women believe beer is more calorific than it really is is surely a significant factor in the very low proportion of women who drink beer, and one that is easily remedied – hey, brewers, you could simply do an information campaign informing people of the truth rather than spending million on a patronising clear ‘beer’ in a bottle with pretty flowers on.
Revealing details of the research, the BBPA included some handy stats which you may want to share with weight-conscious friends down the pub:
- A half pint (284ml) of 2.8% ABV bitter is 80 calories
- A half pint (284ml) of 4% ABV lager is 96 calories
- A 175ml glass of 12.5% red wine is 119 calories
- A 175ml glass of 12.5% white wine is 131 calories
Yes, a pint is more than a glass of wine. But at 220 calories for a pint of premium cask ale, that’s really not too many (and the point is, it still remains much lower than most people think). I once did WeightWatchers, and a pint of ale has the same points value as a naked baked potato with no filling, no butter, nothing.
I’m not sure there are many people who would describe a baked potato as fattening. So why do people who drink beer get fat (because yes, some of them – me as a case in point – do)? Well, you wouldn’t have a nice dinner and then go out afterwards and eat five or six baked potatoes, would you?
It’s all about moderation – the beer itself is not fattening, but eat or drink too much of anything and over time it will start to show.
And of course, the industry sanctioned lined – which also happens to be true – is that a bag of crisps almost doubles the calorific value of a round, while a packet of peanuts contains twice as many calories as a pint of beer.
On another note, you might have spotted the comparison above with a 2.8% pint of beer. That’s because the research (carried out by ComRes with a sample of over 2000 adults nationwide) also asked people if they would consider drinking a 2.8% beer as a refresher on a hot day. This follows the new tax break that came in last year for beers of 2.8% or below as an effort to get people to moderate their alcohol consumption. (Something we could all have welcomed if it wasn’t being paid for by a tax hike on beers of over 7%, which hammers the craft beer industry and displays a total lack of understanding of the beer market).
A lot of drinkers – myself included – are sceptical about whether a beer can deliver flavour at 2.8%, and wonder why the limit wasn’t set at 3.4% – not a huge difference in alcohol, but a massive one in terms of what a brewer can do. (Trinity from Redemption Brewery at 3% ABV is a beer that some people drink because it’s low ABV, but most drink in spite of its ABV – it’s simply a wonderful beer; forget the alcohol.) But the research shows that about a third of people – more women than men – are happy to give 2.8% a go.
That figure would surely have been higher if the limit had been a little more realistic, but that’s what we’re stuck with and many brewers are now rising to the challenge of making beer at 2.8% that’s still worth drinking. I’ll be doing a blind tasting of a wide range of low ABV beers very soon, damning the bad and praising any we find that are worth a go. I know craft beer is playing in high ABVs just now, but when you drink as much beer as I do, it’s very nice indeed to have a low strength alternative.
And if it’s lower in calories too, well, that does us no harm at all.