In July, the Beer Institute, a trade organization that represents Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA among other major beer conglomerates, proposed a new initiative that might give you some things to think about before you throw back the next brew.
The Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative would encourage beer companies to include nutritional info on their labels, listing the serving size of calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and alcohol by volume.
But should you judge a beer’s health by its number of calories? What about craft beers, which tend to be higher in calorie, but pack in more antioxidants via ingredients like hops?
Hops wouldn’t even show up on a nutritional label, Dana White, a dietician and nutrition consultant for the Food Network, tells us.
And as far as vitamins and minerals go, the FDA only requires manufacturers to list vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
White, who’s also a craft beer enthusiast, says if drinkers are concerned about calories, they can control that in the amount and quality of what they drink. “I’d rather have 200 calories of one good tasting craft beer, compared to 200 calories of two cheaper beers,” she says.
“Alcohol in general has a heart health benefit associated with moderate alcohol consumption, one drink a day for women, two for men,” she says.
And while craft beers are usually higher in alcohol and in calorie, that’s not always the case.
“Flavor and ABV need not be mutually exclusive,” explains Josh M. Bernstein, the beer journalist and author of the forthcoming Complete IPA. “Lower-alcohol beers such as Stone Go To IPA, or Firestone Walker Pivo Pils are packed with taste and and not too much booze.”
Bernstein doesn’t think the addition of nutritional info would have much of an impact on imbibers’ drinking habits.
“Certainly, it’s useful to know that a glass of imperial stout will tip the caloric scales,” he says. “However, people know that topping cheeseburgers with bacon is not the most healthful move, and it hasn’t stopped many folks from being completely pork-obsessed.”