Beer Belly Battles
A guide to enjoying your favorite high-calorie beer and burning it off.
Micro-brews like the grapefruit-flavored double IPA and the velvety Russian imperial have heavenly flavors—but what else do they have? A sinful number of calories. Brooklyn Double Chocolate Stout packs a belt-busting 320 calories in a bottle, while the palate-pleasing Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA has a whopping 450 calories.
Why are these brews so bad for your waistline? Beer is packed with high-calorie sugar and starch in order to feed the variant yeast strain, which ultimately converts into alcohol—and in most cases, the more starch and sugar, the more delightful the flavor. Most beer lovers don’t know this, though, because the U.S. doesn’t require breweries to include nutritional information on their products—they’re regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau, not the Food and Drug Administration.
Despite the popularity of these high-calorie beers, low-calorie options are plentiful. The key is to look for low-alcohol beers such as Stouts (not Imperial), Wheats, Ambers, Pilsners and Pale Ales. Dogfish Festina Peche has only 160 calories and Dogfish Shelter Pale Ale has 168. If you’re watching your waistline but are itching for a Brooklyn brew, go for the Brown Ale at 190 calories or maybe a Brooklyn Pilsner weighing in at a lean 155. Even major breweries offer light options: Samuel Adams Light has a low 119 calories, while the New Belgium Skinny Dip has 110.
If you’re still unconvinced, you’ll just have to burn off your favorite brew. WE enlisted Hampton Young, a Charleston-based fitness instructor and nutritionist, to give us tips for sweating off your highest calorie favorites without hitting the gym:
Beer: Flying Dog Horn Dog
Calories: At a whopping 314 calories, this beer is equal to eating an enchilada.
Burn By: “Find your favorite mini golf course and hit the links for an hour and fifteen minutes. Not only is it a lot of fun, but all the walking is a good cardiovascular workout,” says Young.
Beer: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
Calories: This jaw dropping 330 calorie brew is equivalent to a roast beef sandwich.
Burn by: “Break out some nails and a hammer and fix up that loose patio floor for a total of 55 minutes,” suggests Young. “Carpentry is a great way to use all those muscles for a full-body workout.”
Beer: Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA
Calories: Not your average canned beer, this has 310 calories—just about the same as a can of beef chili.
Burn by: “Put down that can and pick up some lotion, it’s time for a massage for your significant other. 60 minutes of upper body exertion does wonders for strength and burns lots of beer calories.”
Beer: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Calories: 320 calories are packed in this brew, equal to a cheeseburger.
Burn by: “Almost an hour of shoveling that snow should do the trick. It will be a great cardio and full body workout.”
Beer: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Calories: A hefty 450 Calories, this choice is like eating a big slice of sausage-topped pizza.
Burn by: “Pull up those leggings and put in your favorite kickboxing video for an hour. It is a helpful calisthenics exercise for the times you just can’t make it out of the house.”