Beer has a reputation for producing beer bellies, but most beers have about the same amount of calories as sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Popular brands like Budweiser or Coors, for example, have 145 to 150 calories in a 12-ounce bottle or can, the same as 12 ounces of regular Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
Alcohol provides two-thirds of the calories in most beers, with the rest coming from carbohydrates in the grain used for brewing. Beer also contains protein and a range of vitamins and minerals, but only in very small amounts.
In 2013, the federal agency that regulates alcoholic beverages reversed its longstanding policy and finally allowed nutrition labeling on these products. Companies can now voluntarily list the calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fat content, but few do.
Here’s the amount of calories in 12 ounces of some popular beers:
Amy Tatelbaum helped compile the information for this table.