Beer Companies In The United States Decide To Include Nutrition Information On Cans — But Will You Want To Read It?

Beer. Perhaps you have given thought to what’s in it before you’ve take a swig or before you’ve purchased it at the liquor store. Maybe you have elected for a “light” beer instead of a full flavored IPA purely because of caloric reasons, but how many calories are you really avoiding? Up until now, determining just what your favorite beer might be doing to your waistline has been a guessing game to a large extent. In fact, guessing what ingredients your favorite beer contains has been a guessing game as well — up until now.

The trade association that represents over 3,300 brewers in the United States, The Beer Institute, just released voluntary guidelines that will have virtually every beer brewer across the country pasting their nutrition information right on their labels. As it turns out, all six of the major beer brewers in the country, (which all-told produce over 80 percent of the beer sold in the United States) have agreed to the new guidelines and will begin to soon release their beer with nutrition and ingredient information attached.

The Beer Institute [Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images]Jim McGreevy, the president of the Beer Institute, talked about why he is encouraging Beer makers in the United States to go along with the guidelines.

“The Beer Institute, and its member companies, believes this is a step in the right direction to demonstrate a commitment to quality and transparency through these voluntary measures. Beer is the most popular alcohol beverage in the United States, and I look forward to brewers and importers including a serving facts statement along with disclosing all ingredients in their products. Providing meaningful information will ultimately empower the consumer when making decisions regarding the beer beverage of their choice.”

A lack of nutrition and ingredient information on beer and other alcohol products seems like it would be in violation of Food and Drug Administration guidelines, but beer and other alcohol types aren’t regulated by the FDA, but rather, the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

So, what will the nutrition and ingredient information tell you about your favorite beers?

According to the new Beer Institute guidelines, participating beer makers will not only include a list of ingredients on primary or secondary beer packaging, they will also include calories, carbohydrates, protein, alcohol by volume and fat information. A serving facts statement will also be included in the beer packaging, along with a possible website link with which to garner even more health information about that particular brand of beer. Additionally, according to the new Beer Institute Voluntary Initiative, all participating brewers should also make sure they are adding freshness date or date of production to each beer unit, be it can, bottle, or keg (something that most beer brewers already are doing).

The Beer Institute [Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]Though the new ingredient and health listing guidelines have a deadline of 2020 for all participating beer brewers, beer drinkers in the United States will see listings on their favorite brews in the very near future. The major beer makers in the United States, including Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors, already have plans in the work to include the dietary information on their packaging in the coming months.

So what beers have the highest and lowest calories? Samuel Adams Boston Lager tops the heavy beer calorie count with 180 calories per bottle. Right behind it are Guinness Extra Stout and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, both with 176, Pete’s Wicked Ale with 172, and Anheuser Busch Ice Pale Lager with 171. Anheuser Busch not only has one of the heaviest beers, but also comes in at the lightest with its Budweiser Select 55, with only 55 calories. Beck’s Premier Light has only 63 calories, and Miller 64 has — as its name implies — 64 calories. Amstel Light clocks in at just 95 calories, as does Busch Light.

If you’re watching your waistline, beer brewers will soon make it much easier to judge which beers will do you the most good.

[Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images]