Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

The Battle of the Bottle: Bourbon Vs Beer Calories

bourbon vs beer calories

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Step into the ring and witness the ultimate showdown between two beloved libations: bourbon and beer. In this corner, we have the smoky and sophisticated spirit known as bourbon, and in the opposite corner, the refreshing and bubbly brew called beer. 

But today, we’re not just talking about the flavors or the buzz they bring – we’re diving straight into the calorie count.

Get ready to uncover the truth about bourbon vs beer calories and discover which contender packs a punch when it comes to your waistline. 

So grab your glass and embark on this calorie-fueled journey together. Let the battle begin!

Introduction

bottles of bourbon placed on shelves

How do calories come into play when comparing bourbon and beer?

When comparing the calorie content of bourbon and beer, it’s important to note that they don’t contain about the same amount.

Calories play a significant role in comparing bourbon and beer, as they contribute to the overall energy content of these beverages.

Understanding the calorie differences can be important for individuals who are conscious of their calorie intake or are trying to manage their weight.

  • Calorie content: Both bourbon and beer contain calories, but the specific calorie count can vary based on several factors.
  • Alcohol content: Alcohol significantly contributes to the calorie content of both bourbon and beer. It contains 7 calories per gram, which is more than carbohydrates or protein (4 calories per gram) and just under the calorie content of fat (9 calories per gram). As a result, other alcoholic beverages with higher alcohol content generally have more calories.
  • Other factors: Besides alcohol, the calorie content of bourbon and beer can be influenced by additional ingredients used in production, such as sugars, grains, or additives. The brewing or distillation process, including aging and fermentation, can also impact the final calorie count.
  • Serving sizes: It’s important to consider the serving sizes when comparing calories. Bourbon is typically consumed in smaller quantities, such as a standard 1.5-ounce (44 ml) serving, while beer is often consumed in larger volumes, such as a 12-ounce (355 ml) can or bottle.
  • Mixers and additives: When bourbon is mixed with other ingredients like fruit juice, red wine, sweetener, soda, or juice mixer, the calorie content can increase significantly. Similarly, flavored or higher-alcohol beers and those with added sugars or syrups may have a higher calorie count compared to standard beer varieties.

Bourbon Calories

How many calories are typically found in a serving of bourbon?

The calorie content of bourbon can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, proof, and serving size. 

On average, a standard 1.5-ounce (44 ml) serving of bourbon contains approximately 97-124 calories. [1]

However, it’s important to note that this calorie range is an estimate and can differ between specific brands or variations of bourbon.

What factors contribute to the calorie content of bourbon?

Several factors contribute to the calorie content of bourbon:

  • Alcohol content: Alcohol itself contributes the majority of the calories in bourbon. Since alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, the more
  •  the alcohol content, the more calories the bourbon will have. Bourbons typically range from 40% to 50% ABV (80 to 100 proof), and higher-proof bourbons will generally have slightly more calories.
  • Sugars and carbohydrates: Bourbon is made from grains, such as corn, barley, rye, or wheat. During fermentation, these grains are converted into alcohol, but some residual sugars and carbohydrates may remain, adding a small number of calories to the final product. However, the impact of these sugars on the overall calorie count is relatively minimal.
  • Aging and barrel influence: The aging process of bourbon in charred oak barrels contributes to its flavor profile but has minimal impact on its calorie count. While some flavors may be derived from compounds extracted from the wood during aging, these compounds do not significantly contribute to the calorie content.

Does the aging process of bourbon affect its calorie count?

No, the aging process of bourbon does not significantly affect its calorie count. The primary purpose of aging bourbon is to develop its flavor and character through the interaction between the whiskey and the charred oak barrels. 

While aging may impact the taste, aroma, and smoothness of the bourbon, it does not substantially alter the calorie content.

Are there any low-calorie options available for bourbon drinkers?

Yes, there are low-calorie options available for bourbon drinkers. Here is a list of low-calorie options with a brief explanation:

  • Bourbon on the rocks: Enjoying bourbon on the rocks (over ice) is a simple and low-calorie way to savor the flavors without adding any additional calories. It allows you to appreciate the characteristics of the bourbon while keeping the calorie count minimal.
  • Neat pour: Opting for a neat pour means drinking bourbon straight from the glass without any mixers or additional ingredients. This allows you to experience the full flavor profile of the bourbon without adding any extra calories.
  • Bourbon and soda water: Mixing bourbon with soda water is a popular low-calorie option. The soda water adds a bit of effervescence and dilutes the bourbon, reducing the overall calorie content. Be mindful of the serving size and amount of soda water you use to keep the calorie count low.
  • Bourbon and diet soda: If you prefer a bit of sweetness in your bourbon drink, mixing it with a diet soda can be a low-calorie option. Diet sodas are typically calorie-free or very low in calories, making this a suitable choice for those watching their calorie intake.
  • Bourbon and unsweetened iced tea: Combining bourbon with unsweetened iced tea can create refreshing and low-calorie mixed drinks. The unsweetened tea adds flavor and volume to the alcoholic drink without adding significant calories. Be cautious with any sweeteners or additional ingredients that may increase the calorie count.
  • Bourbon and club soda with a splash of citrus: Mixing bourbon with club soda and adding a splash of citrus, like lemon or lime, can create a light and flavorful low-calorie drink. The citrus adds a refreshing twist, and the club soda keeps the calorie count low.

Beer Calories

a bartender pouring beer on a huge beer mug

What is the average calorie content of beer?

The calorie content of beer can vary depending on factors such as the beer style, brand, brewing process, and alcohol content. 

On average, a standard 12-ounce (355 ml) serving of beer contains approximately 100-150 calories. [2]

However, it’s important to note that this range is an estimate and can differ significantly between different beer styles and individual brands.

How do different types of beer vary in terms of calories?

Different types of beer can vary significantly in terms of calorie content due to variations in ingredients, brewing techniques, and alcohol content. 

Here’s a breakdown of how some common beer styles compare in terms of calories:

  • Light beers: Light beers are specifically formulated to have lower calorie content. They often range from 90 to 120 calories per 12-ounce serving, with some even as low as 60 calories. These beers achieve lower calories by reducing the amount of malt and alcohol content while still maintaining a lighter flavor.
  • Lager and Pilsner: These popular beer styles typically have a moderate calorie range, averaging around 120 to 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. However, the calorie content can vary depending on specific brands and brewing techniques.
  • Pale Ale and IPA: These hop-forward beer styles generally contain slightly higher calorie counts compared to lagers and pilsners. On average, they range from 150 to 200 calories per 12-ounce serving. The additional calories can be attributed to a higher malt and sometimes alcohol content.
  • Stouts and Porters: These dark, rich beers often have a higher calorie count due to their increased malt content and sometimes higher alcohol content. They typically range from 150 to 250 calories per 12-ounce serving.

What are the main factors influencing beer’s calorie count?

Several factors influence the calorie count of beer:

  • Alcohol content: Alcohol is a significant contributor to the calorie content of beer. As mentioned earlier, alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. Beers with a higher alcohol content will generally have more calories. However, it’s important to note that alcohol content alone does not determine the entire calorie count, as carbohydrates and residual sugars also contribute.
  • Malt content: Malted grains, typically barley, are the primary source of fermentable sugars in the beer. The amount and type of malt used in brewing can impact the calorie content. Beers with higher malt content, such as stouts or bocks, tend to have higher calorie counts.
  • Fermentation process: The fermentation process converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The length of fermentation and the yeast strain used can affect the final calorie count. Beers with a longer fermentation process may have slightly lower residual sugars and, consequently, a slightly lower calorie content.
  • Additional ingredients: Some beers may incorporate additional ingredients, such as fruits, spices, or sweeteners, which can contribute to higher calorie content. Flavored beers or those with added sugars typically have more calories than standard beer varieties.

Are there light or low-calorie beer options for those concerned about calorie intake?

Yes, light or low-calorie beer options are available for those concerned about calorie intake. Here is a list of recommended alcoholic drinks:

  • Light beer: Light beers are specifically brewed to have lower calorie and carbohydrate content than regular ones. They typically have a lighter body and milder flavor profile. Light beers can contain around 90-100 calories or even fewer per 12-ounce (355 ml) serving.
  • Ultra-light beer: Ultra-light beers take the concept of light beer a step further, offering even lower calorie and carbohydrate content. They are designed to be extremely light and crisp, making them an excellent choice for those seeking the lowest-calorie beer options on the market. Ultra-light beers can have as little as 55-65 calories per 12-ounce (355 ml) serving.
  • Session beer: Session beers are craft beers with lower alcohol content and typically lower calorie content. They are designed for extended drinking beer sessions without excessive calorie intake. While the calorie count can vary, session beers generally have fewer calories compared to their higher-alcohol counterparts.
  • Gluten-free beer: For individuals with gluten intolerance or sensitivity, gluten-free beers are a suitable option. These beers are brewed with alternative grains such as sorghum, rice, or corn, making them naturally lower in calories. The exact calorie content can vary depending on the brand and brewing process.
  • Flavored sparkling water with alcohol: Some brands offer flavored sparkling water beverages infused with a hint of alcohol. These beverages are typically low in calories and can provide a refreshing alternative to traditional beers. They often come in a range of flavors and have a lighter taste profile.
  • Small-batch or craft light beers: Craft breweries occasionally produce light beer options that prioritize flavor while still maintaining a lower calorie count. This small-batch or craft light beers can offer a more robust flavor experience compared to mass-produced light beers.

Comparing Bourbon and Beer Calories

Which has a higher calorie content: bourbon or beer?

Generally, bourbon tends to have a higher calorie content compared to beer. The calorie content of bourbon primarily stems from its alcohol content, which is typically higher than that of beer.

On average, a standard 1.5-ounce (44 ml) serving of bourbon contains around 97-124 calories, while a 12-ounce (355 ml) serving of beer contains approximately 100-150 calories.

What are the primary reasons for the calorie differences between the two?

The primary reasons for the calorie differences between bourbon and beer are:

  • Alcohol content: Alcohol itself contributes to the calorie content of both bourbon and beer. Alcohol contains calories per gram, which is more than carbohydrates or protein (4 calories per gram) and just under the calorie content of fat (9 calories per gram). Since bourbon typically has a higher alcohol content than beer, it generally contains more calories per serving.
  • Ingredients and production process: Bourbon is made from a mash bill primarily consisting of grains like corn, barley, rye, or wheat, which undergo fermentation and distillation. On the other hand, beer is brewed using grains such as barley, wheat, or corn, which are fermented with yeast. The brewing process of beer typically results in a lower alcohol content and calorie count than the distillation process involved in making bourbon.
  • Serving sizes: Bourbon and beer serving sizes also contribute to the calorie differences. A standard serving of bourbon is typically 1.5 ounces (44 ml), while a standard serving of beer is usually 12 ounces (355 ml). Since the serving size of bourbon is smaller, the overall calorie count may be lower compared to consuming the same volume of beer.

How does alcohol content affect the calorie count in bourbon and beer?

Alcohol content significantly affects the calorie count in both bourbon and beer. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, making it a significant contributor to the overall calorie content of these beverages. The more alcohol content, the more calories the alcoholic beverage will have. 

Bourbon generally has a higher alcohol content, typically ranging from 40% to 50% ABV (80 to 100 proof), while beer typically ranges from 4% to 8% ABV. Due to the higher alcohol content in bourbon, it generally contains more calories per serving compared to beer.

Health Considerations

How can consuming excess calories from bourbon or beer impact weight gain?

Over time, consuming excess calories from bourbon or beer can contribute to weight gain. Both bourbon and beer contain calories derived from alcohol and, in the case of beer, carbohydrates. 

If you choose to drink liquor in excess, these calories can exceed the body’s energy needs and lead to weight gain. 

Regularly consuming high-calorie alcoholic beverages, such as bourbon or calorie-dense craft beers, without accounting for the additional calories in the overall diet can contribute to an energy imbalance and potential weight gain.

It’s important to note that weight gain is influenced by various factors, including overall diet, physical activity levels, and individual metabolism. 

Consuming alcohol in moderation and being mindful of the calorie content can help you lose weight and maintain a balanced energy intake.

FAQs

Is one shot of bourbon equal to one beer?

No, one shot of bourbon is not equal to one beer. The alcohol content and volume differ between a shot of bourbon and a standard beer. 

A standard shot of bourbon is typically 1.5 ounces (44 ml) and contains around 97-124 calories, depending on the specific brand and proof. 

On the other hand, a standard beer is typically 12 ounces (355 ml) and can contain approximately 100-150 calories, depending on the type and brand.

By choosing to drink whiskey, you can effectively reduce your calorie intake as it typically contains fewer calories than a standard serving size of other beverages.

How many beers equal a glass of bourbon?

The number of beers that equal a glass of bourbon can vary depending on the specific alcohol content and serving sizes. 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one 1.5-ounce (44 ml) shot of bourbon is roughly equivalent to one standard beer in terms of alcohol content. 

However, if you want to drink alcohol, it’s important to note that the overall volume of liquid consumed may differ, as a glass of bourbon is typically smaller than a standard beer.

Does bourbon have more sugar than beer?

Bourbon generally has minimal sugar content compared to beer. The primary calories in bourbon come from alcohol, not sugar. 

The fermentation and distillation process converts the sugar in grains into alcohol, resulting in lower sugar content. However, flavored or sweetened bourbons may contain added sugars. 

Regular beer can also have small amounts of residual sugars, but the sugar content in most standard beers is low. 

References

  1. https://greatist.com/eat/bourbon-nutrition-facts
  2. https://www.unitypoint.org/news-and-articles/how-many-calories-in-a-beer-making-smart-choices—unitypoint-health
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar