Beer and calories.
July 27, 2007 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Does bottled beer generally have fewer calories than draft beer?

My second ever question on AskMe is also about beer.

A friend of mine has quit drinking draft beer in favour of bottled beer because he claims that it has fewer calories.

He can't tell me why he believes that.

So my question is does bottled beer generally have fewer calories than draft beer?

I am in Canada if that matters. We (my friend and I) drink pretty much anything, but mainly Miller Genuine Draft, Stella and Keith’s IPA.
posted by fiTs to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Its the same beer. A bottle generally has 12 oz as opposed to a draft having 16 oz. He might have misunderstood what he read.
posted by stormygrey at 6:37 PM on July 27, 2007

I know that there are differences in recipes for Guinness draft and bottled Guinness which could certainly make for a caloric difference. Also, before pasteurization and refrigeration beers like IPAs were brewed with a higher alcohol (and hop) content to inhibit spoilage and that was intended for bottled versions only. More alcohol would also mean more calories. But now there's no reason to have a separate bottle-only recipe unless the brewerey really wants to.
posted by tommasz at 6:49 PM on July 27, 2007

Here is a list of beer brands and their various calories counts (the site lists U.S. beers and imports)... As stormygrey mentioned, the draft beer "on-tap" at bars is the same beer that gets put into bottles.
posted by amyms at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

As eluded to above, light beer generally has fewer calories, but I doubt much difference between draft and bottle of the same beer.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:06 PM on July 27, 2007

I'm with stormygrey - I've seen several 'diet tips' lists that recommend getting bottled instead of draft, just for the smaller quantity per round. And as for Guinness, the bottled-with-the-widget is the same as on tap, but the 'Export' in bottles is a different beer altogether.
posted by pupdog at 7:07 PM on July 27, 2007

hungrysquirrels said: light beer generally has fewer calories

Yes, light beer has way fewer calories, but the question wasn't about light beer, it was about draft versus bottled.
posted by amyms at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2007

Also, before pasteurization and refrigeration beers like IPAs were brewed with a higher alcohol (and hop) content to inhibit spoilage and that was intended for bottled versions only.

See here for a history of delicious IPAs (omg I'm drinking one right now!). But I don't think it has much bearing on this question, which I don't specifically know anything about, although I'm very strongly inclined towards the "bottled beer is the same as draft beer, but there's less of it" explanation.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:11 PM on July 27, 2007

A reason to avoid the draft beers is that many bars, even nice ones, don't always clean the lines going from the kegs to the tap. This is supposed to happen once a month in states I've worked in but I never saw it happen in any place I worked. When the lines sit for any period the gunk will build up and might even contribute to an extra hundredth of a calorie but theres a more significant gross factor if you're a germophobe. Hasn't stopped me though !
posted by premortem at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2007

More than any perceived grossness, the beer won't taste as good coming out of a dirty tap line.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:08 PM on July 27, 2007

Twenty-year bartender here. The only difference between draft and bottled beer is that draft beer is not pasteurized, and a pint glass holds three or four ounces more than a bottle, as mentioned above. (Yes, many bars (in the US, at least) have switched to 15-ounce pint glasses, cheating you out of a full pint! Beer drinkers of the world, rise up!) So, ounce for ounce, there's no significant caloric difference.

There are exactly two ways to make beer less caloric: take something out (alcohol) or put something in (water). That's why good light beer is lower in alcohol and cheap light beer tastes like horse piss, whether in a bottle or in a keg.

(And at my bar, the tap lines got flushed monthly! Really! Now, that spot in the corner between the garbage can and the dishwasher, where the mats don't fit?.....*shudders* ...not so much.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:18 PM on July 27, 2007

In Canada you're more likely to get a 20oz british pint, so yeah, if your serving is a 12oz bottle vs. a 20oz pint, you're saving significant calories, but only in serving size, not because draft beer is more calorie-dense.
posted by glip at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2007

How many people like bottled Extra Stout better than draft Guinness? I remember when the former was the ONLY Guinness one could get in Baltimore, and I developed a taste for it.
posted by davy at 9:29 AM on July 28, 2007

They both have their charms. Draft Guinness is classic and brings back fond memories of travels, but the Extra Stout has such incredibly strong flavor. I'll drink both any day.

Recommendation for cheap beer drinkers (tangentially related to the topic): If you actually care to make sure that you're drinking Miller Lite instead of Coors Lite or some other shit beer, order in the bottle, because if you drink it on tap probably 1/5 times you order one you're getting something else and the server got them mixed up. You just didn't notice because they all taste the same (e.g. like nothing).

If I have 3 dudes drinking cheap light beer and they all order a different brand, I usually don't bother keeping them straight.
posted by baphomet at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2007

perhaps, like wine, beer continues to ferment in a bottle? For instance, I know that dessert wine is supposed to improve over time due to extra fermentation. Thus, as more sugar is converted to ethanol over time, the caloric content drops.

Perhaps something similar is happening here? Draft beer is always pretty much brand new, compared to bottled beer, which sits in fridges for long periods of time. This may also account for the differing taste.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 10:34 PM on July 28, 2007

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