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Beer Alcohol and Calories
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BackgroundConsumption of beer in the United States is about 33 gallons per person per year based on persons over 18 years of age (6). In all, over six billion gallons of beer are produced each year in the United States (6,7).
Generally three types of beer are sold: regular, light, and non-alcoholic. The term light intends to signify a product with less alcohol and fewer calories than regular beer. About 2-3 percent of beer sales are now of the light type (4). Non-alcoholic beer usually claims less than a half percent of alcohol and is intended for people who desire a product with little or no alcohol.
In all, 202 samples of beer were tested. The alcohol and calorie content for each sample are reported. In comparison to regular beer which averaged 5 percent alcohol and 43 calories per 100 ml, light and non-alcoholic beer averaged 16 and 94 percent less alcohol and 27 and 60 percent fewer calories, respectively.
Analysis of Beer
ADDITIONAL DATABeer is a generic name for beverages made by fermentation of extracts of cereal grain, particularly barley, or other starchy material (1,8). Beer is a beverage known since antiquity and next to wine is probabLy the oldest of prepared food drinks. In modern times the countries of northern Europe set the style of beer as it appears today. In fact, the words "beer," "brewing," and "Lager" are all of German origin (1,8).
METHODSSamples were collected at wholesale beer distributors in Connecticut by inspectors of the Excise Tax Division of the Department of Revenue Services during April and May, 1987. Analysis for alcohol content was by AOAC methods (5) using gas chromatography (3). Proteins, ash, and solids were analyzed by AOAC methods (5). Carbohydrate content was calculated as percent total solids - (% protein + % ash) Calories were calculated as (% alcohoL X 6.93) + ((96 carbohydrate + %protein) X 4) (3). Duplicate analyses for alcohol in the same container of beer showed an average deviation of 0.057 percent and duplicates for protein 0.05 percent.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONOf the 202 samples tested, 163 were regular beer (Table 1), 26 were light beer (Table 2), and 13 were non-alcoholic beer (Table 3). These represented 81, 19 and 9 different brands of regular, light, and nonalcoholic beer, respectively. Each Table lists the brand name of the beer, the name of the brewer, the country of origin, alcohol content, and the calories per 100 ml (milliliters) (3.5 ounces).
Alcohol in regular, light, and non-alcoholic beer averaged 5.0, 4.1, and 0.3 percent, respectively (Table 4). Calories in regular, light and non-alcoholic beer averaged 43, 32, and 17 per 100 ml, respectively. The range in values for alcohol and calories was wide. Alcohol in regular beer ranged from 1.0 to 9.5 percent, while light beer ranged from 2.4 to 5.4 percent and non-alcoholic beer from 0.1 to 0.7 percent. Similarly, calories varied among all types of beer. Some variation was noted in alcohol content among different containers of the same type of beer. A dilference of 1.5 percent was found in one type of regular beer and 1.6 percent in another. Although the labels showed no code numbers, each container of beer is likely from a different manufacturing batch.
A comparison of alcohol and calorie content between regular and light beer from the same manufacturer can be made by examining Tables 1 and 2. For example, eight regular beers made by Anheuser Busch (does not include beer claiming half the amount of alcohol as regular beer) averaged 5.11 percent alcohol. Four light beers from the same manufacturer averaged 4.17 percent, 15 percent less than found in the regular beer. Calories in the same Anheuser Busch regular beer averaged 44 per 100 ml and 35 in light beer, or 20 percent lower calories. Similar comparisons may be made for other manufacturers.
Analyses were by Lucia McLean, Dr. Vipin Agarwal, Lois Hornig, Deborah Behnfield, and John Hayes. Arrangements and collections of samples were made by Pasquale Oronzo, James Pyne, and Robert Brown of the Excise Tax Division.
REFERENCES1. Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Vol. 1, 15th edition, 1974, Chicago, IL.
2. General Statutes of the State of Connecticut. revised January 1, 1987, sections 12-433 and 435.
3. Hankin, L. 1986. Analysis of wine and beer coolers. Bulletin 840, CT Agricultural Experiment Station.
4, Messenger, B. 1988. Coors Target: Beer across America. Prepared Foods 157:58-61.
5. Official Methods of Analysis. 1984. 14th edition, S. Williams (ed.). Assoc. Official Analytical Chemists, Arlington, VA.
6. Statistical Abstracts ol the United States. 1985 105th edition, Washington, DC.
7. Statistical release Dept. of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. ATF R A:I 5130-2.
8. The Chemistry and Technology of Food and Food Products edition. M.B. Jacobs (ed.). 1951. Interscience Publishers, Analysis of Beer.
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