The Low Carb Luxury Newsletter: 
Volume III / Number 04: February 22, 2002: Page 7
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      Answering Mail
Low Carb Beer!

Low Carb Beer Dear Lora,

Can you give me the skinny on what beers might be lowest carb? I've heard people mentioning drinking a "low carb beer" on various newsgroups, but have no idea what they are talking about.


Matthew Lenostisvk

Michelob Ultra Dear Matthew,

Yes, there are indeed low carbohydrate beers. Some lower than others, and recently, Anheuser-Busch began testing Michelob Ultra, a high-protein, low carbohydrate beer. As far as we have been able to determine, these test markets are in Denver, Colorado; Fort Myers, Naples, and Punta Gorda in Florida; and Tucson, Arizona. So if you live in one of these areas, you're in luck!

It comes in at just 2.9 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving. This is, according to Anheuser-Busch, the lowest carbohydrate count of any light beer, and it appears they are right. Corona Light and Amstel Light each have 5 grams of carbohydrate, and Miller Lite, its closest rival, comes in at 3.2 grams of carbohydrates. Coors Light has 4.4 grams. Milwaukee's Best Light beer has 3.5 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving.

Michelob Ultra Various spokespeople from the American Dietetic Association are, of course, ridiculing the new beer with uninformed and silly statements like, "Beer has always been fat free", and "people eat between 250 and 350 grams of carbohydrates each day, so this makes little difference..." Okay, ADA folk, we don't care if it's fat-free, and a few carbohydrates here and there make a big difference when your daily carb allowance is 20-30 grams a day...

Anheuser-Busch says they go with marketing trends (and what company doesn't?) so I consider it a positive that they see "low carb" as a real market to look into. Their comments:

"We are looking at two test groups — the first is the younger drinkers 21 to 27 years of age; principally males who are watching their carbohydrate intake and who are into their body image," he said. "The second group being looked at it is the 45 to 50 and up age group. They are looking for the more mature consumer, which only the three southwest Florida towns can offer."

"The reason why they are testing the markets in Florida and the two out west is because the two areas are directly opposite of each other," he said. "The consumer behavior of the two areas is very different."

Guinness Stout If you already like "light" beers, you'll be fine with the lower carb options there. But if you don't care for them, thinking they are too "watered down", you might want to look at something like a Guinness Stout. As odd as it seems, draught stoutsí carbohydrate amounts donít measure up to their mouthfeel. Guinness draught stout contains about 4% alcohol by volume, contains about 120 calories per 12-ounce serving and has roughly 5.2 grams of carbohydrate (data taken from Stout by Michael J. Lewis; Brewers Publications, 1995).

So why isnít a pint of Guinness "watery"? For starters, stouts get a lot of flavor from the roasted grains, just like a cup of coffee can have rich mouthfeel from dark roasted coffee beans. Also, draught stouts are nitrogenated and nitrogenation adds tremendously to the overall perceived intensity and complexity of the beer.

You'll find that keeping some sort of lower carb beer on hand will be quite handy in the kitchen as well. Added to a pot of chili, to make a beer-batter, or for using in marinades, sometimes beer just can't be beat!

Charleston Wheat Carolina Beer & Beverage Company of South Carolina makes Charleston Wheat. Wheat-based beers have a higher content of vitamin B2 and a low-carbohydrate quality that appeals to the health conscious. It's about 5 grams of carbohydrate per 12-ounce serving.

Hops Restaurant Dining Out? You might want to consider Hops Restaurant Bar and Brewery. Hops, a national chain, is known for its microbrewery, which is enclosed behind big plate glass windows visible throughout the dining room. Of the four signature beer selections the brewery Hops Restaurant's Clear Water produces, one — Clearwater Light — is a low calorie, low carbohydrate beer that's really pretty tasty. And they use their Clearwater Light in many of their Hops made-from-scratch salad dressings and sauces! Hops has plenty on the menu that would appeal to a low carber, from steaks to chops to salads, so if you live in a state with Hops Restaurants, you might want to consider a visit! We recommend their Chicken Caesar Salad, their Oven Roasted Prime Rib, or their Boneless Pork Chops.

International Beers Internationally, there's Binding Dišt Pils, a German style of low carbohydrate beer. Carbohydrates are diminished during the lengthy fermentation process. Their marketing literature states, "Long tested brewing processes make it possible today to reduce carbohydrates while at the same time maintaining the sparkling fresh taste. Especially suitable for diabetics."   And we were told of Britain's Streamline Low Carbohydrate Beer that comes in Four Pint Cans.   In New Zealand, look for the lowest carbohydrate beer, Hahn Longbrew.

In general, an average beer is 13 to 15 grams of carbohydrate for 12 oz, with most "light beers" falling between 7 and 5 grams, so you can see it pays to search for the lowest carb options. And for St. Patty's Day, perhaps you'll want to dye yours green!  


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