Beer Cheat Sheet

29 facts and tips to savor with your favorite malt beverage.
BeerCheat Sheets

What’ll ya have?

There are thousands of different beers. Here’s a selection of popular brews. Some are smarter grabs that save PointsPlus® values. All are 12 ounces.

Beers with 2 PointsPlus values
Select 55

Beers with 3 PointsPlus values
Budweiser Select
Busch Light
Michelob Ultra
Miller Lite
Milwaukee's Best Light

Beers with more PointsPlus values
Miller Genuine Draft
Miller High Life

Beer bellies, the traditional male malady, are enough to put either sex off the idea of downing a cold one. But they're a fallacy, says Charlie Bamforth, PhD, chair and professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, and author of Beer: Health and Nutrition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2004). "This is a silly myth. If folks get fat from drinking beer, it's because their total calorie intake is too high, and they are not working it off."

The good news
Beer contains some B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It also has:

  • NO cholesterol
  • NO fat
  • very little sugar

The bad news
While experts may pooh-pooh beer bellies, the fact remains that alcohol is one calorie-dense nectar, packing 7 calories per gram. That's almost as caloric as fat, which has 9 calories per gram. Don't blame the malt. "The most significant source of calories in beer is the alcohol itself," says Bamforth. "The stronger the beer, the more calories."

  • Most 12-ounce beer with 5-percent alcohol by volume has a PointsPlus value of 5.
  • The typical 16-ounce draft pint has a PointsPlus value of 7.
  • Most 12-ounce "light" beers have a PointsPlus value of 4.
  • A 1-pint draft of light beer has a PointsPlus value of 5.
  • A 12-ounce nonalcoholic beer has a PointsPlus value of 2.
Can it improve your health?
Some studies show that moderate drinking may help lower the risk of heart disease, particularly in women over 55 and men over 45. But what is moderate? For women, it's no more than one drink per day. For men, it's no more than two. Exceed your quota, and the risks of heart and liver disease, stroke and accidents negate any perks.

Don't follow the lite
The terms "light" and "lite" (or any other cutesy variation) have no legal definition. They could mean the beer is light in color or lighter than lead — or anything else the staff at the brewery has decided.

Watch your low-carb language
If the label reads "low carbohydrate," the beer must have no more than 7 grams of carbohydrates per serving. But any beer can tout "reduced carbohydrates" or "lower carbohydrates" on its label, just so long as the brewery makes a more carb-heavy beer. Shifty, eh?

Do suds wine-style
A tip that adds civility and can shave PointsPlus values: "There's nothing wrong with pouring a beer into two glasses at dinner like you would with wine," says George F. Reisch, brewmaster for Anheiser-Busch. Yes, you read correctly. One of the guys who make Budweiser takes his Bud in a white-wine glass. "I actually think people should share beers more," Reisch adds. "It's smart and your last sip will still be cold."

Nix the nuts
Those robotic grabs of peanuts or cheddar fish can add up to triple the calories and PointsPlus values of the beer you drink. Be prepared: Drinking can lead to snacking, so keep the right stuff on hand — or see if you can charm the bartender into stocking better choices. Instead of party mix, try:

Unsalted pretzels 1 oz 3 PointsPlus values
94% fat-free microwave popcorn 5 cups 3 PointsPlus values
Radishes (a German favorite) 1 cup 0 PointsPlus values
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