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Cut Calories, Not Taste

By Kara Pound
Photos by Mark Cubbedge

It’s an all-too-familiar scene for any beer lover. You’re out to lunch with friends and the server comes over to take your drink order. “I’ll have a Guinness,” you tell her. Your friend’s face scrunches up and she says, “How can you drink that? It’s like a meal in and of itself!”

In reality, the myths surrounding Guinness and other dark beers abounds. According to Time magazine, a 12-ounce serving of Guinness sets you back 125 calories – just 15 more than the same serving of Bud Light.

“There is a misconception that dark beers have more calories than lighter colored beers,” explains Vance Tyson Joy, Brewmaster at Ancient City Brewing, who is responsible for the local craft brewery’s recipes and all other brewing area procedures. “That being said, there are many variables that determine the finished product calorie content.”

From Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout, which comes in at around 117 calories per serving and has unique chocolate and espresso flavors, to Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, which was originally brewed for lactating mothers and is about 150 calories per serving, dark beers have always been popular.


“I could brew a very light colored beer at 9 percent alcohol and make it very sweet and the calorie content would be very high,” says Joy.

“The other side of that would be that I could brew a black beer at 4 percent alcohol and – depending on the unfermentable grain or adjuncts used – the calorie content could be very low.”

As far as dark beers go, Ancient City Brewing currently has a Coconut Porter at 6.8% ABV and introduced a Milk Stout in January at 5.8% ABV (available on both Nitro and CO2). While Joy readily admits that neither of them are going to replace visits to the gym, a beer’s calorie content has nothing to do with color.

“The bottom line is you can design a beer how you want and the color itself really has nothing to do with calorie content,” says Joy. “It all depends on the ingredients.”

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