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The problem with 'healthy' beers

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  August 8, 2012 12:03 PM

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Lots of things drive me crazy, but one particular thing that grinds my gears is the notion of choosing a beer based on how good it is for you.

MGD64.jpgI follow what is generally a very good account, "Eat This, Not That", on Twitter. It's a good way to keep track of items that may be sneaky high in calories and to find ones that are surprisingly low in calories. Follow it for a few weeks and you'll realize you should never eat out in a chain restaurant again. Mostly I follow the account to balance out my beer habit.

Like anything else, beer in anything but moderation is bad for you. It's packed with calories and contains alcohol, so moderation is a must. As part of a healthy lifestyle, you can balance drinking a couple of beers, sometimes more, with healthy eating and exercise. Beer tastes better with homemade food than it does with junk food and can be a great complement to a meal. Runners are often some of the biggest beer drinkers because their healthy lifestyle allows them to reward themselves with beer.

Which leads me to my point: Why on earth would anyone pick a beer based on calories or carbohydrates? An "Eat This, Not That" list of the "Best and Worst Beers in America" rated 50 beers on that criteria. It caught my eye because I loathe these lists. I clicked all the way through.

The best beer to drink, according to "Eat This, Not That", is an MGD 64. This beer, as you might expect, contains 64 calories. It has 2 grams of carbs and an ABV of 2.8 percent. I've never had one of these beers and never plan to.

Here's the website's description of MGD 64: "It’s right on the bottle: Only 64 calories. And it claims the number one spot over Beck’s Premier Light because it’s a little lower in alcohol content. And that’s the politically correct choice, right?"

To which I say: Wrong. Why even drink the beer? It's 64 of the most empty calories you'll ever have, unless you truly enjoy a flavorless brew with very little alcohol. The rest of the top-10 list goes like this: Beck's Premier Light, Michelob Ultra, Amstel Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling Lager Light, Budweiser Select, Coors Light, Bud Light, and Sam Adams Light.

The list is obviously not written by a beer drinker, which explains some of the awkward captions, but this one for Coors Light really got to me: "Falls just above the 100-calorie mark, making it competitive with the top light beers. Don’t obsess over the details at this point: Just choose the one you like best."

YES! Choose the beer you like best! That's a great idea. Do you really like any of these beers? Are you choosing these beers because they have fewer calories? My own personal philosophy will not be the same as yours. To each his own. But I'd rather do other things to be healthy. I try to eat right, exercise, and keep my beer-drinking to a reasonable level. Like everyone else, I don't always succeed. But beer is a reward. Drinking a cold craft beer after a long day makes all that other stuff worthwhile.

Am I crazy? What is your philosophy to balancing beer drinking with the rest of your life? Leave a comment below and hopefully we can get a good discussion going.

E-mail me ( and start a conversation. Follow me on Twitter. Cheers.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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