In the 1920s, Guinness used to advertise its famous stout with the slogan “Guinness is Good for You.” They were, of course, asked to stop at the dawn of a more health-conscious era. However, decades after the slogan has been retired, it turns out that there might be something to that old tagline after all.
Studies increasingly show that a pint or two each day might not be that bad for you. In fact, beer in moderation could actually do some good. One recent study found that the antioxidants found in stout prevent some blood clots and that hops, found in most beers, but particularly IPAs, contain polyphenols, a dietary antioxidant that may help in preventing everything from heart disease to cancer and diabetes.
So does that mean that beer is the new superfood? It’s probably best not to start chugging right away. There are still many downsides to a lot of beers, the most obvious being the extra calories that beer contributes to a diet. Even light beers hover around 100 calories a bottle, and drinking just one light beer seems a little silly. Beer also contains a lot of sugar, which is a natural byproduct of brewing. Generally, the higher the alcohol content of the beer, the more calories and sugar it contains, so just one glass of a super strong barley wine can contain upwards of 300 calories.
But calories and carbs are just the tip of the iceberg in some cases. Beer companies, unlike other drink manufacturers, are under no government mandate to disclose their ingredients, so many contain ingredients that can really impede an otherwise clean diet, such as caramel coloring (which is labeled a carcinogen in California), high fructose corn syrup, and GMO corn and corn syrup. Not everyone can agree on the health implications of these ingredients, but fans of good-tasting beer should all be in consensus that beer really shouldn’t taste like chemicals.
Keeping all that in mind, we considered factors beyond just calories when we rated these beers (though some were so calorie-heavy that we had to include them). That’s why you won’t find any light beers on this list. Just know if you’re purely looking to lose weight, light beers are your best bet. But if you’re a beer lover looking to get a little health boost with your nightly beer, read on for some to try — and their unhealthy counterparts that simply aren’t worth it.
Healthy: Guinness Draught
A Guinness a day keeps the doctor away? According to researchers, that could be the case. Studies show that one pint of Guinness a day reduced the risk of blood clots. Doctors say that could be due to antioxidant compounds found in the dark stout.
Unhealthy: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale
While the hops in their Pale Ale may make a pint or two worth the extra calories, there’s just no way to justify the 330 calories in a Bigfoot Ale if you’re watching your waistline.