“A long time ago, way back in history, when all there was to drink was nothin but cups of tea.  Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops, and he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops.”

And many years later, in an age when skin and bones were tops, along came the plague of watch your weight, and she changed those tasty hops . . .

I’m a Guinness girl; there’s something about that rich chocolatey beer that keeps these irish eyes smiling.  When Guinness feels too heavy (not always the best choice for a hot summer day), I switch over to a nice wheat beer like Hoegaarden or Blue Moon (especially when there is an orange in it – yum!).  Occasionally, I feel guity about the calories, and I opt for a light beer like Amstel or Michelob Ultra (but I only drink this after a run or weight lifting session).  Now that you all know what to get me next round, I’ll move on.

Lately, the television has been flooded with commercials for MGD 64, a beer from Miller that is only 64 calories.  The commercials show a big dude casually ask for MGD 64, while his waif girlfriend requests 64 calories of wine or some other girly drink.  The bartender pours two drops of girly drink in Ms. waif’s glass, gives her a small grimace, and then she looks at her big strong MGD 64 drinker with surprised doe eyes.  You mean to tell me alcoholic beverages have calories and will ruin my 500 calorie-a-day diet (eyelashes batting)?  Big strong MGD 64 drinker swigs his drink like a man and commercial announcer’s voice is heard boasting MGD’s low-calorie content.

Now, Budweiser has done an “in your face” to Miller with its new 55 calorie beer!  It almost seems too low, like doing a 7-minute ab workout in 6 minutes (” . . . not 6! I said 7. Nobody’s comin’ up with 6. Who works out in 6 minutes . . . . 7’s the key number here.” There’s Something About Mary).  Exactly.  Is it possible to enjoy a beer with just 55 calories, or is that as crazy as suggesting a 6-minute ab workout to a murderous hitch-hiker?

Well, I can’t answer that because I haven’t tried either of these beers.  But, I have read about them, and I’ve learned that our 64-calorie friend has only 2.8% alcohol (http://www.millercoors.com/our-beers/nutrition-facts-codes.aspx) and our 55-calorie friend has only 2.4% alcohol (.http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/youngandhungry/2009/08/11/budweiser-launches-select-55-light-beer-arms-race-gets-absurd/)  I’ve never before thought of the relationship between calories and percentage of alcohol.  I guess it makes sense that when you dump water into a vat of beer, the percentage of alcohol drops.

So, the question becomes, is it worth it to worry about calories when it comes to beer?  Maybe that depends on your goal with the beer.  Perhaps, you just like the taste of beer and like to have a cold one every now and then.  Personally, when I sip on a beer for taste, I like a full-flavored beer that excites my taste buds.  But, some people may actually prefer the taste of a light beer, just like some people prefer diet soda to regular soda; I’m not going to judge. Sip away!

What if your goal is to get a little buzz, but you want to keep your calories down?  This webpage http://www.realbeer.com/edu/health/calories.php includes a list of beers, their alcohol percentages, and calorie content.  Most of the beers are in the 4%-5% alcohol range, including a lot of the light beers (Bud, Miller, Coors, Michelob).  I thought maybe these light counterparts would drop significantly in alcohol levels, but I was wrong.  It looks like you can have your hops and drink them too with many of these light beers.

But, I’m not so sure about the MGD 64 and Bud 55 because with such low alcohol levels, I think people will drink double the amount to reach the same buzz they would receive from drinking fewer higher calorie beers.  So, you may not save that much calorie-wise.

But, there might be some pros. Perhaps you are the type who always needs a drink in hand, and this has resulted in some messy nights – maybe these beers are a good solution.  Or, maybe you have diabetes, and these low carb options are great for you (although I still might opt for Michelob Ultra, which is pretty low in carbs): http://blog.diabetescarenc.com/2009/06/low-carb-beer-youre-new-best-friends.html .

I think I’ll stick with my Amstel, Michelob Ultra, or maybe some of that new Bud Light Wheat beer when I’m trying to keep calories down.  In the end, I’m a fan of beer, and if these low-calorie options allow you to raise a glass, then I’m all for it.  Now where’s my Guinness?

“Lord bless Charlie Mops, the man who invented beer beer beer tiddly beer beer beer.”