Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beer Drinking Efficiency

It sounds even hotter in French
As anyone who has read any of the beer related posts here know, I love great craft beer and consider the Big American generic breweries to be the liquid equivalent of the characters in Star Wars Episode I - lacking depth and complexity.  And in the case of Jar Jar Binks - totally dumb but in the case of Natalie Portman totally hot so I'd watch the commercials (and the image to the right might've been the best part of the Episode I advertising campaign, courtesy of Lays Potato Chips).

I need to start out with saying that my brother introduced me to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, probably the first craft beers I ever had.  Since those days in college, I've become a beer snob and he's become a little more health conscious to where his beer of choice is Michelob Ultra.  Nobody's perfect.  Well, except for Natalie Portman *heavy sigh*.

So one night some friends and I were debating the efficiency of drinking light beer versus good beer.  Using data from sites such as The Efficient Drinker, Real Beer, and Beer 100 and approximate pricing data - I've put together data on beer efficiency by rating some selected beers by calories per hour and cost per hour to maintain a BAC of 0.025, which is about two average beers for a 180 pound male.

1. An adult male will absorb alcohol at the rate of approximately 1 drink per hour, or 0.0125 of BAC (this may be the origin of "the first one's free", but I'm not totally sold on it).
2. Level loaded drinking.  This is beer and you should enjoy it.  If you need to pour it down a funnel, just pour it down the drain and crush the can against your head - it'll feel the same)
3. We want to maintain a BAC of 0.025 which is probably the ideal blood-alcohol mix for optimal bowling, golfing, and playing pool.
4.  There is no safe minimum BAC for karoke or dancing.
5.  Bar prices were estimated and are probably low.  I didn't have time to go hit random bars and ask how much they charge for beer.  I also refuse to order underwhelming beer in a bar.

1.  Light Beer will be less efficient than craft beer based on calories to maintain a BAC of 0.025
2.  Craft Beer will be more cost effective to drink both at home and at a bar based on lower consumption rate
3.  Light beer sucks and is probably just chilled insect urine.

"Wait a second; that third hypothesis is an opinion," you might be saying if you happen to like light beer or value the scientific method.  And you're correct.  However, this is my blog and I hate to be wrong  (which incidentally is why the Internet isn't healthy for me) so I wanted to make sure that I would at least be correct about one thing.

Light beer lovers - don't worry - I'm using math and I won't fudge the numbers.  If I'm wrong, I just won't share the results with my brother.  It'll be our little secret.

I selected a broad varieties of three tiers of beer based on available data (which sadly left some of my favorite breweries on the outside looking in).
1) The big American breweries like Budweiser, Michelob, and Miller
2) The Sub-generic beers like Natural Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon
3) Premium/Craft Beer like Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Samuel Adams

The Math
I've defined a beer as 12 ounces of 4.5% ABV beverage.  But any alcohol with the same ABV*Volume will work including Nyquil and Coke, if you're fighting a cold.  Since all beers weren't created equal in terms of both flavor and alcohol content, this works out to a percentage of "a beer".   That number goes into the calculation below.

Based on numbers on the University of Notre Dame's website, 0.0125 was extracted as being a single drink.  I subtracted another 0.0125 to represent the alcohol the theoretical drinker absorbed over the one hour they were nursing their beer(s) as stated above.

The Results are below (rendered in 16-bit graphics):

1.) Budweiser Select, Natural Light, and Natural Ice are only available in 12 packs and larger so the costs have been modified accordingly
2) But you can buy a sixer of Pabst, just in case you didn't want to take too much to a party. 
3) Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is only available in 4-packs so costs have been modified accordingly
4) Bud Select 55 and MGD 64 drinkers, you may seriously want to invest in a beer bong to keep up with the rest of us.
5) This is, obviously, an incomplete list so don't flame me for leaving out your favorite beer.  Several of my favorites are also missing.

After looking over the data...uh...  Well, crud.

Natural Ice is the clear cut winner from both a caloric and cost efficiency point of view.  A quick trip down a very fuzzy memory lane collaborates this data.  Millions of college students can't be wrong.  Ladies and gentlemen, our future is in their hands.  Let's hope they develop taste buds once they get jobs.

Once ignoring the sub-generics, Bud Light Platinum, the flagship of getting bombed while watching that girl-ish figure, is the clear winner with 65 fewer calories per hour than the lowest of the premium beers which was, surprisingly, Red Hook IPA with Newcastle (another shock) and Sam Adams Light close behind.

With due respect to cost efficiency, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the winner.  There creates a dilemma - which is better, saving $0.09/hour or 40 calories

Now throwing back some beers with your buds at home while watching the game is one thing.  But let's say you want to publicly embarrass yourself in front of the opposite sex.  Premium beer, based on the averages above, only costs $1.24 more per hour than the Big Brand Beer.  If you're over 22 and looking to get laid, for the love of barley - don't drink Natural freaking Light to save an additional $5.00 per hour.  Have some respect for yourself and those around you.  Grab something that will make a man or a woman say, "that's a successful person with good taste."  Or even better yet, grab the beer you like the best or that pairs with your meal the best, and raise your bottle/can/glass in a toast with your friends.  Prost!

And finally, in conclusion - light beer sucks.

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