While your favorite brew might contain additional ingredients, beer is generally made out of grains, spices, yeast, and water.
Although sugar is not included in the list, it’s necessary to produce alcohol.
As such, you may wonder whether there’s any sugar in beer and how much it contains.
This article reviews the sugar content of beer.
To know how much sugar is in beer, you first have to understand how beer is made.
The main ingredients in beer are grains, spices, yeast, and water. Barley and wheat are the most utilized grains, while hops serve as the principal flavoring spice.
The brewing process consists of the following steps (
- Malting. This step allows for the controlled germination of the grain. This is a key step, as germination helps break down stored starch into fermentable sugar — mainly maltose.
- Mashing. Mashing is the process of roasting, milling, and soaking the germinated grains in hot water. The result is a sugar-containing liquid called wort.
- Boiling. During this step, hops or other spices are added. The wort is then briefly cooled and filtrated to eliminate plant residue and debris.
- Fermentation. At this point, yeast is added to the wort to ferment it, which converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
- Maturation. This is the last brewing step, during which beer is stored and left to age.
As you can see, sugar is an essential element in beer making.
However, it’s not added as an ingredient. Instead, it comes from the processing of the grains and is then fermented by yeast to produce alcohol.
Sugar is essential in the beer brewing process, but it’s not added as an ingredient. Instead, it comes from the germination of the grains.
Beer gravity refers to the density of the wort relative to water at various stages of fermentation, and it’s mostly determined by sugar content.
A wort that has a high sugar concentration is called a high gravity wort.
As the yeast ferments the wort, its sugar content decreases while its alcohol content increases, which in turn lowers its gravity and results in a beer with a high alcohol content (
Therefore, beers have an initial and final gravity, and the difference between the two indicates the amount of sugar that was converted into alcohol.
Ale vs. lager
Both ales and lagers are different types of beers, and their main difference is the yeast strain used for brewing.
Ale beers are made with the Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, while lager beers use Saccharomyces pastorianus (
Beer yeasts are highly efficient when it comes to fermenting sugar (
Still, several factors affect yeast’s fermenting efficiency, including brewing temperatures and beer’s rising alcohol content. Once the alcohol content is too high for them to survive, fermentation stops (
Therefore, ales generally have a higher alcohol content and lower sugar content.
Beer gravity reflects the amount of sugar in beer. As yeast ferments sugar, beer’s gravity decreases, and its alcohol content increases. Yeast strains used in ales have a higher alcohol tolerance. Thus, their remaining sugar content tends to be lower.
Sugars are carbs. In fact, sugar is the most basic unit of carbs.
Structurally, carbs are divided into mono-, di-, oligo-, and polysaccharides, depending on whether a compound has 1, 2, 3–10, or more than 10 sugar molecules, respectively (
Beer’s main type of sugar is maltose, which is made out of two glucose molecules. Hence, it’s classified as a disaccharide — a type of simple sugar.
However, maltose and other simple sugars comprise only about 80% of the wort’s fermentable sugar content. In contrast, the remaining 20% consists of oligosaccharides, which the yeast doesn’t ferment (
Still, your body can’t digest oligosaccharides either, so they are considered calorie-free and instead act as prebiotic fibers, or food for your gut bacteria (
Therefore, while beer contains a fair amount of carbs, its sugar content tends to be quite low.
Beer’s sugar content is comprised of 80% fermentable sugars and 20% oligosaccharides. Yeast can’t digest oligosaccharides, but neither can your body. Thus, beer’s final sugar content may still be quite low.
As explained above, beer’s sugar content may vary depending on its initial gravity and the type of yeast strain used to ferment it.
Yet, beer manufacturers may include other sugar-containing ingredients in their recipes, such as honey and corn syrup, to give their beer a distinctive flavor.
While some state the carb content, most only disclose their alcohol content. Thus, determining how much sugar your favorite beer contains may be a difficult task.
- Regular beer: 12.8 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Light beer: 5.9 grams of carbs, 0.3 grams of sugar
- Low carb beer: 2.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Non-alcoholic beer: 28.5 grams of carbs, 28.5 grams of sugar
- Miller High Life: 12.2 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Miller Lite: 3.2 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Coors Banquet: 11.7 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Coors Light: 5 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar
- Coors Non-alcoholic: 12.2 grams of carbs, 8 grams of sugar
- Heineken: 11.4 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Budweiser: 10.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Bud Light: 4.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar
- Busch: 6.9 grams of carbs, no sugar reported
- Busch Light: 3.2 grams of carbs, no sugar reported
As you can see, light beers are slightly higher in sugar than regular beers. This may be due to differences in their fermentation process.
Light beers are produced by adding glucoamylase to the wort — an enzyme that breaks down residual carbs and transforms them into fermentable sugars. This reduces both the calorie and alcohol contents of the beer (
Additionally, since none of the wort’s sugar is converted into alcohol in non-alcoholic beers, these have the highest sugar content.
Keep in mind that while beer’s sugar content may be low, regular beers are still a source of carbs, which may affect your blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, even without any reported sugars, beer’s alcohol content is still a significant source of calories.
Regular beers tend to be sugar-free, and light beers report barely 1 gram per can. However, non-alcoholic beers have the highest sugar content of all.(Video) What Does Alcohol Do to Your Blood Sugar?
While beer may not have that much sugar after all, it’s an alcoholic drink, and as such, it can lower your blood sugar levels.
Alcohol impairs sugar metabolism by inhibiting gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis — the body’s production and breakdown of stored sugar, respectively — which are needed to maintain blood sugar balance (
Therefore, its intake may result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, which is why it’s generally recommended to consume it with a carb-containing meal.
Additionally, alcohol may interfere with the effectiveness of hypoglycemic medications (
While beer may have a low sugar content, as an alcoholic drink, it may lead to low blood sugar levels.
Sugar is a key element in beer brewing, as it’s the nutrient from which yeast produces alcohol.
While a couple of factors influence yeast’s ability to convert sugar into alcohol, it’s highly efficient at doing so. Therefore, aside from the non-alcoholic types, beer tends to have a low sugar content.
Still, keep in mind that alcoholic beverages may lower your blood sugar levels.
Plus, to avoid negative health effects, you should always drink alcohol in moderation, which is defined as no more than one and two standard drinks per day for women and men, respectively (
Regular beer: 12.8 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar. Light beer: 5.9 grams of carbs, 0.3 grams of sugar. Low carb beer: 2.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar. Non-alcoholic beer: 28.5 grams of carbs, 28.5 grams of sugar.How many percent of sugar is in beer? ›
While the sugar content in beer is zero, other alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of sugar, especially mixed drinks and liqueurs. The former includes popular choices like daiquiris, margaritas, and piña coladas.Does beer convert to sugar in the body? ›
Some sources claim that alcohol is converted into sugar by the liver. This is not true. Alcohol is converted to a number of intermediate substances (none of which is sugar), until it is eventually broken down to carbon dioxide and water.Can Type 2 diabetics drink beer? ›
BOTTOM LINE. Moderate alcohol consumption (no more than one to two drinks per day) is perfectly safe for most people with diabetes. To avoid hypoglycemia, don't drink on an empty stomach and check your blood sugar often while drinking and up to 24 hours after you stop drinking.What beer has no sugar? ›
Bud Light: 4.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar. Budweiser: 10.6 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar. Busch: 6.9 grams of carbs, no sugar reported. Busch Light: 3.2 grams of carbs, no sugar reported.Which beer is good for diabetes? ›
The verdict: it depends how much you are drinking
Light beer is the best choice due to its lower alcohol content, however it will only be of benefit if you drink the same number or less beers, not more beers than you would drinking regular strength.
Beer has zero grams of sugar while sodas could have forty or more in each can. If we are counting calories and sugar, I would say someone who drinks two beers a day is much less likely to get a beer belly at the same rate as someone who drinks two sodas a day.Can beer cause sugar diabetes? ›
Alcohol consumption by diabetics can worsen blood sugar control in those patients. For example, long-term alcohol use in well-nourished diabetics can result in excessive blood sugar levels.What alcohol is lowest in sugar? ›
If you're looking to go low sugar, then there are some basic approaches you can take. Your best bet is to stick with hard spirits like gin, vodka, whiskey and rum, but watch your mixer. Wine is a good option, but it's best to go for a red or a dry white. Beer might be good for low sugar, but it can be high in calories.What alcohol should diabetics avoid? ›
Types of drinks
Avoid low-sugar beers and cider – sometimes called diabetic drinks. They might have less sugar, but there's more alcohol in them. Avoid low-alcohol wines – these often have more sugar than normal ones. If you do choose these, just stick to a glass or two.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily raises blood pressure. Repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure.Can I drink beer on a low sugar diet? ›
Yep, you guessed it: if you want to reduce your sugar intake, you need to reduce your alcohol consumption. While most un-mixed alcohols contain little to no sugar, that after work beer, whiskey, rum or glass of wine is contributing to your sugar intake and disrupting your blood sugar and ability to process sugars.What is the healthiest type of beer to drink? ›
- Amstel Light. Heineken. ...
- Busch Light. Anheuser-Busch. ...
- Natural Light. Anheuser-Busch. ...
- Michelob Ultra. Anheuser-Busch. ...
- Corona Premier. Constellation Brands. ...
- Beck's Premier Light. itemmaster. ...
- Miller64. itemmaster. ...
- Bud Select 55. Anheuser-Busch. Bud Select 55 was the lowest-calorie beer we could find.
Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Examples of one drink include: Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters) Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)Is beer better than soda for diabetics? ›
The best types of alcohol for people with diabetes are those with a low sugar or carb content. That includes light beers, red and white wines, distilled spirits, and low carb cocktails, as long as you avoid sugary juices or syrups.What is the unhealthiest drink in the world? ›
- Soda. It should come as no surprise that soda is one of the worst beverages you can choose for your body, whether you're drinking regular or diet. ...
- Fruit juice. ...
- Powdered drink mixes. ...
- Low-fat milk. ...
- Liquid coffee creamer. ...
- Sweet cocktails. ...
- Flavored water. ...
- Energy drinks.
Despite the potential health perks of drinking alcohol, there are some cautions as well. The biggest concern is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). When drinking alcohol is combined with the medications most often used to treat diabetes—particularly insulin and sulfonylureas, low blood sugar can result.Does quitting alcohol lower blood sugar? ›
Quitting drinking will result in a more typical blood glucose level. After a short period, blood sugar levels will stabilize, and you will experience several positive health changes. One way that the body eliminates excess sugar is by turning it into fat.What alcohol has no sugar or carbs? ›
For instance, pure forms of alcohol like whiskey, gin, tequila, rum and vodka are all completely free of carbs. These beverages can be drunk straight or combined with low-carb mixers for more flavor. Wine and light varieties of beer are also relatively low in carbs — usually 3–4 grams per serving.Is beer better for diabetics? ›
The best types of alcohol for people with diabetes are those with a low sugar or carb content. That includes light beers, red and white wines, distilled spirits, and low carb cocktails, as long as you avoid sugary juices or syrups.
Wine. Some research says wine (red or white) may help your body use insulin better and may even make you less likely to get type 2 diabetes in the first place. It may also have heart benefits, to boot! Moderation is the key as too much alcohol can cause hypoglycemia.What drink lowers blood sugar? ›
Drinking water regularly may rehydrate the blood, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce diabetes risk ( 20 , 21 ). Keep in mind that water and other zero-calorie drinks are best.