U.S. Army Beer Consumption in Reagan’s Europe. Part II.

In Part I, I discussed a portrayal of beer-drinking patterns at American army bases in Europe, in 1981.

A 1988 State of Connecticut analysis of domestic and imported beers tested percentage of alcohol and calorie content. I have referred to this study before, but this version is the most complete I have seen, especially the introduction which explains the rationale and methodology.



Taking four of each, German and American beers, same style, we see the following (where two values are stated I took the higher. Calories are per 100 ml):


Furstenberg. 4.43% abv. 45 cal.

St. Pauli Girl. 5.00% abv. 39 cal.

Beck’s Bier.   5.13% abv.  43 cal.

Wurzburger.  5.42% abv. 45 cal.


Schlitz.           4.70% abv. 41 cal.

Miller High.    4.80% abv. 43 cal.

Budweiser.     4.82% abv. 40 cal.

Michelob.       4.99% abv. 45 cal.

I omitted Lowenbrau, as it was brewed in the U.S. in this period (fwiw 5.12% abv, 45 cal.). I’ll set aside that the German beers were exports, and some perhaps stronger on that account.

At a glance we can see three Germans are over 5% abv. but not by a great deal, and one reputed German is lower than any U.S. brand shown.* No U.S. brand is over 5% abv.

German average, 4.99% abv, American is 4.82%.

Calories: American average, 42, German, 43.

The differences in each case seem not material. I think the perceptions of higher strength and calories for German vs. American beer were more connected to greater body of the German beers and higher hop character, plus their all-malt formulation.

Perceiving U.S. beer as light and mild though can connect to its lower hop character and adjunct formulation, vs. German beers.

Of course particular cases might vary. If a soldier drank four Schlitz vs. four Wurzburger, the cumulative strength difference of the latter might be noticeable.

If they drank four Furstenberg vs. four Michelob, then the other way, but the former was probably more likely.

Net-net, on the key drivers – alcohol intake and “fattening” propensity, not much difference between the two, imo.

The next post forms a coda for this series.

Note: source of image(s) above is linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.

*To me a great deal would be, anything over 5.5% abv.









2 thoughts on “U.S. Army Beer Consumption in Reagan’s Europe. Part II.”

  1. THX. FWIW, in 1968, the on-post clubs (EM, NCO, and Officer’s) sold German local (like, from the town down the road) and regional (Bavaria) beers along side US beers. Heineken was available, too, at 20 cents a bottle. IIRC, regular Bud long necks were 15 cents which were 10 cents cheaper than Tucher (from Nurnberg) or Wurzberger Pils (also up the road from us and MUCH better than the export version we get). When we went for field training, our company officers (including me) would buy several cases of our local beer (Bad Windsheimer) and stash them on the floors of our tanks. On those few evenings we had off, we’d pass them out to our troops after letting them (uh, the beers, not the troops) cool down in the snow. It sure made heated C-rations taste better. Looking back, I think price rather than taste dictated a beer’s “popularity”. And I’m still surprised at how LITTLE alcoholism we had to deal with back then.

    • Hey that’s great Harry, thanks. Good info and stories.

      Quick questions: when you bought local beer especially by the case, did you or some men get it in town from a supermarket, or just on base? Reason I ask is, at least in Darmstadt in 1981, some German beer was cheaper in supermarkets than even Bud.

      Also, on base could personnel drink in their quarters, or just in the three clubs you mentioned?



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