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