Units and calories in ale and stout
How many calories and units of alcohol are in ale and stout? Use our simple guide to find out.
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Beers, including ales and stout, are the most bought type of alcoholic drink in pubs in Great Britain.1
And Drinkaware research has found that ale and stout are also commonly drunk at home by people who consume more than the UK low risk drinking guidelines2 - It’s safest not to drink more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days, with several drink-free days - and no bingeing.
Regularly drinking more than the low risk drinking guidelines increases your risk of serious health conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure and poor mental health. Drinking alcohol also causes at least seven types of cancer, including breast, bowel, mouth and throat cancers.
But how much alcohol is in ale and stout, and how many calories? Get the facts here, and find out how you can cut down.
Checking an ale or stout's ABV (alcohol by volume) tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, an ale with 5% ABV is five percent pure alcohol – and the higher the percentage, the more alcohol there is.
On average, beers – including ale and stout - sold to be drunk at home in the UK are 4.6% ABV.3 But that’s only an average – some can be much stronger. The only way to be sure of the strength of a particular ale or stout is to check the label.
A good way to keep track of how much you’re drinking is to know how many units of alcohol are in your drink. One unit of alcohol is 10ml (ten millilitres) of pure alcohol – and the number of units you are drinking depends on the drink’s size and strength.
For example, a pint (568ml) of 5% ABV ale has 2.8 units in it.
Alcohol is high in calories. It contains around seven calories a gram - almost as many as pure fat.4
A pint of ale or stout with 5% ABV can contain over 250 calories, the same amount in a whole bagel.
Calories from alcohol are often described as 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value because they are consumed in addition to the calories your body needs. And drinking alcohol affects the way your body processes fat for energy.5 You are more likely to store fat around your middle – which is an area where men in particular tend to show weight gain, sometimes referred to as a ‘beer belly’.6,7
What’s more, if you find that you eat more junk food after a drinking session, you won’t be alone. That’s because drinking affects the hormones that control your appetite,8 as well as making you less inhibited and therefore less likely to make healthy choices.9
Alcohol-free and low alcohol ales and stout are made using the same ingredients as standard equivalent – but with less alcohol:10
Because they still contain some alcohol, these types of drink aren’t suitable if you want or need to avoid alcohol. But if you want to cut down without stopping completely, switching – not adding them as extra drinks - can be a good way to cut your overall alcohol consumption and stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines.
Drinkaware research has found regular drinkers of alcohol-free products thought the taste had improved over recent years. Negative perceptions of taste were more common amongst people who hadn’t tried them, with many people pleasantly surprised with the taste when they did.11 So if you’re thinking of switching to alcohol-free ale to cut your consumption, there’s never been a better time to try it.
Non-alcoholic drinks can help slow your alcohol consumption, reducing the overall units you consume. If you choose water, it will help you to stay hydrated too.
The ABV (‘alcohol by volume’) is written on the label, or you might see it on the pump if you’re in a pub. Brands with higher ABVs have more alcohol, and more alcohol units – so think about choosing a half rather than a pint, or choosing a drink with a lower ABV.
Drinking in rounds means that you're drinking at the speed of the fastest drinker, so you could be consuming your units faster than you'd like. Regain control, and maybe even save some cash, by buying your own drinks instead.
If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the reasons the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommend having several drink free days each week, not drinking more than 14 units per week, and never binge drinking.
 YouGov Plc: YouGov Profiles (Drinkaware Monitor - 2021). Sample size for Home (n = 1,894); Pub (n = 1,915). Available at: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/alcohol-facts-and-data/alcohol-consumption-uk#drinkingpreferences
 Public Health England. Review of typical ABV levels in beer, cider and wine purchased for the ‘in home’ market (June 2020). (Accessed 9 November 2022). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/893741/Review_of_typical_ABV_levels_in_beer_cider_and_wine_purchased_for_the_in_home_market.pdf
 Sonko, B. J., Prentice, A. M., Murgatroyd, P. R., et al. (1994). Effect of alcohol on postmeal fat storage. Am J Clin Nutr, 59, 619-25.
 Golzarand, M., Salari-Moghaddam, A., & Mirmiran, P. (2022). Association between alcohol intake and overweight and obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of 127 observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 62(29), 8078–8098. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2021.1925221
 Shi, H. and Clegg, D.J. (2009). Sex differences in the regulation of body weight. Physiology &Behavior, 97(2), pp.199-204.
 Yeomans, M.R., Caton, S. and Hetherington, M.M. (2003). Alcohol and food intake. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 6(6), 639-644.
 Gan, G., Guevara, A., Marxen, M., Neumann, M., Jünger, E., Kobiella, A., Mennigen, E., Pilhatsch, M., Schwarz, D., Zimmermann, U.S. and Smolka, M.N. (2014). Alcohol-induced impairment of inhibitory control is linked to attenuated brain responses in right fronto-temporal cortex. Biological Psychiatry, 76(9), 698-707.
Last Reviewed: 1st March 2023
Next Review due: 1st March 2026