Which Beer Has The Most Protein? Plus Why Many Have So Little

Most people aren’t reaching for a beer for the nutritional benefit but many might wonder which beer has the most protein or if it’s possible to even find beer with enough protein to matter. I decided to tackle that question today and to explain why beer contains so little protein in the first place.

In general, bigger beer styles such as Imperial Stouts, Imperial Porters, Double IPAs, Belgian-Style Quadrupels will have more protein in them because they are heavier, denser beers. Typically, beer contains very little protein and it’s a small percentage of their caloric content.

While there have been somewhat gimmicky ‘protein beers’ on the market in the past, these have usually been fairly short-lived. At the time of this writing, I don’t see anything available for purchase in the United States at all in that category. With that in mind, let’s check out why some styles of beer have more protein than others and some general ideas about how much you should expect to find in your average beer.

Why certain styles of beer have the most protein

The styles of beer that I mentioned above have more protein in them simply because they are heavier and denser compared to average American beers such as Budweiser, Miller, or Coors. Of course, this means they also have more alcohol and more flavor as well.

Essentially, these styles pack more ‘beer’ into the same amount of liquid!

How does this work? To put things into perspective, an Imperial Stout would end up using around twice the grain that a regular stout would use. This means more fermentable sugars will go into the wort (more alcohol) more hops will be used to balance the flavor (more bitterness) and there will be more ingredients by volume (heavier mouthfeel and texture).

Is beer a good source of protein?

In general, beer is a poor source of protein.

Like, a really bad source.

While most beer doesn’t include a full list of nutritional information and ingredients, it can usually be found online buried in the description. If you look carefully, you’ll realize that most of the typical ‘American Light Lagers’ like Bud Light will have only 1 gram of protein or less. This is a trivial amount and only varies slightly from brand to brand among a given beer style.

Why does beer have so little protein?

If you look at the ingredients that go into making beer then it’s really no surprise why there is so little protein.

Here’s a basic recipe for an American Pale Ale (Such as the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)

  • 8.5 pounds of American two-row malt
  • .25 pounds Crystal malt
  • .5 pounds CaraVienne malt
  • 7 AAU Columbus whole hops
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Centennial whole hops
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Cascade whole hops
  • 1 oz (28 g) Cascade whole hops
  • 1.5 oz (42 g) Centennial whole hops
  • Wyeast 1272 (American Ale II) yeast

Notice anything?

It’s pretty much just grain. If you check the package of bread in your pantry you are likely to find a similar amount of protein included in the loaf because there simply isn’t that much to be found inside the grain.

Where does the protein in beer come from?

Even though there isn’t much protein in grains such as barley, there is a little. The yeast used to ferment the beer also imparts a little bit of protein into the final product.

But, even this small amount of original protein doesn’t make it into the final product. That’s because most of the protein will bind together into clumps and fall out of the beer solution during fermentation. These clumps form the trub at the bottom of the fermenter and don’t usually make it into the beer bottle.

How much protein is in a 12-ounce beer?

The answer to this question is highly variable since there are so many brands and styles out there.

In general, you should expect to find about .8-2g of protein in your average 12-ounce beer.

To keep things simple for an example, we’ll just use the good ole’ American classic – Budweiser ‘heavy’ (the original one!).

Here is the nutritional breakdown of the beer:

  • Total calories – 145
  • Total fat – 0g
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Sodium – 9mg
  • Total Carbohydrates – 10.6g
    • Dietary fiber – 0g
  • Protein – 1.3g
  • Alcohol – 14.2g

As you can see, this is a pretty low protein content. In fact, it’s only 3.5% of the total calories.

Protein in IPA beers

Compared to a standard American Lager, most IPAs are going to include more grain in their recipe and have just a little bit more of, well, everything!

For an example, here is the nutritional content of Sam Adams New England IPA:

  • Total calories – 210
  • Total fat – 0g
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Sodium – 10mg
  • Total Carbohydrates – 18g
    • Dietary fiber – 0g
  • Protein – 2g
  • Alcohol – 19g

As you can see, it’s not an alarming difference.

If you are looking for a beer with a lot of protein then good luck finding one!

For the web story version of this article click here!