Brews and Bagpipes

Guinness

Kilts, bagpipes, and beer — next to New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl, America’s best excuse to knock back a few brews is just 17 days away!  Having been to Ireland myself and poured the “Perfect Pint” at the Guinness Storehouse, you can bet I’ll be having a couple of those beautiful brews!

Unless it’s a divine cookie (and what cookies aren’t divine…), it’s not very often you’ll find me indulging in something historically so bad for you.  So, that must mean one thing:  there’s plenty of good to be found in that dark pint!  Red wine is the liquor that typically takes the rap for being chock-full of hidden nutrients, but I bet you didn’t know this:

Healthy Heart
The ethanol that comprises beer has been shown to lower your “bad” cholesterol and raise your “good”cholesterol!  Are you thinking what I’m thinking — “I’ll take two!”

B Vitamins
They’re commonly found in wheat products, beer included!  Gluten-free folks, sorry about your luck!

Power Up
Speaking of B vitamins, studies show a beer can provide a boost of energy.  I repeat: beer.  Not 5.

Antioxidants
Still talking dark beer here, there’s a plethora of antioxidants to help prevent — you guessed it — heart disease!

Rehydration Station
Beer is over 90% water!  So add those antioxidants, carbs, and a dab of protein, and you don’t have yourself too shabby of a refreshing post run drink!

Kidney Stones
Nope, beer doesn’t cause them!  They say if you’ve got one to pass, a beer is just as good an idea as cranberry juice!  Plus, you can take the edge off the pain ;)  (Just don’t tell my grandma I said that!)

Microbrew Love
Microbrews typically have quite a bit higher amount of hops, especially compared to their skunky, light counterparts.  The hops (what gives beer its bite) are high in polyphenols which can aid in lowering cholesterol and warding off cancer.

Now, by no means will it be beneficial to throw back the whole keg to reap these benefits.  You’ll be reaping a killer hangover instead before that cholesterol drops!  As always, everything in moderation!  Plus, I’d hate for you to embarrass yourself in front of your mates!

Now, what to choose from?  Check out these tried and true brews!

  • Guinness Irish Stout
    I know what you’re thinking:  Dark beer is so high in calories!  Ah, but you are under researched, my friend!  Guinness only packs 125 calories, and less than 10 g of carbohydrates.  Loving it yet?  If not, think of it as “Adult Chocolate Milk”.
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
    A little heavier competitor, Murphy’s weighs in at 150 calories.  But with hints of caramel and milk, it’s worth it!
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
    A red ale that’s a little more bitter (just think black coffee), but equally impressive and calorically beautiful with 150 calories and 15 g carbs.
  • Abita Purple Haze
    Moving away from Ireland :( and on down to Louisiana, Purple Haze is brewed with real raspberries (hey, antioxidants!) and a smidge heavier than my beloved Guinness, its only 128 calories and 11g of carbs.
  • Mayday Evil Octopus
    Head north about 600 miles and you’ll find the raddest little microbrewery in the great city of Murfreesboro, TN!  Their antioxidant and hoppy (8 different hops, to be exact) contribution is my local favorite: Evil Octopus.  I have no idea how many calories or carbs, but it’s not heavy, it’s local, and as dark as this black ale is: you know it’s [gotta be] packed with all those awesome B vitamins and iron, as well.
  • Peak Organic Winter
    Keeping it at 150 calories and a little toasty, I present to you a fine organic dark ale from way on up in Maine!
  • Beck’s Dark
    Hopping back across the pond and a quick flight into Germany, Beck’s Light deserves a caloric kudos.  While I’m a fan of Beck’s Dark (keeping it under 150 kcal!) Beck’s Light only has 64 calories and 4 g of carbs!  How impressive is that?!  What’s not so impressive, though is the alcohol content.  Less than 2.5%!  So, you may wind up drinking an equal amount just to keep up with your dark beer counterpart!
  • Baird/Ishii/Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA
    Now, this one deserved an honorable mention.  An IPA rather than an IBA and a whopping 276 calories, but that’s the only bad news!  There’s 19g carbs, and 9.2% alcohol.  That’s double the alcohol of many beers!  So think of it this way: a 2-for-1!  And who doesn’t love 2-for-1’s?!  On top of that, it’s flowing with antioxidant-rich green tea.  AND proceeds fund the 2011 tsunami and earthquake efforts.  2-for-1’s, green tea, and a good deed done.  What else do you need to know??

While I realize we live in the south, and light beer seems to be the brew of choice, I must insist that you don’t knock it til you try it!  Don’t let red wine be the only drink of refinement!  There’s a wealth of sophistication to be found in a dark beer, so while you grab one this St. Patty’s Day think of the goodness found within!

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