Beer of the Week

Five things about … CUB’s Pure Blonde


1) This is a ‘‘new improved’’ Pure Blonde, now with 80 per cent less carbs than regular beer. That’s a 10 per cent improvement on the old Pure Blonde. So how did they reduce the carbs by an extra 10 per cent? Well I’m no nutrionist but I think the answer is – they reduced the alcohol.

Yep, the old PB had 4.6 per cent. The new one has 4.2 per cent. And as most of the calories in beer lives in the alcohol, a drop in the level of alcohol would surely lead to a drop in calories and carbs. But it’s not a huge drop – the calorie difference between old PB and new PB is 15. That’s equivalent to a single water cracker.

[UPDATE: turns out I’m probably wrong on the “less alcohol = less carbs” argument. Check the comments thread for a better explanation of what’s probably going on here]

2) It also makes the claim that it has 50 per cent fewer calories than wine. While that could well be true, it’s also totally not earth-shattering. Most beers around 4.2 per cent, have about half the calories of wine. Coopers Pale, for instance, has 131 calories in a 375ml bottle. And 375ml of wine has 255 calories. See, almost half.

3) But these sort of claims are hardly surprising, because the whole low carb beer market is built on shaky foundations. People by them because they’ve tricked themselves into thinking they can drink them and not get fat. The beer companies haven’t actually said these beers are low-fat, they just haven’t dissuaded the public from this erroneous belief.

That’s why they print nutritional info on every single low-carb beer but not on any of the regular beers. Because they don’t want you comparing them and realising the calorie difference really isn’t that much.

4) So, if you used to drink three or four regular beers and you think swapping them for Pure Blondes will help you lose weight, you’re mistaken. It’s not going to make that much difference at all. Case in point – new PB has 92 calories which is about 40 less than a Coopers Pale. And that’s not much, really – 40 calories is roughly three water crackers.

If you want to drink beer and lose weight, you could just drink less (whether of PB or something else). Or you could look to light and mid-strength beer which at the very least don’t taste any worse than PB.

5) As for the taste? Well, after the first sip the phrase “effervescent cardboard” came to mind. People must be drinking Pure Blonde for health reasons – it can’t be for the flavour.


NOTE: In point 2 I incorrectly stated there were 150 calories in a 375ml serve of wine. That was incorrect, it has since been changed to 255.

3 replies »

  1. A drop in the level of alcohol would surely lead to a drop in calories, but not carbs. You are right that most of the calories in beer come from alcohol, the rest come from carbs and these are mutually exclusive. Alcohol and carbs both contain calories, but alcohol does not contain carbs so a reduction in alcohol will not lead to a reduction in carbs.

    A reduction in alcohol will actually lead to an increase in carbs if nothing else changes as the proportion of carb-containing non-alcohol components increases – the same way that low-fat milk is higher in sugar than full-cream.

    I assume your tongue was firmly planted in your cheek when you stated that 131 is almost half of 150. 😛

    • Cheers, guess that proves I was right when I said I wasn’t a nutrionist 🙂
      As for the 131 being half of 150, my tongue wasn’t in my cheek. I screwed up the calories in the wine – should have been 255. Which means 131 being half of it makes more sense.
      Thanks for pointing that out to me. 🙂

  2. I’m no nutrionist either, but I am a professional brewer. 🙂

    So how did they do it? The only way to reduce carbs in beer is to ferment it out further, leaving less residual sugars (and less body and sweetness – thus a drier beer). These residual sugars are complex carbohydrates of longer than 3 glucose molecules, so regular beer yeast can’t ferment them. Crazy yeasts like those used for saison will do it but will give too much flavour for this style of beer, so many big breweries use enzymes to augment the work of those in the malt that break down complex starches in the mash.

    Which leads to a good point, if you want a low-carb beer with flavour, drink a lower-alcohol saison (more like the traditional 3-4% rather than the >6% modern interpretation) where the yeast provides most of the flavour compounds. Or just drink whatever you want and cut back on those pesky water crackers. 😉

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