Determination of the Energy Value of Beer
and Karel Štěrba, Research Institute of Brewing and Malting, Prague PLC, Lípová 15, CZ–120 44
Prague 2, Czech Republic; Martin Pavlovič, Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing, Žalskega tabora 2, SI–
3310 Žalec, Slovenia; and Pavel Čejka, Research Institute of Brewing and Malting, Prague PLC
J. Am. Soc. Brew. Chem. 73(2):165-169, 2015
Beer is an important source of crucial nutritional compounds such as
carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore, beer has become an indispensable
part of the diet in many cultures. Apart from carbohydrates and proteins,
alcohol also contributes to the total energy value of beer. There exist
several approaches to the calculation of the energy value of beer, which
are defined in brewery analytical methods (EBC, MEBAK, and ASBC)
and in legislative rules. Two approaches were compared. The first is the
direct calculation method defined in EBC 9.45. The second can be found
in Regulation (EU) Number 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of
the Council. Whereas the direct method is fast, simple, and feasible, the
calculation method is laborious and time consuming. However, the direct
method does not provide accurate results for some types of beer (e.g.,
nonalcoholic beer or low-alcoholic beer mix manufactured by mixing
beer and sweetened soft drinks). Therefore, the modification of the direct
method was suggested and verified. In this form, the direct method of
determining the energy value of beer complies with the conditions of
high-throughput and a green method.
Keywords: Alcohol, Beer, Caloric content, Carbohydrates, Determina-
tion of energy value, Energy value
Nutrition labeling is a topic that attracts attention from both re-
searchers and the general public. The great interest follows pri-
marily from the increasing rates of obesity and obesity-related
diseases in this era. Therefore, the development of high-perfor-
mance and high-throughput methods for the determination of
macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) and energy
value (EV) (in other words, caloric content) of food and bever-
ages is a subject of interest for many scientists; for example, ana-
lytical chemists, experts in human medicine and biology, and, last
but most importantly, business-oriented experts, including mar-
keting and communication professionals, general strategists, and
food producers. It has been recorded at a higher frequency lately
that food companies are on trial for contributing to the growing
problem of obesity in the United States and abroad. They have
been threatened with taxes, fines, restrictions, and legislation (21).
This fact, together with consumer empowerment and the right to
be informed approximately the nutritional value of what people
are eating, has led to new regulations on the provision of food
information on labels (13). “The goal has changed from the origi-
nal position of ‘not mislead’ to the current position of ‘inform and
guide’, in the context of an environment where there are increas-
ing rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases.” As such, the
debate on nutrition labeling, format, and wording of such labels
as well as the design, placement, and extent to which this needs to
be unified, regulated, and communicated has been put in the spot-
light. With the newly introduced Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 (20)
on the provision of food information to consumers, any previous
supranational European legislation on food and nutrition labeling
has been revised and updated. The new rules are intended to con-
solidate and update Food Labeling Directive 2000/1 3/EC and
Directive 90/495/EEC on nutrition labeling. In the United States,
the rules of food labeling are determined in a Code of Federal
Regulations, § 101.9 from 1 April 2012 (5).
The issue of nutrition labeling, of course, relates not only to
food but also to beverage commodities, including beer and bever-
ages based on beer (for example, beer mix). Due to beer’s long-
term worldwide tradition and the fact that it is an important
source of main nutritional compounds such as carbohydrates and
proteins, beer has become a basic part of the diet in many cultures
(3). Beer is often a great source of energy and contributes signifi-
cantly to daily energy intake. The major source of beer energy is
carbohydrates and alcohol. There exist several basic ways to de-
termine the EV of food and beverages. The first one is using a
bomb calorimeter, which directly measures the total or gross EV
of various food macronutrients; the former information has been
known since the beginning of the last century (4). The bomb calo-
rimeter operates on the principle of direct calorimetry, measuring
the heat liberated as food burns completely (15). The heat of com-
bustion refers to the heat liberated by oxidizing a specific food; it
represents the food’s total EV. This method is applicable for food,
but only for solid matrices (16).
A different approach to this problem was described by authors
who measured the carbohydrate concentration and EV of fruit-
and milk-based beverages through partial-least-squares attenuated
total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectrometry (19).
Using these statistical methods, the authors managed to find a
relationship between the absorbance of these drinks in various
areas of the infrared spectra and the resulting value of the carbo-
hydrate content and EV.
The standard method of EV (i.e., caloric content) by calculation
(calculation method) uses a mathematical equation, where the
total EV of a food or beverage is calculated as a sum of the EV of
the significant components determined by relevant methods. The
concentration (c, g/100 g) of individual nutrients is multiplied by
conversion factors. The relationship can be generally expressed
EV (kJ/100 g) = 17 × c
+ 10 × c
+ 17 × c
+ 37 × c
+ 29 × c
+ 13 × c
+ 8 × c
EV is expressed in kilocalories (kcal) or kilojoules (kJ); 1 kcal =
This formula is used in accordance with the requirements of the
EC Directive 90/496/EEC, Nutritional Labeling Rules, together
with Decree Number 330/2009 Coll. “Nutrition labeling of food”
from the Collection of Laws of the Czech Republic (7) and, finally,
newly introduced Regulation (EU) 1169/2011. Because the cal-
culation method requires the development of specific analytical
methods for the determination of each given macronutrient in a
specific matrix and the subsequent determination of all nutrients in
every sample, this method is expensive and also time-consuming.
Brewing analysis conventions such as EBC, MEBAK, and
ASBC use simplified methods for EV determination. EBC
method 9.45, which is designed for the EV determination in beer
(11), uses a simplified alternative, where an estimated EV can be
Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: +420 224 900 150.
2015 American Society of Brewing Chemists, Inc.
166 / Olšovská, J., Štěrba, K., Pavlovič, M., and Čejka, P.
calculated from the alcohol and real extract of the beer. Mostly,
beer analyzers are equipped by software, which directly calculates
EV from real extract, alcohol, and density measured (direct
(kJ/100 mL) = ϱ × (15 × E
+ 29 × c
where ϱ is density of beer (g/mL), E
is real extract in %w/w, and
15 is the approximated conversion factor, which takes into ac-
count the major components of the extract, carbohydrates and
proteins, as well as glycerol; β-glucans; organic acids; amino
acids; phenolic, sulfuric, heterocyclic, and inorganic substances;
and so on. The MEBAK method 220.127.116.11 (18) provides two alter-
natives; the first one is the calculation of EV based on residual
carbohydrates, proteins, and alcohol:
(kJ/100 mL) = 17 × c
+ 17 × c
+ 29 × c
The second one uses an approximated equation as equation 2. The
ASBC method (1) presents another equation:
(kcal/100 g) = 6.9 (A) + 4 (B – C) (4)
where A (%w/w) is alcohol content, B (%w/w) is real extract, and
C (%w/w) is ash content.
This calculation corrects the real extract value as a measure of
the sum of carbohydrates and proteins.
The big advantage of the method using equation 2 is its simplic-
ity and high throughput. Laboratories dealing with beer analysis are
mostly equipped with analyzers, which can easily determine alco-
hol and real extract concentration. The measurement of alcohol is
based on near-infrared technology and the measurement of real
extract, which is calculated from density. The principle behind the
densitometer is based on the fact that the characteristic frequency of
an oscillating U-tube depends on the density of the filled-in sample
density. Equation 2 is included in the software of this instrument,
and the process of EV calculation is fully automatized, for example,
with Anton Paar (2).
As was mentioned above, Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 defines
a determination of EV as the sum of energetic contributions of
present nutrients and alcohol. Undoubtedly, this assay is abso-
lutely correct; however, this approach is very time-consuming
and more expensive compared with brewery reference methods
(EBC, MEBAK, and ASBC). Therefore, the aim of this study
was a comparison of methods using the sum of all nutrients and
alcohol in beer (equation 3) with the direct method, which uti-
lized only values of alcohol and extract processed with an ap-
proximated equation according to EBC 9.45 method (11). Beer
samples with various ratios of alcohol and extract (34 samples
of lagers, 22 samples of beer mix, and 32 samples of nonalco-
holic beers) were used for this purpose.
Beer samples (lagers, nonalcoholic beer, and beer mix) were
obtained from the Czech market and analyzed according to the
routine methods described below.
Real extract measurement was performed on a DMA 4500 den-
sitometer (Anton Paar, Austria) according to EBC 9.4 method
(10). Alcohol content was measured on the Alcolyzer (Anton
Paar) according to EBC 9.2.6 method (9).
Carbohydrate concentration was determined on a high-pressure
pump with a degasser, column thermostat (SISw, Czech Repub-
lic), and autosampler Midas (Spark, Holland) connected with a
high-sensitivity refractive index (RI) detector (Shodex RI 101,
Japan). Chromatographic data were collected and processed by
the DataApex Clarity data system, version 18.104.22.1685. The meas-
urement procedure and conditions are described by Jurková et al.
Total nitrogen content was determined on a mineralization unit
SK-06-RXT (MK Servis s.r.o., Czech Republic) and Büchi 323
(Büchi Labortechnik AG, Switzerland) according to EBC 9.9.1
method (12). Protein content was calculated by multiplying the
total nitrogen content by factor 6.25.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The development of the method for determining total carbohy-
drates, including polyols determination in beer, was the necessary
previous step of this study. Carbohydrates are the main part of
beverage extracts; therefore, the accuracy of this method affects
the ensuing final formulae for EV calculation. Regulation (EU)
117/2010 recommends the determination of oligomers in food
using an enzymatic reaction with amylase or amyloglucosidase,
with subsequent analysis of produced glucose by HPLC (6). The
method described in Analytica EBC 9.26 and MEBAK 2.7.3, the
determination of total carbohydrate content in beer using the hy-
drolysis of carbohydrates with sulfuric acid (85% v/v) into glu-
cose units with the following color reaction and UV/VIS spectros-
copy detection at 625 nm (9,17), does not meet the requirements
of Regulation (EU) 117/2010, which requires the enzymatic con-
version of polymers and oligomers of carbohydrates into glucose
using amylase or amyloglucosidase with a following HPLC deter-
mination. Therefore, in the first step, we developed and verified a
new method (14), where the carbohydrates in beer are cleaved
using an enzymatic reaction with amyloglucosidase into glucose
and short glucose oligomers of less than 10 units, and separated
on an HPLC ionex column in Ag+ mode Rezex RSO-Oligosac-
charide. An HPLC method with RI detection is consequently used
Comparison of Energetic Values Determined Using Direct Method (EV
, Method 1) and Calculating Method (EV
, Method 2)
Average 4.5 3.7 0.5 3.8 179 181 1.0
Standard deviation 1.8 1.7 0.2 0.7 41 41 2.1
Average 4.7 4.5 0.2 0.2 78 82 4.8
Standard deviation 1.4 1.3 0.1 0.1 21 21 3.1
Average 6.1 5.8 0.2 1.7 144 151 4.7
Standard deviation 1.7 1.7 0.1 0.5 37 40 3.7
= real extract, Total sacch. = total saccharides, EV
= direct method according to method EBC 9.45 (after conversion of w/v to w/w), EV
method according to Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, and Rel. diff. = relative difference between EV
Determination of the Energy Value of Beer / 167
for the determination of resulting glucose and traces of oligomers
with chains shorter than 10 glucose units. The enzymatic reaction
was optimized with respect to the inhibition effect of ethanol in
beer. The resulting recovery of the method in nonalcoholic and
alcoholic beer was 98.5 and 92.3%, respectively.
The EV value of analyzed beer was determined using two
methods. Method 1 was the direct method on the automatic ana-
lyzer of extract and alcohol using approximated equation 2 ac-
cording to EBC method 9.45. Method 2 was the calculation method
(equation 3) according to legislative recommendation. Conse-
quently, EVs obtained from both methods were compared, and the
difference was expressed (Table I).
As follows from our results, the EBC method (namely, equa-
tion 2 used for EV determination) is useful only for lager beers.
When we analyzed nonalcoholic beer or beer mix using this
method, we found various differences (ranging from 5 to 20%)
between the results from equations 3 and 2 (calculation and di-
rect methods, respectively). This discrepancy is probably caused
by different ratios between the concentration of alcohol and car-
bohydrates, and the conversion factor 15 for extract is not accu-
rate in these cases. Different energy contributions of alcohol and
carbohydrates in the studied beer samples are shown in Figure
1. These results were obtained during EV measurement using
the direct method (method 1). It is evident that alcohol is a ma-
jor contribution to total energy in lager samples (approximately
two-thirds). Carbohydrates contribute to total energy with ap-
proximately one-quarter. A completely different situation occurs
for the samples of beer mix and nonalcoholic beer, where the
major proportion of energy belongs to carbohydrates: approxi-
mately two-fourths and four-fifths for beer mix and nonalco-
holic beer, respectively. Finally, in beer mix samples, one-third
of energy is composed of alcohol whereas a negligible contribu-
tion of alcohol was found in nonalcoholic beer. The amount of
proteins and glycerol is insignificant in this context in all sam-
ples studied. The overall comparison of EV regarding the three
types of studied samples is shown in Figure 1; the average EV
of lagers is the highest, 182 kJ/100 mL, whereas the average EV
of nonalcoholic beers (produced by interrupted fermentation) is
half compared with lagers, 83 kJ/100 mL. The energy of beer
mix (with a low content of alcohol, less than 2%) depends on
the level of sugar added; the average EV of our samples was 150
A statistical summary of results obtained is shown in Table I
and demonstrates trends for the three types of beer studied. The
comparison was performed on 34 samples of lagers (original grav-
ity 9 to 18°P), 32 nonalcoholic beers, and 22 beer mixes. It should
Fig. 1. Contribution of components to the total energy value of beer.
Fig. 2. Correlation between direct and calculating methods: lager beer.
Fig. 3. Correlation between direct and calculating methods: nonalcoholic beer.
Fig. 4. Correlation between direct and calculating methods: beer mix.
168 / Olšovská, J., Štěrba, K., Pavlovič, M., and Čejka, P.
be noted that this study was concerned with the discrepancies
with the nonalcoholic beer, which is produced by the interruption
of fermentation, and beer mix manufactured by mixing beer and
sweetened soft drinks with a ratio of approximately of 1:1.
For further calculations, all results were converted to percent-
ages by weight (Table I).
Unfortunately, the direct method underestimates results for
nonalcoholic beer and beer mix; however, it is a higher-through-
put method, which is a desirable feature for laboratories. Whereas
the analysis time of EV
(using the direct method) is several
minutes, the analysis time of EV
(using the calculation method)
is several hours. Therefore, we propose a new equation for each
type of beer using the obtained data, which were subsequently
processed in the form of correlation EVs regarding the compared
As is evident from Figures 2, 3, and 4, we have a good correla-
tion for each tested beer type; coefficients of determination were
0.988, 0.987, and 0.993 for lagers, nonalcoholic beers, and beer
mix, respectively. These were determined using least squares re-
gression with and without intercepts (Figs. 2–4, shown by italics),
which allows a comparison of EV
However, only the equation for lagers is closest to the ideal
= 1 × EV
. Different results were found for nonalco-
holic beers and beer mix (Fig. 3 and 4, respectively). The results
for these two beverages (Table I) show that the value of EV
obtained by method 1 is underestimated.
Therefore, we recalculated the conversion factors of real extract
X in formula EV
= X × E
+ 29 × c
. We found
variables such as EV
, density, real extract, and alcohol content
using the beer analyzer (densitometer connected with an alcolyser).
The results were calculated by linear regression from the indi-
vidual beers, and selected statistical parameters were calculated
for the coefficient X (Table II
For lagers, the conversion factor of extract corresponds well to
equation 2, which is 15; the experimentally determined factor is
15.2. Because the confidence interval for the mean was approxi-
mately 0.3 (double the value of the standard average deviation, a
95% probability), it could be considered a good agreement.
Finally, we obtained new conversion factors of extract for non-
alcoholic beer and beer mix of 15.9 and 16.5, respectively. The
confidence interval for the calculated value for nonalcoholic beer
and beer mix is 0.2 and 0.3, respectively.
The new suggested formulae, which correlate with results of in-
direct method, are:
(kJ/100 mL) = ϱ × (15.9 × E
+ 29 × c
for nonalcoholic beer and
(kJ/100 mL) = ϱ × (16.5 × E
+ 29 × c
for beer mix.
The new formulae were confirmed using a regression line be-
and EV obtained by a modified direct method with
new conversion factors (EV
). The conversion line was con-
structed from the results of real used samples. The slopes of lines
for all types of tested beers are close to unity (Table III). Conse-
quently, the suggested model was verified using paired t tests
and original EV
, and between EV
(Table III). It is obvious that an average difference ap-
proached zero and standard error of the mean decreased when the
modified direct method was used.
In a similar way, formulae for various types of fermented bev-
erages could be derived for this purpose. It is worthwhile to invest
time into optimizing the direct method in terms of the derivation
of a specific equation, because this gave a fast, simple, feasible
method, providing accurate results (comparable with the results
from the calculating method). This method could also be consid-
ered a green method, because the method will avoid the chemical
analysis of all macronutrients. The direct method is based on a
simple measurement of the key parameters (density, extract, and
alcohol content); the EV is subsequently automatically calculated.
This measurement requires neither organic solvent nor derivatiza-
tion reagent and, finally, the demands on energy and resulting
time of the method will be low.
The direct method for the determination of the EV of beer
based on the measurement of density, extract, and alcohol content
was compared with the method based on the calculation from the
content of each macronutrient and alcohol. Both methods are in
good agreement for lager samples but, for nonalcoholic beers and
beer mix, we found significant differences. Therefore, new formu-
lae were developed for each type of drink, and we demonstrated
better agreement with the calculation method. With this approach,
a new, simplified method for the determination of the EV of non-
alcoholic beers and beer mix was obtained, and we recommend
this procedure for other beverages for which precise formulae are
not yet estimated.
Comparison of Energy Value (EV) Results from Calculation, Direct, and Modified Direct Methods
Comparison Lager Nonalcoholic beer Beer mix
Regression slope with zero intercept (EV
Slope 0.997 1.007 0.997
Standard error of slope 0.004 0.006 0.005
P value <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001
Paired t test (EV
Mean difference (kJ/100 mL) –1.3 –3.9 –9.2
Standard error of mean difference(kJ/100 mL) 4.6 4.9 4.8
Paired t test (EV
Mean difference (kJ/100 mL) –0.4 0.3 0.0
Standard error of mean difference (kJ/100 mL) 4.4 2.7 3.7
Conversion Factors for Energy Value Determination
Using Direct Method
Conversion factor (X)
Average 15.2 15.9 16.5
Standard deviation 0.97 0.51 0.66
Standard average deviation 0.17 0.09 0.14
Determination of the Energy Value of Beer / 169
This study was supported by project MZE-RO1914 “Research of the
quality and processing of malting and brewing raw materials” of the Min-
istry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic and by project LLP-LDV-TOI-
2013-1-SI1-LEO05-05341 “Micro-brewing learning and training program
(LdV Beer School)” within the EU financial scheme of Leonardo da Vinci.
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