Beer Legend #3: Beer is fattening (and the closely allied myth “Beer gives you a beer belly”).
Truth: The notion that beer is particularly liable to add the pounds is the bogus belief that allowed the creation of the diet-beer industry. Has anyone contemplated marketing a skinny wine or a low-cal malt whiskey?
Beer is no more a culprit in weight gain than any other alcoholic beverage. In fact, since it is such a dilute drink, dieters can find it satisfyingly filling. A 1999 study in Belgium concluded that beer-drinkers who drink in moderation do not differ in their weight from non-drinkers. Surprisingly, some of the most popular dark beers, Irish dry stouts, are actually quite light in both alcohol and calories. However, don’t generalize to the higher-strength styles: an Imperial stout really will put a dent in your diet plan.
Beer Legend #4: Dark beer is strong (and/or in fattening and bitter).
Truth: The only absolutely true thing to be said about dark beer is that it’s, well, dark. The hue of the beer comes from the color of the grain used to brew the beer. Therefore, pale grain produces pale beer, and so forth.
The grain to make beer (mainly barley) gets its color from the heat applied to stop germination, a step in converting barley grain to malt. Back in the days when this heat couldn’t be well controlled, the roasting was uneven and most beer was dark-ish. With advances in technology, maltsters could produce malt that varied in color from pale straw to black. Those advances allowed brewers to choose the grains to produce beers with the color and flavor characteristics they wanted.
Dark beers can range from weak in alcohol to strong; so can light beers.
There is some truth to the claim that dark beer is bitter. Although most bitterness in beer comes from hops, highly roasted barley can impart a burnt toast-bitterness that gives character to many stouts and porters.