Among folks who enjoy an adult beverage, craft-beer drinkers may be the healthiest. In a survey of 1,978 drinking-age adults from The Harris Poll and Nielsen, 80 percent of people that imbibe at least one craft brew a month consider themselves "health conscious," compared to 76 percent of non-craft drinkers. The margin may be small, but it was consistent across a number of questions asked.
The craft respondents drink less often, almost half keep their brews to the weekend (compared to 39 percent), and more of them, 57 percent, exercise several times a week, versus 52 percent. And though craft beer typically packs a few extra calories, enthusiasts of small-batch brews are more likely (39, against 25 percent) to pick lower-calorie non-alcoholic beverages to make up the difference. The survey also confirms that craft fans are more educated on what they're enjoying, with the group showing a better understanding of the calories and alcohol variations across styles.
"Craft-beer drinkers are more engaged than the mass domestic audience," says Julia Herz, director of the Craft Beer Program at the Brewers Association, meaning they're more mindful of what they're drinking and why. "They're not drinking the same beer for every occasion."
Herz, talking from the Brewers Association's headquarters in the outdoors mecca of Boulder, Colorado, added that the survey backs up previous data they've seen showing the connection between craft beer and a healthy lifestyle. "It's similar to how we're thinking about our food more now, where it comes from, and who owns it."
But it's not just that people filling growlers at their local tap room are naturally more inclined to watch their calories. Herz points out that many breweries have also embraced and spread their love of the outdoors and exercise. From the nation's biggest craft outfits you have New Belgium's Tour de Fat celebrating human-powered two-wheelers, Boston Beer minting a Sam Adams brew for the Boston Marathon, Deschutes hosting races at its brewery, and Sierra Nevada sponsoring the Tour of Utah pro cycling race. And more likely than not, if your town has a brewery, there's a running, biking, or triathlon race with its kegs at the finish line.
Finally, as craft beer has grown, says Herz, so has the awareness of what it can do to fight disease. "Wine is no longer the only beverage enjoyed in moderation for its health benefits." We'll spare you the complete laundry list of research-backed advantages for your body, but a few highlights include decreased risk of Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension.
The poll was self-reported and doesn't look at why beer can be good for you (though plenty of studies have). But we'll gladly raise a pint of pale ale to any data showing that good beer and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand.