Craft beer bellies threaten hipster waistlines

As B.C.'s craft beer scene expands, so do the waistlines of devoted fans. Will the situation eventually threaten the traditionally skinny look of the hipster?

How can aficionados of the exploding craft beer scene balance a love of suds with a trim figure?

These craft beers have a way of working their way into your heart and onto your hips. (CBC)

The male hipster feels it in the way his black jeans suddenly nudge a softening belly as he pedals upwards on his fixed gear bike. For the female hipster, it's the tightening strain of elastic on those vintage polyester dresses. 

But even worse, the culprit in this unwanted weight gain may be one of the pillars of hip life: craft beer.

Et tu Brew-té?

"I probably have put on a bit of weight, especially in the past couple of years now [that] all these breweries have opened up," says Christopher Vincent, hip Vancouver barber and craft beer lover.

Beer vs belly: 'a tough battle'

According to B.C. beer expert Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revolution, the province has more than 80 craft breweries with as many as 10 more scheduled to open in the next year. He says the lure of constant temptation is tough on the waistline.

"It's a tough battle for sure," he says. "Often craft beer is quite strong, high in alcohol, which is actually a lot higher in calories than even regular beer. So it is a challenge."

On The Coast beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says she expects to see heavier hipsters in years to come. (Stephen Quinn)
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Beyond occasional extras like espresso, chocolate and grapefruit, craft beer is generally a pure product, free of additives. But microbrews still carry the major caloric content of their commercial cousins — about 140 calories for a 12 oz bottle.

But On the Coast beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says lifestyle is a part of the problem.

"The people that love craft beer tend to be sitting around drinking it more often then maybe they are going for a walk," she says. 

Whyman is currently on her annual January beer-free cleanse.

"If I'm not going for a drink, I see fewer people, I go out a lot less, and the upside of that is I'm getting more exercise so I tend not to increase my beer belly in that month the way I normally would."

From hip-ster to waist-er

Whyman says anyone doubting the ultimate impact of a life dedicated to craft beer need only to consider the stereotypical look of the craft brewer: "The guys have beards and bellies."

Zach Galifianakis chic: the craft brewer look

Call it Zach Galifianakis chic.

But beard aside, it's a style that doesn't mesh with the skinny jeans and tight t-shirts of the classic Vancouver hipster. 

"As time goes on and more hipsters are hanging out at craft beer places, their waistlines are just going to have to grow along with them," says Whyman.

"Fortunately the lumberjack look works quite well with a beer belly and skinny jeans."

So it may also be time for name change: from hipster, to waist-er.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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