For years, the term "light beer" has been associated with low-calorie options from the biggest breweries. That is changing rapidly. Many of today's best light beers come from small brewers and are filled with flavor, a far cry from the watered-down lagers that have dominated the market for years.
"Light" beer is not all about the calories, though. While many fall right around 100 calories and are lower in alcohol—responsible for most of the caloric intake—others are considered light because of the style and taste. You'll find all of these beers to be very refreshing, which makes them perfect spring and summer brews. From ales to lagers, it's time to rethink what you know about light beer and give one of these impressive finds a try.
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The hoppy character of an IPA is not a typical candidate for a light beer. Dogfish Head Brewery has proven that it is possible with their Slight Mighty. Categorized as a "lo-cal IPA," it weighs in with just 95 calories and at 4.0 percent ABV. The secret is monk fruit, which takes over the sweetness in IPA's malt bill without adding calories.
Slighty Mighty is a remarkably crisp beer with a perfect amount of bitter hoppiness that can compete with any IPA. At 30 IBUs, it's at the lowest end, but that also makes it approachable for drinkers who typically don't enjoy the style.
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Harpoon Rec League's label may be straight out of the 70s, but this beer is a modern marvel. Created by New England's Harpoon Brewery, it's a 120-calorie pale ale that uses a combination of buckwheat, chia seeds, and sea salt.
Golden in color with a slight haziness, Rec League has grapefruit and mango notes interlaced with a fluffy mouthfeel and a snappy bitterness that's sure to grab your attention. Available in 12-packs and at just 3.8 percent ABV, this can easily become your new afternoon brew.
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An award-winning American light lager, Lone Tree Mexican Lager is a surprising find from the Colorado brewery. Originally a seasonal beer, it's now available year-round. While not the lightest on the calorie front (167 calories), the taste can beat out any other Mexican-style lager.
The 5.3 percent ABV lager has a great balance of light flavors that is both familiar and unique. Plus, if you're looking for a new michelada beer, it's a guaranteed winner.
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Swipe Light is Southern Tier Brewing Company's entry into the light beer scene and it's definitely turning some heads. From the name to the slim can, this ale is decidedly modern. It's also an easy drinker.
With a very low bitterness (15 IBUs) and light body, it's surprising how much character remains in Swipe Light. It holds citrus and herbal notes that are perfect for summer. At 110 calories and 4 percent ABV, it also comes with a low guilt factor.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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The 4.3 percent ABV beer is noted for having 120 calories, but that's for 12 ounces—it's also available as a pint (16 ounces). Yet, if you're looking for a perfect barbecue beer, it's a great choice.
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Omission Brewing Co. has a great ale you'll want to try. The Ultimate Light Golden Ale follows the brewery's mission to remove gluten from the barley-brewed drink. Though they can't guarantee it's gluten-free, this beer is a hit among people who have tried the alternatives.
Beyond that aspect, it's simply a nice beer. It holds citrusy hop flavors, has a gentle 10 IBUs, and a semi-dry finish. Add the fact that it's just 99 calories, has only 5 carbs, and is 4.2 percent ABV, and there's very little you won't love about it.
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Produced by The Boston Beer Company, Marathon Brewing's 26.2 Brew was designed for runners. It gets more attention in the running community than the beer scene, though you don't have to run a marathon (26.2 miles) to appreciate it.
This golden ale is brewed with Himalayan sea salt for the electrolytes and coriander. While it is just 4.0 percent ABV, the calorie count is on the upper scale of "light beers," at 120 calories. According to those who run, it's a great way to celebrate the end of a race.
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Another 99-calorie brew, you'll appreciate the character left inside Yuengling Light Lager (3.2 percent ABV). It's been around since 2001 and remains a favorite among the style, particularly among fans of the brewery's original lager.
What's noticeable about this one is its amber color, so the caramel and toasted malt notes should not be surprising. It is unique for the category, but more like a traditional lager than many of the domestic options available.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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This lager has nice carbonation, a hint of sweetness, and a good deal of flavor. Overall, it's a pleasant experience. With the benefits of just 99 calories and 4.2 percent ABV, it's a great upgrade for anyone who typically drinks the big-name American light lagers.
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Heineken Light is among the best options for a light beer that you can find in nearly any U.S. beer cooler. Already known to be light on flavor, you really don't lose much more in this light version of Heineken. That alone is a nice change of pace in the macro beer scene.
This zesty beer with hints of citrus has 99 calories and is bottled at 3.3 percent ABV. It can even impress some self-professed beer geeks. Essentially, if you simply want an easy-to-drink, smooth beer that's readily available, it's a perfect pick.