When it comes to the beer world, there are few phrases more shrouded in negativity than “light beer.” These words are like the proverbial nails on the chalkboard to many beer drinkers. This is because the phrase conjures up images of yellow, fizzy, borderline flavorless beer that tastes more like hop-flavored seltzer water than actually beer. It feels that at best, it’s so low in alcohol you didn’t feel like you even had a beer. Who wants that?
And while these types of mass-produced, watery beers absolutely exist, myriad light beers actually have substance, balance, and, most of all, flavor. All you need to do is look a little further from the giant beer conglomerates with their mass-produced, corn-syrup, generic swill. Instead, look to the craft beer world. This is where you’ll actually find flavorful, balanced, memorable light beers.
Nobody wants you to spend your days drinking generic, watery beers from giant breweries because you don’t know where to find the ones that are actually good. These 10 will point you in the opposite direction
Five Boroughs Tiny Juicy
This New England-style IPA clocks in at a very light 4.2 percent ABV. But, while it’s low in alcohol, it’s definitely not low in flavor. It’s brewed with flaked oats and a trifecta of hops including Simcoe, Mosaic, and Cascade, it’s known for its cloudy appearance and juicy, tropical fruit, citrus flavor profile with just a hint of hop bitterness at the finish.
Cigar City Jai Low
Cigar City Jai Alai is one of the most famous IPAs in America. At 7.5 percent ABV, it’s definitely not a light beer. So, if you’re looking for a little lighter version, Cigar City has you covered with its Cigar City Jai Low. Clocking in at only four percent ABV, Jai Low is still loaded with the caramel malts, citrus zest, and brightly floral hops Jai Alai fans crave.
Breakside True Gold
Everyone likes gold right? So of course we love a beer called True Gold. This 5.1 percent “refreshing golden ale” is brewed with just the right malt sweetness as well as Galaxy and Mosaic hops. The result is a crushable, slightly sweet, crisp, malty beer with a ton of hop aroma and flavor without bitterness.
Lagunitas DayTime IPA
The brewers at Lagunitas know a thing or two about crafting great IPAs, and this four percent session IPA is no exception. It might be only three carbohydrates and 98 calories, but it’s loaded with Centennial and Citra hops. The use of malts and oats also gives it a creamy mouthfeel that works well with the tropical fruit, citrus, and dank pine flavors.
La Cumbre Beer
The folks at La Cumbre decided to go as no-frills as possible with this light beer by literally naming it “Beer.” This 4.7 percent ABV “Beer” was crafted to taste like your imagination of what beer is and it definitely does. Brewed with pilsner malt, acidulated malt, flaked corn, and Tettnanger hops, it’s crisp, light, and very beery to say the least.
Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty
When this beer was first released a few years ago, it was one of the first wave of craft brewers dropping light beers. It’s still just as great today. At only 3.6 carbs and 95 calories, it still doesn’t lack flavor. The addition of monk fruit gives this low-calorie IPA a sweet start that delves into tropical fruits, and citrus peels, and ends with lightly bitter, floral hops.
Founders All Day Haze IPA
When you see this beer, you know exactly what it is. It’s a hazy session IPA that’s supposed to be enjoyed all day long. This is because this hazy IPA is low in alcohol, but not flavor. It gets its piney, fruity, juicy flavor from being brewed with wheat, oats, Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops. Juicy, hazy, light, and highly crushable on a hot day.
Night Shift Nite Lite
Night Lite is Night Shift’s answer to the usual, boring light beers on the market. This crisp, easy-drinking, 4.3 percent, 120-calorie light lager isn’t the same fizzy, yellow water you’re used to. While it’s still totally crushable, it actually has crisp, fruity, lightly piney flavors from the use of actual corn, two-row barley, and German-sourced hops.
Half Acre Fader
Fader is touted as a “Chicago Premium Lager Beer” and that’s exactly what it is (in the best way possible). This 5.2 percent, year-round offering is clean, crisp, and very easy to drink. There’s nothing over-the-top with this beer. It’s a simple, refreshing beer perfect for enjoying on a hot, sunny day.
Bell’s Light-Hearted IPA
Bell’s Two Hearted is one of the most popular IPAs in America. But, like Cigar City Jai Alai, it’s definitely not a light beer. Luckily, Bell’s has a light beer version that doesn’t lag in the flavor department. This 3.7 percent ABV, Galaxy, and Centennial hopped beer is known for its flavors of citrus, pine, and floral, earthy hops.