Since we are men rarely seen without a pint in hand, people think it is okay to ask questions of us about beer. It’s not. Interrupting a man’s leisure time is harassment. That said, we have found ourselves unable to shake one such recent inquiry. What is the best light beer? Normally, there two stock answers for this question, assuming we remain near the person asking it — “None,” or “Why?”. Stepping away from cynicism momentarily, we admitted, to ourselves, that this might be an interesting discussion, between us and us. Thus, it began.
First, what is a light beer and why would someone drink one? Using the standards of well-known beers labeled as “light”, such a brew is one that is low in calories, generally having less complex flavor and color relative to a “regular” beer. Also characteristic of a light beer is a lower alcohol content and sometimes lower price. Macro-brewed light beers usually list an ABV (alcohol by volume) of about 4%, calories around 110 and about 4 grams of carbohydrates. We am assuming that one drinks these beers because they want the buzz from the alcohol, the taste of the beer, but not the belly from the brew. Also, there must be some affinity for beer, whether it be the light, refreshing taste or the way a pint looks in one’s hand. Otherwise, the drinker would choose a cocktail or shot, both offering lower caloric methods of inebriating oneself.
Mass-marketed, macro-brewed beers without question contain the least calories, least carbs and lowest price. But sometimes they taste like piss. Which, obviously, is a problem for them. Occasionally, however, the brewing behemoths produce a beer that, while remaining very light, stands out as slightly more thirst-quenching. Budweiser Select, Anheuser-Busch’s “exception to the brewing rules” (their quote, not ours), is intended to be very light, but flavorful as well. It has excellent stats – 99 calories, 3.1 grams of carbs and an ABV of 4.3%. Also, it is has a bit more color than say, Bud light, and a hint more malty taste. Plus it is only found in bottles, so you know it is classy.
Of course, this is MadeMan.com, not starving_college_student.com, so the “Best” in any category is rarely going to be what everyone else is having. That said, there are several craft brews that are both tasty and belly-friendly. Likely the least known comes from an east coast brewery, Flying Dog. Its “Tire Bite” ale fits well within the established qualifications, boasting stats of 124 calories and 7.1 grams of carbs, while still maintaining a 5% ABV. Also, Tire Bite offers something absent in most light beers, hop flavor and aroma. To keep calories low, brewers must use a relatively small amount of malt, and thus little hops. In such a recipe, it is easy for the hops to become over powering and ruin the beer. Kudos to Flying Dog for giving us a balanced drink both light, and hoppy.
Two more celebrated light beers are Boston Beer’s “Sam Adams Light” and New Belgium’s “Skinny Dip,” each created with purpose to be low calorie, yet still delicious. Sam Adams Light took brewers over 2 years to perfect, and they were really the first to accomplish the feat of a light beer with flavor. The drink comes in at 119 cals, 9.7 carbs and 4.1% ABV. Unlike your ex-girlfriends, you won’t find any bitterness here; the beer was designed to with a smooth finish. This is a great beer for those searching for a drink complex enough to be a craft brew, yet simple enough to be easy on the waistline.
Skinny Dip was born out of Colorado locals’ demand for a beer they could enjoy after doing all of their super healthy Colorado activities. For whatever reason, a nice thick and creamy stout at the top of a fourteener just wasn’t cutting it. Thus, we have Skinny Dip, a 110 calorie beer that also boasts incredible flavor. This seasonal has rightly received much acclaim from honest beer critics, those able to lower themselves to drink and rate a light beer. Maybe it is because it is only offered in the summer, but this drink is so refreshing, one does not even recognize it as “light,” only as “beer.” Skinny Dip certainly is not going to be mistaken for an IPA or other more potent beers, but you also won’t mind admitting to the guys that you are drinking it.
Of course, different folks are going to prefer certain aspects of a light beer more than others. Choosing one perfect beer is like picking which one of Scarlett Johansen’s breasts bounces nicer. Whether you are a righty or a lefty, it is, ultimately, a matter of personal taste (it’s the right, duh). Thankfully, there is a lot beer in the world to satisfy the population’s diverse demands. So, if you must have a flavorful beer, fear not, there are choices to quench your thirst and also keep you shape to catch the eye of your buddy’s sister.