They don’t call it a beer gut for nothing. The truth of that matter is, if a cold malted beverage is on the docket every evening, those empty calories are going to end up somewhere — and not exactly as the type of six pack you’d expect. In addition, there’s the heavy feeling a full-bodied ale or lager leaves behind. And while it’s all fun and games enjoying these meaty ales, there’s certainly something to be said about the aftermath. This phenomenon isn’t news, obviously, which is why the low-cal light beer trend took off in spades decades ago.
The caveat, however, is the quality. More often than not, with a lighter beer comes a lighter, watered-down body and profile. Which isn’t surprising considering fewer calories is a direct result of a lowered sugar count. On the surface, this does sound enticing, but when flavor is compromised for the sake a lighter calorie count, nobody wins. That’s where craft beer once again comes in to save the day. For the ingenuity and unique methods used to brew these low-calorie beers is something that surely can’t be missed, especially if you still plan on hitting the gym the next day. Dive into our list of the best low calorie craft beers below.
Jester King Le Petite Prince
In the world of craft beer, Jester King is one of those breweries that never disappoints. Such is the case with their light and refreshing Le Petite Prince — a low ABV Belgian Saison that plays very well on the palate thanks to the blend of noble hops and farmhouse yeast. It’s a style that predates the low-calorie craze here in the US, and one that’s sure to remain on the table for years to come.
Style: Belgian Saison
Stillwater Extra Dry
A sake-styled Saison ale — yes you read that correctly — is one thing even we have yet to try. But, the creative minds at Stillwater Artisanal decided to get transcontinental with this beer brewed with rice. What’s left is a light low-calorie beer that’s subtle and drinkable as hell. And we can’t wait to get our hands on some.
Style: Sake Style Saison
Can’t go wrong with tradition. Luckily, where there are low-calorie beers there’s the iconic German Gose sour wheat beer to enjoy. Light, refreshing, spicy and salty among all things, this nearly extinct style of beer was magnificently brought back to life via the craft beer scene and continues to grow in both depth and character. Ideal for just about any season.
Yes, we know Guinness isn’t a small craft brewery by any means. But that doesn’t mean their storied Irish Dry Stout isn’t still a damn fine beer that is, surprise-surprise, low calorie to boot. No secrets here, the Draught is a sweet and velvety-smooth beer that’s balanced by notes of coffee, malt, and a rich creamy head. Not just for St. Patty’s day that’s for sure.
Style: Irish Dry Stout
Stone Go-To IPA
As hopheads through and through, it’s safe to say that just about any beer from Stone is going to impart some delicious fruity yet piney characteristics. And that’s exactly what their Go-To IPA entails, compliments of a unique method called hop bursting to provide that unique IPA experience hopheads enjoy so much but with lowered ABV and subsequent calorie count.
Style: India Pale Ale
Oskar Blues Beerito
We’re not saying you have to chuck that Corona Light by the wayside, but we are saying you should at least give the Beerito a try. Brewed by the masterminds over at Oskar Blues, this light bodied Mexican Lager brewed with premium craft malts, and noble hops for unique mouthfeel one wouldn’t normally expect from such a style. But that’s Oskar Blues for you — never a rule not meant to be broken.
Style: Mexican Lager
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez
Typically a Gose beer is unique in its own right but still follows a specified set of rules and expected flavor profile. Sierra Nevada sought to shake things up a bit however with their Otra Vez — a Gose-style ale brewed with lime and agave. A warm-weather beer without a doubt, this slightly tart yet refreshing beer will quickly replace those watered-down Mexican lagers in no time.
Founders All Day IPA
As the name suggests, this is the session ale you’ve been waiting for. Complete with a modest ABV, and light and crisp mouthfeel and finish, there’s no day too short for the All Day IPA. It’s brewed with a complex array of malts, grains, and hops for a clean finish. Whether a reward for an honest day’s work or a weekend outdoors, Founders’ All Day IPA is an ideal low-cal companion.
Style: Session India Pale Ale
Bell’s Lager of the Lakes
Yet another lager in line with tradition, this fine Czech-style pilsner is the light and refreshing result of firm malt and herbal hop bitterness. Best of all, you can enjoy this craft rendition year-round with any combination of food pairing. Because that’s the beauty of pilsners, their non-discriminatory nature allows them to be enjoyed under any circumstance.
Style: Bohemian Style Pilsner
Ballast Point California Kölsch
As much as San Diego beer drinkers love their hops, they’ll have to cope with the fact that Ballast Point’s California Kölsch forces the bitterness into the background for the sake of a crisp and refreshing light pilsner that’s smooth, bright, and boasts notes of spiced honey, biscuits, and fruit on the palate. Can’t argue with an award-winning 23 IBU beer brewed for summer sessions.
The 6 Best Beer of the Month Clubs
Just in case you don’t want to get off the couch to hit the local pub, you can rely on these 6 beer-of-the-month clubs to deliver the best of the best right to your doorstep.