Beer lovers are generally more laid back than wine drinkers. But a lot of us still worry about developing a beer gut. That could be why seven of the top ten best-selling beers in the US are ‘lights’. Light beer has 110 calories or less and under 5g of added sugar. So let’s explore the best low-cal beers. This is a crucial list when you’re looking for the buzz without the belly.
The Best Tasting Light Beer List
Once you start sipping low-cal beer, you don’t want to have to switch to something heavier. So it helps your best light beer brand is available all year round. Nite Lite is – in all markets. It has an ABV of 4.3% and has 120 calories. The nocturnal bird logo nods to night shifts, night owls, and nightcaps – though this beer is more often consumed at tailgating parties.
Night Lite is light in weight, character, and color. This pale drink is defined as ‘sunny gold’ and has a generous head and a clean finish. You may taste elements of citrus and biscuit or crackers, far lighter than the bready taste of full-bodied beer. It retains the bready scent though so you get all the aroma and none of the starch – it only has 8.1g of carbs. Perfect!
Regular beer pairs best with burgers, hotdogs, and barbeque. But if you’re into artisanal beers, IPAs, and light booze, chefs give great advice on what works best with their dish. And this one is particularly tricky because it’s a spiced beer. It’s brewed by blending two distinct styles – a pilsner (malted barley) and a witbier (wheat ale). Plus, it was ‘designed’ by a chef.
Ferran Adrià took Michelin stars to Damm Brewery in Barcelona and they brewed this bottle together. It has an ABV of 4.8% and an IBU of 11. It has a vaguely acidic taste but remains sweet and creamy, with notes of orange peel, coriander, and licorice. In his words, ‘this beer can rival any wine pairing – that’s the whole point.’ It’s a cloudy beer with a reliable head.
3. Bud Light
You can’t discuss the best light beer brand (or any American beer brand) without Budweiser. Bud Light is a four-ingredient beer featuring water, barley, rice, and hops. Budweiser – in general – prefers to focus on American hops (Saaz, Hallertau, and Tettnanger). They do sometimes infuse European varieties like Willamette though.
Bud Lights has an ABV of 4.2% and every 12-oz can carries about 0.9g of protein and 6.6g of carbs. It’s a diet-friendly beer at 110 calories and zero fats so it’s a good choice for your next beer yoga session. It’s a clear, yellow beer with a clean start and a crisp finish. The malty sweetness, rice-base, and subtle aroma make this the most popular beer in the US.
When your American beer wins Aussie Awards, you know you’re doing something right. And it’s a favorite with weight-watching drinkers. At a miraculous 99 calories and with just 3.8g of carbs, your personal trainer is sure to approve. The beer has 0g of fat, o.7g of protein, and you can buy it all year round in bottles, cans, or draft. Its ABV is 4.2% and its IBU is 9.
The beer comes from Spoetzl Brewery in Texas and was first released in 2011. It’s a fizzy beer with minimal, fast-fading head and hardly any lacing. They brew it in small handcrafted batches. Shiner’s pale yellow hue carries a malty corn aroma that gives the beer a bready feel. The flavor is milder than rival light beers with a slight tinge of floral hops at the finish.
5. Miller Lite
Before Bud Light became America’s best-selling beer, Miller Lite was all the rage. Introduced in 1975, it’s a pilsner brewed with corn syrup, barley malt, hops, yeast, and hops extract. And if you thought Shiner was light, we’ll raise you a Miller at just 96 calories. This beer draws water from aquifers and natural springs. The barley is roasted and toasted crystal malt.
This process gives the beer toffee notes and a gorgeous golden tone. The trademark Miller yeast was ‘carried from Germany in Fred Miller’s pockets back in the 1850s’ and they retain the recipe to date. For hops, they use Galena and Saaz accentuated with in-house hop extract. The extract lowers waste and adds consistency. This beer has an ABV of 4.2%.
A few years ago, it became popular to have Irish roots. It was probably a mixture of Sons and Anarchy and 23 and Me. So if you developed a taste for Guinness along the way, you’ll love their light stout. It’s not positioned as a light beer, but at 4.3% ABV, it qualifies. It has the standard qualities we love in Guinness – its dark color and thick frothy head are unmatched.
Flavour-wise, the beer has chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes beautifully blended with its distinctly bitter notes. The mouth-feel is creamy and smooth with a lush velvet finish. This 125-calorie draught first appeared in 1959 with its magic mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen fizz. The drink is built off their in-house roasted barley, prepped at 232°C (about 450°F).
Lots of craft brewers have lo(w)-cal IPAs on their brewing menus. Slightly Mighty hails from Dogfish Head Brewing. And its amazingly cool name isn’t the only reason it’s America’s top-selling light IPA. Slightly Mighty boats a waist-trimming 95 calories, 3g of carbs, 1g of protein, and 0g of fat. Per can. And their ads are fun too. The beer is sweetened with bold monk fruit.
This keeps the calorie count low while upgrading the flavor and character of your beer. Using monk fruit keeps the beer green as well since it needs less fermenting fuel than regular sugar. This beer is a hazy golden hue. Other ingredients include malted barley, coconut, pineapple, citrus, and mango. The beer has an ABV of 4% and an IBU of 30.
8. Coors Light
If you’re new to the beer market, you may mistake Molson Coors (MillerCoors) for Coors Brewing. To make it even more complex, the top three light beers in the US are Miller, Bud, and Coors. Just to clarify, Coors Light is the one brewed by Coors Brewing. Its calorie count is 102. It has less than a gram of protein, 5g of carbs, and 0g of fat with an ABV of 4.2%.
The brewer works with farmers to grow water-conserving barley – they’ve reduced water usage on their barley plantations by 25%. This Moravian barley grows best in the high country and they use two-row malt. The beer also contains corn syrup and hop extract. It’s a pale, cold-filtered, cold-lagered, cold-packed light beer with a clean start and a crisp finish.
Don’t worry – its name may be a tongue twister but its flavor is divine. So even if you can’t pronounce it, this is a beer worth ordering. This Japanese beer is imported, so allow time for shipping or find a reliable supplier. The brewery is known for innovations like frozen beer, which stays cold for half an hour and comes with a spiraling head that resembles soft-serve.
Their best light beer brand has 95 calories but has the mouth-feel of a full-bodied beer. It has an ABV of 3.3% and is brewed with two-row barley malt and European hops. If you prefer something heavier, you could go for Kirin Ichiban’s original. It still fits the light category, with 127 calories and an ABV of 4.6%. Both beers have a sweet palate and a dry finish.
Germany is the home of Oktoberfest so you know their beer is premium. And Beck’s is one of the best light beer brands from that side of the world. It’s one of Ab-InBev’s flagships and is a global hit. Luckily, it’s popular enough that you can easily buy it here. And at 2.3% it’s barely alcohol. Each bottle carries between 45 and 64 calories, depending on serving size.
But while it’s low in calories, it has 3.9g of carbs and 1g of protein per 12-oz bottle or can. It’s best served at 35°F to 40°F. This pilsner is slightly fruity. And if you buy the Premier Light instead of the Regular Light, you’re looking at an ABV of 3.8% so be sure what you’re ordering. Both beers are light on your tongue, with a crisp finish and handpicked hops.
IPAs and other artisanal ales have a … specific target market. But sometimes, your needs are even more niche. For that, there’s Skinny Beer – a gluten-free, vegan, kosher low-calorie brew. This could be the best light beer brand for fussy drinkers, whether your choices are driven by religion, medical requirements, lifestyle choices, or shouty gym professionals.
Skinny Lager has a measly 89 calories – the lowest we’ve seen so far. Its ABV is 4% and its recipe only contains 0.4% sugar and 0.9% carbs. The beer’s IBU is 13 and is certifiably non-gluten. It’s a UK brand though so you’d need a willing Brit to bring you some. Or you could check Tesco and Amazon. Better yet, become a stateside supplier – it’s a solid beer-idea …
Despite its name, this is an American beer. And at 99 calories, it fits just right. The brewery started in 1829 so it rightly proclaims itself ‘America’s Oldest Brewery’. Their light beer is built off their trademark lager. This sweet malty drink contains 0.82g of protein and no fats. Its carb profile is a bit higher though – 8.5g – but it’s still within dieting limits.
Yuengling Light was first brewed in 20o1 using caramel malt and cascade cluster hops. Yuengling has two light beers on its roster – the Light Lager has 99 calories while the 1986 Light (non-lager) is 98 calories. The lager pairs well with red meat and cheese while the regular beer is better for pasta, barbeque, shellfish, and other seafood. The ABV is 3.2%.
13. Sam Adam’s Light
Boston residents are often mocked for their accent and mannerisms. But You can’t beat Sam Adam’s beer, and their light beer is a treasure. Get your figures right though – its ABV might be 4.3% but its ABW (alcohol by weight) is lower at 3.4%. Both measures are well within the light beer limit so no harm done. And you only pack 119 calories for every 12 ounces.
The beer has an IBU of 10 and a distinctly sweet, malty flavor. It’s an amber lager with an earthy malt nose, a thick frothy head, and adequate lacing. The palate is on the sweeter side, slightly bread with a touch of hops. It carries the medium fizz that comes with Sam Adam’s, but if you love their heavy beer, you probably won’t enjoy this one. It’s just not the same.
The playful, puerile packaging on Harpoon Rec may confuse you. It seems more like soda pop than booze. And with an ABV of just 3.8%, some drinkers may class it as a soft drink. It’s a hazy, straw-colored beer with an IBU of 35 and roughly 120 calories per can. The yeast used here is London Ale and the beer uses a vast mixture of four malts and six hops.
It has a fluffy mouth-feel and fruity aromatic notes that include orange, grapefruit, papaya, and mango. So it’s a citrusy drink. The beer has no fat, 1.2g of protein, and 10g of carbs, which is the highest we’ve seen so far. It also has certain special ingredients like Mediterranean sea salt and chia seeds so this pale ale sits securely in the craft beer aisle.
If you plan to swipe right, you should start by swiping light. After all, dutch courage is great for that hot date but you don’t want to be so drunk you end up putting them off. Swipe Light is a 110-calorie beer with an ABV of 4% so it’s safe for a first date. Just have one or two though. The beer has an IBU of 15 but carries 6.5g of carbs per can. It’s a pale gold ale.
A lot goes into it – four malts and two hops. The hops are Mosaic and Citra so the beer has a rich fruity aroma that hints at fresh grassy citrus. The beer is smooth and light-bodied on your tongue. It’s fermented using proprietary ale yeast and is true New York beer. It’s lightly carbonated but is heavy of the froth and lace. The 2-inch head lasts a good while in your glass.
Did your best light beer brand make it to the list? Tell us in the comments and we may add it!