Searching for the perfect light beer to bring to summer barbecues, Super Bowl parties, and your sofa after a long day? You’re not alone. Light lagers are the most popular beers in the U.S., making up 42.6% of all beers sold in the country, according to the Beverage Information and Insights Group.
But what exactly goes into creating one of these easy-to-drink brews? A low-calorie beer is created when the brewer adds fewer higher-calorie ingredients and more water. “Some major brands that invest heavily in their light beer brands undoubtedly have process variations, some likely proprietary, that are used to reduce calories,” says Chuck Skypeck, technical brewing projects manager at the Brewers Association. “For example, they may produce highly fermentable wort that reduces carbohydrates, and then dilute the resulting alcohol content with water.”
One gram of alcohol contains about 7 calories so you’ll find that many (but not all) low-calorie beers are also low in alcohol. The U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages, defines light beers like those that contain significantly fewer calories than regular versions. The packaging for light beers must also say how many calories, carbohydrates, grams of protein, and grams of fat are in a serving — even if that info is on the bottom of a six-pack. However, there really are no guidelines for the exact number of calories allowed in a light beer. In general, most American-style lagers have about 150 calories per 12-ounce serving, but all the beers on this list contain 130 calories or less and have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of at least 3.0%. Unless otherwise noted, they’re also available nationwide. Cheers!
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
Michelob Ultra Pure Gold has the fewest calories of any beer on this list, but the refreshing taste means you can drink it and still feel like you’re enjoying a beer — because you are. It’s also USDA certified organic and free of artificial colors and flavors.
Corona Premier is similar to the Corona you already love but contains fewer calories and carbs. It has a light, crisp, refreshing taste that goes especially well with seafood.
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