A look at the beer fridge at the local convenience store shows how completely light beer has taken over the beer industry. Did you know that 6 of the top 7 best-selling beer brands in America are light beers? Only Budweiser snuck in at #4, with Miller High Life and Busch Beer also in the Top Ten.
What about craft you ask? Did you know that Bud Light alone outsells all craft beer combined?
Seeing the opportunity for growth, premium beer brands are entering the light beer market. Sam Adams has a light beer, as does Becks, Corona, Yuengling and Amstel. Has anyone tried the newest entrant, Heineken Light? Switch from a Heineken to a Heineken Light and cut your calories from 148 to 99 and your carbs from 11.3 grams to 6.8. The brewers themselves say it offers, “smooth, subtle bitterness, well-balanced, clean finish, with zesty floral notes and a hint of citrus.” Sounds like a craft beer to me! Unfortunately, it hasn’t been well received by online beer reviewers, although to be fair, there is little love lost on these review boards for any lights.
OK, You Buy Light Beer, But Do You LIKE Light Beer?
To me, one of the most interesting things about this light beer dominance is that most consumers do not prefer the taste of low-cal beer over their full-cal brothers. If calories and carbs didn’t matter, light beer would not be our first choice when we’re standing in front of that beer fridge. It’s just too watered-down and tasteless.
At least I think so, and I bet most people feel the same way. I drink light beer because it’s less filling, not because it tastes great. (Sorry Rodney!) Light beer is also (usually) inexpensive and not too high in alcohol. It’s good for a long afternoon or evening of beer drinking, but few of us are drinking it because we just love the taste.
Adding Flavor To Light Beer
In recent years, beer makers have started to address this problem by adding flavor to their light beers. Bud Light Lime (116 calories) was the first on the market, following on the heels of the Corona with lime craze. It’s now one of the top 20 beers in the US, outselling Pabst, Coors and any craft beer brand.
Other flavored light beers are now available, including Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus and Mich Ultra Pomegranate Raspberry (although I understand this one is being phased out). But given the success of Bud Light Lime, I’m not sure why more brands haven’t come up with a competing product.
There are still no light craft beers out there. Some brewers have introduced products that are more in the range of a regular Budweiser, around 130 calories, but most craft beers fall in the 175 to 300 calorie range, with some lagers slightly below. Have more than one of those and it’s like a meal. You’re going to need to schedule some naptime!
Beware: It’s Not Bud, And It’s Not Light
Anheuser-Busch meanwhile has built a whole line of products around Bud Light Lime. But beware! Products like Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Ita are neither Bud nor Light. They’re not even Lime! These are not beers, they’re flavored malt beverages (FMBs), and by flavored, I mean stuffed full of high fructose corn syrup. Straw-ber-Ita has 199 calories! That’s less than many IPAs, but it’s nothing compared to Raz-Ber-Ita’s 292 calories! (I usually shy away from the use of too many exclamation points, but OMG!)
Read a full review at GuysDrinkingBeer.
Ready For Some Good News?
Mad Hops Flavored Beer Drops add complexity, flavor and fun to any light beer, but only add 5 calories. Transform a Mich Ultra into an Irish Porter or Pale Ale or one of our 4 fruit flavors, and the best thing is that you decide on the flavor intensity you want. You can spike it up mild with a hint of flavor, or go all in and completely transform your beer. Have it your way!
We are in the last week of our Indiegogo campaign to create an IPA-flavored beer with under 100 calories. We’ve reached our goal but there’s still time for you to back us and participate in the development of this exciting product.
We’ll also be writing more on the topic of flavoring light beer. Subscribe to our blog to get the latest. With all the magazines, websites, blogs and YouTube channels devoted to the latest trends in craft beer, we believe the topic of “regular” beer doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There are too many of us light beer drinkers to ignore!