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Back in the day, there was a memorable series of TV commercials in which one group of dudes would yell "Less filling!" before the other side shouted back, "Tastes great!" The idea — which is even more appealing today — was that instead of compromising on taste, low-calorie or "light" beers could satisfy both sides of the (admittedly silly) argument. In the decades since those commercials first aired, the number and variety of light beers has exploded, and connoisseurs of the brews say they taste better than ever. "Beer is such a diverse beverage that brewers have a number of tools to use,” says Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible.
But how exactly do you make a beverage that is known for the type of belly it creates lower in calories? Lucy Burningham, the author of My Beer Year, explains that brewers do this by reducing the carbohydrates that come from malt and grains. The alcohol content is also reduced. “One gram of alcohol contains about 7 calories, which is a very concentrated form of calories,” Burningham explains.
There are so many low-calorie beers available now that it is easy to zero in on the one that will make your taste buds tingle. Alworth says to start by thinking about the kind you already enjoy. For example, if you like hoppy IPAs, look for session IPAs, which he says are lower in alcohol, and therefore ,lower in calories. More into lagers? Look for a low-calorie lager, which just so happens to be the best-selling beer category in the U.S.
To help you find the top low-calorie pours for your frosty mug, food and nutrition experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute sampled and assessed multiple options, taking into account taste as well as ingredients. Here are the 10 they deem the very best.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
A senior editor in the Hearst Health Newsroom, Kaitlyn Phoenix has over 10 years of experience reporting on healthy food and beverages and has interviewed countless top medical professionals.
Emily Laurence is a certified health coach and has over seven years reporting on healthy foods and beverages.
Our team of food and nutrition experts evaluated a variety of low-calorie beers to find ones with the best flavor profiles. We also consulted experts in the industry for their feedback. Our top picks offer a variety of options, from ales to lagers, so there is something for everyone and every occasion.
Kaitlyn Phoenix is a senior editor in the Hearst Health Newsroom, where she reports, writes and edits research-backed health content for Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Woman's Day. She has more than 10 years of experience talking to top medical professionals and poring over studies to figure out the science of how our bodies work. Beyond that, Kaitlyn turns what she learns into engaging and easy-to-read stories about medical conditions, nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health. She also holds a B.S. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University.
Emily is a freelance writer and certified health coach who specializes in writing about mental health, fitness, healthy food, and social justice issues. Emily spent six years as an editor and writer at Well+Good, covering everything from food trends to serious issues like the opioid crisis in America and gun violence. She has also worked at Seventeen, Elle, and Twist magazines. She regularly writes for publications including Forbes, Parade, Shape, and The Huffington Post. Emily lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her cat Evie.
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