23 April 2021
Light is not a strict style. Although often synonymous with the American Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light, “light” beers can also be those that are lighter in flavour, more refreshing as you will.
What are light beers?
With the American definition, light beers are often selected for their lower calorie and alcohol content; their alcohol level usually ranging between 3.5 and 4.4%. Consequently, they are lighter in calories as generally, lower alcohol means fewer calories. According to the American Brewers Association, calories should not exceed 125 per 12-ounce serving. In order to achieve this, they are fermented to minus degrees Plato, which means a very low, almost no sugar content, resulting in a very dry beer. It is for this reason they are sometimes considered to lack flavour.
We aren’t big on flavourless beer so instead of recommending blander beers this summer we are going to share some “lighter” beers. We are going to show you that lighter doesn’t mean light on flavour. And if it’s low alcohol you are after, we also have some great 0% alcohol versions of classic beers. Here are some of the best light beers, perfect for sipping in the sun this summer!
What are the best light beers?
1) Session IPA- 2.5 - 4%
You can never go too far wrong with an IPA, especially when it’s warm. The balanced aroma is both clean, complex and hoppy, making it a particularly refreshing summer beer. Session IPAs are IPAs but with less of the alcohol. They are lighter in alcohol, but we can guarantee they still pack a punch. All those flavours and characteristics you love from regular IPAs; fruity, floral, citrusy and refreshing, they’re still there! Fruit is sometimes added to IPAs also to bring out those the citrus flavours like grapefruit or blood orange. The term and usage is very British, lighter beers allow you to drink more throughout the day, to quite literally “session” on. Session IPAs tend to have an alcohol content between 2.5 and 4%, this goes for session pale ale, session stout or session porter. Read more about Session IPAs here.
Serving suggestion: guacamole and salsa
2) Sour beers 3 - 4.5%
Berliner Weisse, born in berlin, are characterised by lactic acidity, low alcohol content and fresh, sour taste. Plain or with added fruit, these are summits of lightness and harmonious acidity. Sour beers get these distinctive flavour characteristics from the lactic acid bacterium used in fermentation. They are the perfect beer for summer picnics and days in the park. Lambics can be incredibly refreshing for the aforementioned reasons. Fruit lambics too! People often mistakenly think they are all very sweet and only made with cherries, in fact fruit lambics are made from a variety of fruits such as raspberries, peaches, and apples.
Serving suggestion: oysters, lime fish ceviche
3) Lagers 4-5%
The obvious choice for summer is a lager. They come in many forms, with pilsner as the most famous one. Even though they take a long time to craft and brew, they are highly drinkable and slip down very easily. They are just what you need to quench your thirst on a hot day.
Some lagers do reach those higher percentages, but the majority are round 4- 5%. Most alcohol-free or low alcohol beers are also lagers and pilsners, so you really can take your pick of “lighter” beers when opting for a lager.
Serving suggestion: shrimps, grilled chicken, a margherita pizza
4) Alcohol – free
Alcohol-free beer is more popular than ever, with increasing numbers of new and improved versions launching all the time. If calories are one of your concerns, one of the benefits of non-alcoholic beer is that it contains very fewer of them. In fact, most have 10 to 35 calories per 100ml.
As mentioned, traditionally alcohol-free beers were limited to pilsners and lagers but recently we have seen huge development and broadening of styles. Now we see lots of our favourite beers made into alcohol-free versions. Same taste, just less alcohol. These are perfect alternatives if you want to pay attention to calories and additionally, great for summer BBQs or picnics if you need to drive home!
Serving suggestion: depends on the beer, a margherita pizza, cheese, chips and dips
5) Wheat beers
Now, there's no pretending that traditional wheat beers are low alcohol, although certainly not the strongest beers going. We’ve included them here because Weizen or German wheat beer, are a sure bet for the summer and do have those “lighter’ more refreshing qualities. We also have some alcohol-free versions so whether you’re after a refreshing, summer beer or a wheaty low alcohol one, we’ve got something for everyone. The classic flavours of Weizen such as the slightly acidic touch of wheat and the aromas of banana, clove and sometimes even bubblegum, do very well in the sunshine. Some have additional tropical notes to make them extra fruity! The textures range from fine to creamy and provide a frothy head.
This leads us to white beer or "witbier" which are often confused with Weizen due to the phonetic proximity between weiss / weizen, meaning " white” and “wheat”. White beers are in fact made from wheat, but they are not the same as Weizen. For more information on this, read more about Witbier and Weizen.
Witbiers or white beers, of Belgian origin, are the taste of summer. They are often spicier with a lemonier profile, some even tasting like watermelon or pineapple. It is not uncommon to have a distinctive coriander or bitter orange peel taste. Unlike German beers, they contain unmalted wheat, which explains their softer texture and thinner body.
Serving suggestion: prawns, white fish