There is no denying that beer is delicious, but many craft beer fans will deny (or choose to overlook) the implications that a few pints may have on their waistline. While the "beer belly" is now considered a myth, beer is still a calorically-dense beverage that can add up quickly.
Thankfully, the craft beer fan has plenty of options for brews that manage to be lower in calories but still full of flavor.
Alcohol is the source of nearly all of the calories in beer, and the more potent the brew, the more calories in the can. Light beer has about 110 calories in a 12-ounce serving and that is simply because it is less alcoholic than its non-light counterparts. Craft beers vary widely in calorie content, with the average clocking in at just under 200 calories per 12-ounce bottle. Typical India Pale Ales have more calories (closer to 250 calories a bottle), and styles such as imperial stouts and double IPAs can be akin to a slice of cheesecake.
There are many craft beer options that are extremely flavorful without being overly decadent. Here are a few brews to try instead of that watered-down "fitness beer":
Samuel Adams Light
The only craft beer that calls itself a "light beer" is this surprisingly tasty example from the Boston Beer Co. It's about 4% alcohol and a bottle has just 119 calories. The lager has a nice subtle toasted malt flavor and very low hop bitterness. It's a great alternative to macro-brewed light beers.
Contrary to popular belief, this Irish stout -- often called a "meal in a glass" -- is actually light in body and low in alcohol. A 12-ounce pour of Guinness Draught is just 126 calories. It isn't technically a craft beer, but it is flavorful and nearly ubiquitous. Other dry Irish stouts that are below 5% alcohol will be similarly low-cal too.
Eagle Rock Brewery Solidarity
While not a stout -- the brewers call it a "black mild" -- this has similar roasted flavors to a stout, but it is even lighter in body and alcohol. At just 3.8% alcohol, Solidarity has about 115 calories in 12-ounces.
Another style that is big on flavor but low on booze is the summertime favorite Berliner Weisse. These tart German wheat beers are light, refreshing and anything but bland. They are usually under 4% alcohol, and some examples are even lower alcohol than that. Locally, Golden Road Brewing makes a fiercely tart version that is only 2.8% and less than 90 calories in a 12-ounce serving.
Other sour beers can also be good choices as they are often low in alcohol but still extremely flavorful.
Pilsners are another good choice for the calorie-conscious. The dry finish means less unfermented sugars to drive up the calorie count, and the style is usually around 5% alcohol. One local example, Pistol Whip'd Pils from Anaheim's Noble Ale Works, is just over 4% (and around 110 calories per 12 ounces). The beer uses untraditional hops from New Zealand for a zesty, citrusy flavor that matches the light body for a great, refreshing brew.
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