Low calorie beer

10 of the world’s lowest calorie beers 2020

The 4.2% abv pilsner, which comes in at just 96 calories a bottle, was first developed in 1967 by Joseph L. Owades, a biochemist working for New York’s Rheingold Brewery. His recipe was given to one of Miller’s rivals, Chicago’s Meister Brau, which subsequently launched the Meister Brau “Lite”. Meister Brau later sold its labels to Miller in 1972, with the recipe relaunched as “Lite” and later rebranded in 1998 as “Miller Lite.”

12 Best Low-Calorie Beers, According to Dietitians

Tap beer in pint glasses arranged in a row.

When you choose which beer to indulge in at the end of a long day or while you are hanging out with a few friends on the weekend, you likely let the taste of the beverage guide your decision. Of course, you might also be swayed by your loyalty to a certain brand or be drawn in by snazzy art on the can. All are totally reasonable and relatable reasons. At the same time, you might want to consider how many calories are in each particular brew . And if you’re trying to be more conscientious about your diet, you may want to opt for a crisp, cold low-calorie beer.

Frankly, when it comes to alcohol-related weight gain—yes, we’re referring to the infamous beer belly—Harvard Health Publishing points out that the issue has to do with calories. More specifically, consuming more than you burn off every time you grab a beer. And like it or not, when it comes to calories, that happens to be something that beer usually has a fair share of.

To provide you with a little context, if you order a 12-ounce can of beer at your local bar that has an alcohol content of 4%, then it will reportedly contain zero grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 13 grams of carbohydrates It will also have 153 calories. However, if the beer you prefer has a higher alcohol content than 4%, then it will also contain more calories. Indeed, as the alcohol content goes up, so does the number of calories. For instance, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus notes that some high-alcohol beer, as well as some craft beer, can contain anywhere from a relatively high 170 calories to a staggering 350 calories per serving. (Yowza!)

That may surprise you and make you curious about how many calories you’ve been unknowingly consuming whenever you try to kick back and relax with a cold beverage. That’s also why you may want to start paying attention to what’s in your beer, especially if you need to keep track of your calories for various health reasons. This can help you avoid calorie-packed options if necessary and give you a chance to figure out what choices you can enjoy without worry.

With that in mind, you’ll definitely want to check out the following suggestions from dietitians who tell Eat This, Not That! they are the best low-calorie beers that you should definitely give a try. Cheers! Or, salud, santé, and prost, depending on which beer you end up preferring.

1. Light Lager

yuengling light lager

Calorie Count: 90-110 calories per 12-ounce serving

If you adore a luscious lager and don’t want to give up that taste but want to cut back on calories, then you may want to simply consider switching to a light lager. Often a premium lager, American versions tend to have a lower alcohol content, according to Craft Beer Club. Those made in Europe usually have even less alcohol but may be more flavorful. That’s not to mention craft light lagers that aim for a fresh taste that doesn’t rely on heavy flavor.

Whether you’re a fan of American, European, or craft lagers, “”Light lagers tend to have fewer calories and carbohydrates than regular lagers,” Meaghan Greenwood, RD, health coach at HourglassWaist.com.au, tells Eat This, Not That!

2. Pale Lager

Calorie Count: 130-140 per 12-ounce serving

While light lagers are apparently a popular low-cal option, pale lagers are a relatively new addition to the scene, according to CraftBeer.com. Of course, they’re now seemingly just as trendy which is why you might have seen your friends enjoying a pint of it.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between light and pale lager, Charleston Beer Works explains that light lagers opt to lower their calorie count by using fewer hops and barley. On the other hand, pale lagers increase the amount of carbonation while also featuring a pale color and light body as well as a taste that’s not heavy in any way. (Yum!)

Despite being different, when it comes to looks and taste, both options are low in calories. This is is why “they’re an ideal choice,” says Nicole Swingle, RD.

3. Pilsner

pilsner beer

Calorie Count: 65-95 per 12-ounce serving

When it comes to pilsners, Greenwood explains that they are a kind of lager that “tends to be light-bodied, refreshing, and have a crisp finish,” which certainly sounds oh-so-good. Often confused with other lagers due to the fact that companies opt to use the terms loosely in some cases, The Spruce Eats notes that “[t]he key point to remember is that all pilsners are lagers, but pilsner is just one style of beer within the lager family, which includes dark and amber beers as well.”

With an easily recognizable appearance and a familiar flavor that lager lovers surely appreciate, you might also be pleased to find out that they’re a low calorie beer option, with just 65-95 calories per 12 ounces.

4. Dry Stout or Irish Stout

Calorie Count: 125 per 12-ounce serving

Anyone who loves a good Guinness knows about stouts. As for a dry stout or an Irish stout, it’s a drink that is dark and creamy. It also relies on lactose or oatmeal for its specific flavor, according to Brew HQ.

On top of that, “dry stouts are generally lower in calories as far as beers go,” says Jesse Feder, CPT, RD, and a contributor at My Crohns and Colitis Team. “Additionally, alcohol by volume or ABV is a good way to tell if a beer is high in calories or not. The higher the ABV the more calories the beer will usually have.”

5. Wheat Beer

Calorie Count: 100-120 per 12-ounce serving

“Wheat beers tend to be lighter and less bitter than traditional beers,” Greenwood says while discussing another tasty low-calorie option that you may want to order the next time you are eager to enjoy something frosty and frothy. Wheat beers also have an alcohol content level that tends to be on the lower side, according to The Spruce Eats.

Earning its name thanks to the fact that it’s brewed with 30% wheat or more, some are also brewed along with hops while others leave them out. Different versions of wheat beer can also differ in their appearance meaning they can either be clear or somewhat cloudy. You may want to try a few to find the perfect one for you.

6. Blonde Ale or Golden Ale

Glass of beer in a pub

Calorie Count: 95-125 per 12-ounce serving 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e

If you like the idea of a boozy beverage that’s on the lighter side, then you might want to give a nice blonde ale a try. Or, as it’s sometimes known, a golden ale which definitely sounds posh. “Blonde ales tend to be light and easy drinking, making them a great low-calorie beer option,” Greenwood says.

“One of the most approachable styles,” according to CraftBeer.com, it’s a rather simple ale that doesn’t have a strong sense of malt or hops, but instead features a smooth taste that can sometimes include fruits or spices. That makes them an incredibly delicious low-calorie beer choice.

7. Sour Beer

Calorie Count: 140 per 12-ounce serving

“[A] ‘sour beer’ is any beer where acidity forms the backbone of the beer’s flavor structure,” Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, explained to Food and Wine. “For most beers that role is occupied by hop bitterness, which acts like tannins in red wine. Sour beers have a structure more like white wine, with acid in the center.” Did you catch that, white wine drinkers? This could be just the right choice for your palette.

Indeed, the resulting taste is, in part, why sour beer might become your new favorite. It also doesn’t hurt that it can be a reasonable option calorie-wise. “Sour beers are a bit of a wildcard when it comes to calories as they can vary widely depending on the specific beer,” Greenwood says. “However, some sour beers can be a lower-calorie option.”

8. Saison

Calorie Count: 150-170 per 12-ounce serving

“This type of beer is often light and effervescent, with a lower alcohol content and calorie count than other types of beer,” Kieran McSorley, RD, at Brentwood Physiotherapy in Calgary, tells Eat This, Not That! Indeed, saisons tend to range from around 150-170 calories per 12-ounce serving ,which isn’t too shabby at all.

If you’ve never tried a saison, Jason Yester, the owner of Colorado’s Trinity Brewing Company, told Craft Beer and Brewing that “[p]ale ale is a good association of how the body should feel on a saison.” If you’re not quite sure what that might mean, he clarified by saying, “It should be very, very light.”

9. Kölsch

Two Full Beer Glasses

Calorie Count: 120 per 12-ounce serving

Usually containing around 120 calories per 12-ounce serving, Kölsch is “definitely an option that you should consider if you’re looking for a low-cal alternative to your regular beer,” Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, tells Eat This, Not That!

A rather unique creation, Kölsch is a hybrid, according to CraftBeer.com. That’s due to both the process that’s used to brew it and the eventual product which embraces appealing aspects of lagers and ales. That’s right, you get the best of both worlds and fewer calories!

10. Lambic or American Spontaneous Beer

Calorie Count: 140 per 12-ounce serving

Sabat also suggests trying a lambic beer if you’d like to sip on something that boasts a lot of flavor but not a lot of calories. Also known as an American Spontaneous beer when made in the United States as opposed to its country of origin, Belgium, Levi Funk, the founder and Blender of Funk Factory Geuzeria in Madison, WI, explained the somewhat complicated and layered nature of the brew, telling Hop Culture, “You want a funky, musty, barnyard, and cellar dirt flavor and aroma, but you also want this bright citrus-lemon component. You want some acidity.”

“It’s complex just like everything else about this beer,” Jason Perkins, brewmaster at Allagash Brewing Co. in Portland, ME, also told Hop Culture. “You’ll get different flavors at different times of aging, so an eight-to-12-month-old lambic can taste like a rough around the edges hefeweizen while a two-to-three-year-old lambic starts to develop more tartness and you get that barnyard funk, horse blanket, but also some nice fruity components.”

11. Zero-Proof Beer

Calorie Count: 70 per 12-ounce serving

“Although not a true ‘beer,’ a new trend is zero-proof drinks,” Swingle says. “A zero-proof beer would be distilled beer to 0.0 alcohol with the hop and malt flavors but has significantly fewer calories at around 70 calories.”

However, it’s important to know that “most non-alcoholic beers actually aren’t alcohol-free,” Katie MacBride noted while writing for Healthline. She explained that “[i]n the United States, anything that’s less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) can be labeled ‘non-alcoholic.'” She also pointed out that while “[m]ost regular beer has an alcohol content of around 5 percent ABV,” alcohol-free beer can have 0.4 percent ABV.

Although that’s a relatively low amount, you may want to double-check both the alcohol content and the number of calories in the beer before you grab a can, bottle, or case.

12. Session IPA

Golden Road Wolf Pup Session IPA, on a bed of ice.

Calorie Count: 100-150 per 12-ounce serving

“Typically, a regular IPA falls anywhere from six-and-a-half to almost eight percent alcohol, so they would not be considered sessionable,” Mitch Steele, the brewmaster and COO at New Realm Brewing Company in Atlanta, told Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. Because of that, he added, “Usually, you have one pint, maybe two, and you’re done.”

“A session IPA takes the session beer concept, but would still have all of the hop character of a stronger IPA,” Steele explained. “It would have all of the hop flavor — the dry-hopping rates would be at the same level — so the hop intensity and floral, citrus, and fruity characters from the hops would be the same as a regular IPA but you could drink a couple of pints.”

You might also be able to enjoy those extra pints because, as Greenwood points out, “session IPAs tend to have a lower alcohol content and, therefore, fewer calories than traditional IPAs.”

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10 of the world’s lowest calorie beers 2020

Beer often gets a bad rep for being fattening, despite the fact that it is actually comparable in calories to other alcoholic beverages. But enjoying a brew doesn’t mean having to be cautious of calories. There are plenty of beers out there aimed at those watching their waistline, and they aren’t necessarily non alcoholic or with a very low abv.

Low calorie beer

It’s true that in general the lower the abv, the fewer the potential calories. But it doesn’t mean you only have to choose low and no-abv serves to retain your virtue. In fact, there’s never been a better time to dive into the lower calorie/light beer market.

With consumers more health conscious than ever, manufacturers are working to become more transparent than ever when it comes to the nutritional value of their products. In September last year members of industry body Brewers of Europe pledged to add an ingredients list and calorie count on all beer bottles and cans by 2022. Tennent’s became the first alcoholic product in the UK and Ireland to display calorie info on its packaging in 2016.

Pernod Ricard committed to providing a web link to nutritional information on the labels of all of its strategic brands in 2017, following a report by the EU Commission inviting the trade to devise its own calorie labelling strategy. Diageo and AB InBev have made similar pledges, providing nutritional information on a voluntary basis through a combination of online information and on-pack labelling.

For the purposes of this round-up we have included only beers of 3% abv and higher. The tendency, however, is for most low calorie brews to be lagers, which typically have a lower ABV. But that would make for a very dull selection indeed. So in this list we have also included other styles representative of their category as some of the lowest calorie brews on the market.

NB: All nutritional information is as comparable as possible, based on the information provided by each brewer. A 12oz standard US can equates to 354ml, which is comparable to a 330ml bottle, a more common measure in the UK.

Watch our quick rundown of five of the least fattening beers in the world right here:

Click through to find out the calorific content of some of the world’s least fattening brews…

10. Guinness Draught

Low calorie beer

ABV: 4.2%
Calories: 125 per 12oz
Style: Stout
Brand owner: Diageo

Guinness is typically perceived as being higher in calories than a lot of beers, perhaps due to its creamy top and rich flavour, but it is actually not much more calorific than many lighter beers, and in many cases less so. Its dark colour and sweetness come from small amounts of roasted barley, while the creamy texture results from its use of CO2 and nitrogen in its carbonation, compared with normal beers that only use carbon dioxide. Nitrogen bubbles are smaller than CO2 bubbles, resulting in a smoother mouthfeel. It carries just 125 calories per 12oz serving. That’s around 210 per pint.

9. Kona Light Blonde Ale

Low calorie beer

ABV: 4.2%
Calories: 99 per 12oz
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewer: Kona Brewing Co.

Hailing from the far off shores of Hawaii, the Kona Kanaha blonde ale has just 99 calories per 12oz serving, with a “crisp, tropical flavour” owing to its composition of Millennium, Mosaic and Amarillo hops. Kona Brewing Company was founded by father and son team Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa in 1994. Today, their Big Island brewery has become home of one of the best-selling craft beer brands in the world.

8. Yuengling Light Lager

Low calorie beer

ABV: 3.8%
Calories: 99 per 12oz
Style: Lager
Brand owner: Yuengling

Brewed since 2001, Yeungling’s Light lager is made with a combination of Cascade and Cluster hops, and has been brewed to mimic the brewer’s flagship lager brand, Yuengling, which is America’s oldest brewery. Now also one of America’s biggest brewers, it was founded by David G. Yuengling in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, initially as the Eagle Brewery. It changed its name to D.G Yuengling and Son in 1873.

7. Lagunitas DayTime

Low calorie beer

ABV: 4%
Calories: 98 per 12oz
Style: American IPA
Brand owner: The Lagunitas Brewing Company, a subsidiary of Heineken International.

The Lagunitas brand was founded in California in 1993 by home brewer Tony Magee. In 2015 Heineken purchased a 50% stake in the company. Then, in 2017, the company acquired the remaining 50% stake with Magee remaining its executive chairman. Its DayTime session IPA is a permanent brew in its portfolio, and one of the lightest craft brews on the global market.

Upping the ante in its non-alcoholic ambitions, in 2018 the brewer launched a non-alcoholic sparkling water inspired by its flagship IPA beer. Named “Hop Water”, the new beverage contains no alcohol, no calories, and zero carbohydrates, and is made with Citra, Equinox, and Centennial hops.

6. Miller Lite

Low calorie beer

ABV: 4.2%
Calories: 96 per 12oz
Style: Pilsner
Producer: Molson Coors

Miller Lite, also known as Lite, lays claim to being the original ‘light’ beer brand, conceived by Frederick Miller in 1975, and was one of the first mainstream light beers.

The 4.2% abv pilsner, which comes in at just 96 calories a bottle, was first developed in 1967 by Joseph L. Owades, a biochemist working for New York’s Rheingold Brewery. His recipe was given to one of Miller’s rivals, Chicago’s Meister Brau, which subsequently launched the Meister Brau “Lite”. Meister Brau later sold its labels to Miller in 1972, with the recipe relaunched as “Lite” and later rebranded in 1998 as “Miller Lite.”

5. Dogfish Head Slighty Mighty IPA

Low calorie beer

ABV: 4%
Calories: 95 per 12oz
Style: IPA
Brand owner: Dogfish Head Brewery, Delaware

Dogfish Head’s Slighty Mighty IPA is the result of 12 months research and development, followed by “months of fine tuning” to create a beer that “has all the character of a world class IPA, but with only 95 calories”. The team used monk fruit in the beer’s production, a Chinese delicacy that is sweeter than sugar per ounce and boosts the body and complexity of the beer, but with no calories.

“Most light beers are watery and lack body, but with Slightly Mighty, the monk fruit essentially acts as the beer’s skeleton, on which mighty hop muscle and flavor can be built,” its makers say. “It allows us to reduce the malt bill and avoid any unnecessary unfermentable sugars, and consequently deliver a beer that is lower in calories and carbs, and perfectly balanced.”

The resulting beer is said to exude notes of pineapple, coconut, mango and citrus.

4. Moosehead Cracked Canoe

Low calorie beer

ABV: 3.5%
Calories: 90 per 341ml bottle
Style: Lager
Brand owner: Moosehead Brewers (Canada)

Canadian brewer Moosehead created its ultra light Cracked Canoe lager for those who “refuse to compromise their active lifestyle or their love of great beer”. Although sadly it only appears to be available in Canada.

Based in New Brunswick, last year the brewery donated $25,000 to increase the height of the province’s ‘Mac the Moose’ in order to regain its title as the ‘world’s largest moose’, a crown it lost to a Norwegian competitor in 2015. At a height of 9.8 metres, Mac was once the world’s largest moose, but lost his crown when Norway erected Storelgen, that surpassed him by 30 centimetres.

3. Gen!us

Low calorie beer

ABV: 3%
Calories: 79 per 330ml
Style: Lager
Brand owner: British brewer Gen!us

Last year British brewer Gen!us launched a light beer aimed at those looking to drink ‘smarter’. Made with pilsner malts and three hop varieties, Gen!us craft lager comes in at 79 calories a can, which is also exactly one unit, helping people to keep track of their drinking more easily.

The light beer is available in select UK bars but also online at £1.99 per can.

2. Michelob Ultra

Low calorie beer

ABV: 3.5%
Calories: 73 per 330ml
Style: Lager
Brand owner: AB InBev

An ultra light beer, the Michelob brand was developed in 1896 as a “draught beer for connoisseurs”. Still going strong, the brand has carved an established niche with those looking for a lighter beer, thanks in part to big budget marketing campaigns (including the 2018 Super Bowl), which have seen it further push its low calorie messaging.

Previous high-profile actors to appear in its adverts include Zoe Kravitz and Chris Pratt, while it has also secured sponsorships with sporting activities including the World Surf League, Virgin Sport and the Ryder Cup.

1. Tennents Light

Low calorie beer

ABV: 3.5%
Calories: 66 per 330ml
Style: Lager
Brand owner: C&C Group

The lightest of the light, earlier this year C&C Group-owned beer brand Tennent’s launched a new lager containing around the same amount of calories as a low ABV or alcohol-free beer. Tennent’s Light has an ABV of 3.5% and contains just 20 calories per 100ml, equating to 66 calories per 330ml bottle.

For comparison, a regular Tennent’s lager contains 30 calories per 100ml, while a typical alcohol-free or 0.5% ABV beer contains between 16 and 20 calories per 100ml. It launched exclusively in the on-trade at sites in Scotland, and will be available both on draught and in bottle.

Other honourable mentions

Coors Light (4.2%) 102 calories
Amstel Light (4%) 95 calories
Carlsberg Lite (4%) 102 calories
Bud Light (4.2%) 103 calories
Anheuser-Busch Natural Light (4.2%) 95 calories
Heineken Light (4.2%) 97 calories
Corona Light (3.7%) 99 calories
Sleeman Light (4%) 90 calories
Busch Light (4.1%) 91 calories
Labatt Premier (4%) 92 calories