We Blind Tasted a Bunch of Light Beers to Find Out Which Was the Least Gross
How do light craft options really hold up against macrobrews, and which is the best option for your Super Bowl party?
Here at InsideHook, we’re generally pretty strict craft beer devotees. Three hundred and sixty-four days out of the year, we’re more likely to crave a rich, malty stout or a hoppy IPA than any of the watery swill churned out by the major macrobreweries. But if there’s one day that calls for a light beer, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. When you’re stuffing your face full of heavy snacks — wings, pizza, nachos, maybe some combination of the three — you want something that won’t fill you up. And naturally, you want to be able to toss back several of them throughout the game without finding yourself full of regret come Monday morning.
Of course, there are plenty of great light, low-ABV craft beer options. (If you’re looking for a low-cal IPA, for example, you should start here.) But this time around, we wanted to put our palates to the test and find out whether we could really pick out a craft light lager from a collection of light macro offerings. Ten InsideHook staffers blind-tasted 11 light beers — eight macros and three crafts — and rated them each on a scale of zero to five to see whether or not we could really taste the difference.
Did the smaller, independent breweries outperform the likes of Anheuser-Busch? Were we able to taste the difference between a Heineken Light and a Coors Light without knowing in advance which we were drinking? Scroll down to find out all that and which light beer is most deserving of that spot on your Super Bowl table.
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11. Corona Light (10 points)
We were pretty shocked to find Corona at the bottom of our rankings, but we’re also fairly certain that the bottles we tasted were skunked. (For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it’s when too much light gets in through the glass bottle and compromises the beer, creating a foul, skunk-like aroma and taste.) Green and clear bottles are more susceptible to skunking than brown bottles, and interestingly, several of our tasters incorrectly guessed that we were drinking skunked Heineken rather than something out of a clear Corona bottle. “Tastes like a green bottle beer, sour and skunky,” one wrote. “Smells worse than it tastes.” Others likened the smell to gasoline, while one summed it up with, “Smells like ass and tastes like it too.”
9 (tie). Amstel Light (11 points)
Amstel Light fared only slightly better than Corona Light, only it didn’t have the excuse of being skunked. One generous taster even singled out its “good nose.” Everyone else, however, seemed to disagree there: “Smells like Bud Light, tastes so bad,” one wrote. Several complained about its metallic aftertaste — “tastes like pennies,” as one taster noted — while another likened its flavor to “a cigarette butt dropped into the beer.” Yikes.
9 (tie). Michelob Ultra (11 points)
Like Amstel Light, Michelob Ultra lost a lot of points due to its gross finish. One taster picked up on a “puke aftertaste,” while another wrote that it “smells and tastes like socks.” One taster pointed out that the high level of carbonation was rough on his stomach, and another called it “disgusting” and likened it to the dried beer that sticks to your shoes when you walk into a dirty bar. Interestingly, at least one person felt the opposite, calling it “clean.”
8. Miller Lite (13.5 points)
Miller Lite didn’t have an offensive aftertaste like some of our other low-ranking beers, but it still fared poorly because it didn’t taste like much of anything at all. Four people wrote that it tasted like water, while one simply wrote, “Pee.” Another complained about its “frat basement, corn-syrup taste.” Several of our tasters guessed it was Bud Light they were sampling, but one nailed it, writing, “Ugh, is this Miller Light? ‘Cause it’s disgusting.”
7. Heineken Light (15 points)
At 3.3% ABV, Heineken Light was one of the lightest beers we sampled. Interestingly, save for one who labeled it “bland,” most of our tasters didn’t find it to be flavorless. The bad news? They weren’t exactly fans of the flavor they picked up on. “Tastes bitter and has weird aftertaste,” one wrote. “Smells like a dirty frat house and tastes like bad breath.” Another found it to be “floral, but still gross” and one taster called it “tangy in the worst way.” Still, two among us didn’t entirely hate it, with one calling it “not bad” and another dubbing it “slightly better” than the beers we’d tasted before it.
6. Night Shift Brewing Nite Lite (21 points)
Night Shift’s Nite Lite wound up being the lowest-ranked craft beer on this list, but it does still have the distinction of being one of only a handful that more people enjoyed than disliked it. “The closest to beer I’ve tasted,” one snarky taster declared. Six people picked up on its fruity, citrusy notes, with one singling out a grapefruit flavor in particular. Still, not everyone was a fan: “An attempt at taste…mission not accomplished,” wrote one.
5. Coors Light (21.5 points)
One especially exasperated craft beer aficionado simply wrote, “I used to like beer” next to the Coors Light section on his score sheet, but the Colorado macrobrew fared surprisingly well with the rest of us. One taster praised its “citrusy flavor” and “pleasant aftertaste, while another called it “tasty.” One less-than-enthused taster said, “I’m transported back to my drinking a keg in the woods days,” but it also earned some of the highest praise of the night: “This is delicious! I would drink this and maybe even serve to guests at a Super Bowl party.”
4. Kirin Light (22.5 points)
This Japanese beer was the lowest-ABV brew of our entire tasting, and several tasters made note of the fact that it had “almost no flavor.” But the absence of taste also means no bad flavor, and that’s probably why this one wound up ranking as highly as it did, raking in more middle-of-the-road scores than any other beer. A few of our tasters even liked how light and crisp it was, calling it “refreshing” and noting that it “goes down smooth.” If you’re looking for something that’s slightly more alcoholic than water but won’t fill you up while you’re shoveling wings into your face, this is a decent option.
3. Bud Light (23 points)
You don’t sell as much beer as Anheuser-Busch does without making something that appeals to the masses, but even so: we were shocked by how highly Bud Light wound up ranked. There were, of course, a few nay-sayers: “This is nasty,” one person who was unsure of what exactly they were drinking (but confident it was a macrobrew) wrote. “It’s a famous beer that a lot of idiots drink.” However, a fascinating number of our tasters were convinced they were sipping on a Mexican lager. “Tastes like it could be a Corona, not bad,” one offered, while another described it as “Clean, light-tasting, would be alright with a lime.” “I wanna be on the beach!” another wrote. “Drinking beer at its finest — crisp, light, palatable.” Who knew?
2. Five Boroughs Brewing City Light (27 points)
The second craft beer in our tasting, Five Boroughs’ City Light, bested all of the macrobrews we sampled. Not everyone was completely sold — one person cited its “metallic aftertaste” — but for the most part, the consensus was that we’d have no problem tossing back several of these. “I honestly really like it,” one taster insisted, while another called it “refreshing” and “surprisingly flavorful.” One described it as “perfectly acceptable to throw ping-pong balls into,” and while it’s unclear whether or not they meant that as a compliment, is there really any higher praise for a light beer?
1. Sunday Beer Co. Light & Tight (27.5 points)
Our tasters immediately clocked Sunday Beer Co.’s Light & Tight as being one of the craft beers in our tasting. The nose apparently gave it away; it boasts a much more complex aroma than any of the macrobrews we sampled. The flavor didn’t disappoint, either: “More complex taste, I enjoyed this,” one taster wrote. “Stronger taste but I’m not mad at it,” another said. “I could see it being good with wings.” Another delivered a bit of a back-handed compliment: “The best, actually tasted like beer.” It’s an admittedly low bar, but if you’re looking for something under 4% ABV that still manages to taste pretty good, you can’t go wrong with this one.
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