When you’re choosing a beer for all of your summertime day-drinking, the first thing that likely comes to mind is whether or not it’s sessionable; you want something you can drink a lot of over the course of a picnic or ballgame or day at the beach without getting too wrecked to function at work the next day. But these days, “light beer” doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavor and settle for a Bud Light or some other equally watery macrobrew. As craft breweries (and craft brands owned by macrobreweries) embrace low-calorie IPAs, there’s a growing number of hoppy and hazy beers to choose from that won’t knock you on your ass on an unbearably hot day or render you useless Monday morning.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up eight lo-cal IPAs worth trying. Save the extra calories for another hot dog, and check them out below.
Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty
Most lo-cal beers cut calories by opting for a lower alcohol content, and while Dogfish Head’s Slightly Mighty certainly does that too, it also is sweetened with monk fruit instead of a ton of malt. Brewing with the fruit (which is a favorite of those on keto or low-carb diets) reduces the amount of unfermented sugar and provides body and balance, resulting in a tropical, citrusy IPA that’s just the right amount of hoppy.
Harpoon Rec League
Brewed with buckwheat, chia and Mediterranean sea salt, this light version of a Northeastern IPA packs a lot of flavor into just 120 calories. The hops are definitely still noticeable, but they’re not overwhelming, and in addition to being the perfect “cool-down companion” as Harpoon boasts on its can, it’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want their IPA to be a bitter hop bomb.
Goose Island So-Lo
At just 3.0%, Goose Island’s foray into the lo-cal IPA game is the lowest ABV option on this list, and you can definitely taste that — it’s crisp and refreshing, with less bitterness and body than some of the other lo-cal IPAs here. But it’s still got an impressive amount of flavor for such a small amount of booze, with a nice dry finish and a floral aroma on the nose.
If we want to get technical here, Deschutes’ Wowza! is a hazy pale ale, not an IPA, but hopheads will still find plenty to rave about with this beer (specifically Citra, Simcoe, Cashmere and Callista in this case). Notes of resin and orange set it apart, and while it’s a given that every beer on this list is sessionable, this one goes down especially easy.
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale
This Michigan brewery’s light version of its classic Two Hearted Ale is absolutely worth picking up. Who can say no to a lo-cal, low-ABV twist on one of the best IPAs in the country? (Light Hearted is brewed with Centennial hops and Galaxy hops instead of 100 percent Centennial, but the flavor profile is still sufficiently similar to Two Hearted). You can check the shipping information and availability in your state here.
Lagunitas DayTime IPA
When Lagunitas first released this beer in 2010 at the height of the “session IPA” craze, it was 4.6% ABV and 130 calories, but last year they decided to change it up, keeping the hops the same while switching up their mashing process to dry the beer out, reducing the amount of sugar and thus knocking it down to under 100 calories and dropping the ABV to 4.0%. The result is a crisp, hoppy flavor with hints of fruit and grassiness that makes it perfect for day-drinking, just as its name suggests.
Two Roads Wee Demon
For a light beer, this Connecticut brewery’s low-cal brew offers a surprisingly complex flavor profile. There’s an orangey citrus flavor and some hoppiness to begin with, thanks to the Ekuanot, Azacca, Simcoe and Citra hops Wee Demon is brewed with, followed by a mild malty finish. This one definitely tastes like more than 95 calories.
Community Beer Co. Hop Skinny IPA
Dallas’s Community Beer Co. describes its Hop Skinny IPA as “Texas’s first craft lifestyle IPA,” and while we’re not 100 percent certain what that means, we can attest to its crisp, zesty lemon hop flavors. Like so many of the other beers on this list, it’s extremely drinkable, but you’ll still pick up some faint herbal notes and a little bit of cracker-y malt flavor as well.
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