Craft Breweries Are Embracing the World of Light Lagers

Will it pay off for the breweries giving it a go?

Light lager
Light lagers are coming from the last place you might expect.
Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/picture alliance via Getty Images

It’s been a rough time to be a craft brewery lately. The end of Anchor Steam is but one part of a larger story — one that’s also seen hard seltzer and similar drinks eat into beer’s market share and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev sell off a number of its craft beer holdings. While there’s still no shortage of great craft beers out there, another trend in the industry reveals an interesting aspect of where the industry might be headed — craft breweries embracing styles of beer you might not expect.

In an article for Good Beer Hunting, Kate Bernot explored the rise of craft breweries making light lager — some of which are sold under different names to establish their own niches. Beer sales representative Tommy Pacholik told Bernot that the phenomenon was “craft breweries’ answer to themselves.”

There’s a decidedly clever thinking behind this push into light lagers. Bernot cites the example of West Sixth Brewing, whose foray into light lagers — Sixer — is sold in 12-packs so as not to compete with West Sixth’s own offerings for shelf space. In the last few years, the lines between craft brewing and macro brewing were blurred when large breweries bought up smaller ones. Now, that line blurring seems to be coming more from the side of the smaller breweries.

Of course, the big question is how well this will work. Some observers of the space — including Dave Infante at his always-informative newsletter Fingers — are skeptical that this shift will be enough to brighten the future of craft beer. And it brings to mind a existential question for beer as a whole: just why do you drink a given beer at a given time? This industry foray into light lagers might provide some interesting answers.


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