I spent a lot of time in my early 30s drinking Michelob Ultra. I’m not proud of it. It was a vulnerable period in my life and here was Lance Armstrong (pre-doping revelation) on the TV riding hard and kicking back some cold ones with friends. Mich Ultra sold the promise of having it all—you can be fit and drink beer every night. I bought in. I wanted to drink and not feel guilty, so I was wooed by Ultra’s promise of less. Less calories. Less carbs. Less guilt. Less beer belly.
All good things, right? Sure, until I realized I was solo crushing a 12 pack of Ultra on the reg because it “goes down like water!” Why not have another and another. It’s only 95 calories! I can drink two at a time!
Eventually, I did the math and realized I wasn’t doing my calorie count any favors. It hit me that I might as well drink half as much beer and enjoy it a hell of a lot more. But now we have a thing called “low calorie craft beer.” It’s a sick sub-style of beer that promises the same things as Michelob Ultra: you can drink beer but still be fit. I had the chance to try one of the newest low cal craft beers recently—Omission Ultimate Light Golden Ale (Omission is part of Craft Brew Alliance). It comes in at a svelte 99 calories and 5 grams of carbs. That’s diet beer territory, for sure. And it’s been brewed to reduce gluten, because that’s Omission’s thing; each beer is tested to make sure that it contains gluten levels below 20ppm. I don’t know what that means because I’m predominantly held together by gluten, but I would imagine that’s a good thing if you’re gluten intolerant.
Here’s the press release spiel: “We wanted to create a craft beer that gave active consumers a better-tasting option and one with the additional benefit of being crafted to remove gluten.”
It’s a noble premise, I guess. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m an active consumer and maybe I don’t want a lower calorie beer, for the same reason I don’t want low cal bacon. Because regular bacon is awesome. Regular beer is awesome. So, awesome that I’m willing to absorb a few more calories in the process of drinking it. That’s how good beer is. Maybe I’ll save calories by drinking a little less? Probably not, but maybe.
But listen, don’t let me sway you out of making (semi) good decisions. Omission’s Ultimate Light Golden Ale is a perfectly serviceable beer. It’s definitely light and it’s definitely crisp. And it turns out, there are a handful of other low-cal craft beers out there for you to choose from. You can check them out in the gallery here. All of them are in the 100-calorie range. For a point of reference, most session beers come in around 150 calories. A can of Coke is about 120 calories. A Bud Light is 110 calories. So yeah, these lower cal options are probably “healthier.” I’m still probably not going to drink them, but you do you.
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Omission Ultimate Golden Ale
The latest in the low-cal craft beer trend, UGA comes in at 99 calories and 5 grams of carbs. And it's 4.2% ABV, so it actually packs a punch compared to some of the others on the list.
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Evil Twin Brewing Bikini Beer
Props to Evil Twin for truth in advertising. This baby is super diet, coming in at just 88 calories and 2.7% ABV. I could perform surgery after a six pack.
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Brooklyn Brewery ½ Ale
I'd have a problem ordering a "half ale," but whatever. It's a saison that's 102 calories and 3.4% ABV. Oh, and you can only get it overseas. Bummer.
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Sly Fox Brewing O'Reilly's Stout
Forget the name, Irish stouts are often the lowest calorie option on the beer menu. This one is just 108 calories, and 3.6% ABV.
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The Bruery Hottenroth
I guess it's not surprising that the Bruery made a "diet" beer. They'll give just about anything a shot, and I respect that. This was actually a Berliner Weisse, which is traditionally a lighter beer, that came in at 93 calories and 3.1%.
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Ballast Point Even Keel Session IPA
At 114 calories, and just 3.8% ABV, this might be the lightest session IPA on the market. Let us know if we're wrong.