A new crop of low calorie, low carb beers are flooding the market and flying off shelves—and many of them taste great. Long gone are the days when watery Michelob Ultra, and bland Bud Select were the only safe havens for keto or paleo beer drinkers looking to shave an inch or two off their waistline.
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, has seen the low-calorie, low-carb beer revolution firsthand and notes that “different brewing methods and approaches have opened up new doors for healthier beers. Dogfish Head, for instance, just released a low-carb IPA brewed with monk fruit—an advanced fermentable—allowing them to use less malt (sugar), generally needed to balance the pronounced hop build in this style of beer.”
“Beer lovers are clearly looking for a more healthful approach to drinking that supports popular low-carb diets like keto and paleo,” Herz continued, “but some beer brands, like Sufferfest (San Francisco) are going a step further, adding herbal botanical components like bee pollen to ‘healthify’ their beer.”
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Any way you slice it, it’s a mighty fine time to be a beer drinker on a low carb diet. If you’re looking to track down some of the best low-carb, low-calorie beers for summer, here are few of our favorites.
One of my favorite low-carb beers on the list. A very light, bright “fractional low-calorie IPA” as the West Coast brewery, Lagunitas, refers to it. This one is easy to find in most major cities and good beer shops, and don’t be fooled by its light appearance; the beer has beautiful tropical fruit notes and nice, balanced hoppiness.
There’s almost nothing Ommegang does that I don’t like, including this low-carb Brut IPA. Most of their beers are done in the Belgian style, and this hop-driven IPA, using high attenuation and bottle conditioning, achieves a bright, dry, Champagne-like profile.
This low-carb and low-calorie IPA is just rolling out from Delaware brewery Dogfish Head. The brewery was recently purchased by Samuel Adams but it hasn’t stopped them from making highly innovative beers, and Slightly Mighty is as good an example as any. The beer has all the trappings of a good, light IPA. Its secret weapon is monk fruit which allows for a malt-like balance to all those hops without the residual sugar and far fewer carbs.
This is a solid, easy-drinking, low-calorie lager. Great for a big party or day at the beach (or flip cup tournament). Ballast doesn’t have a ton of nuance like some of the others but I’ll take it over a Bud Select any day. Plus, don’t ya just love the can?
It seems to defy science that Four Peaks could get so much booze into a low-cal, low-carb beer but by George they’ve done it! This brut IPA is almost like dry Champagne. But hoppier. With an apricot, honeydew, and white wine nose, this is one of the more fun and playful low-carb beers on the list, and an absolute must try if you’re on a diet this summer.
Sufferfest bills this beer as “inspired by athletes.” And while I don’t know that any booze is going to amplify your athletic prowess, some may slow you down more than others. Repeat stands up to a taste test and if you like light, slightly malty German Kolsch beer, like Schlafly or Reissdorf, you’re bound to like this low-carb version too.
North Coast’s Scrimshaw has a relatively high ABV (or certainly not low), only 100 calories, and 2 net carbs. A perfect keto beer, and a bright, fresh, easy-drinking low-calorie pilsner besides.
Although it’s got a slightly higher carb count than some of the others, this lager has lovely flavors of watermelon, hibiscus, and lime against a sweet, slightly tart profile, light mouthfeel, and crisp finish. The Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza is the perfect low-calorie option for those who covet a fruitier, sweet beer but don’t covet all the calories they often come with.
Devil’s Backbone brewery refers to this bright, tart tangerine beer as a “sparkling ale.” One of the lowest carb beers on the list and another good one for those who like fruit-forward beers that aren’t too sweet like a watermelon ale.
A bright, sour tangerine flavor is balanced by airy sweetness in the Easy Sport, another low-carb beer billed for and marketed to athletes. The brewers add electrolytes and magnesium to this beer which, in theory, could help you recover from a game or race.
A German-style wheat beer, this low-carb radler (a lot like a shandy) is only available in the northeast, as of now. It’s on the sweet side but at just 130 calories has far fewer than most others in its category.
This is the beer you’ve been waiting for if you’re both watching your carbs/calories and also trying to avoid gluten. For my money Omission have been the most consistent gluten-free beer makers and the trend continues with this tasty and easy-drinking, light golden ale.
One of the latest from Heineken, this low-carb premium light lager is competitive with the others on calories at just 99 and slightly higher in carbs with 6.8, but if you’re a Heineken drinker looking to downsize your calorie intake this summer, it could be just the one for you.
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For the Tecate or Modelo lover, this lager is done in the Mexican style but made in California. This, of course, means it takes well to a lime, cutting into all the lager-y maltiness. When it’s all said and done Calidad clocks in at a substantially higher calorie and carb count than most on our list, but still less than Corona.