Looking for an "indy" light beer
November 18, 2012 6:06 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a decent, widely available "independent" light beer

I've now read two articles about consolidation in the beer industry, and would like to support independent brewers with my light beer loving dollars.

I already drink microbrews and the like (I have a bunch of growers from my local brewery), but I'm having a hard time finding a decent very light beer – something in the vein of your standard Miller or Bud light, something I can drink for a while and not feel like I've gotten kicked in the teeth and gained ten pouds afterwards – that isn't inbev or Miller.
posted by lieberschnitzel to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, there's Sam Adams Light, which you should be able to find. A lot of people poo-poo Sam Adams because they're the 800-lb gorilla of independent brewers. But, they are independent.

There's also Shiner Light, though its availability is much more limited than the Sam.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:18 AM on November 18, 2012

Try Abita Light if you can find it where you are.
posted by CheeseLouise at 6:19 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where do you live? Yuengling Light isn't bad, although it is only available in the East.
posted by COD at 6:28 AM on November 18, 2012

Yeungling is an independant brewery with very wide distribution, was often considered a gateway beer into micro-brews.

Here's a good list of American Pale Ales you could try. Sierra Nevada is fairly easy to get as well..all of the ones at the top of this list are quite excellent. Amber ales may also be worthwhile.
posted by samsara at 6:31 AM on November 18, 2012

Do you want a light beer or a Light beer? That is, are you just looking for something with light body and low alcohol? A pilsner or lager? Or something specifically marketed as "Light"?

If the former is the case, Sixpoint Crisp is a great choice (especially if you're in NYC). Victory Lager is also really nice. There are plenty more out there, but I'm an IPA and stout guy, so light beers aren't really in my wheelhouse.
posted by The Michael The at 6:38 AM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're looking for something along a Budweiser then you don't want an APA or an IPA. You want a lager or a pilsner.

I think you're in NYC, so some of my suggestions might not be accessible to you.

Trumer Pils
New Glarus Home Town Blonde
New Glarus Two Women Lager
Full Sail Session Lager
New Belgium Shift
Kona Brewing Longboard Lager

And if you ARE in NYC, then maybe Brooklyn Brewery Lager or Pilsner? Although I seem to remember those being darker and heavier than what you're looking for.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:01 AM on November 18, 2012

Full Sail Session Lager

2nded, I wish they had better distribution maps on their website, but Sessions are available in most states, but you kinda have to hunt for them.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:10 AM on November 18, 2012

I don't know if you can get Great Divide beers out there (I know they distribute to some places on the East Coast, but I don't know about NYC, if that's where you're at), but if you see it, I would recommend their Samurai Rice Ale. It's their attempt to make a crisp, light beer that tastes good with Asian food.
posted by heurtebise at 7:11 AM on November 18, 2012

Kona Brewing Longboard Lager

I know nothing about beer and can't make recommendations, but I can endorse this as delicious.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:30 AM on November 18, 2012

elsietheeel: "Full Sail Session Lager"

Thirded. I pick up a couple 12s of this when I'm in Colorado (nearest place I can get it), and bring it back home to give to the Bud Light drinkers in my family, so they can feel like they're part of the crowd when everyone else is drinking "weird" stuff. It's really nice.

Here in St. Louis, the big micro (Schlafly) makes a "Summer Lager" - obv not available right now - in cans for the floating-on-the-river set. I know they're distributing pretty widely now; you might be able to get some in PA.
posted by notsnot at 7:54 AM on November 18, 2012

How do you feel about Blue Moon? You might try Bell's Oberon, which is a good indie equivalent. Light, a little fruity, low alcohol, barely any hops, easy to knock back.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2012

Folks...I'm pretty sure OP has the microbrew stuff down and is looking for a good Lite beer, based on this bit...

I already drink microbrews and the like... but I'm having a hard time finding a decent very light beer – something in the vein of your standard Miller or Bud light

Those are all fantastic brews, but way off the mark for something akin to a Bud Light.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:40 AM on November 18, 2012

If you're in the midwest, Boulevard Brewing makes a pilsner. They list its style as Premium American Lager, and having had it I will say that it is yellow, fizzy and very light -- much in keeping with what you're after. Not sure how widely it's distributed.
posted by cog_nate at 8:57 AM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Blue Moon/Oberon/any other hefeweizen will generally be wheatier and heavier than pilsners.

If you haven't tried Abita Light (from Louisiana) yet, you should, it fits the pilsner style with a golden-hazy hue, good carbonation and mild hop profile, but without the cornstarch overtones of Miller Lite or the perceived lack of flavor of Bud Light.

Harpoon, Brooklyn, and Schlafly may also have some offerings in your beer-quest.

Unfortunately, my geography and tastes somewhat limit my experience with a good American pilsner, but I'll keep an eye on this thread for updates. Please do share any taste results.
posted by Giggilituffin at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2012

Okay, but it's difficult and expensive to brew a quality light beer, that's why most craft brewers don't do it. Sam Adams Light, Yuengling Light, and Shiner Light are pretty much the only "widely" available, non-brewing monolith light beers out there and they were mentioned right off the bat.

But if the OP is looking for light bodied/lower ABV, a lot of the beers that have been suggested might please, even if they're not "light".

Here's a list of the top 50 rated light lagers on Beer Advocate. I suggest ignoring the actual reviews; they're usually written by beer snobs who value IBUs over taste. :)
posted by elsietheeel at 9:20 AM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

FYI, Blue Moon is manufactured by Coors. Based on the original post that might disqualify it.
posted by zen_spider at 9:25 AM on November 18, 2012

I'm not sure what your benchmark is for 'Lite' beer, other than to say you're looking for something lighter than your common microbrews. Bud/Miller/Coors "Lite" beers taste like they do because they use inferior grains and a pittance of hops to approximate beer. I'm not sure I've ever had anything from a small brewery that would have the balls or the marketing budget to make something too similar, although I'm sure it's out there...

If the situation calls for a yella-beer, and I wanna keep it 'Murican, it's hard to beat Sam Adams light as Thorzdad suggested. The beer-snob hate on Sam Adams confuses me too, as I think they do an stellar job of making a shitload of consistently good beer, which means it's probably the easiest to find.

Around Texas, I commonly see Oskar Blues Little Yella Pils or Fancy Lawnmower which are both a fine choice when you want something not-as-heavy.
posted by sapo at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2012

On the 10lbs angle, you might be surprised to learn that Guinness is almost as low as Bud Light, though Yuengling Light looks to be the best Miller Lite sub-100cal competitor.
posted by rhizome at 11:14 AM on November 18, 2012

If you aren't necessarily looking for something Light, but just something low alcohol and relatively low body, look for beers called "session" or "table" beer. There is a bit of a trend toward making beers like this these days. Some have been listed in this thread. I like Stillwater Ales Table Beer/Beer Table. ~4% ABV. You can get it around Baltimore & DC. It has Brett added, so the taste is not for everyone, but it's good.
posted by OmieWise at 11:37 AM on November 18, 2012

Mustang Session '33 seems like it might fit what you're looking for. It was made specifically to taste okay while fitting under Oklahoma's 3.2% alcohol limit for sale in convenience/grocery stores. I'm not sure what it's caloric content is though.
posted by Quonab at 11:38 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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