Lower-calorie “light” beers have been around for a long time, with Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite perennially among the best-selling brands in America.
And over the years, craft breweries have released lower-alcohol styles, like Boston Beer’s Sam Light, along with sessionable styles like Founders Brewing’s All Day IPA.
But the latest wave of light beers not only boast fewer calories, the breweries often list the carbs on the label, boost the flavor with more hop varieties, and employ a few brewing tricks, like the “AMG” enzyme used to dry out brut IPAs.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about this growing category, until a recent encounter with Abita Brewing’s Hop 99.
It was on offer at the bar during an Atlanta event presented by Louisiana Culinary Trails, where I sipped it and immediately experienced a surprising pop of hops, along with some clean but complex aromas and flavors, and a nice dry finish.
Abita, Louisiana’s first and biggest craft brewery, introduced Hop 99 in late September as “a guilt-free IPA offering to meet the demands of the evolving beer drinker.”
Available year-round on draft and in six-pack 12-ounce cans, it contains 99 calories and 2.7 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving, and at 4.2% alcohol by volume, it’s certainly sessionable.
Flavors and aromas come from additions of Mosaic and Citra hops, and pale malts help give it a light body and crisp finish that’s closer to a lager than an IPA.
“As the IPA category continues to change, we wanted to do something different that would appeal to a broader range of beer drinkers, so we took a look at how we can make an IPA an everyday hop-forward beer,” Abita brewmaster Mark Wilson said when the beer was first released.
Now it seems more and more brewers and beer drinkers are thinking the same thing. And with that in mind, here are three more year-round light IPAs to try if you’re looking for a session with fewer calories and carbohydrates and less alcohol.
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