The Best Light Beers

The Best Light Beers

All light beers claim real-beer flavor. These four quenched best.

Mass-marketed light beer horrifies some of the microbrew purists, but we were excited to do a blind tasting to see which light beers, if any, retained enough flavor and body to satisfy after having some of their carbs removed. This does save calories: Regular beer contains about 150 calories in 12 ounces, while light versions range from ultralight 55-calorie beers to moderately light versions with up to 125 calories. None of these match the body or flavor of your average brew-pub lager, but we did find four that we're happy to serve when the goal is icy, beery, light refreshment on a sizzling summer day.

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BEST PREMIUM: Sam Adams Light, $7.97 (6-pack bottled)
Sam Adams' light offering is premium indeed. It features a thicker body and more substantial mouthfeel than others we tested. Its mild sweetness was balanced by a nutty flavor. Overall a great, well-rounded choice. STATS: 119 calories, 9.6g carbs, 4% ABV

BEST ULTRALIGHT: Beck's Premier Light, $9 (6-pack bottled)
This ultralight import had the lowest alcohol content of any beer we tried. But while its body was light and smooth, it still had character-a rich, nutty aroma and a stronger-than-expected finish. STATS: 64 calories, 3.9g carbs, 2.3% ABV

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BEST OVERALL: Yuengling Light Lager, $5.47 (6-pack bottled)
The contender from America's oldest brewery had a light amber color that gave way to a medium body with depth and slight hoppy notes, proving light doesn't have to mean dull. STATS: 99 calories, 8.5g carbs, 3.5% ABV

GUYS' FAVORITE: Michelob Ultra, $6.47 (6-pack bottled)
Something about Michelob's 95-calorie contender brought a unified nod from the men on the panel. They noted its medium body, crisp and clean finish-even liked its faintly sweet aroma. STATS: 95 calories, 2.6g carbs, 4.2% ABV

HOW WE TEST

In three blind tastings, we evaluated light beers with 125 calories or less and ultralight beers with 70 calories or less per 12-ounce serving.

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