As the first month of 2020 comes to a close, it means one thing for anyone who participated in Dry January: Time to break out the beers. Just because the internet says that the first month of the year is the best month of the year to abstain from the hard stuff doesn’t mean you need to jump right into February with a 10% ABV stout. 2019 was the year of the low-cal, low-ABV beers and this year is shaping up to be no different with breweries across the country doubling down on beers that deliver big flavor without big booze.
“This is the type of beer I always want in my fridge,” Tucker Anders says about Boulevard’s recreation ale. “I nearly finished the whole six-pack over a weekend. I’d even buy this beer if it was alcohol-free, because it’s just that thirst-quenching.”
“If I want a hoppy beer when calories or carbs are a chief concern, this is the beer I’ll grab,” Tucker Anders says about Dogfish Head’s 4% ABV IPA. “You can argue there are other styles better suited for the low-calorie treatment—and I’d say you are right—but as far as low-cal IPAs are concerned this is the best in what is becoming a crowded market.
“When ABV isn’t a chief concern, a session IPA's lack of flavor tends to sink its appeal,” Tucker andres says about Firestone Walker’s session IPA. “One beer in which that is certainly not the case is Firestone Walker’s Easy Jack IPA. Weighing in at 4.5% ABV, Easy Jack boasts the complexity and flavor of a much stronger beer.”
“At 4.5% ABV, Wolf Pup is light in alcohol and in body, but not thin. Each sip brings a spike in flavor that quickly fades away leaving a soft and slightly dry finish,” Tucker Anders says. “That subtle backend bitterness allows the fruit to take center stage, while peaking through enough to keep drawing me back in for more.
While no head-turner, Bine Climber is a solid, easy-drinking IPA,” Jesse Brussard says about Keegan Ales 4.7% ABV IPA. “it’s not a boundary-pushing beer by today’s industry standards, it’s one you can expect to be refreshing and a win-win for those who enjoy a more traditional take on the IPA style.”
“At 4% ABV and 98 calories, you can’t expect a ton of flavor,” Tucker Anders says about Lagunitas’ low-cal, low-ABV IPA. “DayTime squashes that notion early in each sip as the hops shine with all of their fruity, earthy, and herbal qualities.”
“While it obviously doesn’t totally satisfy in the same way as a beer, Hoppy Refresher hits the most important notes while bringing zero calories and zero booze,” Tucker Anders says about Laguniatas’ hopped water. “It’s perfect for those nights where you want something that feels different and interesting but don’t want alcohol.”
“You don’t need to don five-inch shorts to enjoy 26.2 Brew,” Jerard Fagerberg says about the 4% ABV gose developed in partnership with brewer/long-distance runner Shelley Smith and Samuel Adams. “Pry a cap off and suck one down after mowing the lawn. Take a 24-ounce can into the shower with you. You’ll get the same salty satisfaction no matter your activity level.
“While I haven’t tried every new brew aimed at runners, I’d be ecstatic to find Repeat awaiting me at my next post-race celebration,” Nathan Mattise says about the 95-calorie, 3.5% ABV kölsch infused with bee pollen. “This is a light beer in terms of calories only—not flavor.”
“There’s a lot to admire in Hop Hash, especially its ability to blend excess and moderation,” Tobias Carroll says about SweetWater’s entry in the low-ABV IPA market. “In this case, an abundance meets drinkability. At 4.2% ABV, this beer packs an impact on the taste buds without becoming overwhelming.”
“In times when I can’t drink, like recently, when I had to go on a seven-day no alcohol stint for medical reasons, I’d reach for an non-alcoholic alternative like Victory Wheat,” Jesse Bussard says about the non-alcoholic wheat beer. “It’s obviously not going to give me the full beer experience, but it gets the job done and offers a pleasant, refreshing alternative when the real thing isn’t an option.”