For breweries, this is the year of the shift: the shift to seltzer, the shift to CBD beer, the shift to canned cocktails. With craft beer’s seemingly unstoppable rise coming to, well, a plateau, brewers are looking to expand their footprint with new products and a fresh perspective. One beer brand, however, has proven immune to the recent beer sales slowdown. That brand is Michelob Ultra, which remains one of the most popular and successful in the US, thanks to its dedicated fanbase. For many of these fans, Ultra is a lifestyle: a lifestyle that involves working hard, playing hard, and enjoying a low-calorie beer when the day is done.
And while low-carb, low-cal beer has long been the dominion of Michelob (which is trying to trump even itself with keto diet-friendly fruit-flavored beers), craft brewers are now getting in on the game themselves. “Our goal was to think beyond the beers of today and provide a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate option for our devoted fans as well as those who enjoy a lighter beverage without the heaviness of some craft beers,” says Jeff Krum, President of Boulevard Brewing Company. Enter Boulevard’s Easy Sport Recreational Ale. It’s just the latest of a slew of craft beers poised for a spring release that all tout the tagline “low-cal.”
Here are seven new brews that are about as "healthy" as beer can get:
Dogfish Head Brewery Slighty Mighty (95 calories, 3.6 grams of carbs)
One of the most hyped additions to the low-cal, low-carb beer market comes out of Delaware. Slightly Mighty IPA debuts on March 29 as the brewery’s first health-conscious IPA. To achieve big flavor without the residual sugar and carbs, the brewery turned to monk fruit, which adds sweetness to the brew while keeping it at a cool 95 calories and 4% ABV, with 3.6 grams of carbs in each serving.
Boulevard Easy Sport Recreation Ale (99 calories, 4.5 grams of carbs)
WIth its 80s workout video motif—the white can rocks some slimming blue and orange stripes—this beer is ready to hit the gym. Appearing on shelves in April, Boulevard’s Easy Sport Recreation Ale is a tangerine-tinted ale that has been boosted with electrolytes. Should it replace your Gatorade? Maybe not, but at 99 calories and 4.1% ABV, it could.
Lagunitas DayTime (98 calories)
As the name suggests, this is a sit-on-your-pouch-and-soak-up-the-sun kind of beer. Although Lagunitas cut down the calories to a mere 98 per serving, it amped up the flavor with plenty of Citra and Centennial hops to create a tropical, bright-as-day IPA. At 4% ABV, you can certainly have another.
Southern Tier Swipe Light (110 calories, 6.5 grams of carbs)
Yes, Swipe Light is a Tinder reference, but don’t let that stop you from cracking open a can of this 110-calorie, 4% ABV ale. New York state brewery Southern Tier wants you to “swipe past calories” and “match with taste” with this lightly hopped beer that is available in extra slim 12-ounce cans.
Deschutes Da Shootz! (99 calories, 5.5 grams of carbs)
The most colorful addition to Deschutes’ lineup—a deep blue can covered in tropical flowers and foliage—is made for drinking, not thinking. The no-nonsense pilsner is not only low in ABV (4%) but also low in IBUs. Instead of hops, toasted malt and a hint of citrus take the lead in this 99-calorie beer.
Harpoon Rec League (120 calories)
With ingredients like buckwheat, chia seeds, and sea salt, you might think Rec League is something you would order at a juice bar rather than a beer bar. But this isn’t a kombucha blend—it’s a new pale ale from Harpoon. The beer launched in February in both 16- and 12-ounce cans with 120 calories per serving and 3.8% ABV.
Ballast Point Lager (99 calories, 3.5 grams of carbs)
Ballast Point keeps it light in this lager brewed with Apollo hops and two-row barley, released back in February. At only 10 IBUs and clocking in at 4.2% ABV, this offering from the San Diego brewery would be a nice change of pace for IPA fans, or for anyone looking to enjoy a crisp session lager.
Top photo courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Co.