We’ve been here before. Low-carb, low-calorie beer is the new thing in craft brewing. Boulevard did it really well—Lagunitas, a little bit less so. Countless brewers are trying their hands at the style, and newly cemented co-king of craft Dogfish Head enters the field with its take, Slightly Mighty, a low-cal IPA.
The beer is pretty unremarkable in the glass with minimal head, a nondescript golden-orange color and transparent body. But the can is what we need to be looking at here—after all, nobody drinks a 95-calorie IPA and scrutinizes it from a tulip or IPA glass. And there is just something about the blue-green shiny font and white background Dogfish Head chose for the can that catches my eye.
It bothers me when a session IPA doesn’t offer big aroma, because it’s easy to do with a dry-hop that imparts no big flavor or additional alcohol. But hops are expensive, and in the case of Slightly Mighty, I’m much more willing to forgive the faint aroma coming from a lower-calorie beer, less expensive and sipped straight from the can. The aroma that’s present is distinctly hoppy with herbal and fruity notes you can pick up by leaning in real close to the glass.
If I want a hoppy beer when calories or carbs are a chief concern, this is the beer I’ll grab.”
No 95-calorie session IPA is going to hold a candle to the full-bodied real thing, but Slightly Mighty comes closer than any I’ve tried. The hops bring resinous pine and bright pineapple that at least remind me of an IPA. Meanwhile a quickly fading bitterness keeps the beer crisp and light without becoming watery or too full. Dogfish Head cheats a bit in keeping the calories and carbs low by sweetening Slightly Mighty with monk fruit extract—a zero-calorie, zero-carb sugar substitute. It’s a clever bit of branding as a fruit adjunct makes perfect sense in beer for flavor when in fact this one is added strictly for increasing perceived sweetness.
When a beer is 95 calories, contains 3.6 grams of carbs, and does enough flavor-wise to sort-of satisfy your IPA craving, it doesn’t really matter if it cheated a little to get there. Dogfish Head dove into the low-cal market with Slightly Mighty and came away with a winner. If I want a hoppy beer when calories or carbs are a chief concern, this is the beer I’ll grab. 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.