Low on Alcohol, Big on Flavor: 10 Beers to Try | Wine Enthusiast
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Low on Alcohol, Big on Flavor: 10 Beers to Try

Beers that are lower in alcohol are growing in popularity due to their ease of drinking and great accompaniment to any meal, any time of day.

And, for the calorie-conscious imbiber who still wants a bit of a treat, low alcohol beers fit the criteria perfectly. Whatever the reason for seeking out a less boozy beer, it’s never been easier to find something delicious with a variety of styles available, from Radlers to pale ales.

Community That IPA; $9/12oz 6 pack, 97 points. A low-abv IPA that does not sacrifice on taste. Cut from the cloth of West Coast IPAs, this golden-amber and clear ale has low hop bitterness overall but is big on pine, green onion and a little dried orange peel. Enjoy while sitting around a campfire. —John Holl

Firestone Walker Flyjack Hazy India Pale Ale; $9/12oz 6 pack, 97 points. A session IPA that boasts just 96 calories, this has all the flavor of a full IPA, as one would expect from this revered hop-forward brewery. It is a lively combination of citrus and spearmint that leaves the palate cool and refreshed. Perfect for a hot afternoon in the backyard, there is a cracker-like malt backbone that brings the beer into balance. —J.H.

Wormtown Rocket Pale Ale; $11/16oz 4 pack, 97 points. A miraculous combination of orange zest, tangerine and apricot is balanced by a spicy malt note that creates a zippy, refreshing ale. Brewed with specialty rye from a local maltster, this is the kind of pale ale that locals are lucky to have access to and beer fans should travel for. —J.H.

Side Project Brewing Grisette Blend #6; $15/750ml, 95 points. A lovely allday sipper that is lively with just-ripe strawberry and peach. Champagne-like carbonation wakes up the taste buds and reveals a soft wheat character that is like lightly toasted country bread followed by a slight earthy hop bite. On the finish is an oak character from the foudres used to age the beer. This ale manages to be both traditional and modern in each sip. —J.H.

Deschutes Wowza! Pale Ale; $10/12oz 6 pack, 92 points. Craft brewers are looking to broaden appeal to new segments of drinkers and several, like Deschutes, are reaching out to the athletic set. This pale ale is bright in lemon curd and sweet orange tones, balanced by bready malt. At 100 calories per serving, it’s a not-too-indulgent reward after a hard workout. —J.H.

New Realm Euphonia Pilsner; $10/ 12oz 6 pack, 92 points. While lagers are great for drinking session, sometimes a situation calls for just one beer, like a business lunch. You’ll want something that is flavorful and reassuring, that will satisfy the first time. This lager, with notes of tangerine, strawberry and honeydew, has a little bit of bitterness to balance out the sweet and to give a clean edge to the sharp yeast profile. —J.H.

Crane Apple Spice Gose; $13/12oz 4 pack, 90 points. Somehow the brewery has managed to get the full flavors of a freshly baked cinnamon apple pie into the aroma of the beer. It’s comforting like a warm sweater on the first days of the Autumn chill. On the palate, the spice fades and apple emerges alongside a head swirling funkiness that verges on sour. Its color matches that of the changing leaves in fall, and that’s when this beer will be most enjoyed. It’s captured a season in a glass. —J.H.

Jack’s Abby Blood Orange Wheat; $10/16oz 6 pack, 90 points. This combination of fruit juice and lager will appeal to those who love the latter. The blood orange does not overwhelm the senses. The lager base style helps the fruit transition from a pungent, assertive flavor, to a pleasing peach-colored version that is crisp and refreshing. Could be easily substituted for a mimosa at brunch and is better than what you might find in the average beverage cart on the golf course, so BYO. —J.H.

Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner; $11/16oz 4pack, 90 points. A lemon blossom aroma and citrus pith flavor are refreshing and give a thirst-quenching element to this slightly cereal-forward, effervescent lager. It shows a hint of bubblegum and just a little hop bitterness. A cooler full of these at a picnic will make for a great afternoon. —J.H.

Two Roads Wee Demon IPA; $9/12oz 6 pack, 90 points. A “low-cal” IPA at just 95 calories, this an appealing IPA for long afternoons at a backyard party or during softball games with friends. Malt forward with candied orange hops and a little bit of bitterness on the finish. —J.H.