Miller Lite claims to be the first light beer, but according to Vine Pair, Miller Lite is playing a bit fast and loose with the facts. Miller Lite was America’s first commercially successful lower-calorie brew, but that does not make it the first light beer overall. That “honor” goes to a concoction created by Rheingold Brewing Company chemist Dr. Joseph Owades, who in 1967 developed a reduced-carb, reduced-calorie beer that was marketed as Gablinger’s Diet Beer.
Dr. Owades transferred his recipe for a light beer to a colleague at the Meister Brau Brewery which went belly-up a few short years later. Miller grabbed up the bankrupt brand’s product lineup and soon released its own take, Miller Lite, in the early 1970s, and ever since then, they have been claiming they “invented” light beer, says Truth in Advertising.
Since the success of Miller Lite, many companies have created light beers to fill the need for a refreshing beverage with fewer calories. And some are actually pretty tasty. Some beer companies and microbreweries are making light beer with lower calories, carbs, and great flavor. But there are also a few light beers that don’t live up to increasing flavor and quality standards for serious beer drinkers and are better left on the shelves.
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Miller Lite may (sort of) be the OG, and a good beer, in an easy-drinking, refreshing sort of way. But Miller 64 just took things too far. Little surprise, but with just 64 calories per 12-ounce serving and a mere 2.8% ABV, this “beer” is almost completely devoid of flavor. You’re better off with club soda.
Michelob Light has more flavor than many beers in the light beer category, and little wonder why: it has way more calories, too. In fact, at 123 calories, this beer is almost twice as caloric as Miller 64. The problem with this one is not its taste, but the fact it has only 20 fewer calories than a serving of Budweiser’s standard lager beer.
According to Good Housekeeping, a 12-ounce bottle of Heineken Light may only have 99 calories, which is comparable to the caloric count of many similar brews, but its seven grams of carbs are more than double that of many light beers.
If you like a tasty light beer with a zesty citrus kick added, then by all means just squeeze some fresh lime juice into your beer and skip a pre-flavored brew. But Light Lime isn’t criminally high in calories or carbs or anything (nor is it all that low) but it has 1.8 grams of added sugar. You’ll get a fraction of that, and better flavor, from a squeeze of real lime.
Natural Light has the dubious distinction of being the worst-rated beer on Rate Beer and the second-worst on Beer Advocate. It is routinely excoriated in reviews. Its calorie and carb count are fine; the problem here is the awful flavor. Haters on Beer Advocate think it “literally tastes like what a damp basement smells like.”
Natural Ice, perhaps better known as Natty Ice, is adjacent to light beer stats with its 130 calories and is often thought of as a lighter beer. However at just under 6% ABV (as in 5.9% alcohol by volume) it’s a higher gravity brew than any others on the list by a fair margin, so you need to take care as you take sips. Plus, it’s not very good, coming in as the 5th worst beer on Beer Advocate’s list.
If you thought Miller 64 was flavorless, Budweiser Select 55, with nine fewer calories, will not be a favorite. A beer critic with Pint Log said of this fluid: “Have you ever had Bud Light? How about water? Mix ’em up and this is pretty much what you get.” This is the worst-rated beer on Beer Advocate. Most reviews are abysmal, one sums it up as “possibly the worst beer I have ever had. The look is light and not very frothy. The taste is sour and actually made me feel on the queasy side.”
This beer tastes great, remark many reviewers on Beer Advocate, so what is the problem? They claim that Sam Adams Light isn’t truly a light beer. With 120 calories and 8 grams of carbs, this beer tastes great because it’s not that light. For reference, Sam Adams lager has 170 calories and 10 grams of carbs. This one where you have to weigh the benefits of saving 50 calories with a significant loss in flavor.
The reviews for this light lager on Beer Advocate are not kind, except those that praise the low price and lack of flavor as a plus. One reviewer states that it “tastes like beer-flavored mineral water.”
READ MORE: 15 Best Light Beers You’ve Never Heard Of (But Need to Try!)