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Curbing carbs / Dieters belly up to the bar for Atkins-style libations

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Who wouldn’t want to drink all the beer or martinis they want and lose that belly at the same time?

Forty years ago they called it “the Drinking Man’s Diet,” all steak and spirits. Now, the notion is back with a vengeance, as beer and alcohol companies go hard after the millions of Americans on low-carb diets.

Michelob Ultra led the charge as the first low-carbohydrate beer, introduced in 2002. When it took off like a keg afire, competitors hopped on the trend. Now almost a dozen U.S. and European low-carb beers are on the market. And companies like Coors, which ignored the idea and paid for it, are racing to catch up.

Beer magazines and Web sites buzz with carb factoids. “The Drink Beer, Get Thin Diet” book hit stands in January. One Web site even lets you calculate the carbs in your homebrew.

With spirits, it’s all about marketing. To read the rum and vodka promotions — “new,” “hot,” “zero carb” — you’d think new formulations were hitting the shelves. But rum, vodka and most spirits have never had any carbs. They just got a marketing makeover. The “zero carb” campaign conjures up visions of healthy weight loss and offers cocktail recipes using no-calorie mixers, like Bacardi rum and diet cola or UV vodka and Crystal Light.

The wine industry is keeping a sharp eye on the trend, but for now is sticking with its message that most wines aren’t carb bombs in the first place. Some wineries like Sutter Home have carb information on their Web sites. New low-carb wines may come out, but they have to wait for the government to issue label requirements.

The trend is hot, but it also raises some questions: How do they get the carbs out of beer, something that’s basically a fermented loaf of bread, anyway? If they’re not carbs, what are all those “empty calories” in alcohol? Can you really drink and lose weight? How do the beers taste?

And will the trend last, or is this just the newest version of Americans’ favorite game — find the magic consumables that will let us eat and drink all we want, but get skinny and healthy?

You don’t have to go farther than your nearest Beverages & More store to document the trend. At the San Rafael store, the Bay Area chain’s biggest, beer buyer Rachel Stahler put up a special low-carb beer display throughout February and the beers flew out the door.

“They’re huge. People can’t get enough,” says Stahler. Even a relatively obscure new German brand, DAB, sold like crazy.

“It sold remarkably well. And it was the first time we brought it into the store,” she says.

At Trader Joe’s, which introduced its two Coastal Light low-carb beers three months ago, wine and beer buyer Tim Bekins says they’re selling fast — especially here.

“California is the low-carb king,” Bekins says. The chain’s South of Market store routinely sells out.

Michelob Ultra made the industry take the whole low-carb craze seriously. The beer is not all that different from Miller Lite when it comes to carbs and calories. A 12-ounce bottle of Michelob Ultra has 2.6 carbs and 95 calories; Miller Lite has 3.2 carbs and 96 calories.

But Anheuser-Busch put its marketing muscle behind Michelob Ultra as a low-carb beer. While American beer sales dipped last year, Michelob Ultra’s were up 476 percent and the low-carb beer vaulted into eighth place in sales nationally, according to the Chicago market research company Information Resources Inc. Miller Lite’s sales rose only slightly — and now is being marketed as low-carb.

Then Trader Joe’s brought out its Coastal Light lager (3.9 carbs) and pale ale (5.4 carbs), made in Paso Robles. In addition, German DAB (2 carbs) and Pennsylvania-made Rolling Rock Green Light (2.4 carbs) are widely available in the Bay Area.

Regular beers range from 10 to about 14, and rich, thick microbrews can go up to near 20.

Wine has carb levels comparable to light beer. Most of the sugars in wine are fermented into alcohol, but a few can remain in the finished wine, hence the carbs. The rule of thumb is that a 4-ounce glass of red or white wine — about two-thirds of the average glass — has 4 or 5 carbs, but they vary. Sutter Home lists 2.5 carbs for 4 ounces of its Pinot Noir, 6.2 for Chenin Blanc and 11.2 for its Moscato dessert wine.

Hard liquor has no carbs because it’s distilled — any carbs not converted to alcohol get left behind.

Both calories and carbs count when it comes to losing weight. But for the estimated 24 million Americans on Atkins, South Beach or similar diets, it’s all about avoiding carbohydrates like poison. The idea is that if you don’t eat carbs, your body will burn up the body’s fat cells instead and the fat just melts away.

Under this theory, carbs that count are the ones that make blood sugar go up; certain carbs like fiber don’t count because they don’t make blood sugar zoom. Dieters tend to become fanatical about finding out the number of “net carbs” — the ones that count — in everything they consume.

Most people think alcohol is a carb, but it’s not. When it comes to nutrition, alcohol is its own little category — there’s protein, fat, carbohydrates and then alcohol. Alcohol is created when the sugars and other carbs in beer, wine and liquor ferment.

Nutritionists point out that even if alcohol has no carbs, dieters should beware.

“The low-carb people can say their product is low in carbs, but it’s still not low in calories,” says Nancy Bennett, a registered dietitian in San Francisco who works with people on diets. Gram for gram, alcohol has almost twice the calories of carbs — 7 calories for alcohol compared to 4 for carbs.

Alcohol doesn’t raise blood sugar, Bennett says, but it goes right to your liver, and your body considers it such a priority to process that it will burn alcohol before anything else. So alcohol slows down any diet.

The liver turns alcohol into the nasty blood fats called triglycerides. If you’re buff and active, your body will use them fast, but if you’re a couch potato, the triglycerides will go right to your hips, Bennett says.

“I tell my clients that a glass of wine is the equivalent to a tablespoon of mayo,” Bennett says.

On Atkins, mayo is fine (unless it has sugar). Yet even the Atkins diet acknowledges that alcohol gets in the way of fat-burning. The diet counsels no drinking during the intense no-carb “induction phase” and “moderate” drinking after that.

But giving up a relaxing cocktail, glass of wine or a cold one with friends can be difficult for any dieter — and many would rather splurge on drinks than ice cream. The alcohol industry is doing all it can to make it easy for them.

At Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits company, spokesman Gary Galanis says Michelob Ultra’s blazing success convinced the industry that low-carb was “going to have some legs.” Lo and behold, Diageo discovered that its Jose Cuervo tequila, Smirnoff vodka and Crown Royal spirits had no carbs. None.

A quick consumer survey revealed that most people — 63 percent of those surveyed — believed wine and beer had fewer carbs than hard liquor, Galanis says. And so the “zero carbs” promotion was born.

“We embarked on a campaign … if you want to stay on a low-carb regimen, you can still enjoy Johnny Walker and diet ginger ale, or Smirnoff vodka and Diet Coke,” he says.

Promotional materials included recipes for zero-carb cocktails like a Smirnoff martini, Tanqueray gin and diet tonic, and Cuervo tequila and diet cola.

Other spirits makers hopped on the train. Bacardi sent out promotional samples of rum with a “0 grams of guilt” recipe for serving it with diet cola. The makers of UV vodka did the same, but with Crystal Light. Some of the recipes made a big point of calorie counts well under 100 per drink — but they called for a skimpy 1-ounce shot of liquor. A medium-sized martini glass holds 4 ounces; an $8 South of Market martini probably contains 6.

Spirits sales are up, though whether it’s because of the “zero carb” campaign is impossible to know. But Bay Area low-carb food retailers say sugarless margarita mix and other drink mixers are hot sellers, suggesting that the message is getting out.

San Francisco-based Skyy Spirits hasn’t gone the low-carb route in promoting its fruit-flavored vodkas, although they have no carbs. Instead, the company introduced the first melon vodka on the premise that drinkers are drawn to new tastes more than anything.

But in the malternative category, as with beer, “the carb message resonates a lot more strongly,” says Paul Fuegner, Skyy’s vice president of marketing. So this month the company will introduce Skyy Sport, a reduced-carb, malt-based beverage with a citrus-cranberry flavor. It has 15 carbs per bottle, about half the load of other malternative drinks, Fuegner says.

Bread in a bottle

Beer is where most of the action is, because beer is a naturally carb- laden drink. Julie Bradford, editor of All About Beer magazine, calls beer “liquid bread” and says the grain that goes into beer is harder to convert to alcohol than the simple sugars in wine.

To make light beers with reduced calories, brewers cut alcohol levels. To cut carbs, they have to tinker with the grain mixes (adding corn and rice), change yeast types and mashing temperatures and extend fermentation times to convert as many of the carbs into alcohol as possible.

The resulting beers lack the flavor and body of full-carb beers. And the carbs.

Beers that are under 7 percent alcohol can say “low carbohy0drates” on their labels, under federal regulations. If they do, they must list carb and calorie counts.

Some companies like Coors chose not to jump into the low-carb game, in part so that a new product wouldn’t take away from sales of its own light beers. But the Michelob Ultra juggernaut cut into Coors Light’s market share, and Coors has just rolled out low-carb Aspen Edge in 10 eastern states and Texas, with plans to go national by fall.

Back East, some regional brewers and microbreweries have gotten into the act, according to Bradford, whose husband is a partner in a North Carolina brewpub.

So far, West Coast microbreweries have stayed away from low-carb formulations. In fact, in Petaluma, the Lagunitas Brewing Co. is fomenting its own minor rebellion against low carbs by brewing a seasonal special due out in May.

“The premise is to go counter to the whole Atkins low-carb thing,” Lindenbusch says. “All of our beers are big, rich beers. They are definitely not low-carb, though they are nearly fat free.”

Beverages & More’s Stahler says she will put up a high-carb beer display if Lagunitas comes through, with all the “heavy, hoppy beers, porters and stouts.”

The wine industry is watching carefully. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is considering rules for low-carb wines, and they could be out within the next few months. Depending on what the regulations say, some low-carb wines are likely, according to Rob Celsi, vice president of marketing and strategic brand development at Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, owner of Sutter Home.

“The wine industry is very interested,” Celsi says. “We want to make sure we’re not left behind or cast in a bad light.”

Consumers of low-priced, high-volume wines like Sutter Home have made their interest known, he says. And that’s likely where the low-carb wines would be targeted. Wine has its image to protect.

“If you’re a connoisseur, it’s probably never going to cross your lips,” Celsi says of low-carb wine. A brand like Sutter Home Fre, a no-alcohol line, could easily spawn a low-carb wine, “but you wouldn’t see Screaming Eagle do it, to use an extreme comparison,” Celsi says.

Without saying who or how it would be done, Celsi says some brands have approached the government for low-carb approval, but until the general rules come out, nothing can happen.

And, he says, winemakers are still wondering how long the low-carb trend will last and whether it’s worth a big investment in new-product development.

“We’re all mindful of the SnackWells situation,” Celsi says. “Now they can’t give it away.”

Beer bust: Low-carb bottles fall flat

How do low-carb beers taste? Watery and mostly lacking almost any hint of hops and malt, the basic beer flavors, according to a tasting panel of four beer drinkers drawn from The Chronicle staff. Poured fast, all the beers produced a thick head, but the foam subsided fast on most. The panelists’ favorite, and the only one they might buy, was Trader Joe’s Coastal Light Pale Ale. For comparison, Bud Light was included in the tasting but fared no better than the low-carb brews. Overall, the panel was less than thrilled. Here’s what it found (nutritional information is per 12-ounce bottle):

Tasting notes: Slightly sweet aromas with a “hint of cardboard.” Attractive golden color, full head with good retention, some bubbles. “Very little taste,” but some beer flavor like roasted barley; “virtually no hop character” and a bitter aftertaste. Carbonation is “good, decent.”

Overall: “Simple, uninteresting, though also good served very cold on a very hot day — and no other beer is available.”

DAB Low Carb, Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei, Germany. Carbs (2 grams); calories (92); alcohol (n/a).

Overall: “Smells much better than it tastes.”

Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis. Carbs (2.6 grams); calories (95); alcohol (4.2 percent).

Tasting notes: Neutral aroma with hints of soap, 7-Up, citrus and, faintly, hops. Color is “extremely pale, nearly the color of water. Good carbonation and head, but little head retention. Nearly flavorless with a “slight citrus tinge” and sweet aftertaste.

Overall: “Blah.”

Miller Lite, Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee. Carbs (3.2 grams); calories (96); alcohol (4.5 percent).

Tasting notes: Light beerlike aroma with hints of hops and malt. Light golden color, clear, with medium head. “Slightly bitter but sooooo watery;” “tastes like watered-down Bud;” “flat and flavorless — if cold and you’ve just mowed the lawn, it will inoffensively quench thirst.”

Overall: Little flavor, “would not drink, let alone buy.”

Rock Green Light, Latrobe Brewing Co., Latrobe, Pa. Carbs (2.6 grams); calories (91.4); alcohol (4 percent).

Overall: “Skip this one and drink water instead.”

— Carol Ness

Photo: Daniel Boczarski (Getty Images)

The same familiar faces stand atop the podium of America’s largest beer brands: Bud Light, Coors Light, and until recently, Budweiser. In late 2017, Miller Lite supplanted The King Of Beers, making light beers the three best-selling beers in America for the first time. But there’s yet another newcomer shaking up the leaderboard, and it’s Michelob Ultra.

Michelob Ultra launched nationally in 2004, and according to sales data, it’s now the third-largest beer brand in America, with Miller Lite slipping to number four. That’s by dollar sales, though, not volume. Because Michelob Ultra costs more than Miller Lite, it still sells less by volume than Miller Lite, but rakes in more money.

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Why is this a big deal?

“The first two years were ridiculous and it’s been a double-digit growth brand for a decade. There’s nobody else except for upstart brands that can lay claim to that,” Bryan Roth, a beer writer who’s covered Michelob Ultra extensively, tells The Takeout. A piece he wrote for Good Beer Hunting last year calls Michelob Ultra “the most important American beer since Bud Light.”

While America’s large breweries struggle, Michelob Ultra’s star only continues to rise. But it’s not because the beer inside those slim blue cans is much different from a Miller Lite: Mich Ultra has 2.6 grams of carbs and 95 calories, while Miller Lite has 3.2 grams of carbs and 96 calories.

No, it’s about the marketing.

“The way the brand has integrated itself into the lifestyle activity and the minds of people consuming it is a true differentiator,” Roth says. “It’s built this ‘better for you’ category for modern beer audiences.”

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Mich Ultra sponsors marathons and golf tournaments, and a new commercial for its Infusions line features Olympic gold medal volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings. Whether you’re actually participating in any of these pursuits, the brand wants you to feel that drinking it signals you’re the kind of person who could. And that’s enough to set it on a rocket launch toward the top of American beer.

By year’s end, America will be home to 7,000 breweries producing more varieties of beer than ever before. And yet, as of January 2018, a majority of our beer money is spent on a short list of light lagers: Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite. The latter unabashedly claims responsibility for America’s light beer obsession.

In a way, it’s true. After Miller Lite launched nationally in January 1975, other brands followed: Anheuser-Busch launched Natural Light in 1977; Michelob Light in 1979; and Budweiser Light, today known as Bud Light, in 1982. Coors introduced Coors Light in 1978. The rest is homogeneous history.

But one thing MillerCoors conveniently leaves out of its history is, well, Miller. Budweiser begot Bud Light; and Coors, Coors Light. Miller Lite lacks a single-monikered sidekick.

Of course, there are plenty of other Miller offshoots to try. There’s Miller High Life, the “Champagne of beers.” It debuted New Year’s Eve 1903, preceding Miller Lite by more than 70 years. Miller High Life even has its own low-calorie offshoot, Miller High Life Lite. It launched in 1994.

Then there’s Miller Genuine Draft, better known to fans as MGD, which debuted nationwide in 1986. Miller Fortune came 28 years later, in 2014.

Largely absent from Miller’s history — which also includes current brands Hamm’s and Hamm’s Special Light, Mickey’s and Mickey’s Ice, and Magnum Malt Liquor — is Miller Beer, a premium, not-light lager that occupied a two-year blip in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Referred to by some as Miller Red Label, the beer was introduced in 1996. It gets a nod in “Beer Blast,” Philip Van Munching’s 1997 book on the beer industry. But Miller Beer dissolved in 1998, never to be spoken of again.

Until now. “Miller Beer was discontinued in 1998 when Miller Brewing Company decided to focus on core brands, such as Miller High Life and Miller Lite,” a spokesperson told VinePair last week.

The lesson? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There’s never an easy time to cut carbs. But while you’re taking your burger off the bun and staring longingly at those French fries, know there’s one food you don’t need to ditch if you’re watching your carb count: beer. 🙏

According to Jessica Perez, RD, a typical 12-ounce serving of beer contains anywhere from seven to 14 grams of carbs. But your standard low-carb beer (yes, those exist!) generally clocks in at no more than five grams.

You can usually tell a beer is going to be low-carb if it has the word “light” on the label. But Perez says you should still look for the specific carb count to be sure (many beers, especially light beers, will include it on the label)—especially if you’re sticking to a ketogenic diet. Thankfully, there are plenty of low-carb beers out there that fit the bill.

1. Budweiser Select 55

Budweiser Select 55 Select 55 Premium Light Beer Budweiser drizly.com $12.99

Carbs: 1.8 g

Calories: 55

With a fraction of the calories and carbs of your standard beer, Select 55 offers a noticeably light caramel finish that will definitely quench your thirst.

Per serving: 55 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 1.8 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 11 mg sodium, 0.5 g protein; 2.4% ABV

2. Corona Premier

Corona Corona Premier drizly.com $3.29

Carbs: 2 g

Calories: 90

Corona has become synonymous with #gametime, and now you get its signature honey-forward hops, with way fewer carbs. Don’t forget that mandatory lime wedge.

Per serving: 90 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 4.0% ABV

3. Miller 64

Miller 64 drizly.com $12.59

Carbs: 2 g

Calories: 64

Miller64 has all the makings of a satisfying pint—with the lowest calorie count on this list. Impressive. With a crisp, slightly citrus-y finish, it’s a nostalgic sip of summer that holds up well into fall.

Per serving: 64 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 2.8% ABV

4. North Coast Brewing Company Scrimshaw Pilsner

Scrimshaw Pilsner North Coast Brewing Company instacart.com $2.99

Carbs: 2 g

Calories: 100

What this light and balanced pilsner lacks in carbs, it makes up for in taste. Pair it with your meal for a flavorful, yet keto-friendly beer to sip on.

Per serving: 100 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 15 mg sodium, 2 g protein; 4.0% ABV

5. Labatt Premiere Extra Light Lager

Extra Light Lager Labatt Premiere walmart.com $25.00

Carbs: 2.4 g

Calories: 92

Perfect for when you want something super, super light, this American-style Canadian pale lager offers a smooth, refreshing taste.

Per serving: 92 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2.4 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 4.0% ABV

6. Michelob Ultra Pure Gold

Pure Gold Organic Light Lager Michelob Ultra instacart.com $11.54

Carbs: 2.5 g

Calories: 85

Crack open a can (or two, or three) of this incredibly palatable low-carb beer made from a blend of organic grains for a smooth, satisfying sip.

Per serving: 85 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 2.5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0.5 g protein; 3.8% ABV

7. Busch Light

Busch Light Busch Light drizly.com $19.99

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 95

This all-American balanced beer is perfect for quenching your thirst from the bar stool to the ballgame. And the light variety clocks in at just 3 grams of carbs.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 4.1% ABV

8. Natural Light

Natural Light Beer Natural Light Beer naturallight.com $1.02

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 95

“Natty Light,” as its fondly known by its fans, offers enough of a crisp and fruity flavor to make you forget you’re carb-counting.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 10 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 4.2% ABV.

9. Michelob Ultra

Michelob Ultra Michelob ULTRA drizly.com $5.09

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 95

Michelob’s light-bodied rendition gives you some hops flavor without weighing you down.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0.6 g protein; 4.2% ABV.

10. Milwaukee’s Best Light

Milwaukee’s Best Milwaukee’s Best Light drizly.com $14.46

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 96

Easy on the wallet and the palate, this classic brew is the perfect addition to a tailgate menu of wings, beer, and more beer.

Per serving: 96 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 4.1% ABV

11. Michelob Ultra Amber

Michelob Michelob ULTRA Amber drizly.com $14.49

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 95

Michelob Ultra Amber’s deep mahogany tint offers the same appearance—and experience—of a more decadent brew, without all the excess cals and carbs.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 4.0% ABV

12. Miller Lite

Miller Miller Lite drizly.com $17.99

Carbs: 3 g

Calories: 96

The company claims to be the first American light beer brand, and they certainly knew what they were doing when they perfected the signature blend of barley, rice, purely filtered water, and hops. It’s a classic for a reason.

Per serving: 96 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 5 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 4.2% ABV

13. Lagunitas Daytime IPA

Lagunitas DayTime IPA Lagunitas drizly.com $10.29

Carbs: 3 grams

Calories: 98

Calling all IPA fans: There’s a low-carb beer option for you, too. Introducing Lagunitas’ Daytime IPA, a hop-forward beer that’s still low in cals.

Per serving: 98 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 4% ABV

14. Shiner Ruby Redbird

Ruby Redbird Shiner instacart.com $11.18

Carbs: 3.1 g

Calories: 95

Grab this bright, citrusy brew with a hint of ginger to help you hydrate, while keeping your stomach happy.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3.1 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 4.0% ABV

15. Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty IPA

Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA Dogfish Head binnys.com $17.99

Carbs: 3.6 g

Calories: 95

Thanks to tropical notes of sweet pineapple and coconut, you might feel like you’re downing gallons of sugar, but it’s actually low-cal monkfruit (a natural sweetener) getting the job done.

Per serving: 95 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 3.6 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 4.0% ABV

16. Genesee Light

Genesee Light Genesee Light totalwine.com $9.49

Carbs: 4 g

Calories: 100

Slightly citrus-y and easy to sip, “Genny” lightens up their signature lager for a bloat-free buzz.

Per serving: 100 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 4 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0 g protein; 3.6% ABV

17. Beck’s Premier Light

Beck’s Beck’s Premier Light totalwine.com $8.99

Carbs: 4 g

Calories: 64

Beck’s lighter rendition packs quite a punch in so few carbs—and calories. With a slight carbonation, its finish is as refreshing as it is satisfying.

Per serving: 64 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 4 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 1 g protein; 2.3% ABV

18. Coors Light

Coors Light Coors drizly.com $19.99

Carbs: 5 g

Calories: 102

The Colorado-based brand is a classic brew, and the light variety totally fits the low-carb bill. The brand prides themselves on using top-quality ingredients, so you can feel good about sipping one of these low-carb beers.

Per serving: 98 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, >1 g protein; 4.2% ABV

19. Corona Light

Corona Light drizly.com $10.05

Carbs: 5 g

Calories: 99

Yep, another Corona made the list (you’re welcome). While slightly higher in carbs than it’s “Premier” counterpart, this refreshing beer still made the cut. Pair it with that classic lime and some ceviche and you’ll be in low-carb bliss.

Per serving: 99 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 5 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 0 mg sodium, 0.8 g protein; 4.1% ABV

Marissa Miller Marissa Miller has spent a decade editing and reporting on women’s health issues from an intersectional lens with a focus on peer-reviewed nutrition, fitness trends, mental health, skincare, reproductive rights and beyond.

It’s been two years since Budweiser fell out of the top three largest beers by off-premise sales in the U.S. Now, it’s suffered another ignominy: After yet another year of falling sales, the one-time King of Beers has seen one of the giants of the Mexican beer craze pass it up.

The industry analysts at IRI say that Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (NYSE:BUD) Budweiser saw off-premise sales fall 4% in 2019, which even at $1.8 billion, doesn’t qualify for a top-five ranking. It’s enough to leave the brewer crying in its beer.

Image source: Getty Images.

Better-for-you beer

The past few years have been difficult for the beer industry with U.S. sales drying up because of changing consumer preferences. Instead of a blend of barley, malt, and hops, drinkers are turning in greater numbers to light, fruity beverages like hard seltzer and tea.

But don’t bemoan the decline of the mega brewer’s flagship beer segment, as Anheuser-Busch still owns the two biggest beers in the country, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Even though sales of the former suffered a 5% decline, it remains far and away the leader with over $5 billion in sales to U.S. off-premise retailers in 2019. Off-premise sales are those made at package goods stores and convenience stores, but not at bars and restaurants.

And in a testament to Anheuser-Busch’s prowess and scale, when drinker tastes changed it pumped more marketing into Michelob Ultra, engineering a better-than-18% increase in sales. Long before seltzer was being touted as the drink for athletes, Michelob Ultra was seen as the beer to drink post workout. It sports just 95 calories and 2.6 carbs, with 4.5% alcohol by volume, and has capitalized on the trend called “healthier beer.”

While Michelob Ultra generated $2.3 billion in sales last year, according to IRI, that’s not even the most surprising result of the beer wars. Rather, it’s the meteoric rise of Mexican beer.

Mas cervezas!

Anyone watching Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) knows that it has virtually owned the beer market for the past few quarters as its Corona and Modelo family of beer have seen depletions soar. Depletions are sales to distributors and retailers, and are considered an industry proxy for consumer demand.

Last quarter, Constellation reported depletions for Corona jumped 7% from the year-ago period driven higher by gains made by Corona Extra and Corona Refresca, a flavored malt beverage the alcohol distributor introduced to blunt some of the impact of hard seltzers. It’s since turned into a top-five market share gainer for the high-end beer segment in the U.S. even though it launched only in the first fiscal quarter of 2020.

Which is why Constellation will be introducing its own hard seltzer soon under the Corona banner. Noting the brand is the No. 1 beer for Hispanics, it believes that unlike Anheuser-Busch’s Bon & Viv, Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) Henry’s brand from MillerCoors, and Boston Beer’s (NYSE:SAM) Truly, it doesn’t haven’t to hide from its beer roots.

IRI says Corona Extra saw a 2.4% rise in sales in 2019, enough to give it $1.8 billion in revenue, and putting it in a virtual tie with Budweiser. But it’s Constellation’s other Mexican import, Modelo Especial, that’s the real sleeper. It had 18.8% growth last year, causing sales to surge to $2.1 billion and making it the fourth biggest beer, ahead of even Miller Lite.

Beer sales in U.S. off-premise retailers. Data source: IRI.

Constellation reported that Modelo Especial’s depletions rocketed 15% higher in the third quarter, which followed a similar rise in the second when it generated the most growth for the entire U.S. beer category, and was on top of a 17% gain in the first quarter.

The future of U.S. beer looks Mexican

The U.S. beer market continues to undergo a dramatic evolution. Even with Bud Light’s massive sales, mass produced beer is no longer in favor, and even craft beer sees only middling growth. Boston Beer now produces more seltzer than it does beer.

Mexican beer, though, remains as strong as ever, and ever since acquiring Corona and Modelo from Anheuser-Busch, Constellation has steadily grown the brands. There’s still a long way to go to catch Bud Light, but it shouldn’t be long before Modelo Especial hits the top three.

These Are the Healthiest Beers You Should Be Drinking

Believe it or not, beer can have some pretty awesome health benefits. But you should drink it moderately and watch its calorie count, too. Luckily, we’ve gathered up the 10 lowest-calorie beers for you to enjoy (responsibly).

Luckily, there are some pretty low-calorie beers on the market. | grafvision/iStock/Getty Images

10. Corona Light

  • Calories: 99

Corona Light has only 99 calories, but it’s pretty flavorful and definitely gets you in the spirit of summer. (Of course, you can drink it any time of year.) Plus, the key accessory to the perfect Corona Light is a lime, and limes pack a lot of vitamin C. Pop one in your Corona Light for an added health boost.

9. Heineken Light

  • Calories: 99

Heineken has a flavor that is unlike the other ones on this list. It has a unique brewing process, giving it more of an edge in flavor than most light beers. At 99 calories, its tied for the highest-calorie beer on this list, but compared with non-light beers, its calorie count is still low.

8. Miller Light

  • Calories: 96

Miller Light is one of those beers that gets lost between the ever-popular Bud Light and Coors Light. But this beer only has 96 calories, putting it at No. 8 on the list. It also has a bit more flavor than Coors Light but tastes pretty different from Bud Light, which should put it in a league of its own.

7. Natural Light

  • Calories: 95

Natural Light might be one of those beers that reminds you of your college days, but it also happens to be one of the lowest-calorie beers on the market. At 95 calories, it’s similar to a few others on this list, but its low cost makes a great, budget-friendly option. However, with a low cost and low calories also comes a blander flavor, but it’s still a great bang for your buck.

6. Michelob Ultra

  • Calories: 95

Michelob Ultra is one of the most flavorful beers on this list. While it does provide about a third more calories than some of the higher-ranked beers, if you are looking for a beer that doesn’t “taste healthy” this should be your drink of choice. Plus, Michelob Ultra now has an organic beer.

5. Anheuser-Busch Light Pale Lager

  • Calories: 95

Anheuser-Busch makes all-American beers, such as Budweiser, Bud Light, and this light pale lager. With 95 calories, it has enough flavor that you can drink it without feeling like you’re on any kind of diet. Plus, it’s the same company that features adorable puppies and Clydesdales in its commercials, so that gives it some leverage, too.

4. Amstel Light

  • Calories: 95

This beer sits in the middle of the pack at No. 4. It has 95 calories, which puts it in the same league as a few other beers on this list. But it still packs a decent amount of flavor. And it has 3.5% alcohol by volume, so it’s not quite as buzzworthy as some of the other light beers, making it a good choice if you’re not looking to drink too much.

  • Calories: 64

Miller 64 commercials have a catchy song about how much everyone loves Miller 64, but if that isn’t enough to get you try it, maybe its calorie count is. It’s named as such because it only contains 64 calories, making it the third lightest beer on this list. Plus, it only has 2.4 grams of carbs, so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re watching your figure.

2. Beck’s Premier Light

  • Calories: 63

Beck’s Premier Light takes the No. 2 spot. At only 63 calories, you could sip two of these and still take in fewer calories than most beers have in one bottle. Plus, it’s only 2.3% alcohol by volume, so it won’t get you nearly as buzzed as most beers, which typically range between 4% and 5%.

  • Calories: 55

At 55 calories, Budweiser Select 55 is by far the lowest calorie beer on this list. With fewer calories comes less flavor, though, which is a bit of a tradeoff. However, if you make this your go-to beer, you’ll be used to it in no time. It doesn’t taste bad; just a bit blander than the Bud Light or Budweiser you might be used to.

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I would like to think I’m an equal opportunity beer drinker so when I saw that National Beer Day was coming up on April 7 (Saturday this year, y’all!), I knew that we had to do something special to celebrate one of our favorite holidays of the year. After all, is there a better way to celebrate National Beer Day than by taste-testing endless cans and bottles of light beer? If you’re a purist and a beer enthusiast that enjoys craft over corporate, or even just unique flavors over the macro-lagers out there, you probably are thinking that nothing could sound worse than light beers. You might be right, but Americans don’t agree.

As the Chicago Tribune reported in January 2018, the top three best-selling beers in America are light beers. With the craft beer market turning towards saturation, it seems that Americans are showing up for Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Light. So what that in mind, I took it upon myself (no one had to twist my arm) to determine my favorite light beers. I got a little drunk, mostly bloated, and very sleepy but it was all worth it.

There are two things of note before we break into the rankings. The first is that I actually tasted 15 light beers, but chopped the list to 10. The five that didn’t make the list are: Natural Light, Keystone Light, Busch Light, Labatt Blue Light, and Michelob Light. The second note is that I didn’t discriminate between American and European-made, or regional American choices. If that’s something you’d like to read, let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly taste-test 15 beers again!

10. Michelob Ultra

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Grilling season 😍 #Grilling #Beer #MichelobUltra #Kebabs #Dinner #Spring

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Growing up, I thought Michelob Ultra was the beer. It was what my mom ordered at Baltimore Orioles games and what they stocked for family BBQs. And it very well may be why I didn’t sneak so many beers when I was a kid. While it tasted better than Michelob Light (read: less like gym socks), Michelob Ultra just takes like water with a hint of caramel coloring and a touch of barley. I am so glad I don’t think it’s the beer anymore, and my tastebuds are, too. When it comes to low-calorie light beer, I’ll place my bets elsewhere.

9. Bud Light Lime

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Take me back already. 😫 #beachgirl #tybeeisland #budlight #budlightlime #iprefercorona

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I chose the above photo because I agree with hair.with.morgan.xo’s hashtag: #IPreferCorona.

I knew this would be low on the list, but I wasn’t expecting it to rank in the Top 10. Honestly, I’d probably pick up Keystone Light before I grabbed a case of Bud Light Lime. Lots of people enjoy this bright yellow beer, so much so that AB InBev has even spun off other flavors that are just as terrible. The aftertaste of lime hits me like the smell of urine in the street on a hot Texas day. How did it edge out Michelob Ultra and the five left off the list? Well, at least you can taste it.

8. Dos Equis XX Special Lager

Dos Equis isn’t one of my go-to beer brands, so I was pleasantly surprised that the XX Special Lager wasn’t a trash can fire in a bottle. It’s refreshing alright, but it smells like hay in a bad way and I just cannot get behind this aroma. While it’s easy to drink because there’s so little taste, that is actually the problem. There’s too little taste and the worst part is that the aftertaste hits you like a whiskey shot dumped inside. Normally I love boilermakers, but on my own terms, please.

7. Sam Adams Light

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I tend to prefer Sam Adams’ seasonal flavors, like the Summer Ale and the Blueberry Hill Lager, over their year-round releases and this beer reminded me just why that is. The flavor was a little sweeter than the previous beers, but where Dos Equis XX had too much of an aftertaste, this beer had none at all. It’s the kind of beer your kooky aunt will let you sip at family functions because even she thinks it tastes harmless. Overall, it’s so-so, which just wasn’t enough to push it into the top.

6. Bud Light

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#budlight #dillydilly bud light bottles !!!

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Oh, the festival beer. If you’ve been to a concert, stadium, or festival in the last five years, chances are you ordered a blue-bottled Bud Light and happily went on your way to choke down the $8 beer. Comparable to the following beers but just slightly underwhelming, Bud Light is there for you when you don’t want any surprises or carbonation because that is certainly where this beer falls flat in the competition.

There aren’t enough dilly dillies in the world to bring this light beer up to snuff.

5. Heineken Premium Light

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ビール飲んだ🍻 #ビール #heinekenlight #heineken #夜飲み

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The disclaimer here is that I tend to hate Heineken, there’s just something about the malt and hop blend that turns me off from the iconic green bottles. However!

I was pleasantly surprised by Heineken Premium Light. It finishes refreshingly crisp and holds its carbonation, something that most of these beers lost as I drank my way through them. After having sworn off Heineken, this ranking has made me reconsider my own beer opinions and from now on, I’ll be ordering Heineken Lights more often when I’m in the mood for something easy and simple. It’s hard for me to even believe Heineken makes this beer, y’all.

4. Corona Light

Remember when I said I’d rather have a Corona? I also meant Corona Light. This is, without a doubt, the light beach beer and listen, I know beach beer well. In fact, the best tasting beach beers are typically light because who wants something so heavy when you’re in the hot sun and swimming all day?

One of the lowest calorie beers on this list at 103, it proves that fewer calories means less taste. At about one-quarter of the strength of Corona, the light version’s flavors are more diluted, but it still drinks easier than the rest of the beers on this list and it comes away with a fresh aftertaste. Hand me one with a lime and I’m poolside in my head.

3. Shiner Light Blonde

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Ranch days are the best days. @sidelineswagger @shinerbeer #sidelinswaggergear #shinerlightblonde #wreckem #clarendontx

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I wouldn’t expect a wildly good craft brewery to put out a good light beer because that’s just not what craft does. Spoetzl Brewery, however, proved me totally wrong with Shiner’s Light Blonde Ale. The smell isn’t too grassy or sweet, but a nice blend of the two. The taste is where Light Blonde earns its keep on this list: the hint of pale malt and slight taste of wheat pair amplify the sorghum flavor which brings out the inherent sweetness of the beer.

Pass this to me with a lime inside and I’ll happily oblige without complaint. It does lose its carbonation easily and falls flat without a warning, but it tastes way better than the average (and Bud Light, the festival standard). Also, brownie points for the witty name!

2. Yuengling Light Lager

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Bye Florida 👋🏼👋🏼👋🏼 #yuengling #americasoldestbrewery

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Because I went to Penn State before the craft brewery boom began, I was chugging Yuengling Lights (Mom, it was a little more ladylike than chugging, I promise) at tailgates and house parties. It seems that everyone else in Pennsylvania knew it was a step up from Natty Light and Keystone Light, too.

So why is Yuengling Light in the second spot of this list? I kid you not, this tastes nearly identical to Yuengling. Show me a light beer that mimics its full-bodied sister this well and I’ll gladly take you to task (Anheuser-Busch, what happened with Bud Light). The carbonation stands through the whole can and the effervescence brightens the pleasant malt and barley flavor instead of overwhelming it.

Perhaps the best part about Yuengling Light is that it’s around $10 for a 12-pack, making it one of the cheapest on this list so it’s a good thing that it tastes great. While it’s not the best light beer, it’s damn close and one of my favorite beers. There, I said it.

1. Miller Lite

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I like Miller Lite💕 #snowboarder #snowboard #miller #lite #millerlite #beerday #맥주 #맥주파티 #밀러 #밀러라이트 #killington #꽃보더 #스노우보더 #스노우보드

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After waxing poetic about Yuengling Light, you might wonder how Miller Lite could ever top it. There are a few reasons, but the fact that Miller Lite is readily available nationwide helps. I won’t fault America’s oldest brewery for that, though. Here’s how Miller Lite pulled ahead of my old Pennsylvania favorite.

It’s perfectly complex, and while the flavor profile isn’t as strong as IPAs out there, it certainly holds its own. Factor in that it’s a light beer and that statement matters even more. It has a simple and familiar flavor profile, I know I’m drinking a beer, but I’m also not feeling the typical bloat or heaviness that’s associated with beer.

It’s also one of the lightest on this list, but for a pilsner, it’s pretty damn good. The taste and finish is clean and when it comes to other light beers on the market, it completely blows away the competition. Except for Yuengling Light, which remains a close second.

This post was originally published on April 6, 2018.

Watch: Meet These 11 Award-Winning Texas Breweries

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Graphic: Nick Wanserski

The first dirty joke I remember hearing had to do with beer. I was 11 or 12, and the adult son of a family friend was explaining why he didn’t like Coors Light. “It’s like having sex in a canoe,” he said. This was the joke of a college-aged bro who had just discovered craft beer, but he wasn’t wrong. America’s bestselling beers—Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite, in that order—are all brewed to be crisp and refreshing. Having little flavor and less aroma is baked right into the style guidelines. They are, in every sense, fucking close to water.

As a restaurant critic in Portland, arguably the craft beer capital of the world, I should probably hate these mass-produced beers. The craft movement, after all, started 40 years ago in part as a flavor-packed protest to big beer’s increasingly watered-down product. Because of those brewers’ hard work, I can walk from my house to a half dozen beer bars pouring bing cherry-infused sours, hazy New England-style IPAs, or imperial stouts aged in bourbon barrels. Even Portland’s dive bars pour gold-medal-winning IPAs.

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Today, after a prolonged period of post-prohibition consolidation, there are more American breweries than ever before, most focusing on hop-heavy IPAs. Clearly, the multinationals have taken notice, snatching up once-independent breweries from Chicago’s Goose Island to Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel for their craft portfolios, even as their parent companies announce Galactus-sized takeovers. Yet despite craft’s increasingly bigger gulp of the domestic market, Bud Light remains our most popular beer. Its revenue in the United States alone is higher than the gross domestic product of Belize.

I’ve spent enough time floating down Oregon’s lazy waterways to know the value of a river beer. And besides, could tens of millions of Americans be wrong? Surely there’s something about the mass-produced, no-frills domestic beer that makes it worth returning to again and again, despite the proliferation of other options. I decided to find out for myself by buying America’s 10 bestselling domestic beers at my corner gas station, then tasting them blind.

It turned out to be a nearly impossible taste test, an epic Coke/Pepsi/RC Cola challenge of beers that attempt, by design, to blend in with the crowd. The winner surprised me—though it probably shouldn’t have. Below is a ranking of America’s bestselling beers by taste.

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10. Miller High Life

Owned by: Molson Coors
First brewed in: 1903
Domestic sales (2015): $195,500,000 (sales rank: 9)

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The “Champagne Of Beers” is cloudier than its neighbors, with a lingering head of foam, plus a barely there flavor of tart citrus. The oldest brand in the Molson Coors portfolio, High Life has not gotten better with age. Inoffensive when cold, once it lost its fridge chill, it became completely undrinkable.

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9. Busch Light

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 1989
Domestic sales: $318,500,000 (sales rank: 7)

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This is little more than alcoholic seltzer water, but at least it didn’t make me gag.

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8. Keystone Light

Owned by: Molson Coors
First brewed in: 1989
Domestic sales: $171,300,000 (sales rank: 10)

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King of the 30-pack, Keystone was the clearest beer in the tasting, with an odd sweetness and a barely there smell of a recently chlorinated swimming pool.

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Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 1977
Domestic sales: $343,800,000 (sales rank: 6)

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This is like regular beer that’s been passed through a Brita filter 10,000 times.

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Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 2002
Domestic sales: $428,200,000 (sales rank: 5)

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Before A-B InBev embarked on its current craft-brewery spending spree, Michelob was a go-to brand for crafty experimentation, with pumpkin-spiced and barrel-aged ales appearing in an annual holiday sampler. In 2002, at the height of Atkins mania, this Island Of Doctor Microbrewery birthed a diet-friendly beer for a carb-phobic crowd. For better or worse, most of the beers in this tasting have had the whisper of an idea—some nuttiness, perhaps, or a whiff of citrus. But Michelob Ultra is a nonentity, a personality-free beer for the carb- and life-phobic.

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5. Miller Lite

Parent company: Molson Coors
First brewed in: 1975
Domestic sales: $862,600,000 (sales rank: 3)

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America’s first widely distributed light beer owes its current surge in popularity to Anchorman 2. After a marketing tie-in with the Will Ferrell sequel, Miller Lite decided to bring back its 1970s-style logo, which features black gothic type and wheat laurels on a white background. In the new cans, customers rated the same beer higher, and after falling behind Budweiser earlier this decade, the brand has since rejoined the top three in sales. (Reminder: I tasted these beers blind.) Was there a darker color? Yes. A touch of nuttiness? Maybe. The smell of rich mahogany? Sadly no.

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4. Coors Light

Parent company: Molson Coors
First brewed in: 1978
Domestic sales: $1,030,400,000 (sales rank: 2)

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Yes, it’s watery (Rocky Mountain watery!), but no more so than the other light brews that together make up nearly half of all American beer sales. At one point, I thought I tasted a note of unripe raspberry, but it vanished before I could pin it down. Just then, my wife, who had been helping me with the taste test, turned around and gave me a look. “I’m not mad,” she said, “it’s just that you’re burping and making all these weird noises with your mouth.” I guess I’d been slurping the beer around, hoping to catch stray flavors. I would be sleeping on the couch that night.

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3. Budweiser

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 1876
Domestic sales: $718,700,000 (sales rank: 4)

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My father-in-law has a theory about Corona, a beer that would be the fifth-highest-selling on this list if we included imports. All light beers taste better with lime, he believes, but we never think to ask for a wedge with Bud or Coors Light, which amounts to a stroke of marketing genius on the Mexican brewer’s part. Oddly, without knowing which beer this was, I caught a hint of tart citrus here, as if the beer had a tiny amount of lime extract. Maybe this was a hop effect, or maybe A-B InBev is taking a trick or two from Corona (or the in-house upstarts at Bud Light Lime).

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2. Busch

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 1955
Domestic sales: $195,700,000 (sales rank: 8)

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Budweiser’s little-brother brand upstages the king. Super clear, vaguely floral, and it tasted better than Bud as it warmed. This is my new go-to boilermaker beer—a perfect backstop for a shot of whiskey. In other news, I thought the low alcohol content of these beers would keep me from getting drunk. I was wrong.

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1. Bud Light

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev
First brewed in: 1981
Domestic sales: $2,010,200,000 (sales rank: 1)

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Until now, I’ve mostly associated Bud Light with the time some of my lughead Long Island in-laws went out for beer and came back with an 18-pack of the stuff. But after tasting each at various times and temperatures, America’s favorite beer (it’s not close) was also my favorite of the 10. Like the others, it was clear, straw-colored, and heavily carbonated, but I also sensed something vaguely Belgian-y and pleasant—perhaps happening within the yeast—like a supremely watered-down Hoegaarden or Saison Dupont. Assuming that flavor wasn’t just a figment of my imagination, it’s still not something you’re likely to notice as you veg out to RedZone. But if you’re in the mood for something light, or if your closest beer store happens to be a gas station, you could do much worse.

In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBevi introduced Budweiser Select 55. Charlie Neibergall

While sales of specialty, craft, and small-market beers have improved dramatically, many of the traditional, full-calorie beers that were once the staples of most breweries have fallen behind. In the five years ending in 2011, sales of Budweiser, which was once the top-selling beer in the country for years, have fallen by 7 million barrels. Sales of Michelob are down more than 70 percent. Based on data provided by Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine large — or once-large — beer brands with a five-year decline in sales of 30 percent or more.After three years of declining sales, shipments of domestically sold beer are up by more than 1 percent in the United States this year. Sales of light beer and specialty beer, such as Budweiser Light Platinum, Shock Top, and Blue Moon, have been the driving force in the resurgence of U.S. breweries.

24/7 Wall St.: States That Drink the Most Beer

While regular, full-calorie beer was once the mainstream, now light has become the primary beer of choice. Budweiser, once by far the most popular beer, has now fallen to third place in domestic sales, with 17.2 million barrels shipped in 2011, compared to Coors Light’s 17.4 million. The U.S. beer leader is, by a long shot, Bud Light, with 39.15 million barrels sold last year.

Budweiser did not quite make the 30 percent decline in sales cutoff for our list, but many other traditional brews did. Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Best and Miller Genuine Draft have all lost 50 percent of their sales since 2006. Michelob shipped 500,000 barrels domestically in 2006, but sold just 140,000 in 2011.

While light beer has supplanted full-calorie beer in popularity, sales of most leading light brands have been flat over the past several years. In fact, many of the beers on our list with the biggest declines are light beers that either didn’t catch on or faded out of popularity. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS executive editor Eric Shepard explained that it is specialty beers and craft beers — not light beer — that have eaten into sales of traditional full-calorie beer in the past year.

Shepard explained that like most major brand-centered industries, the beer industry has entered a period of aggressively marketing new brands and flavors. “I think that part of the reason that brewers felt we had three down years was primarily the economy… but it was also a lack of innovation, and so now you’re seeing rev up these things,” he said. “The buzzword for this year was innovation.”

To combat the growing popularity of craft brews, major breweries such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev and MillerCoors have aggressively marketed their own specialty beer. Bud Light Platinum, which debuted during the Super Bowl, has been very successful, beating most expectations. Shock Top, also produced by Anheuser-Busch, sold 600,000 barrels last year, more than double the previous year’s sales. Another Belgian white beer, Blue Moon, which is sold by MillerCoors, was the 18th-most popular beer sold last year. Shepard expects the focus on nontraditional brews to continue at least through next year. This will likely further reduce sales of the declining brands on our list.

24/7 Wall St.: The Best and Worst Run States in America

24/7 Wall St. identified the nine beers Americans no longer drink based on INSIGHTS top 50 beer brands with at least 500,000 barrels in sales in either 2006 or 2011 with sales declines of 30 percent or more over the same period. Sales for flavored malt beverages and craft beers were excluded from the analysis.

These are the beers Americans no longer drink.

1. Michelob

· Sales loss (2006-2011): 72.0 percent

· Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev

· Barrels sold (2011): 140,000

American consumers have abandoned Michelob — a lager brewed since 1896 — at a faster rate than any other beer. From 2006 to 2011, sales declined from 500,000 barrels to 140,000, with a 20 percent drop between 2010 and 2011 alone. No other beer on this list sold less than Michelob. The next-lowest selling beer, Amstel Light, still sold 200,000 barrels more than Michelob last year. The brand has not always struggled. According to Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS’ Eric Shepard, “the superpremium category — basically between Budweiser and the imports — Michelob pretty much had that to itself for many years.”

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2. Michelob Light

· Sales loss (2006-2011): 66.3 percent

· Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev

· Barrels sold (2011): 425,000

From 2006 to 2011, shipments of Michelob Light fell by 66.3 percent, more than any other major light beer in the U.S. While sales of Michelob Light declined, sales of Michelob Ultra — introduced in 2002, with just 95 calories per 12 ounces — rose by 10.3 percent from 2006 to 2011. Anheuser-Busch InBev no longer prominently markets the beers on its websites alongside the better-selling Michelob Ultra. Between 2010-2011, sales of Michelob light fell by 19 percent, more than all but two of the top brands we reviewed.

3. Budweiser Select

· Sales loss (2006-2011): 60.8 percent

· Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev

· Barrels sold (2011): 775,000

Budweiser Select, introduced in 2005, claims to offer a “distinctively full flavor,” with just 99 calories per 12-ounces — roughly the same as Michelob Ultra. The brand has not sold well since its introduction, with sales declining by 1.2 million barrels between 2006 and 2011 — more than all but a few top brands. In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev also introduced Budweiser Select 55, which the company describes as “the lightest beer in the world with fewer calories than any other beer option currently available.”

The Best and Worst Beers for Weight Loss

Beer and wine both have a lot of different effects on the body, both positive and negative. On the positive side, a lot of research on red wine (and some on beer and white wine) indicates that one drink a day can help protect against stroke, coronary artery disease, dementia, and other diseases. Indeed, some studies suggest that drinking in moderation can actually help deflate a beer belly and there are even healthy beers out there that are fine to drink even if you’re on a diet. Yes, there are plenty of low calorie beers out there.

See, in a study of 8,000 people, Texas Tech University researchers determined that those who downed a daily drink were 54 percent less likely to have a weight problem than teetotalers. Between one and two drinks a day results in a 41 percent risk reduction. But that’s where the trend ends. Consumption of three or more daily drinks increases your risk of obesity, says the study. So if you can limit yourself to one or two a day, then you can get the health benefits without too many extra calories—if you choose wisely. Here’s a rundown of what, exactly, you’re really getting each time you reach for a cold one, as we ranked the healthiest beers you can sip on.

Below, we listed beers from worst to best, based on calories and carbohydrate content—the two major nutritional factors at play when analyzing alcohol.

First, the worst beers.

1

Bud Light Straw-Ber-Ita

Per 1 can: 198 calories, 23.6 g carbs, 8% ABV

What do get when you mix a strawberry margarita with a Bud Light Lime? A sugar-packed party in a cup that will cost you nearly 200 calories for a tiny 8-ounce serving. If you’re planning to have more than one drink (which, let” be honest, you likely are), don’t make this one of them.

2

Michelob Honey Lager

Per 1 bottle: 178 calories, 19 g carbs, 4.9% ABV

The honey sweetens the beer but sours the carb count. See what else is on tap that could better fit your calorie budget.

3

Guinness Extra Stout

Per 1 bottle: 176 calories, 14 g carbs, 5.6% ABV

This beer is simply full of extra calories. So opt for Guinness Draught instead. You’ll no doubt be pleasantly surprised where it falls on this list. (Hint: Keep scrolling.)

4

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Per 1 can: 175 calories, 16.9 g carbs, 5.6% ABV

If this beer flows down your throat like water, save it for a special occasion when it’s okay to indulge. (Don’t even think about driving.) And of course, if you do drink more than you should, at least make sure you’re working those extra calories off with regular exercise.

5

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Per 1 bottle: 175 calories, 18 g carbs, 5.0% ABV

If you love Sam but are worried about your waistline, you’re better off drinking this brand’s light variety.

6

Blue Moon Belgian White

Per 1 bottle: 164 calories, 13 g carbs, 5.4% ABV

This brew’s calorie-count isn’t outrageous, but it’s not going to help you lose your beer belly.

7

Bass Ale

Per 1 bottle: 156 calories, 12/4 g carbs, 5.1% ABV

This one’s borderline. Drink two and you’re consuming more calories than a jelly-filled donut from Dunkin’ Donuts!

8

Stella Artois

Per 1 bottle: 154 calories, 12 g carbs, 5.2% ABV

While this is a popular beer, the calorie count is rather high, especially since there’s a good chance you’re going to have a few of these.

9

Red Stripe Jamaican Lager

Per 1 bottle: 153 calories, 14 g carbs, 4.7% ABV

Deceiving little guy, isn’t it? Just because it comes in a shorter bottle doesn’t mean it has fewer calories.

RELATED: Learn how to fire up your metabolism and lose weight the smart way.

10

Dos Equis

Per 1 bottle: 131 calories, 11 g carbs, 4.7% ABV

Dos means two. Let that be your reminder of just how much you’re consuming when you’re sipping on one of these.

11

Corona Extra

Per 1 bottle: 148 calories, 14 g carbs, 4.6% ABV

Extra what? Extra flavor? Extra smooth? Or is it extra calories? Don’t be fooled by its “light” taste.

12

Hoegaarden

Per 1 bottle: 148 calories, 10.8 g carbs, 4.9% ABV

A good beer with dinner. But remember: Three good beers with dinner and you’ve downed yourself well, another dinner.

13

Coors

Per 1 can: 147 calories, 11.7 g carbs, 5.0% ABV

Have just one, maybe two. After all, there’s no way around it: Once you start to pound this beer, that’s exactly what you’ll end up with: more pounds.

14

Budweiser

Per 1 bottle: 145 calories, 10.6 g carbs, 5.0% ABV

No doubt about it, this domestic is a classic, but it’s a bit higher in calories than we’d like to see.

15

Modelo Especial

Courtesy of Modelo USA Per 1 bottle: 144 calories, 13.7 g carbs, 4.4% ABV

This pale lager isn’t the worst thing in the cooler, but there are a number of better beers to choose from.

16

Heineken

Per 1 bottle: 142 calories, 11 g carbs, 5.0% ABV

Another very recognizable brand of beer, but still, pretty high in calories. There are much better options!

17

Miller High Life

Per 1 bottle: 141 calories, 13 g carbs, 4.6% ABV

The High Life isn’t too bad for you—so long as you know when to call it quits—which, in this case, should be after one brewski.

18

Yuengling Lager

Courtesy of Yuengling Per 1 bottle: 140 calories, 12 g carbs, 4.5% ABV

This beer is a favorite in Eastern Pennsylvania, where it’s brewed.

And now, the best beers.

19

Bud Light Platinum

Per 1 bottle: 137 calories, 4.4 g carbs, 6.0% ABV

Bud Light Platinum is more potent than the average American brew and has fewer calories, too.

20

Rolling Rock Premium

Per 1 bottle: 130 calories, 9.8 g carbs, 4.5% ABV

Tastes like summer. Stick to this and you won’t grow out of your swimsuit.

21

Natural Ice

Per 1 can: 130 calories, 8.9 g carbs, 5.9% ABV

Although it’s not super low-cal, downing a can or two of this brew won’t totally derail your weight loss efforts.

22

Guinness Draught

Per 1 bottle: 126 calories, 10 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

Perhaps the most surprising beer on this list. The great taste of Guinness but with a calorie-count in the range of a light beer.

23

Sam Adams Light

Per 1 bottle: 119 calories, 10 g carbs, 4.3% ABV

Think of it as a good beer’s thinner brother.

24

Busch

Per 1 can: 114 calories, 6.9 g carbs, 4.3% ABV

If you’re looking for an American-style lager that won’t break the calorie bank, cracking open a can of Busch isn’t a bad bet.

25

Bud Light

Per 1 bottle: 110 calories, 7 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

Ah. Refreshing, isn’t it? Keep it away from the beer bong and you’ll be just fine. And in case you were wondering, both men and women experience “beer goggles.”

26

Coors Light

Per 1 bottle: 102 calories, 5 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

It falls just above the 100-calorie mark, making it competitive with the top light beers. Don’t obsess over the details at this point: Just choose the one you like best.

27

Keystone Light

Per 1 bottle: 101 calories, 4.7 g carbs, 4.1% ABV

Short on cash? Keystone light is one of the cheapest beers out there—and, lucky for you, it’s also one of the lowest-calorie brews on the market.

28

Budweiser Select

Per 1 bottle: 99 calories, 3 g carbs, 4.3% ABV

Select this beer if you’re a Bud drinker but want a brew that’s lighter in calories than the original.

29

Yuengling Lager Light

Per 1 bottle: 99 calories, 8.5 g carbs, 4.3% ABV

This beer goes down smooth, and with 43 percent fewer calories than regular Yuengling Lager.

30

Miller Lite

Per 1 bottle: 96 calories, 3 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

Every bar has Miller Lite on tap for a reason. When in doubt, here’s your order.

31

Amstel Light

Per 1 bottle: 95 calories, 5 g carbs, 3.5% ABV

No frills here. Just a good beer that won’t fill you out.

32

Busch Light

Per 1 bottle: 95 calories, 3.2 g carbs, 4.1% ABV

Light, crisp, refreshing and low-calorie. What more could you ask for?

33

Natural Light

Per 1 can: 95 calories, 3.2 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

Popping open a Natty Light may make you feel like you’re back in college, but don’t let that steer you away. Sipping the low-cal brew in lieu of your heavier go-tos may help you fit into your frat-days jeans again, too.

34

Michelob Ultra

Per 1 bottle: 95 calories, 2.6 g carbs, 4.2% ABV

You’ve seen the commercials, so you probably always wondered, “is Michelob Ultra good?” In terms of nutrition, the answer is, “yes!” Michelob Ultra doesn’t claim our top spot because the brand has associated itself with running, cycling and living an active healthy lifestyle. It’s our #1 best beer to drink on a diet because it does all that and is lower in carbs than its closest competitor—and tastes great, too. It’s the #1 Best Light Beer in America.

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Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

The 8 Best Low-Carb Beers You Can Actually Drink on the Keto Diet

If you’re following the keto diet, or just eating fewer carbohydrates, beer (aka liquid carbs) was probably one of the first things you cut out. But there may be days when you just have to have a cold one, and in those instances, low-carb beer is the way to go.

Lucky for you, there’s a plethora of options out there. Hoppy craft beers, and deep, dark stouts are typically brimming with carbs (and sometimes calories, too), so focus on the “light” beers. They’re always lower in carbs than their regular counterparts.

That said, some have more carbs than others. And they vary in calories too. “To be labeled as ‘light’ the product needs to have one-third fewer calories compared to the full-calorie version,” explains Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, principal and CEO of the Think Healthy Group and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University.

To help you choose a brew, we’ve rounded up eight low-carb beers that clock in at less than 100 calories per serving. Plus, they’re easy to find on store shelves. Enjoy!

Amstel Light Lager

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95 calories, 5g carbs, 3.5% ABV

At 5 grams carbohydrate per serving, Amstel Light is about middle of the road for this category. It’s also light on the palate and quite refreshing.

Budweiser Select 55

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55 calories, 1.8g carbs, 2.4% ABV

With an aroma of toasted malt and subtle hops, this beer is the lowest of the low when it comes to calories and carbs. And also the only Budweiser brew that’s under our 100-calorie cap.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Keto Diet Grocery List

Corona Premier

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90 calories, 2.6g carbs, 4.0% ABV

A little pricier than other light beers, this recently-launched line from the famous Mexican company actually clocks in at fewer calories and carbs than Corona Light (which is 99 calories and 5 grams carbohydrate).

Heineken Light

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99 calories, 7g carbs, 3.3% ABV

The lighter version of the famous Dutch-brewed Heineken still delivers on taste. But f you don’t care about the booze, Heineken’s brand new non-alcoholic beer—Heineken 0.0—will give you that same classic taste for only 69 calories and 4.8 grams carbs.

Labatt Premier

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92 calories, 2.4g carbs, 4.0% ABV

This ultra-light lager has 20 fewer calories and 5.5 fewer grams of carbohydrate than Labatt Blue Light.

RELATED: The Alcohol You Can Actually Drink on the Keto Diet

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95 calories, 2.6g carbs, 4.2% ABV

You won’t automatically get fit drinking this brew, but thanks to its few calories and even fewer carbs, it won’t derail your fitness goals. If you really want to cut back, pick up their 7-ounce bottle: It’s 55 calories and 1.5g carbs.

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96 calories, 3.2g carbs, 4.2% ABV

The “original light beer” (brewed first in 1975), this light pilsner ranks higher than most other light beers on Beeradvocate. Want even fewer calories and carbs? Try Miller Geniune Draft 64, which has just 64 calories per serving and 2.4g carbs.

Yuengling Light Lager

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99 calories, 8.5g carbs, 3.8% ABV

If you’re new to light beer, this brew might be the one to start with, as it seems to sweep the category: Its Beeradvocate rating is the highest of the light beers, and tasters dole out plenty of praise for it.

RELATED: What Is ‘Dirty Keto’ and Should You Try It?

Don’t see a low-carb beer you like?

Unfortunately, there’s no good indicator—such as bitterness from hops—that can help you ID other low-carb beers. “Obviously if the product tastes sweet, it likely has more sugar and carbs,” says Wallace. “But in general, quantities can vary between even similar products.”

But it will get easier soon: “Beer industry leaders Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance—which produce more than 81% of the beer sold in the U.S.—have agreed to implement labeling of total calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and ABV by 2020 to help consumers choose healthier options,” says Wallace. Cheers to that.

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