7 Low-Calorie Craft Beers That Are Delicious & Satisfying

by Lew Bryson
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Losing weight and getting fitter isn’t easy — at the end of the day, it’s about adjusting your habits so you can establish a pattern that’s healthier for you. But life is also a celebration, not a chore. That means there’s room in those habits for some fun: grilled salmon, an occasional piece of cake … and beer.

That’s where I can help you. I wrote a piece last year about how I fit my job — tasting and writing about craft beer and whiskey — into my own personal weight-loss program, aided by MyFitnessPal. I’m still doing that, and I’m always looking for rare beers that have the flavor I crave while not blowing my daily logging goals.


READ MORE > WEIGHT LOSS 101 — WHAT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING INSIDE YOU?


If you want to fit those small celebrations into your life with the kind of flavor that makes the sacrifice worthwhile, the following craft beers are winners. They’re all 120 calories or less per 12-ounce serving, and offer a wide variety of flavors.

Keep in mind that while there are health benefits to moderate drinking, the key word is “moderate.” It’s still alcohol, which means you need to approach it responsibly. So try a few of these, in moderation.

(All calorie counts are based on a 12-ounce serving, the standard bottle or can. Draft beer pours at bars vary widely; consume and record with caution.)

RINER HALF APA
Cervesa Guineu; Barcelona
84 calories, 2.5% ABV
With a calorie count that rivals the lightest of light beers, this Spanish pale ale surprises with deliciously bright and zesty hop character. It can be hard to find, but rewards with easy drinking pleasure.

BIKINI BEER
Evil Twin Brewing; Brooklyn, New York
88 calories, 2.7% ABV
The name’s no lie: With that calorie count, this is bikini-season beer. Hopped right to the edge of balance with the light body, the lemony citrus character is briskly refreshing.

BROOKLYN 1/2 ALE
Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, New York
102 calories, 3.4% ABV
The tongue-in-cheek name clues you in that this is a lighter version of the spicy, refreshing season type that’s growing in popularity. The flavors center on spices, malt and fruit. It’s well-balanced and never heavy.

O’REILLY’S STOUT
Sly Fox Brewing Co.; Pottstown, Pennsylvania
108 calories, 3.6% ABV
Regionally available around New York and Philadelphia, O’Reilly’s manages to be as tasty as the king of stouts — Guinness — with less alcohol and calories. It’s a popular local (and fresh) alternative.     

EVEN KEEL SESSION IPA
Ballast Point Brewing Co.; San Diego
114 calories, 3.8% ABV
Widely available, tasty and nicely balanced between hops and a bit of malt sweetness, this is an easy choice. It comes in convenient cans, safe for poolside afternoons or hiking.

OARSMAN ALE
Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, Michigan
120 calories, 4.0% ABV
Similar to a Berliner Weisse, Oarsman is less assertively tart, but still wildly refreshing. It’s also widely available (year-round in 23 states) and comes in these stylish cans. 

BABA BLACK LAGER
Uinta Brewing; Salt Lake City
120 calories, 4.0% ABV
Utah’s restrictive alcohol laws have made the state’s brewers masters of low-alcohol, low-calorie beers. Baba (like the nursery rhyme sheep) is black in color, but mellow, roasty and great with simple grilled meats and vegetables.

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  • Michelle Anderson

    Thanks for this list! I love IPAs but not their calorie counts. With summer bike season coming up I thought I was going to be stuck drinking domestic ‘light’ beers for their lower calorie counts. Hopefully I can find something from this list locally. If not I will grab another session IPA (I hadn’t thought to look at those for lower calories). Thanks again!

    • Leslie Carson

      I love IPA’s and cut calories somewhere else. I go for the taste and the alcohol content. I live in Flagstaff, AZ, a huge craft beer town.

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  • Glenn Nelson

    I always enjoy a cold glass of beer and while craft beers are great I don’t always have the pleasure of finding the listed beers. So I end up drinking a domestic beer. I found that Miller Light has the least calories at 96 while Bud Light is at 110 calories. These calories are for a 12 oz bottle. So beware if you order draft where most bars offer a small 16 oz glass or larger 22 oz glass of draft which increases your calorie count. I have found that most Happy Hour menu items provide less calories then a standard menu because at a lower price you also receive smaller portions. For me that is perfect. I can order my Miller Light and a small salad or light fish plate.

  • Melissa

    This article seems to have broken off so I can only see the first beer on the list. Thought you might like to know since this is great info what with summer BBQs right around the corner.
    ; >