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.
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.
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.
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.
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.