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Like Michelob Ultra? Try These Easy Low-Calorie Upgrades

Just because you have a fitness regimen that keeps you from drinking heavy beers doesn’t mean you have to settle for a flavorless one.


With only 2.6 grams of carbs, 96 calories and 4.2 percent ABV, there is no beer more associated with the “post-workout beer” than Michelob Ultra. It’s taken America by storm since it was introduced by Anheuser-Busch in 2002 and is now America’s third most popular beer (behind Bud Light and Coors Light). It can be found just about everywhere and, taste-wise, it’s just a middle-of-the-road light lager. But while some might argue Mich Ultra’s appeal is its lack of flavor and body, I’d point out that you don’t have to settle for a bland beer for the sake of health concerns.

These days, craft breweries have taken notice of Michelob Ultra’s success and determined they can do better beers for calorie counters. Here are three light, crushable beers to try.

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Dogfish Head Brewery Slightly Mighty

Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4%
Calories: 95
Carbs: 3.6 grams
Availability: Year-round, nationwide
The Malt Reducer: One of the biggest issues with packing flavor into a low-calorie and low-carb beer is that the typical flavor-producing ingredients tend to increase the calories and carbs of the beer. So Sam Caligione of Dogfish Head Brewery took a different approach for the base of Slightly Mighty: monk fruit. Monk fruit creates body without adding calories. This reduced malt bill removes unnecessary unfermentable sugars, cutting down on carbs and calories further. The monk fruit base also amplifies the tropical notes of the beer while providing a good foundation for the hop character to come through. The result is a golden, light IPA that beer lovers can appreciate and light beer drinkers can get on board with.

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Sufferfest Beer Company Repeat Kölsch

Style: Kölsch
ABV: 3.5%
Calories: 95
Carbs: 5 grams
Availability: Year-round, regional
For the Truly Athletic: The genius of the craft beer world is that a brewery committed to athletic endeavors and better-for-you beers can thrive now. Such is the case with Sufferfest Beer Company, which was acquired by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company last year. Sufferfest’s Kölsch is the brewery’s lowest calorie beer and a good pivot from something like Michelob Ultra — it’s often said that a kölsch is the ale version of a lager. Repeat takes the crisp, clean, light golden kölsch and adds bee pollen for benefits from its many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The bee pollen also imparts a richer, more complex mouthfeel with a floral, herbacous taste and aroma. If you want a little something extra, and want a beer that’s made for (and by) athletes then Repeat should be your regular.

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Deschutes Brewery Wowza

Style: New England-style IPA
ABV: 4%
Calories: 100
Carbs: 4 grams
Availability: Year-round, nationwide
The Hazy Sipper: Bigger production breweries have started to figure out how to create shelf-stable New England-style IPAs (also referred to as hazy IPAs). This is a fairly big development because the style is meant to be drank fresh since the hop character deteriorates fairly quick (two to four weeks after packaging usually). One of the latest additions is Wowza from Deschutes Brewery, which is a low-calorie and low-carb option. It’s a little thinner in the mouthfeel than a typical NEIPA but it holds the tropical hop notes well throughout. Chicory root has also been added to bring balance without adding to the calorie count. Overall, it’s like a hazy light that has just enough flavor for beer nerds and not an overpowering profile that Michelob Ultra lovers would be averse to.

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