Somewhere in the back of our minds, if we’re willing to admit it, there’s an unconscious reaction to lighter beer varieties. Maybe even a little voice that whispers “no flavor” when we scan offerings of low-ABV beers. And in most cases, that voice is right. Luckily, however, we can course-correct those thoughts when we learn—and taste—something new and different.
So if you’re still stuck thinking low-ABV beers (less than 5 percent ABV) don’t quite measure up, we invite you to try the following six-pack, with selections that are not only fairly low in alcohol, but that have also somehow managed to receive high marks in the taste department.
Low-ABV Beers That Boast High Flavor
1. Equilibrium Tomorrow Next Day Pale Ale: 4.0% ABV
Equilibrium Brewery‘s pale ale pours a beautiful hazy yellow. Once you’re done admiring it, raise it to your nose and take in the citrusy, pineapple-like scents. As for the taste, it’s as delicious as it smells. We kept eyeing the can, expecting to find it marked as 6 or 7 percent ABV with more robust flavor than you would typically associate with such a low-ABV beer.
2. Appalachian Mountain Brewery Low & Hazy IPA: 4.1%
We’ve had a lot of delicious hazy IPAs as of late, but we’ve yet to have one that comes in at such a low ABV like the one from Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Somehow, though, the folks in Boone, North Carolina, have created a beer that’s not only got a ton of flavor (juicy, hoppy, and tropical) but isn’t so strong that you’re reeling after just one.
3. Smithwick’s & Sons Red Ale: 4.5%
Caramel is the first taste that registers upon sipping Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale. It pairs nicely with any kind of red meat, but in particular, a good burger. Roast chicken, too. Actually, come to think of it, this beer goes with pretty much anything, including … another one. And unlike some of the really high-gravity beers out there, this one is sessionable enough to do just that.
4. Oxbow Brewing Co. Paloma Daydream: 4.5%
Craft beer enthusiasts have been singing the praises of pretty much anything and everything coming out of Oxbow Brewing Co., and they’ll be doing it again (well, at least we will) with this low-ABV beer, Paloma Daydream. This farmhouse ale has a little bit of everything in it: grapefruit, sea salt, lime, and agave. But it’s put together so nicely that we’re pretty sure you won’t even miss the tequila that makes up a traditional Paloma.
5. 12 Bones Brewing Stay Golden Light Lager: 4.4%
Many of you may have heard the name 12 Bones before and that’s because it makes some of the best damn barbecue in the entire country. Heck, even President Obama’s eaten there. The thing is, it’s got a brewery, too, that’s quickly making a name for itself as a place to get a tasty beer to go along with your platter. The Stay Golden Light Lager makes our list of summer cooler mainstays as it’s crisp, refreshing, and has just enough lemon and lime to make you feel like you’re at the beach.
6. Casita Brewing Company That’ll Do Pug: 4.2%
We weren’t quite sure what to expect based on Casita Brewing Company‘s description as a Six Grain Table Beer. But one delicious sip later and we’re rotating the can to see just what’s in this thing…turns out the magic is in the alchemy of the flaked rye, flaked rice, raw wheat, golden naked oats, malted spelt, 6-row barley, lemon juice, coriander and New Zealand hops. It’s a mouthful to say, for sure, but it’s incredibly flavorful—unique without seeming like it’s trying too hard—and clocks in at just 4.2 percent. (Note: Only currently eligible for sale and delivery within Wilson County, North Carolina.)