Somewhere along the way, watching pro sports became synonymous with drinking light beers. Stadium concession stands are full of light beer options. Cases of light beer are the go-to option for tailgating parties around the country. The largest advertisers on the Super Bowl, the biggest advertising platform on television, are consistently light beers. Even though in recent years A-B InBev reports slipping slaes, Bud Light is still the official beer sponsor of the NFL, a title it shelled out millions for in 2012. Prior to Bud Light the game's official sponsor was Coors Light.
There’s an easy but circular logic that explains this light-leaning phenomenon: light beers are marketed to game watchers, who buy and get used to them, so beer companies advertise to them, so drinkers buy them... and so on.
There is also a more reasoned explanation for the preference, which also allows us to suggest alternatives to the relatively flavorless swill that makes up most of those brews. Sports fans want to be able to keep sipping throughout the main event without getting too sloshed to appreciate the game.
Light beers intrinsically have lower alcohol content than regular beers – for the most part, that’s how they achieve a lower calorie count. Bud Light has 4.2% alcohol by volume, while regular Bud rings in at 5% ABV. Coors Light? 4.15%, versus Coors’ 4.9%. This might not seem like a huge separation, compared to a hearty IPA that sports a 7% ABV, but over the course of a six- (or twelve-) pack, it can make a difference.
To that end, we suggest there are plenty of craft brews now on the market that make perfect stand-ins for the “lights.” Lagers and pale ales are going to be your best bets. For example, Victory Prima Pils is a crisp and flavorful at 5.3% ABV. Founders All Day IPA comes in just slightly lower, at 4.7% This goal of replacing boring gameday brews is exactly what led Wes Keegan to found Tailgate Brewing, all of whose offerings are session-ready.
So when you’re getting ready for gametime, instead of reaching for the same old light brew, check our list below and try one of these options instead. (Have suggestions for our list? Please send them our way.)
Victory Prima Pils (5.3% ABV; Downingtown, PA)
Brooklyn Lager (5.2% ABV; Brooklyn, NY)
Founders All Day IPA (4.7% ABV; Grand Rapids, MI)
Sly Fox Pikeland Pils (4.9% ABV; Pottstown, PA)
Stone Levitation (4.4% ABV; Escondido, CA)
Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale (5.5% ABV; Frederick, MD)
Avery Joe's Premium American Pilsner (4.7% ABV; Boulder, CO)
21st Amendment Bitter American (4.4% ABV; San Francisco, CA)
Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils (5.3% ABV; Longmont, CO)
Deschutes River Ale (4% ABV; Bend, OR)
Photo: Flickr user fincher69
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