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 this year A-B InBev is spending 60 seconds of ad time on Black Crown, it's new craft-esque brand, Bud Light is still the official beer sponsor of the NFL, a title it paid $1.2 million for in 2012. Prior to Bud Light the official psonor 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 Headwaters Pale Ale is a crisp and flavorful at 5.1% ABV. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale comes in just slightly higher, at 5.6% 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? Leave them in the comments.)
Bell's Lager of the Lakes
DuClaw Blonde Ale
Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale
Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale
Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Tailgate Blacktop Blonde
Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
21st Amendment Bitter American
Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema
Avery White Rascal
Heavy Seas Pale Ale
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