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"Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world #5427376 05/12/20 01:26 PM
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Reddy45 Offline OP
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I have noticed that in some countries, light beer is named because it has significantly less alcohol which means you can drink more without getting a strong buzz. It can range from 2.0-3.5% ABV and makes for a more pleasant drinking experience in the middle of the day. I was in Jamaica recently and their Red Stripe Light was great for drinking all day while on the beach without feeling too knackered.

Most light beer I have tried in the US still sits around 4.0% or higher and usually it just tastes more watery than the normal beer. The only way to get a similar "light beer" experience in the US is to order a "NA" beer like ODouls, but those are basically 0.5% or less, so there really isn't a buzz at all.

(For example, Miller Genuine Draft is 4.7% ABV while Miller Lite is 4.2% ABV. This is a spread of 0.5% ABV.)

Has light beer in the US ever been brewed with less ABV or do the brewers really think that half percentage less is significant enough to justify the light label?

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427384 05/12/20 01:33 PM
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The rest of the world doesn't have a problem with their waistline, thus light beer here is low in calories. The rest of the world doesn't care about calories. Here we do care, but not enough to interfere with our drinking.

Just a swag.

Most of my impression about the rest of the world comes from books, mostly novels: I get the impression that elsewhere it was (is?) common to have a beer with lunch. But over here, during Prohibition, we lost that tendency and went dry, at least during the working day. Cultural issue I guess. Just not much of a demand for the lighter stuff (yeah i know that wine coolers exist, but I'm not sure what their sales are like).


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427391 05/12/20 01:37 PM
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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Trav] #5427398 05/12/20 01:41 PM
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I was giving BiL crap about light beer … he says I don’t like a heavy beer when I’m going to mow the grass …
(Still working on a reply) …

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: supton] #5427399 05/12/20 01:43 PM
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Reddy45 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by supton
The rest of the world doesn't have a problem with their waistline, thus light beer here is low in calories. The rest of the world doesn't care about calories. Here we do care, but not enough to interfere with our drinking.

Just a swag.

Most of my impression about the rest of the world comes from books, mostly novels: I get the impression that elsewhere it was (is?) common to have a beer with lunch. But over here, during Prohibition, we lost that tendency and went dry, at least during the working day. Cultural issue I guess. Just not much of a demand for the lighter stuff (yeah i know that wine coolers exist, but I'm not sure what their sales are like).


Is the blunt answer that Americans simply want to get sloshed when they drink? Sort of like an on/off switch.. you're either plastered or not.

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427400 05/12/20 01:44 PM
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Back when I could drink, I favored beer like La Fin Du Monde, which turned out to be like 9% alcohol. It wasn't because of the alcohol, I just like things with a lot of flavor (I eat a lot of spicy food). In general, this also mean I tend not to like beer that are from tropical places like Red Stripe or various Mexican beer (except for Negro Modelo). A friend explain to me that this is a product of the environment. You can't just sip heavy German beer all day at the beach.

Most beer in the US probably has Germanic roots, so may be this result in higher alcohol. I do have the same complain about the taste. Back when I live out east, I usually drank Yuengling, which has more flavor, but now that I don't live on the Eastern Seaboard people tell me that they don't serve Chinese beers when I ask for it (Shiner Bock is similar but also hard to find).

Ironically when I was inn Ireland touring the Guinness brewery, they told me that Guinness in US actually have higher alcohol than in Ireland. Weird.

Paul

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427405 05/12/20 01:50 PM
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I typically drink Żywiec. I think it's around 5-6% ABV, never really checked.

When I bring it to the counter, no one knows how to pronounce it (except me).


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427417 05/12/20 01:56 PM
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Alcohol is not the only source of calories in a beer, you also have to take in account residual sweetness left by the malt (equals calories!), so a lower ABV beer can have more calories than one that is higher depending on how it is brewed.

The reason the American beers you are picking taste watery is because they are designed and brewed like that. Additions of adjuncts such as corn or rice to 'crisp' and reduce the malt flavor of the beer, minimal hopping, lager yeast, etc...

There are ENDLESS options of 4% (or under) beers loaded with flavor, depending on your preferences. Crisp, roasty, sour, sweet, malty, hoppy, whatever...

But to answer your question, light beer is not created equal to one another. One may use more rice/corn than another, different specialty malts (crystal or roast malt, for example), varying types and usage of hops, etc... This will give you a spread from anything from the most water, boring thing you ever tasted to something that is way too extreme for your preferences, and everything in between. These differences in recipe and technique when brewing will alter the total caloric value of the beer. This is why Sample "A" beer at 5% may vary in calorie or carbs from Sample "B" at 5%. And both "A" and "B" may have more calories than sample "C" at a higher ABV of say, 6%. So many variables.

Personally, step away from the American Adjunct Lagers (Bud, Miller, Coors) and find some better, high quality beer. Again, there are many options at lower ABV with more flavor if you look for it outside of the huge macro brands.

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427419 05/12/20 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Reddy45
I have noticed that in some countries, light beer is named because it has significantly less alcohol which means you can drink more without getting a strong buzz. It can range from 2.0-3.5% ABV and makes for a more pleasant drinking experience in the middle of the day. I was in Jamaica recently and their Red Stripe Light was great for drinking all day while on the beach without feeling too knackered.

Most light beer I have tried in the US still sits around 4.0% or higher and usually it just tastes more watery than the normal beer. The only way to get a similar "light beer" experience in the US is to order a "NA" beer like ODouls, but those are basically 0.5% or less, so there really isn't a buzz at all.

(For example, Miller Genuine Draft is 4.7% ABV while Miller Lite is 4.2% ABV. This is a spread of 0.5% ABV.)

Has light beer in the US ever been brewed with less ABV or do the brewers really think that half percentage less is significant enough to justify the light label?





It's about calories in the US. Don't alcohol levels impact the amount of calories?


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427424 05/12/20 02:04 PM
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The Jamaican definition of light beer seems to be the same as 3.2 beer of my youth. I grew up in South Dakota and since they changed the legal age on me when I was eighteen, so I had three different "You can now get drunk legally" birthdays. South Dakota v. Dole (Elizabeth, not Bob) showed they were ready to go to the mat, risking transportation funding because letting kids drink was a cherished tradition. Relatives living there reported that the main result in raising the age was that kids were getting drunk in cars rather than in 3.2 bars and that delinquency went up.


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: BMWTurboDzl] #5427426 05/12/20 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by BMWTurboDzl

It's about calories in the US. Don't alcohol levels impact the amount of calories?


It's a primary driver, but it's not the only factor. See my previous post.

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427430 05/12/20 02:14 PM
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It stems from Prohibition and 3.2 beer (% alcohol by weight) becoming legal because of the popular opinion of the time that at 3.2 (which works out to 4.0% by volume) you couldn't get drunk. Kind of persists to today...why make it less than 4.0 (by volume) if you can't get drunk on it anyway (which we now know isn't true).


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427450 05/12/20 02:43 PM
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Next time just ask for some Colt .45 and be done with it.


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Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: lewdwig] #5427452 05/12/20 02:45 PM
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Reddy45 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by lewdwig
It stems from Prohibition and 3.2 beer (% alcohol by weight) becoming legal because of the popular opinion of the time that at 3.2 (which works out to 4.0% by volume) you couldn't get drunk. Kind of persists to today...why make it less than 4.0 (by volume) if you can't get drunk on it anyway (which we now know isn't true).


Aha! This makes a lot of sense! So for brewers here, the "bottom limit" is basically 4.0% ABV due to prohibition era practices, and the "light" designation then is only meant to convey less calories.

Re: "Light" Beer in the US vs "Light Beer" in the rest of the world [Re: Reddy45] #5427470 05/12/20 03:19 PM
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Yup, as others pointed out, in other countries, "light beer" is primarily about low alcohol content. In the US, "light beer" is more about reduced calories.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_beer


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