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The sun is blazing, ice cream is dripping from every surface, and the kiddie pool has a tiny leak that somehow isn’t dampening the vibe.
But the ice-cold, refreshing beer, snug in its koozie, has kicked off doubts in the back of your mind. What about my diet? I might undo all the good work from the antioxidant-rich summer fruit salad.
Pop the cap back on those worries. Some beers are way worse for your health than others. Making the right choice (and knowing how to make it) means you can drink non-ridiculous amounts without impacting your health too much.
(However, if you start drinking enough to stage a low budget sequel to “The Hangover,” it might be time to rethink your approach. That amount of anything is bad for you.)
We’ve rounded up the beers most likely to bring a health punch to the party. Don your ale snob sweater vest, crank that moderation up to 9,000, and beer we go!
Chill out. So you’re holding a beer? It’s summer. It might be time to cut yourself a bit of slack. Moderate beer consumption might even help protect against heart disease.
It could also reduce your risk of high blood pressure, as long as you stick to certain limits (four or fewer drinks per day for women and one per day for men).
Many of beer’s benefits stem from natural antioxidants called phenols, which happily float around in beer, wine, and many foods. What’s in your beer is also in brightly colored fruits like apples, oranges, and cranberries. (The letters in “phenol” make up most of the word “phenomenal” for a reason.)
Ales typically have one of the highest phenol concentrations.
While phenols provide some health benefits, slamming a keg won’t offer much more than a killer hangover. Stick with moderate alcohol consumption to get the health benefits without feeling down the next day. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests one drink per day for women and up to two for men.
Of course, phenol content isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a brew. To help you make healthier choices while out on the town (or cooped up in your yard enjoying a socially distanced BBQ), we’ve listed our nine favorite healthier beers.
We’ve included some old-school favorites and some interesting blends. And don’t worry — we’ve got our gluten-free pals covered too!
These boss beers will help you build up the benefits of the buzzy barley bubbles without the bad bits.
Any nutritional information refers to a 12-ounce serving. Keep in mind that drinking 10 of these in a row is only going to add more calories and carbs to the party (and probably bring you crashing out of it).
Looking for a full-bodied lager that’s light on calories? Your search is over.
Yuengling managed to combine the health benefits of a lager with a reduced carb count. At only 99 calories per serving, this is a solid choice for a healthier classic brew.
Alcohol content: 3.2%
Carbs: 8.5 grams (g)
Not everyone is into the taste of beer (however tasty it can be, it’s still essentially fermented wheat juice).
But you might still want to reap beer’s potential heart health benefits or simply distract yourself from the BBQ now that your uncle’s third guitar rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama” has commenced.
(Great tune, just not really in your uncle’s vocal range, bless him.)
Enter Abita. They’ve infused this brew with real raspberries to deliver a fruity aroma and sweet taste. The berries pack an antioxidant punch and give the beer its namesake purplish hue (known, in some circles, as purple.)
Alcohol content: 4.2%
Carbs: 11 g
With a hint of fresh ginger, this unique ale combines a completely off-kilter blend of herbs and spices for a full flavor.
Low calories mean that this fascinating brew has a relatively low health impact. Light-bodied loveliness from Left Hand Brewing.
This serves well in your left or right hand when you’re due for some refreshment.
Alcohol content: 4.5%
Carbs: 5 g
This dark Irish blend is a classic beverage with a creamy, decadent flavor and a sneaky health-boosting twist.
Packed with antioxidant phenols, this super-dark staple brings the taste and feel of a stout with fewer carbohydrates and calories.
It’s about as smooth as you can get. Drink too much, though, and you’ll need a little more than the luck of the Irish to carry you home — moderation, again, is key to getting health benefits from beer.
Alcohol content: 4%
Carbs: 10 g
Creating a light beer that still stands up to the Sam Adams taste was no easy task, but the brewers stuck to the basics and invented a lighter beer that held on to its flavor.
If you’re looking to stay health-conscious without skimping on taste, Sam Adams has your back.
Alcohol content: 4%
Carbs: 8 g
This brew packs in the hops without making a dent in your health, since it’s relatively light on calories. It can pair with pretty much anything and is one of the lowest-calorie beers on this list.
We’ll also give extra credit to any company willing to work misspellings into its own name. (At Greatist, we know a thing or two about this.)
Type: Pilsner (lager)
Alcohol content: 4.0%
Carbs: 4.2 g
This full-bodied old-school brew is a far cry from bland, mass-produced lagers. It’s healthier too. With a low calorie count and plenty of flavor, it’s perfect for any summer gathering or meal.
Plus, it comes in adorable “stubby” bottles with sweet retro labels. Good gosh golly gee willikers, how can you say no to that while you’re at the drive-in movie theater?
Alcohol content: 5.0%
Carbs: 5 g
Few things refresh the palate like a citrusy, light Mexican beer. And though few Mexican beers are likely to be as healthy as the lime you squeeze in, this is a great low calorie option to pop open alongside that chili burger.
However, people who avoid gluten best steer clear — Pacifico Clara still contains it.
Alcohol content: 4.4%
Carbs: 13 g
Combining a heap of hops with slight hints of orange blossom is no mean feat. Sierra Nevada pulls it off with this award-winning brew.
Mix in a unique hint of grapefruit in the aroma and you’ve got a winner for your summer hoedown and all year ’round.
Type: Pale ale
Alcohol content: 5.6%
Carbs: 16.9 g
To access beer’s health benefits and reduce its more harmful tendencies, moderation should be your permanent drinking buddy.
You may have a healthy relationship with beer — in which case, cheers! But if you find it difficult to stop drinking once you start or to get through a day without consuming a drink, consider talking to a friend or a professional about alcohol use disorder.
The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration has a helpline through which they can connect you with resources.