As Coloradans, we pride ourselves on drinking the newest, boldest, most outside-the-box beers that our state’s craft brewers can dream up: imperial IPAs, whiskey barrel-aged stouts, Belgian-style quads and Scottish strong ales with enough alcohol to knock you off your feet.
Problem is, you can usually only have one of these beers before you start to feel tipsy and full. Sure, they have their time and place, but they’re just not the best fit for every situation, like if you have to work the next day or you’re doing a brewery tour on your bike.
Though big, boozy beers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, the pendulum is starting to swing the other way: Colorado craft brewers are jumping on board the better-for-you beer train.
Already, many are making their own version of hard seltzer, a lighter option with around 100 calories and just a handful of carbs per can.
RELATED: Colorado-made hard seltzers competing with trendy White Claw, Truly
But for the diehard beer-drinkers out there (or people who are just getting tired of drinking seltzers night after night), they’re also experimenting with low-carb, low-calorie beers to rival well-known national beers like Michelob Ultra, Corona Premier and Budweiser Select.
“The real proliferation of it was probably the influx of the seltzer craze, which is ubiquitous now and it’s by far the fastest-growing segment in beer,” said Jake Goodman, a spokesman for WeldWerks. “Part of the reason is that folks just want something that is light and refreshing and doesn’t weigh you down, doesn’t make you feel gross.”
In true Colorado fashion, however, brewers are not making boring “diet” beers. Many are experimenting with low-calorie or low-carb IPAs, which maintain that bold, hoppy flavor while having healthier nutrition facts.
WeldWerks debuted its low-calorie, low-carb Fit Bits hazy IPA in the fall of 2019. The goal? Produce an IPA that just so happens to have a lower calorie and carb count, not the other way around.
“Part of it was a challenge to ourselves to see if we could pull off a beer that, irrespective of the nutritional facts, you just want to pick one up and drink it,” Goodman said. “Colorado is just such a massively active state. There was a need in the market and it was a challenge for us, to throw our hat in the ring and pull something off that people love.”
Curious about what’s out there? Add these low-calorie, low-carb beers made by Colorado craft brewers to your shopping list.
WeldWerks’ Fit Bits
The facts: 130 calories, 4.2% ABV, 5g carbs
Fit Bits is a clever name for this low-calorie, low-carb hazy session IPA. Of course, it plays off the popular Fitbit fitness tracker, but it’s also a play-on-words of the brewery’s super-popular New England-style IPA called Juicy Bits. It’s made with Citra, El Dorado and Sabro hops, which give it notes of peach, mango and papaya.
Oskar Blues’ One-Y 100 Calorie Hazy IPA
The facts: 100 calories, 4% ABV, 5g carbs
Oskar Blues is well-known for its big, bold hoppy beers — Dale’s Pale Ale, the Can-O-Bliss series, the Gubna imperial IPA, just to name a few. But, every now and then, it’s nice to have a hoppy beer that’s not so heavy. One-Y is Oskar Blues’ response to the growing demand from beer-drinkers for something a little lighter and more refreshing, without sacrificing on hops.
One-Y is made with tons of flavorful and aromatic hops, including El Dorado, Comet, Citra, Mosaic and French Aramis.
“We wanted to craft an all-day sipping and post-ride recovery beer that wouldn’t fill you up and wouldn’t sacrifice the hop flavors we’re obsessed with,” says brewery spokesman Aaron Baker.
Odell’s Good Behavior Crushable IPA
The facts: 110 calories, 4% ABV, 7g carbs
There’s a reason this beer has the word “crushable” in the name: You can crush a few without feeling too guilty about it. This slightly hazy beer, made with HBC 586, Citra and Amarillo hops, tastes tropical and peachy.
New Belgium’s The Purist Clean Lager
The facts: 95 calories, 3.8% ABV, 3g carbs
This is a “clean” beer on multiple levels. Not only is The Purist low-calorie and low-carb, but it’s also been certified as organic by the USDA. It’s made with first-use mountain water, organic barley and organic hops grown on a single Oregon farm. New Belgium’s brewers said The Purist was one of the most challenging beers they’ve ever made, but it was all worth it in the end.
“Craft has become increasingly hoppy, heavy and boozy,” says Clay Hoffman, New Belgium’s innovation manager. “The Purist is meant as a better-for-you option in craft beer that’s a fit for everything from backyard BBQs to post-workout rewards. It’s a beer that you can drink that’s guilt-free.”
Avery Brewing’s Pacer IPA
The facts: 100 calories, 4.5% ABV, 3.5g carbs
Adam Avery admits that the Pacer IPA was a selfish move on his part. He wanted a beer that he could drink after riding his bike, rock climbing or surfing — and Pacer was the answer. It’s a full-flavored hazy IPA made with Mosaic, Azacca, Amarillo and Simcoe hops.
Ska Brewing’s Aggrolite
The facts: 99 calories, 4.2% ABV, 4g carbs
Made with Cascade, Mandarina, Bavaria and El Dorado hops, Aggrolite has citrus and pine notes. The name was inspired by one of the brewery’s favorite bands, The Aggrolites, who have a soul and funk-inspired dirty reggae sound. The brewery says it pairs well with “bike rides, boating and bikinis.” Noted!
The facts: 0 calories, 0% ABV, 0 carbs
OK, busted. This one isn’t actually a beer at all. But it satisfies many of the same cravings as an IPA. Made in Boulder, HopTea is carbonated iced tea (with tea blends ranging from chamomile to black tea) that’s been dry-hopped. It’s like a cross between La Croix sparkling water, an IPA (minus the alcohol) and a glass of iced tea. It’s a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink that you can actually drink at your desk.
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