Saturday, January 5, 2013

All Light Beers Are Not Created Equal: Is Your Beer Punking You?

First, some back story. Years ago I was told that Coors light was only 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) and I believed it. That became part of the basis for putting it on the bottom of my beer pecking order, right above Keystone Light & Busch. But then, I found out I was wrong. It was 4.2%, just like Bud Light, Miller Lite, Micehlob Light (4.3%) & even Guinness. I still don't drink it, but that's just because its terrible. But that is why the baseline for light beer is set at 4.2%. Unless of course you are in Colorado, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma & Minnesota where they sell something ridiculous called "low point beer" in Supermarkets and convenient stores. That carries an ABV of 3.2% and that's why when I visit my brother in Colorado, we don't buy our beer in Supermarkets.

Recently, I was at the local chain bar, PJ Whelihans (which comes up Wheel Iguana w/ predictive typing) and I decided to make my beer of choice for the night Heineken Light. It was on special for $3, plus I was watching my weight and it tastes pretty damn good. But I noticed at the end of the night that I was feeling very little effects of my several beers, or at least much less effect than my friends. So when I got home I googled alcohol content in Heineken Light and was shocked to see that it was 3.5%. You might think, "so what? what's the difference?" Well, I'll tell you. At 4.2%, most light beers are at a 16% reduction in ABV from your standard 5.0% beer (Budweiser). That's a pretty significant drop, but that's what you have to do to remove calories and that drop off often allows us to drink more and for longer. But at 3.5%, you are at a drop off of 30% and are much closer to drinking "low-point beer" than you are a regular light beer.

Why am I telling you this? Because quite frankly, people should know. For the same reason it's important to know that if you are drinking a Stella Artois or a Sierra Nevada, you are drinking beers that are 5.2% & 5.6% respectively. People have developed, or tried to develop, drinking thresholds because it makes the effects of alcohol consumption more predictable. But it would take 10 Heineken lights to equal 8 Bud lights or 6 Sierra Nevada's, so maybe $3 isn't such a good deal after all.

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