7 Low Alcohol Beers that Prove Stronger is Not Always Better

Beer styles like goses, radlers and session IPAs mean you can enjoy quality and flavor without getting knocked out. Try these brews all under 5% abv.

In the past, beers with lower abvs also tended to be lower in quality and flavor, but that reality is no more. There are a variety of styles to try—like goses, radlers and session IPAs—and plenty of brewers who are happy to produce more lighter beers. Whether it’s to help with a New Year’s resolution, prevent you from getting Saturday-tipsy on a Wednesday night, or just as a matter of taste, these seven low-alcohol (under 5% abv) beers prove stronger is not always better.

Lindemans Pêche Lambic; 2.5% abv, $5/12 oz, 91 points. This is a classic and traditional fruit lambic, spontaneously fermented with peaches added during secondary fermentation. The beer is fresh, fruity and remarkably easy to drink, with ripe peach tones throughout the nose and mouth that are lifted by bright acidity and hints of sour yeast. It’s certainly strongly fruited, but doesn’t taste artificial or overly cloying, finishing long, slightly funky and refreshingly mouthwatering.

Tassgrass Brewing Co. Raspberry Jam Berliner Weiss; 4.3% abv, $13/12 oz 4 pack, 91 points. A new, seasonal addition to Tallgrass’s Explorer Series lineup, this raspberry-flavored Berliner Weisse is perfect for warm-weather enjoyment. Scents of tart raspberries dominate the bouquet, with supporting notes of citrus peel, fresh wheat and crisp salinity. The light-bodied palate is bright and refreshing, with lively effervescence and tangy flavors of sour raspberry, gooseberry and lime leaf. It’s well balanced and very easy to drink, and with a low alcohol level, it’s a sessionable selection that could easily become your new go-to for summer. 

Samuel Adams Noble Pils; 4.9% abv, $11/12 oz 6 pack, 90 points. For the brewery’s twist on this classic Czech style, Bohemian spring barley is used, as are all five Noble hop varieties. The resulting brew is remarkably balanced and refreshing yet certainly hop centric, with pronounced notes of orange slice, grapefruit peel and fresh pine needle that support the clean grain and cracker malt core. Medium carbonation keeps the mouthfeel fresh and vibrant, ending lightly dry and with just a kiss of hop astringency. This is a no-brainer for entertaining, as it’s easy-pleasing but also will pair with a wide variety of foods.

New Year, New Beer

21st Amendment Down to Earth Session IPA; 4.4%, $11/12 oz 6 pack, 90 points. At 42 IBUs, this new year-round selection from 21st Amendment delivers a flavorful yet approachable punch. The hop profile is fresh—thanks to the late hop additions and dry-hopping with Mosaic and Centennial—with lively notes of orange blossom, clementine, stone fruit and pineapple core that flood the palate. The mouthfeel is vibrant and briskly carbonated, with a subtle hint of bitter citrus peel that lingers through the otherwise juicy finish. A sessionable selection indeed, sure to be one of your new favorite poolside sippers.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Highway 128 Session Series Blood Orange Gose; 4.2%, $11/12 oz 6 pack, 89 points. A tart, juicy and immensely refreshing selection, this offers subtle scents of orange, lemon and sea spray. The palate offers more intensity than the nose, with sour, somewhat scathingly acidic tones of sour citrus and wild yeast, ending bitter, dry and salty. The carbonation is high and the mouthfeel light and prickly. Being canned, this is a perfect choice for beach days or other warm-weather outings, and would pair well with barbecued chicken or cedar-plank salmon.

Victory Cage Radler; 3% abv, $10/12 oz 6 pack, 88 points. A lager with lemon, this is a definite thirst quencher for sweltering summer days. It pours a slightly hazy lemonade-like color, with a small head that falls fast. The nose is fresh and lively, with upfont aromas of lemon soda and peel. There’s a clean grain backbone to the light mouthfeel, with just a touch of minerality that graces the refreshing close. Overall, an easy–drinking and very sessionable brew.

Harpoon Sweet Spot; 4.8% abv; $10/12 oz 6 pack, 87 points. New to the Harpoon line-up, this year-round golden ale is smooth and easy-drinking. Delicate aromas of fresh grass, sweet bread dough, cereal grain and a touch of lemon peel grace the soft and subtle bouquet. The malt takes center stage on the light-bodied palate, with very faint accents of spicy grains, dried grass and citrus peel. High carbonation and a clean, short finish make this a perfect selection to enjoy at the ballpark on those remaining warm-weather days.

Published on January 16, 2017
Topics: Beer Trends
About the Author
Lauren Buzzeo
Managing Editor, Print, and Tasting Director

Reviews wines from South Africa and Languedoc-Roussillon. Reviews beers.

Buzzeo joined Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2006 as a tasting coordinator, and eventually became Tasting Director and Senior Editor, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the tasting and review program. Most recently, Buzzeo assumed the role of Managing Editor. Since coming to Wine Enthusiast, she has made it one of her personal missions to promote the acceptance of cross-drinking, encouraging everyone to embrace finely crafted libations across all beverage categories. Buzzeo is also an avid homebrewer and a member of the AHA (American Homebrewers Association). Email: lbuzzeo@wineenthusiast.net.

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