Category Archives: Session Beers

Beer, Calories and Your Fat Ass

Fat Man with Beer

During the past year or so, I’ve made a concerted effort to eat better, exercise more, drink less beer and basically get my shit together. I’ve never really been a health-conscious person, so all of these things were a challenge at first. Hell, they still are. But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and when I set my mind to something, I do it.

I set my mind to losing a bunch of weight, and so far I’ve dropped more than 60 pounds. My success can largely be attributed to a drastic reduction in the amount of beer I consume and a shift in the types of beer I drink. Like it or not, beer is not healthy, and frankly, drinking lots of beer over time will make you a fat fuck. Trust me, I know.

But I love beer. A lot. And there was no way I was cutting beer out completely. That meant I had to come up with some strategy for drinking beer that would not counteract all of my other efforts to get in shape.

The obvious answer: Drink only light beer. But therein lay a problem. Light beer, in general, sucks. It’s flavorless and uninteresting.

All of this got me thinking about the amount of calories in the beer I drink. After some cursory research, it became very clear that the amount of calories in beer is directly related to the alcohol content or alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV, the more calories. That 12-ounce Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, with an ABV of somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent, has many, many more calories than that Anchor Brewing California Lager, which has an ABV of 4.9 percent.

This may seem obvious, but I didn’t really think of it that way. So the calorie-conscious beer drinker wants to limit the amount of high-ABV brews he consumes or at least balance them out with some low-calorie beers. And, thankfully, low calorie doesn’t always mean “light beer,” or at least not the way the average beer drinker thinks of light beer. (Think: Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, etc.)

Allagash House Beer

“Session beers,” or beers with an ABV of less than 5 percent, are a good place to start. Session beer is quite popular today, and lots of great breweries are experimenting with the concept.  Though they’re generally less flavorful than “bigger” beers, I’ve found some session options that I really enjoy. The one that comes to mind is Allagash Brewing Co.’s House Beer, which unfortunately is only sold at Allagash’s brewery in Portland, ME. (I travel to Portland fairly often, and I always pick up a case of House Beer when I do.) Notch Brewing Co. and Full Sail Brewing Co. also make some quality session brews.

I still drink my fair share of big double IPAs and imperial stouts, but I’m much more conscious of the ABV of the beers I consume these days. And I’m always on the lookout for great, low-ABV session beers.

UBN

Image via HowToLoseBellyFatSoon.com

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Lagunitas DayTime IPA is a ‘Light, Session’ IPA (Review)

Lagunitas DayTime Fractional IPA

When I think of Lagunitas Brewing Co., I think of big, hoppy, flavorful brews. So I was surprised and intrigued to see a new “light” or “session” IPA from Lagunitas at my local liquor store yesterday. I grabbed it immediately. Obviously.

The idea of a light IPA is an odd one. IPAs by definition are big brews with higher-than-average ABVs. And because the amount of alcohol in a beer directly influences its calorie content, IPAs generally aren’t considered low-calorie or light beers—quite the opposite really. I don’t think DayTime IPA is really supposed to be a low calorie brew; it’s meant to be a low ABV IPA that you can drink with lunch and not get too buzzed. And it’s meant to be a “session” beer that you drink one after another, which isn’t usually the case with big IPAs—unless of course you want become extremely inebriated.

IPAs are more about hops and bitterness than they are ABV, though, so I was anxious to see what Lagunitas had come up with for its first light IPA. (Lagunitas DayTime is one of the first ever light IPAs, as far as I know.)

DayTime IPA has an ABV of 4.65, OG 1.042 and 54.20 IBU. It has 140 calories per 12 ounces, according to Ratebeer.com, compared to 180 calories in Lagunitas’s standard IPA and 110 calories in a Bud Light.

I poured the brew into a tradition pint glass with some gusto, but its head didn’t foam up as much as I would have liked or as much as I expected it to. In fact the brew is less carbonated than most IPAs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just caught my eye.

Lagunitas DayTime IPA has a nice, clean hoppy aroma. And when I swished the first sip around my mouth a bit before swallowing, I was pleasantly surprised with how potent the hop flavor was. It’s floral and fresh, crisp and clean, with a malty finish and clear faded-gold color. The brew tastes great, but it lacks something in body, like most light beers; the bitter taste doesn’t linger and after a minute or two, it’s gone.

Overall, I like this light, session IPA, but it is a bit off-putting. Maybe I’m just not used to light IPAs, but something is lacking with DayTime IPA. If I was counting calories and still wanted a hoppy beer, I might go with Lagunitas DayTime again. But when it comes to IPA, I don’t cut corners, and DayTime tastes to me like a compromised IPA.

The concept of light IPAs has me wondering if we’ll start to see light- or session-versions of other popular styles, such as stouts and porters, in the future…and whether or not that’s a good thing.

Lagunitas DayTime “Fractional” IPA gets a 6/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. It is on store shelves now, and I paid $10.99 for a six pack. Visit Lagunitas’s website for additional information.

UBN

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