The holidays can take a real toll on us. And we’re not just talking about the stressors and anxiety that come from spending time (even via Zoom) with uncles, aunts, cousins, and our immediate families. We’re also referencing all the eating and drinking that December is known for.
One too many scoops of grandma’s famous lasagna or that extra pint of barrel-aged stout can make a person feel the need for a seasonal detox.
But we’re not the types to swear off alcohol until February 1st. We like our moderation in moderation. Instead, we’ll spend the weeks (and maybe months) after the holidays taking it a little easier in the alcohol department. To help in that endeavor, we went to the pros — asking a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best low alcohol beers to drink this January.
Bell’s Oarsman Ale
Brandon “Habi” Habenstein, bartender at The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Bardstown, Kentucky
It’s hard to find a session beer that’s not an IPA. Bell’s Brewery makes a beer called Oarsman Ale. It was kind of like a berlinerweiss, a classic German-style that’s low abv and a little tart. It has this delightful, ghostly body, making it the ultimate palate cleanser.
This beer is absolutely delicious with food.
Cass Fresh Beer
Cari Hah, formerly bar manager at Café Alcove in Loa Angeles
My go-to low alcohol beer is Cass Fresh Beer. It is a Korean lager that is crisp and refreshing. Perfect to wash down Korean barbecue.
Dogfish Head Slightly Might
Demetrëa Dewald, lead bartender at Bar Mateo at Zinc Café in Los Angeles
Slightly Mighty IPA by Dogfish Head is a solid low-ABV beer coming in at 4% ABV and only 95 calories, that’s fewer calories than a white claw and a heck of a lot more flavor and pizzazz. Delicately hoppy on the nose and light and fruitful on the palate, with hints of pineapple and mango.
For low-ABV and low-calorie beer, I’ve found Slightly Mighty to be a great choice – it’s light but still carries a wallop of flavors, giving you the joy of a good beer without the guilt.
Speciation Artisan Ales Michelada
Sarah Kemp, beertender at Living The Dream Brewing in Littleton, Colorado
Michelada from Speciation Artisan Ales and Untitled Art is one of my favorite crushable beers. Lime, Tabasco, and salt are perfectly balanced to create this sour with a flavorful punch and an ABV of 5%.
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Colima Cayaco is a fantastic, light cerveza coming in around 3.9% that goes great with warm weather (if you can find some!) and agave (like tequila!).
New Glarus Spotted Cow
Alex Tack, bartender at Rex 1516 in Philadelphia
My favorite sessionable beer I’ve ever had is New Glarus’ Spotted Cow Farmhouse Ale. It has a fairly intricate flavor profile for being such a drinkable beer. It has the floral, grassy notes of a saison, the malt profile of a hefeweizen, and a nice creamy texture. Saisons and hefeweizens are my two favorite styles, so that feels like a no-brainer.
I sometimes wish I lived in Wisconsin solely to have regular access to this beer.
WellBeing Heavenly Body
Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
Heavenly Body from WellBeing brewing is a great 0% brew made for those who want a solid beer, but none of the ABV. Made in the style of American wheat and kissed by both Cascade and German traditional hops. It’s crisp, citrusy, and has a great, balanced finish.
54-40 Kascadia Kolsch
Justin Moses, wine director at Sand Valley in Nekoosa, Wisconsin
Kascadia Kolsch from 54-40 Brewing Co. out of Washington state is a refrigerator staple. Crisp, clean, and always fresh. Floral hops and slight maltiness lets you know that you’ve got a quality brew in your hand. And, at 4.8% ABV, you can easily have a couple after work or on the golf course.
Bell’s Light-Hearted Ale
Gavin Humes, bartender at Scratch|Bar & Kitchen in Encino, California
Bell’s Light-Hearted Ale is probably my go-to for a crushable low ABV beer. With pine tree and some subtle citrus from the hops, but not an overwhelming hoppy characteristic, it’s balanced and easy to drink. You can definitely down quite a few before your day starts to go sideways.
Founders All Day IPA
Zachary Sjodin, bartender at Coastal County Brewing Company in Pensacola, Florida
My low-ABV beer is always Founders All Day IPA. It’s only 4.7% and has a great, straightforward hoppy IPA taste.