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Belt’s Beer Garden: Drink Lo-Cal

Two low-calorie beers - Dogfish Head’s Slightly Mighty & Deschutes’ Wowza!

As you all know by now, I am an avid supporter of independent breweries often use the hashtag #drinklocal and encourage everyone to drink from their local brewers rather than supporting Big Beer brands.

Today though, it’s not “drink local” but rather “drink lo-cal” as I have a pair of low-calorie IPAs from two of the nation’s leading independent breweries – Dogfish Head and Deschutes.

While low-calorie brews have been around for a while - Michelob Ultra (owned by AB InBev) was released in 2002, Miller released Miller 64 in 2008 and Budweiser countered with Select 55 in 2009 - most of them skimped on flavor, had a lower alcohol content (some as low as 2.8%), and, unfortunately, were owned by large corporations.

Lately, as many drinkers look for healthier/low-cal alternatives, craft breweries have been looking to create beers with a decreased calorie count while not compromising on taste. And, while in days past, almost every low-cal brew was a light lager today hop-heads can finally as well.

Your average IPA has between 12-25 carbs and about 220 calories per serving, with some clocking in WAAAY over that number (Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum has 314 calories and almost 25 carbs!).

But not the beers I have for you today!! Today I have Dogfish’s Slightly Mighty and Deschutes’ Wowza!

Slightly Mighty was originally released in 2018 and the IPA clocks in at just 95 calories, 3.6g carbs, and has a 4% ABV per 12-ounces. A dozen 12-ounce cans will set you back $18.

Deschutes released their Wowza!, a hazy pale ale, just a few months ago and each can has a mere 100 calories, 4g carbs, and comes with a 4% ABV. And, at $9 per six-pack, the price is certainly right.

Up first…Slightly Mighty.

While it doesn’t say what specific hops are used, the beer is able to cut back on the malt profile (where most of the carbs come from) by using monk fruit. Monk fruit, which is native to China, is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar but has no calories!

Slightly Mighty poured a bright golden straw color with just over a finger of eggshell white head topping the beer. The foam slowly fades down into a small accumulation that rings around the edge of the glass.

On the nose, there is an inviting aroma that contains notes of floral and citrusy hops with some sweet undertones. Tangerine and lemon are most prevalent but the smell is mostly a muddled blend of the monk fruit and hop flavors.

My first taste had a fizzle of carbonation that flashed across my tongue up front. From there, the hops hit with a low-level bitterness that lingers underneath and throughout the entirety of the sip.

Rising out of the initial bitter bite was a blend of hoppy flavors. There was lemon and grapefruit initially, with a nice sweeter citrus flavor leading off the sip.

From there, some black pepper joined with grapefruit rind to give the brew a spiced quality to it. Finally, midway through, a grassy flavor hit and brought a sticky resinous feeling to my tongue.

As that resinous coating continued to linger, it seemed like the beer began siphoning all the moister out of my mouth, leaving me in need of a swig of water.

If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this brew was just a normal IPA, as it tasted almost exactly like your standard hoppy brew.

Slightly Mighty was a great alternative if you’re looking to save a few carbs and calories but don’t want to drink something that essentially tastes like water. The monk fruit does well to replace the missing malts but, based on the aroma, I thought the beer would be a little sweeter and not finish so dry.

Next up, I cracked open a can of Wowza!

This hazy pale ale was brewed with Callista, Cashmere, Citra, and Simcoe hops. And, while Deschutes still used a few varieties of malt, they brought in Chicory Root from Belgium to balance the body of the beer and cut into the calorie count.

Wowza! poured a cloudy, muted straw color with about a finger of thin, white head building up. The bubbles quickly vanish into a razor thin ring around the edge of the glass.

Holy cow, did this beer have an amazingly juicy aroma. Massive tropical fruit flavors – like mango, tangerine, and passion fruit – led the way with just a hint of flaked wheat and oat hiding underneath.

The beer began with a very light and thin mouthfeel before a quick flash of carbonation sizzled across my tongue and then hummed underneath for the duration of the sip.

But, like with all good hazy brews, a plethora of juicy fruit flavors began to wash over my taste buds. All the primary suspects – the mango, tangerine, and passion fruit from the aroma – were all there but they weren’t alone. Joining those three were a touch of lemon and grapefruit.

Towards the backend of the brew, there was also a light blackberry tartness that spiked for a brief moment before all the flavors dropped off. Wowza! then ended with a dry, resinous feeling that dawdles behind for a few minutes.

Even though I could smell what little grain base there was up front, none of them showed up in the flavor. Not even the Chicory Root. Instead, Wowza! was able to keep all the hoppy goodness of a juicy pale ale while cutting my caloric intake in half.

This was a super crushable brew and really tasted like a regular hazy IPA. If you’re looking to stay healthy but still want to drink good beer…this is the go-to.

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