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Lawnmower beer: It’s more than just a calorie-saver

Everything to know about lawnmower beer, including what it is, how it differs from regular beer and the top 10 light beers to try.

Everything to know about lawnmower beer, including what it is, how it differs from regular beer and the top 10 light beers to try.

It’s lighter, it’s brighter and it’s hungry to save you calories. Hurl your best insults at it — lawnmower beer, beer-flavored water — it is impervious to your sass.

Yes, friends, today we’re talking about light beer.

Light beer, affectionately known as lawnmower beer, is exactly what it promises to be: beer. Beer that is light on the calories/alcohol/carbs, but if you know your way around alcoholic beverages, it’s heavy on the goodness. It’s true, light beer has borne its share of jokes thanks to the wide offering of, shall we say, less-than-superior options on the market. But we’re here to prove once and for all that lawnmower beer deserves respect.

So let’s dive in.

What is a light beer?

The simplest way to explain what a light beer is to note that it’s still beer, and it’s made in just about the same way as normal beer.

The resulting lighter body profile results from the beer being lower in calories and, typically, in alcohol content. Light beer is usually a counterpoint to another beer in a brewing company. If a brewery already has a certain Pilsner on the market, for instance, they might offer a light version of it that won’t fill you up as fast or violate the blood oath you took with your diet.

The idea of lawnmower beer is that it feels and tastes fantastic after a hot session mowing the lawn. It doesn’t punish you with calories (the typical light beer has below 100 calories) or carbs, and it’s less likely to make you tipsy than regular beer (though this varies by person and is by no means a suggestion of any kind and be responsible!).

In other words, if you’ve got an imperial stout in your lawnmower’s cupholder, ask yourself if you’re really living your best life as you’re drinking hot syrup after your third lap. It’s probably time to switch to a lawnmower beer.

What are some top light beers?

Seems like a good place for our list of top lighter beers - whatever you were planning.

How is light beer made?

Brewers can make lawnmower beer in several different ways. One example is decoction mashing. This technique involves suppressing enzymes through mashing, then using a higher temperature to kill malt enzymes. This makes the beer less caloric by reducing the amount of fermentable sugars in the brew. Because there are fewer sugars to ferment, the alcohol content is also reduced.

Is that more difficult than making regular beer? Not really. But brewers definitely have to know what they’re doing.

What are some craft light beers?

Light beers are the best-selling type of American beer. Like, by a long shot. Seven out of the top 10 most popular beers are light. When you’ve got something this widely loved, it’s probably a good idea to become at least an armchair expert on it. That said, you might be looking for a bit more flavor, and are willing to allow for a few extra calories to get it (your abs look great by the way).

Here are some popular types of lighter craft beer styles that are crushable on a hot day without making you feel like you sacrificed a ton of flavor - or ate an entire loaf of bread:

Kölsch

The official beverage of Cologne, Germany, Kölsch beer is crisp and refreshing. It was among the country’s first to deviate from the dark beer norms. This is the style Kölsch drinkers love: a lightweight drink with a clean flavor to enjoy with friends.

Admittedly, true Kölsch is a rather fancy lawnmower beer. German Hallertau hops are used along with special Kölsch yeast to create a hybrid beer — one that uses both lager and ale yeast for a delicate flavor. A true German-style Kölsch is brewed among one of 12 brewery facilities around Cologne. In fact, breweries outside this area are not allowed to call their beer Kölsch, though many American breweries skirt this by calling their beers “Kölsch-style” or just putting the word in the name of the beer.  

In fact, the king of American lawnmower beers could very well be Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower. This beer is a German-style Kölsch brewed in Texas (which has its own German history). It’s got a citrus hop character and a delicate flavor and is at home in a koozie on a souped-up riding mower.

Lager

The world of lagers and light lagers is a worldly world indeed. These brews are stored at lager temperatures (around freezing) after fermentation to produce their distinct flavor.

But let’s start right here at home with some remarkable American light lagers. You can find fancy lawnmower beer in lagers like the American-brewed Vienna-style V Twin by Motorworks (a slightly heavier light beer; 4.7% ABV) or even the Samuel Adams Boston Lager (a bit more full-bodied beer that is a rock star in its own right; 4.9% ABV).

There are lots of overseas choices here too. One is the Czech-style The One They Call Zoe, originally brewed in Greece with a citrus hop character and an ABV of 5.2%.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Pilsner, a style of beer so light, crisp and drinkable that we wish we could drink it all summer. We defy you to sip one on a hot summer day and not enjoy it. Go ahead, you can order it from your local liquor store and we’ll deliver it to you. Could we make trying Pilsners any easier? We submit that we could not.

Are hard seltzers a good light beer alternative?

Hard seltzer has grown in popularity recently. A slightly fruity, crisp jolt of carbonated goodness, this type of drink has added multiple additions to the lawnmower hall of fame.

Looking for some other suggestions? Here’s the top selling hard seltzers on Drizly:

Find light beers aplenty on Drizly

If there’s a light beer you’ve tried, heard of or dreamed up, chances are you can find it on Drizly. Simply make your selections from our online store and we’ll have it to you in 60 minutes or less.