Innovation Beers: 8 Great Tasting, Low ABV Brews That Keep Your Mind Clear

6/23/14Follow @bbuderi
BaBa Lager

BaBa Lager

My favorite. Full body I associate with a dark beer but goes down super light.
Details: ABV 4.0, Uinta Brewing Co., Salt Lake City, UT. My rating: 92. BeerAdvocate: 84, 86.
Watering Hole: Great bar in Maine (gotta track it down).

Trumer Pils

Trumer Pils

A close No. 2 to Baba, great when you want a light colored summer beer.
Details: ABV 4.8, Trumer Brauerei, Berkeley, CA. My rating: 92. BeerAdvocate: 86, 90.
Watering hole: Rustic Tavern, Lafayette, CA.

Notch Session Pils

Notch Session Pils

Very smooth drinking.
Details: ABV 4.0, Notch Brewing Co., MA. My rating: 80. BeerAdvocate: 80, 78.
Watering hole: My place.

Intergalactic Acid Berliner Weiss

Intergalactic Acid Berliner Weiss

Love it or hate it, but the taste explodes in your mouth. And look at the ABV--it's like water.
Details: ABV 3.0, Tap Brewing Co., Haverhill, MA. My rating: 80. BeerAdvocate: 88 (no Bros.).
Watering Hole: JJ's garage bday party, Cambridge, MA.

Jabby Brau American Pale Lager

Jabby Brau American Pale Lager

Awesome beer, goes down super easy with lots of flavor.
Details: ABV 4.5, Jack's Abbey Brewing, Framingham, MA. My rating: 87. BeerAdvocate: 88, 95 (world class).
Watering hole: Mead Hall, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA.

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

The best of the light wheats to me.
Details: ABV 4.4, Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO. My rating: 81. BeerAdvocate: 80, 88.
Watering hole: Back Bar, Somerville, MA.

Lagunitas DayTime Ale

Lagunitas DayTime Ale

Lemony taste, a bit tart but in a really, really refreshing way, especially on a hot day.
Details: ABV 4.65, Lagunitas Brewing Co, Petaluma, CA. My rating: 87. BeerAdvocate: 90, 90.
Watering hole: My place; tip by Mike Partington.

Spotted Cow

Spotted Cow

Great "inno" beer only available in Wisconsin.
Details: ABV 4.8, New Glarus Brewing Co., WI. My rating: 88. BeerAdvocate: 84 (no Bros).
Watering hole: Caffrey's Pub, Milwaukee.

Summer is (gleefully for me) upon us. As the heat rises, innovators need fuel of all types—but perhaps most especially the beer type. At least that’s the way I see it. But not all beers fit the mold, so to speak, for what I have in mind: to be innovation beers, they need to be really full-bodied, yet light—so they don’t slow you down, and so you can drink more of ‘em on a nice hot day, or even keep working.

So I roamed far and wide over the past few months to look for, and personally sample of course, beers that those in the innovation communities around the Xconomy network could really enjoy when summer hits full on. Here are my criteria:

Taste great

Less than 5.0 percent ABV (Alcohol by Volume)

That’s it. I put a premium on smaller, craft breweries, but didn’t rule out larger ones that are more mass-market. So what follows in this slide show are my 8 top picks. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather a list of beers I have personally tried and approved—from my home base in Cambridge, MA, to Milwaukee to the San Francisco Bay Area. For each brew, I have given you my rating, which truth be told varies a bit depending on my mood, the weather, etc. That is followed by the ratings from BeerAdvocate (Note: there are usually two of these per beer. The first one is the BeerAdvocate Overall Score. The second is the rating given by BeerAdvocate founders and brothers Todd and Jason Alström.)

Honorable mentions — These beers are good and well worth it, just didn’t quite make my cut:

Sum’r Summer Ale –Uinta Brewing Company, Salt Lake City, UT

Sam Adams Boston Lager — Boston Beer Co., Jamaica Plain, MA

UFO Hefeweizen – Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall, Boston, MA

Ruled Out — Here are a trio that fit the bill and got good ratings from Beer Advocate that I just don’t like that much:

Anchor California Lager – Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA

Radeberger Pilsner – Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei, Germany

Yuengling Traditional Lager — Yuengling Brewery, Pottsville, PA

I look forward to your comments—and to suggestions of others I should try. Cheers—and Happy Summer!

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926.

  • Beth

    Suggestion from a Milwaukee gal who loves the “Full bodied yet light” beer. MKE Outboard – http://mkebrewing.com/beer/outboard/. Their other beers are also excellent..
    Cheers – Beth

    • bbuderi

      Beth…I will definitely sample this but if the specs I found on BA are correct, it is 5.0 ABV and does not quite qualify for this list

  • Kelsey Hanson

    Try Two Beers Brewing Trailhead ISA for a great summer beer that is full of hoppy flavor but without the high ABV of many IPAs.

    • bbuderi

      Thanks Kelsey, look forward to trying it!

  • Suggestions

    Freya’s Gold by Odin in Seattle is an amazing Kölsch that drops in at 4.5%. Amazing for summer.