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favorite low abv beers?

I've been having a hard time finding beers below 5% abv that I think are great beers.
I've been educated on these boards that part of the reason for the higher abvs is that if you add more hops and other things in the beer, you have to compensate by adding more malt to balance it and the abv goes up accordingly.

But what beers below 5% abv do people enjoy?

One I've found is North Coast's Scrimshaw Pilsener, at 4.4%

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  1. Guiness at approx. 4.2% is the first to come to mind.

    Not certain how correct these are (got of a beer list at Max's):

    Boddingtons Pub Ale 4.0 %
    Newcastle Brown 4.5 % England
    Cooper's Dark Ale 4.0 %
    Foster's 4.0 %
    Fuller London Porter 4.8 %
    Grolsch Summer Blond 4.0 %
    Leipziger Gose 4.5 %
    Lindemans Pesche 4.8 %
    McEwan's India Pale Ale 4.0 %
    Oxford Raspberry Wheat 4.8 %
    Red Stripe Lager Beer 4.0 %
    Sam Adams Boston Lager 4.8 %
    Yuengling 4.3 %
    Blue Moon 4.5 %

    1. Under 5% is "low" now ? * <g>

      My favorites are probably Pikeland Pils and Jever Pilsener both hoppy pilsners and come in at 4.9 abv. One of my favorite "low" alcohol beers is probably one of the most expensive beers based on "alcohol per dollar", Berliner Kindl Weisse. (Did I read recently it was discontinued?) $12 a sixpack for 2.5% beer.

      I would love to have a low alcohol UK mild or sweet stout make it over here (or a micro brew and bottle a beer of similar style) but the milds we get tend to be on the high end of the scale (Gale's, Sarah Hughes) and the contract brewed Mackeson's is 5%, compared to the UK's 3% version).

      * I was looking through Jackson's first edition of his Pocket Guide to Beer the other day and he noted that the highest alcohol beer in the US at the time (early 80's) was Blitz Weinhard's Olde English 800 at 7.5 abv. (Altho', it was tied with Ballantine India Pale Ale).

      2 Replies
      1. re: JessKidden

        "Under 5% is "low" now ? * <g>"
        I know - it's funny isn't it?
        But I thought under 4% would take just about every beer brewed with any kind of craftmindedness off the market.

        1. re: JessKidden

          "Under 5% is "low" now ?"

          heh, that's the first thing i thought -- 5% can knock me for a loop if i'm not *very* careful ;)

        2. This is to me really just style dependant. I'm not aware of any pilseners for example which are higher in alcohol (save the unfortunate Imperial Pilsener). Traditional stouts, porters, milds, bitters, etc, are all around or below 5%. A couple favorites include Stiegl Pils and Bluebird Bitter.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chinon00

            Have you tried Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner ? - it was bottled last year - this year's only sees daylight at beer fests and on tap at a few select bars in boston. Its only unfortunate if you haven't had the pleasure of drinking this beer.

            1. re: LStaff

              I've tried Dogfish Head Imperial Pils and all that I could really say was "why?". Did I think that it tasted bad? No, but it made me recall a similar discussion on Pinot Noir a few years ago. Many US wine drinkers where discovering Pinot and enjoying it but wanted "more" from it. More extraction, weight, etc. My response was always, "but folks that's not what Pinot Noir is". It's supposed to whisper to you and be velvety and silky on the tongue. And I must say the same thing about Imperial Pils. Some things are just best left as they are. Doubling or Tripling ales works IMO but Pils? It reminds me of the Borg on Star Trek where every beer style must be assimilated.

          2. Stone Levitation is a great low ABV beer. It's 4.4% and very tasty.

            1. I'd say in general probably the great micro-wheat beers. Wheats in general are going to be lower ABV than stouts, barleywines, rich IPA's, etc....

              Among the great wheets, there are alot of good ones....

              Paulaner HWeisse
              Julius Echter
              Goose Island

              THose are 4 great wheats right off the bat. They might not be quite 5.0% but they are a great trade-off between flavor, quality, and alcohol percentage.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chicago Mike

                The Paulaner hefe is around 5.6%. I had to look, but it may be higher than Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout (at 5% according to Ratebeer). I tend to think of either of those as a single-beer-makes-me-happy kind of experience, rather than a session beer.

                Haven't had Goose Island's Honkers Ale, but that probably qualifies.

                And just about any witbier, since the style is low ABV.

              2. Ridgeway Bitter - 4.0% abv.

                Moorhouse's Black Cat Mild - 3.4% abv

                Adnams Suffolk Strong Bitter - 4.5% abv

                Bluebird Bitter - 4.2% abv

                are all amazingly flavored lower alcohol beers and available in the Boston area.

                I think that viperlush is wrong about some of the numbers he lists, I think he is using abw, not abv. For example, Boddington' Pub ale is reported to be 4.7% abv, Fuller's London Porter is 5.4% abv, Coopers Dark Ale is 4.5% abv, Blue Moon is 5.4%, etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Stiv

                  I'm not certain if it is abw or abv that they use (the menu just states "% alcohol"). I thought the numbers looked a little off since they had Guiness at 3.9%.

                  1. re: viperlush

                    3.9% for guiness sounds about right. It's not as strong as most people think.

                2. Alaskan Amber is pretty good, as are Stone Levitation, Port Brewings Seaside stout, brooklyn lager.

                  1. Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale. 4.3%

                    1. To this issue, I'm not sure what %abv Slyfox Pikeland Pils is but it was a definite departure from the 6 to 6.5% beers that I had been drinking over this winter. The cool thing was that because I could drink more of this beer at a sitting (than say of Yards IPA) I became very intimate with what I was drinking. This beer revealed more and more of itself over time. First I just got the hops, then the metallic thing. But then the malt dropped in and then a biscuity flavor showed up.
                      I tend to be one who jumps from beer to beer (I rarely drink the same beer twice both at home and at the pub). But I think that I might let other beers further reveal themselves to me in this fashion.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chinon00

                        I still love the big beers but in the last year I have developed a profound appreciation for the lighter brews. I really appreciate the subtle tastes and the drinkability. I was never much for pils or other lager styles until Sly Fox started producing their version (in a can no less!) That paired with their Phoenix Pale Ale makes for great warm weather drinkin'.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I have also had this experience: usually if i drink 3 of the same beers in a row I taste much more (sometimes for the better, sometimesthe worse) of what the beer offers.
                          It's like a layer of flavor gets built into the mouth, and then other flavors pop off of it furter down the line.

                        2. Giving this some further thought it appears to me that both the lighter style beers and the monster beers (above 9%abv) can both be enjoyed in this session-like manner, revealing more of themselves over time. The lighter styles obviously can be because of the low %abv. However, a glass of Samichlaus, World Wide Stoudt, etc, being so large in flavor are difficult for me to do anything other than to sip slowly. Therefore, they can kind of act as a natural consumption governer, forcing (me at least) to ponder over a glass for 30 to 45 minutes, again having the beer reveal more of it self over time in complex and interesting ways. The trouble for me are the beers in the middle (6-7%abv) which can drink at times like a lighter style but then send me crashing fast.
                          There may be a 2nd or 3rd Act to say Yards IPA (which I enjoy). But if so, I'll never see it.