There is a time and a place for a light beer. Or for two or three light beers, as most are low in alcohol and calories, thus safer to drink in moderation than a stronger, heavier brew. However, the light beers featured here are really best left on the shelf (or in the keg) even if you're headed to the game, the cookout, or anywhere else. That's because the light beers featured here are made with very low-quality ingredients. They're the type of beverage where it's better to sacrifice calorie count, turning to a fuller beer with fewer additives.
"Some beers contain a… class of ingredients called adjuncts," says Stephanie Nelson, MS, RD, who is also MyFitnessPal's in-house nutrition expert and nutrition scientist. She adds: "Adjuncts are just extra ingredients to add flavor and aroma of a beer. Fruits, juices, flavors, and sugars are all ingredients that can be added to a light beer, but it's impossible to look at the label and know what's been added."
And they can be found aplenty here, which is why did the digging for you to find out what's in these beers that aren't on the label.
Surely, you're not surprised to find Natty Light on this list, right? Often hailed as the worst beer around, as per VinePair, this college party staple brew is so cheap because it is made with extra ingredients. Along with water, barley malt, yeast, hops, and "cereal grains," this cheap brew is also made with high fructose corn syrup, reports The Motley Fool. Which makes Bud Light's Super Bowl commercial attacking Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corny syrup a bit ironic, as Natty Light is made by Bud's parent company AB InBev.
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Milwaukee's Best Light
Known far and wide as Beast Light, this cheap beer is neck-and-neck with Natty Light for being about the worst brew in America in terms of quality of ingredients. It is made with: "Water, Barley Malt, Corn Syrup (Dextrose), Yeast, Hop Extract." So not even actual hops, you see, but hop extracts. It gets a "D" grade for health metrics from the site Fooducate.
Bud Light Chelada Clamato
This odd and off-putting beer just won't go away, it seems. Made with Bud Light as its base, it features the addition of clamato juice, which is made with tomato juice, added sugar, spices, and clam broth. The result is a "light" beer that actually has more than 150 calories, sugar, and sodium. And that's just the base Chelada. The Chelada Fuego variety has 181 calories, not to mention 22.6 grams of carbs.
You don't make a beer that has but 64 calories if you want to make a beer that's at all good. This almost flavorless concoction is made with water, barley malt, corn syrup, yeast, and hop extract. And per Miller 64's very own site, it's really more beer-adjacent than an actual brew! Their own sales copy reads in part: "So you can enjoy a Dry-ish January with a lighter beer-ish kind of beer." "Beer-ish" says it all.
Sure, Keystone Light may have a huge and devoted fanbase who consider it a cut above the other uber cheap beers (Natty Light and Beast Light, e.g.), but one look at its ingredient list will tell you this beer is indeed low quality. Keystone Light is made with: "Water, barley malt, corn syrup (dextrose), yeast, hop extract, [and it] contains cereals and their derivatives, barley and barley products, corn and its derivatives."
While not the worst beer on our list in terms of low-quality ingredients, this adjunct lager (again, meaning a beer brewed with fermentable sourced from things like rice and corn that lighten the flavor and that are cheaper than grains) is still a pretty sorry affair. It's made with water, barley malt, select grains, hops, and yeast, and we believe said grains are corn, per Draft Mag.
Bud Light Lime
When sugar is listed as a beer ingredient well ahead of hops, it's a good idea to pass. Bud Light Lime is made with: "Water, Corn, Barley, Cane Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Lime Peel, Hop Extract." If you want a citrus-infused beer, do yourself a favor and do the infusing yourself; no sugars are needed!
Old Milwaukee Light
This cheap light beer is made with the usual stuff, like water, barley malt, hops, and, per Barnivore, "cultured" yeast, but it also features the simple sugars dextrose and maltose, which are cheap and easy ways to add fermentable ingredients without adding any flavor. At a scant 3.9% ABV, it's a beer you can sip all day, but you really shouldn't.