Nobody would ever mistake my brother’s garage for a microbrewery. He only stocks lite beer, for one thing. But you can almost always find several different kinds in his garage fridge, because none of the usual suspects who attend cookouts at Brent and Darcy’s place drink the same brand.
So I’m thinking: Perfect place for a lite beer taste test, right?
These days there’s a pretty broad range of calories in various lite beers. Of the half dozen varieties we tested, one — Bud Lite, at 110 calories per 12 ounces — actually has twice as many calories as another beverage we tested, Budweiser Select 55. Bud Lite came out slightly ahead in our taste test results, but is it really worth double the calories? Not in my book.
Here are the beers we tested over Memorial Day weekend, in order of the number scribbled on each 3-ounce Dixie test cup: Bud Lite (110 calories), Miller Lite (96 calories), Keystone (104 calories), Bush Lite (95 calories), Budweiser Select 55 (55 calories) and MGD 64 (64 calories).
The testers were my sister Traci, her husband Gunnar, my brother Brent, myself and another attendee who refused to be identified. (Normally we would’ve sought Darcy’s input, but she’s expecting their first baby — grandkid No. 12.)
The first thing everyone noticed was that it was remarkably hard to tell the difference between any of the beers, even for those testers who expressed a strong brand loyalty.
“They’re all running together,” noted Gunnar, frowning.
“We should’ve eaten a cracker in between each one,” added Brent. “You know, to cleanse our palate.”
But it was too late for that, so we did the best we could, ranking each beer on our individual score cards from 1-6 in order of preference. The winning lite beer was the one with the lowest total points (based on the highest average rankings). Here are our results:
- Miller Lite
- Bud Lite
- Budweiser Select 55 and Keystone (tie)
- MGD 64
- Bush Lite
So here’s the obvious question: If most people agreed that it was hard to tell the difference, why not just buy the lowest calorie beer?
I put this question to Brent, who picked 55-calorie Budweiser Select as his top choice, just ahead of his usual brand, Miller Lite.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It might’ve been different if (the Miller Lite) hadn’t come from a can.”
Gunnar isn’t averse to switching, but he makes his choice based on sales price rather than calories. For this get-together, for instance, he brought Bush Lite even though he prefers Coors Light.
“I’ll drink the cheapest stuff I can stomach that doesn’t give me a headache,” he said.
Traci picked MGD 64 as her No. 1 choice and Budweiser Select No. 3. But she’s not much of a beer drinker, and she’s not the beer buyer in their family, either. But given a beer-only lineup at another get-together like this one, she said she would now be more likely to choose one of the lower calorie lite beers, based on our taste test.
As for me, I wound up assigning the lowest scores to the most diet-conscious beers. But I’m still going to choose MGD 64 or Select 55 most of the time. I just don’t like wasting calories on beverages to begin with, and to me there’s not a giant difference between the best tasting beer on the planet and the worst tasting beer.
I suppose that’s either a curse or a blessing, depending on your outlook.