Craft beers are delicious. They also tend to be heavy—especially in the alcohol department. When it comes to tailgating, you’d be forgiven for eschewing small-batch brews in favor of easier-drinking fare like Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors.
You’re missing out. There are plenty of slurpable, low-alcohol craft brews that pack tons of flavor into a beverage you can solo-cup to your heart’s content (without losing your pre-game brisket and beans). Known as “session” or “all-day” beers, the low-ABV craft brews on this list are as bong-able as Bud Light—though we wouldn’t recommend it. Beer this good deserves to be savored.
Meredith Jones is a beer expert and manager of The Greeks Next Door in Narberth, Pa., which stocks more than 950 domestic and imported brews. Here are her picks for the best Bud Light replacements for game day.
ALL DAY IPA
Founders Brewing Co.
4.7% ABV - Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Satisfying and well-rounded,” Jones says. “Founders is known for its big beers, and this keeps their same trademark big-beer taste with a deceptively low alcohol content.”
LASSO INDIA PALE ALE
Great Divide Brewing Co.
5% ABV - Denver, Colo.
All the hoppy aroma of the IPAs you love, half the hangover. This brew goes especially well with BBQ favorites like brisket and baked beans. Bonus: It comes in a can, so you can shotgun one right before you head in to the game.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
5.2% ABV - Chico, Cali.
This appropriately named brew is a classic German pilsner—the style workers would have slugged during their lunch break 100 years ago. “Outstandingly crisp and refreshing,” Jones says.
DAY TIME IPA
Lagunitas Brewing Company
4.65% ABV - Petaluma, Calif.
Little brother to this famous California brewery’s popular 6.2% IPA, Day Time “keeps all the hop-forward flavor with a fraction of the alcohol,” Jones says.
Surly Brewing Co.
4.5% ABV - Brooklyn Center, Minn.
This light, slightly sweet lager is an easy sipper and lower in alcohol than the domestics you’ve been chugging (and pissing out by the buckets) since college.
SAM ADAMS BOSTON LAGER
The Boston Beer Company
4.9% ABV – Boston, Mass.
It’s not the biggest craft brewer in the nation for nothing. Sam Adams’s signature lager has more body, head, and flavor than you would expect from a brew with this amount of alcohol. “Malty with a hint of hops, it’s a great intro beer for people venturing into the craft world,” Jones says.
Yards Brewing Company
4.2% ABV, Philadelphia, Pa.
The lowest ABV brew on this list also packs one of the strongest flavor profiles. “An English mild that is incredibly smooth with a perfectly balanced finish that won it a silver medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2013,” Jones says.
BLANCHE DE NAMUR
Brasserie du Bocq
4.5% ABV – Purnode, Belgium
A great option for wheat beer fans, we had to include at least one Euro offering on this list. “Light bodied, pours with a fluffy white head and has bright notes of citrus from its traditional Belgian yeast strain,” Jones says.