Whether you’re out with big shots from work or brewery-hopping with friends, sometimes you need to indulge in a brew or two without losing your head. Enter low-ABV beer – everything you love about hops and barley with drastically less alcohol content and overall heaviness. These locally made, low-proof beers are as crushable as your favorite light beer with 10 times the flavor.
2nd Shift Brewing
As 2nd Shift Brewing’s first low-ABV beer, Beer #2 was the lager-loving brewing team’s passion project. With an approachable, biscuity essence and a slight hoppy finish, the 3.5-percent ABV beer is the result of the team’s affinity for drinkable shift beers. Originally part of a collaboration with Michigan-based Speciation Artisan Ales, Beer #2 is undergoing a rebrand: 2nd Shift plans to adopt the beer as a year-rounder and give it a more thoughtful name. In the meantime, co-owner Libby Crider recommends snagging a four-pack at the brewery or a case at area stores, such as Randall’s Wines & Spirits, and cracking one open alongside something spicy.
2nd Shift Brewing, 1601 Sublette Ave., The Hill, St. Louis, Missouri, 2ndshiftbrewing.com
Many people perceive stouts as heavy and strong, but according to Brewery Emperial head brewer Sterling Holman, that is a common misconception. “Traditional stouts such as Guinness are meant to be all-day beers,” he explains. The Kansas City brewery’s old-school Irish Stout is no exception, offering a complex flavor profile that’s hearty without being overpowering. Notes of toasted barley and chocolate pair nicely with slight earthiness from the hops. And with only 4 percent ABV, the smooth, light-bodied dark beer is one you can down all day long.
Brewery Emperial, 1829 Oak St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, breweryemperial.com
Rolling Meadows Farm Brewery
The brewing team at Rolling Meadows Farm Brewery in Cantrall, Illinois, says its Session Lager will set you free. An easy-drinking lager with 3.7-percent ABV, its caramel flavors make it great to drink with anything from a juicy burger to five-alarm pad Thai – you can even cook with it. “We wanted to put our spin on the low-ABV craze while offering a little more flavor than folks are used to,” says head brewer Deion Corley of the bright and balanced beer.
Rolling Meadows Farm Brewery, 3954 Central Point Road, Cantrall, Illinois, rollingmeadowsfarmbrewery.com