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Light beer (invented in 1967 by American biochemist Joseph Owades) is a beer (usually a Pilsner) that is reduced in alcohol content or in calories compared to regular beers. Light beers may be chosen by beer drinkers who wish to manage their alcohol consumption or their calorie intake; however, they are sometimes criticised for being less flavourful than full-strength beers, or for tasting or actually being watered down.[1][2]

Reduced alcoholEdit

Light beers with significantly lower alcohol content allow consumers to drink more beers in a shorter period without becoming intoxicated. Low alcohol content can also mean a less expensive beer, especially where excise is determined by alcohol content.[3]

This is the primary definition of the term in countries such as Australia and Scotland. In Australia, regular beers have approximately 5% alcohol by volume; light beers may have 2.2–3.2% alcohol.[4] In Scotland, the term derives from shilling categories, where 'light' customarily means a beer with less than 3.5% alcohol by volume.

Reduced caloriesEdit

Reducing the caloric content of beer is accomplished primarily by reducing the carbohydrate content, and secondarily by reducing the alcohol content, since both carbohydrates and alcohol contribute to the caloric content of beer.[1] Unlike reduced-alcohol light beers, the alcohol reduction is not primarily intended to produce a less intoxicating beverage.

This is the primary definition in the United States, where the spelling Lite beer is also encountered, and where popular light beers include Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light.


  1. ^ a b The Alström Bros (October 3, 2001). "Light Beers". Archived from the original (HTML) on June 24, 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  2. ^ Byers, Stephen R. (September 11, 1977). "Light beers pack a different punch". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1.
  3. ^ "Schedule to the Excise Tariff Act 1921". Australian Taxation Office. August 1, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  4. ^ "How to Brew Introduction". Coopers Brewery. Retrieved April 4, 2013. In other countries, the term "light beer" may refer to beer that is lower in carbohydrates. Light beer in Australia is low in alcohol content but not necessarily low in flavour. Alcohol content of light beer may be 2.2%–3.2% ABV.[dead link]