Healthiest beers taste tested

Esquire

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We don't usually judge a brew by its nutrition label, but if you're going to anyway, these are your best (and best-tasting) options — rated on our beer expert's quasi-scientific pint scale, from not terrible for you to actually pretty good. Bottoms up.

I.C. Light

Surprisingly, this light lager from Pittsburgh doesn't taste like water. At only 96 calories and about 4.1 percent alcohol by volume, it's a solid choice for warm weather that won't weigh you down.

Special ingredients: None.
Calories:
96
Rating:
2 out of 4

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He'Brew Rejewvenator '10

Simply put, Shmaltz Brewing Co.'s beers are full of shtick, as is the case with this doppelbock-dubbel hybrid brewed with 600 gallons of Concord grape juice (the kind used in the Passover-friendly Manischewitz wine).

Gimmicky or not, this beer really tastes good, proving that grape juice is just as deliciously healthful in beer as it is in wine.

Special ingredients: Concord grape juice.
Calories: 246
Rating:
2 out of 4

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Guinness Draught

The Guinness ad guys were a little overzealous with their old "Guinness is good for you" campaign. Still, I love to see the look of surprise on people's faces when I tell them that the creamy, malty Irish dry stout is actually pretty low in calories (126) and alcohol (4.2 percent).

Special ingredients: None.
Calories:
126
Rating:
2 out of 4

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Three Floyds Gumballhead

A recent study by American and German researchers found that wheat beers can help runners fight off muscle inflammation and respiratory problems. But you don't have to be a runner to enjoy the health benefits of Gumballhead, a refreshing, citrusy beer that's one of the best wheat ales brewed in the U.S.

Special ingredients: American red wheat.
Calories: 195
Rating:
2.5 out of 4

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Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus

This gorgeous beer from Cantillon, one of Belgium's best and most respected breweries, will dispel any thought you have about fruit-based beers being syrupy-sweet or, dare I say, "girlie."

When fresh, the crisp, tart, vitamin C-loaded raspberry flavors shine. With a few years of age, the sour notes from this wild-fermented lambic become more pronounced, yielding an even more brilliant concoction.

Special ingredients: Raspberries
Calories: 150
Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Stone/Ishii/Baird Japanese Green Tea IPA

Okay, maybe this is more charitable than healthy, but California's Stone Brewing Co. teamed up with Ishii and Baird Brewing to create this beer to aid Japan's earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

The IPA, set to be released in mid-July 2011, clocks in at 9 percent ABV. It's brewed with antioxidant-rich green tea as well as a new variety of hops called Aramis, grown in France's Alsace region. Some Japanese Sorachi Ace hops are also thrown in for good measure.

Special ingredients: Japanese Sencha green tea, Aramis and Sorachi Ace hops.
Calories: 276
Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Left Hand Good Juju

Eastern healers have long preached the medicinal properties of ginger, citing it as a homeopathic cure for everything from headaches to diabetes.

We're not saying you won't get a hangover if you drink too many Good Jujus, but the fresh root that goes into each batch lends a pleasant flavor that's not dissimilar from unsweetened ginger ale.

Special ingredients: Ginger.
Calories: 131
Rating:
2.5 out of 4

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O'Fallon Black Hemp Black Ale

Missouri's O'Fallon Brewery imports toasted hemp seeds from Canada to make this black ale (the feds even make them test to ensure the seeds contain no THC, the euphoria-producing compound in marijuana).

The seeds add a nutty flavor to the beer, and they're said to be heart-healthy and can lead to lower blood pressure.

Special ingredients: Toasted hemp seeds.
Calories: 174
Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat

You remember what we said about wheat beers, right? Add to that the superfood powers of pomegranate, and you've got yourself a pretty healthy beer from the Fort Collins Brewery.

Special ingredients: Pomegranate juice.
Calories: 145
Rating: 3 out of 4

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Short's Spruce Pilsner

I love the way the hop-forward flavors of this pilsner dance with the bold, forest-like flavors from the spruce needles.

And in case you didn't know, spruce is known to help poor circulation, stress, and joint stiffness — so drink up.

Special ingredients: Michigan Blue Spruce tips.
Calories: 210
Rating: 3 out of 4

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Porterhouse Oyster Stout

Vegetarians be damned, Ireland's Porterhouse Brewing Co. is one of the few breweries that still use actual oysters in the making of their oyster stout. Bivalves and malty stout beers have been paired for meals since the 18th century, but it wasn't until 1929 that a New Zealand brewery thought to put them together in a single glass.

Porterhouse Oyster Stout gives you all the protein- and mineral-rich properties of oysters without the fishy taste.

Special ingredients: Oysters.
Calories: 144
Rating: 3 out of 4

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Lambrucha

A Chicago couple combined his love of Belgian lambics with her fondness for fermented kombucha tea to create Lambrucha, a tart, funky, lemony brew with a dry finish.

At just 3.5 percent alcohol by volume and with all the good-for-you stuff that kombucha drinkers swear by — vitamins B and C, as well as help with digestion and blood circulation — this beer's a standout.

Special ingredients: Green tea kombucha.
Calories: 105
Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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Upland Blackberry Lambic

The blackberries that make up most of the flavor profile of this beer are packed with health-boosting polyphenols and anthocyanins that can help stave off cancer and heart disease.

But if you want a bottle, you're gonna have to line up: The Indiana craft brewery that makes it takes reservations once a year for the special release, and you have to pick up your haul in Hoosier land.

Special ingredients: Blackberries.
Calories: 189
Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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The Healthiest Beer on Earth: Sam Adams Light

Boston Beer Co.'s "light" option is one of the few to far exceed its labeling. The rich feel in your mouth, toasty malts, and zippy hops are almost as robust in this light lager (119 calories) as they are in its big brother, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. For a bottle you can find in about any supermarket cooler, you won't do better.

Special ingredients:
None.
Calories: 119
Rating: 3.5 out of 4

 

 

 

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