Every year we see new fads pop up in craft beer. Some stick around, while some fizzle out after a season or so on the shelves. It’s still early in the year but one trend that is popping up in 2020 has been the low cal IPA. The concept of low calorie beer seems to be rather divisive. Many people found craft out of a desire to avoid lighter beers. With that in mind I can see how people would be apprehensive about the low calorie beers. On the other hand, some of us actually enjoy lighter beers. So far, the low cal beer trend has been something that I have been embracing. One of the reasons why is because Bell’s Brewing has recently released their low cal IPA appropriately named Light Hearted Ale. To say that I have grown to trust Bell’s over the years would be a drastic understatement. Anytime they release a new beer it always gets my attention, and when news came out that they were essentially brewing a light version of Two Hearted I was all in.
“We did not just set out to make a lighter version of Two Hearted. We wanted to brew the best tasting, low-cal IPA we could. It all begins with quality ingredients. Balance, hoppiness and aroma are all there,” said Larry Bell, Bell’s president and founder.bellsbeer.com
It should be noted that Light Hearted Ale is not brewed to be a straight up light version of Two Hearted. The beer is clearly meant to appeal to fans of Bell’s flagship IPA. However there are differences in the ingredients between the two beers. Galaxy hops are introduced in Light Hearted Ale, which differs from Two Hearted which is 100% centennial hops. However this beer is still brewed with all the quality you would expect from Bell’s. In other words, no rice and corn. The beer came out at a 3.7% abv IPA hit a 36 IBU rating. It is also notable that the beer only has 110 calories which you might or might not care about.
I don’t always point out labels on beers, but I really like the 70’s spin on the Two Hearted look that has been adapted for Light Hearted Ale. My dad used to take me to random cabins all over Michigan for our family vacations as a kid. The color palate used on this label immediately brings me back to those memories. Once we get Light Hearted in a glass you’ll see a citrusy gold ale with a white head that was somewhat frothy. On the nose I’m finding a lot of pine and floral notes. You can pick out hops and citrus a bit on the nose but they are definitely in the background. The body on the beer is definitely thin, which makes sense. There is still a bit of sticky dankness in the body but this is as close to a mower IPA as I have ever found. The flavors manage to compliment the lighter body of the beer quite well. I’m pulling some citrusy notes on the flavor but what is really hitting me flavor wise is malts and a biscuity characteristic. The hops in the beer are noticeable but they are definitely tame and approachable.
Overall I really enjoy Light Hearted Ale. It’s also becoming more and more enjoyable as the weather turns and starts to warm up. The first time I tried this beer was shortly after launch in the beginning of February. It was still Michigan cold out and I found the beer enjoyable. However I immediately saw myself drinking this more during the summer months. It’s now spring and the world is currently thawed out. As I’m drinking Light Hearted Ale today it does seem more enjoyable. Obviously claiming weather affects the enjoyability of a beer is subjective. Sometimes though perception is reality and mood can definitely influence how much you like or dislike something. After the boom of Hard Seltzer last summer low cal beers seem like a logical move for breweries. It’s opening the doors and providing options for people that care about such things. With out these options they might have avoided beer before due to caloric intake. It’s also putting another option in draft lines and cans that will likely appeal to new demographics. At the end of the day having more people buy craft is always a good thing. This makes Light Hearted Ale is an excellent option for any and all beer drinkers.