Lower-calorie, low-carb craft beers aren't new. Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewing debuted one of the first last year, and other breweries have been making them on and off for years. But their importance for packaging breweries came to the forefront this summer as the popularity of hard seltzer grew by astounding numbers.
Not only do seltzers appeal to people who don't like beer, but they are also attractive to people who are looking for adult beverages that won't weigh them down. As a response, three of Colorado's biggest breweries are introducing new low-calorie IPAs — and just to make things even more trendy, all three are hazy.
Oskar Blues, unsurprisingly, was first. In September, it released cans of One-y 100 Calorie Hazy IPA, a new addition to the Longmont-based brewery's year-round lineup nationwide. The 4 percent ABV beer is brewed with El Dorado, Comet and Citra hops, then dry-hopped with Mosaic and French Aramis.
"Cultivating huge, hazy, hoppy flavor without the calorie count of a typical IPA presented a new challenge for the Oskar Blues team," the company, which is owned by the Canarchy collective, writes. The answer was using tons of hops to give the beer flavors of orange peel and tangerine, honeysuckle, peach and lemon zest.
Next came Boulder's Avery Brewing, now owned by Spanish corporation Mahou San Miguel, which debuted Pacer IPA in canned six- and twelve-packs just a week ago, and at the Great American Beer Festival.
Boasting just 100 calories and 3.5 grams of carbs per twelve ounces, the 4.5 percent ABV hazy IPA incorporates wheat and oats for fuller body, "as well as an abundance of Southern Hemisphere hops," Avery says. "Contemporary dry-hopping techniques help it achieve the big, juicy and fruity aromas and flavors that we know and love in big IPAs."
The brewery also tickled the idea of having a full lineup of lower-calorie, lower-carb options, including its recently released Rocky Mountain Rosé, which it calls "the Avery 100s." Avery also said it would join Colorado breweries like Oskar Blues, Denver Beer Co. and Upslope by adding hard seltzer to its portfolio this winter.
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"Avery brewers are also researching ways to evolve some core beer brands to have lower calorie counts while enhancing the beer’s original flavor," the brewery said in a statement. "Long term, [founder] Adam Avery hopes to bring this innovation and experience to styles of beer where it hasn’t yet been done."
And finally, Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing poured samples of its new low-calorie, low-carb hazy IPA, Good Behavior Crushable IPA, at its booth during GABF. The beer, which will become part of its year-round lineup as well, should hit cans in Odell's distribution in November, according to a recent Facebook post.
At just 110 calories and 4 percent ABV, the beer has "flavors of tropical fruit and juicy peach" along with "a light body, slight haze and crisp finish," Odell says.