Belly on a Budget – I’ll Drink to That

Probably to no one’s surprise, alcohol consumption increases around the holidays.  Whether it is  from holiday parties, office happy hours, family events, the culmination of a semester wrapping up and/or finals week, or even New Year’s Eve — the center piece of all of  these events is usually grandma’s good ole cough syrup.  No matter where you turn or where you go, there is always booze, and that of plentiful goodness.

So how can you possibly manage your budget, mind your belly, and still wet your whistle?  Well, if you’re a beer drinker, there’s always the “light alternative”.  I know, everyone hears “light beer” and probably thinks — fantastic, who doesn’t like fermented flavored water with a hint of alcohol.  I’ll take two!  Don’t get me wrong, there are some horrific light beers out there (BEAST – you still haunt my dreams and terrorize my liver).  However, there are a handful of light beers on the market that allow you to mind your belly, watch your budget, and still provide enough flavor to say, “That’ll do beer, that’ll do”.

To test this theory, I decided to gather nine of my closest male friends last week and we taste-tested 12 different light beers (5 domestic, 7 imported) to see which if any of these beers hit the mark on our taste buds.  Below are the results of the whiniest 2 hours of my life.  I hope you all enjoy the results of this mini, non-IRB or really even legit research study as much as I enjoyed watching their reactions to the beers! Cheers!

The Beers:

Miller Lite, Yuengling Light, Sam Adams Light, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Amstel Light, Labatt Blue Light, Heineken Light, Red Stripe Light, Corona Light, Sapporo Light, Labatt Blue Light Lime

The Method:

Each participant received one Dixie cup of each of the undisclosed beers.  The participants were asked to rate each beer on the following variables:

Taste – on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “questionable if vinegar would be a better option” and 5 being “wow, this is actually not that bad and beerish”.

Comparison – each participant was asked to use the first beer they received as the comparison constant for the remainder of the taste testing.  That is, as they tasted each beer, they were asked to compare it to their first beer and rate it as “better” or “worse” than the constant.  They were not told the constant’s brand or beer name.  Each participant received the same constant.

Light-to-Heavy – on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “did this water go bad?” and 5 being “It’s like the calories never left”.

Additionally, I also compared the % alcohol and amount of calories per 12 oz. form of each beer.  What you are about to read may shock, bewilder, wow, and/or even educate you.

The Results:

In interpreting this table, hopefully the first two categories are self-explanatory.  The Taste and Light to Heavy variables for each beer are the raw averaged score from all of the participants.  The Better or Worse category was decided simply by seeing which ranking received the most votes for that particular beer.  Lastly, the Overall Raw score was calculated by adding the ranking number (1 – 12) for a particular beer from each individual variable category (% alcohol, calories, taste, and light-to-heavy) and dividing that number by four (four total categories). For instance, if Miller Lite received the following rankings 2- % alcohol, 2- calories, 9- taste, 9- light-to-heavy; their raw score would be 2 + 2 + 9 + 9 = 22/4 = 5.5

Therefore, when ranking these beers in order, I took into account two subjective variables (taste and light-to-heavy) and two constant variable (% alcohol and calories).  That being said, these nine brave men (plus me) ranked the twelve beers in the following order:

The Discussion:

Overall, if you look at the variables of % alcohol, calories, taste, and where it lands on the light-to-heavy scale for light beers, Corona Light is our light beer of choice with Miller Lite, Sam Adams Light, and Labatt Blue Light Lime coming in at a close second.  My question for you — does this surprise anyone?

The Limitations: 

There were many limitations with this research study.  For one, it wasn’t an actual study.  Second, no females were included in the research of this beer consumption.  Why you might ask?  Well unfortunately I did not have 10 readily available beer drinking female friends willing to sacrifice their tastes buds in the name of research.  Apparently when you offer “free beer” to current male college students and young professionals, they will find time in their busy schedule to help you out… even if it is light beer.  Also, several popular light beers were left out of this study that include but are not limited to: Milwaukee’s Best, Natural Light, Coors light, and PBR.

Future Implications:

I would like to replicate this same study with 10 females and then compare the results of men versus women.  Therefore, if you are female, drink beer, and are interested in participating in this study or have 10 females friends and willing to replicate this for me, please let me know.  Also, a future study will be conducted involving these 12 light beers and their original version counterparts to compare and see which light beers closely resemble and taste like their original.  Pretzels may or may not be involved.

Happy Holidays everyone and thank you to the 9 brave men who took 12 bullets for me that night!  Cheers!


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