Nose: Malty, slightly sweet. Hint of hops. Very light aromas, nothing off though, very pleasant
Mouth: Very light. Tingly, like a champagne. Slightly sour. Finishes with a weak malt and hop, balanced. After taste is very malty and nutty, almost bread like.
Miller Lite. What can I say? You probably already stopped reading. That’d be a tragedy. If you’re still reading, I’ll tell you why.
First off, let’s discuss light beers. Many people think that it’s regular beer, watered down. It actually isn’t. Light beers are brewed through a special process that already reduces the calorie content of the beer. There are other, less desirable methods to producing a light beer as well and maybe we’ll visit them in a FAQ or other type of content elsewhere. Right now, I’m not going to go in to them. To make a proper light beer though, you need to reduce carbs without affecting the alcohol content and hopefully not the flavor. It’s a compromise though because you aren’t going to get decent flavor while reducing carbs. Half the flavor of a beer comes from that. The way it’s done is through the use of commercial enzymes that convert carbs into stuff like dextrose or simply replace the carbs that provide the sugars for fermentation. This way, brewers can cut the caloric value by reducing the amount of mash that is used but maintain the alcohol levels to get proper fermentation through the substitution of the starches and sugars that are normally provided by the mash. You essentially get the fuel needed for proper fermentation without all the extra carbs. So, no, light beer is not made through watering down regular beer.
See, light beer goes back to about 1965-1967 (maybe a bit earlier) when “diet beers” were released. Miller Lite was the first, wildly successful mainstream light beer. So this is a significant brew. It came from Meisterbrau (IIRC) which Miller bought and then played with the recipe until they hit a success. It took off from there.
Thing is, though, as much as people bag on light beers, Miller Lite is an actual award winner. Multiple times. It’s cleaned up in light beer categories and has even won at competitions where there was no light beer category. So, for a mass market light beer, it’s no slouch. Is it everybody’s cup of tea? No, not at all. However, in the grand scheme of beer, it’s going to be hard to beat this beer at it’s price point. Even the Yuengling Light Lager can’t compete with the price.
You’re probably thinking right now, “Is this guy serious?” Yes, I am. This is not the best light beer I have ever had. It is, however, the most consistent. I can buy a pallet full of Miller Lite and crack open every goddamn one of them and it will taste exactly the same in each goddamn bottle every goddamn time. Miller Lite is so confident of that they will send you free beer and an apology and then send a rep out to the place you got it to make sure they are handling the product correctly. In the world of beers, achieving that level of quality control and consistency is unheard of. Only the massive American brewers (none of which are American owned anymore, which is sad) have been able to achieve it. For that alone you have to respect them. Because even if you think the wares of Miller, Coors and Anhauser-Busch are crap beers, they are still beers and they are a testament to what the American industrial machine is capable of when we put our minds to it.
OK, so what about Miller Lite? It’s crap, right? No. It’s not. No beer is really crap ’cause the truly crap beer is vile, horrible and undrinkable. It’d make you quite sick if you tried to drink it too. So if you can pour a beer and get it close to your face, it’s not crap. It may not be your thing but it’s not crap. Making beer is hard. It can fail at any point. So if you are good enough at making beer and people want to buy it from you then, that’s an accomplishment.
Miller Lite is a great beer for a social event. It’s 4.2% alcohol so you can get pretty plastered if you aren’t careful. But at a 96 calories, you have to drink 4 to exceed the calorie rating of some of the more heavier beers reviewed here. I dunno about you but if it’s a 4th of July BBQ, the sun is out and shining, it’s that typical July heat and all your family and friends are around, hanging out and having a good time, the social drinking just slides down much easier than normal. I’d rather have the 96 calorie Miller Lite than the 330 calories in say, a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.
So what do we know so far? As a beer, Miller Lite actually excels in certain areas. It’s easy to drink, it’s not filling and actually looks, smells and tastes like beer! Imagine that. Also, it’s an award winner. Imagine that! So what do I think? I think I could do much worse. This beer is light and tasty enough that I want another sip. It makes me slightly gassy ’cause of all the extra carbonation though. It has a light mouth feel and isn’t a heavy beer at all. It’s malty but there is also a hint of hops. It’s not well balanced but honestly, the malt is so light and crisp that it’s fleeting. It finishes extremely clean, like you haven’t had a beer at all. If there were enough hops to balance out the maltiness, I think it would end up being very unpleasant in the after tastes. This is, after all, a light beer and should remain consistently light through out.
There are cons though. In the grand scheme of beers. This excels at drink-ability, consistency, cost and the ability to appeal to a very large number of people. That’s great and all but this is an American style lager. It’s actually a pilsner which is a type of lager and compared to other pilsners and American style lagers out there, this one is weak. It is not robust and it is not assertive like other American adaptations of lagers and ales. In its defense, it IS a light beer though. Still, when stacked up against it’s competition in the categories it plays in, it hits a long drive…but it’s shootin’ from the red tees. (That’s a golf reference, BTW. The red tees are also known as the Ladies’ Tees and are a shorter distance to the hole than the white and blue tees which are the Gentleman’s and Tournament tees respectively)
So it gets high marks because, as a beer, in general, it hits points that we all wish for in that it’s easy on the eyes, nose, mouth and waistline. It’s also insanely consistent. It’s the McDonald’s of beers. You can get the same Miller Lite at any time, any where on the entire globe. That’s impressive. But as a pilsner it falls short and goes for the low hanging fruit. There are better pilsners out there. Because of that, I think it deserves a 4.5 out of 10. We agreed that we would only give full stars. I think this half star leans more towards the 4 than the 5 so, 4 out of 10 it is.
This does not mean that I think this is a bad beer. It just means that it doesn’t score as many points as it’s competition. Like a half-finished project car going up against a concourse queen. Both are cars, both have merit, one is just in a higher state of condition, pedigree and workmanship than the other. That said, a Chevy can beat a Rolls Royce on any given day. But, I actually like Miller Lite. If I have to stock a party for a metric butt ton of people, I’ll grab a couple cases of Miller Lite ’cause I know many people will enjoy it and it will not break my bank. In every group of friends, you have that one party animal that is always there to get down and thrown down at any time and have a good time. In the group of friends that is the beer world, Miller Lite is the party animal! Just like your party animal friend, you wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him some place swanky ’cause you’re not sure he cleans up nice enough. But if the game is on or you’re havin’ a ‘Q and need some life to your party, he’s your go to guy.
So, seriously, stop bagging on light beers. They are beers, real beers. Just like people, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. You can be a beer fan and still drink Miller Lite. There are worse things to cram down your gullet but, like your party animal friend who can always be relied upon to be there, loyal as ever, and bring a good time with him, Miller Lite will always be Miller Lite. Even when times are bad, it’s still there, ready to have a good time.
I LOVE having a good time!