Brewing up the Difference: Light vs. Lite Beer

Are you ready to understand the confusion between light beer and lite beer? Beer Geek has all the answers to explain the anomaly. Not sure which one is right for you? Don't know where to even begin? Beer Geek has got you covered! Read the article now to know what the difference between light and lite beers are, and find out which one best suits your taste!

On hot summer days and on a beach, nothing beats a refreshing cool lite beer. But, what’s the difference between lite beer and light beer? Is there any difference at all?

Light vs. Lite Definition

The words “light” and “lite” are often used interchangeably – and light beer is often described as lite beer in marketing materials. Although, according to The Beer Geek, an expert in beer knowledge and history, they actually mean two different things.

Light Beer

Light beer is actually a classification of beer, one that’s derived from regulating bodies such as the Beer Institute or the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. This classification is based primarily on the original gravity (that’s the amount of solids within the beer) and calories.

In terms of calories, light beers generally contain between 100 and 110 calories in a 12 ounce serving. The original gravity (OG) is a measure of how much fermentable material is present in the beer, and for a light beer this should be no more than 1.040.

Lite Beer

Unlike “light”, “lite” is not a regulated term. It’s purely a marketing term, often used to highlight the fact a beer is lower in calories than many popular craft styles. Many “lite” beers don’t actually fall within the light beer category, as they exceed the 1.040 OG threshold.

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The ABV (alcohol by volume) is often significantly lower in lite beers – this is due to the OG thresholds and the fact that lite beers tend to contain very little fermentable material. The most popular brands of lite beer tend to contain an ABV of about 4%, compared to the more typical 5 – 6% for a light beer.

How Is Lite Beer Different from Light Beer?

Although “light beer” and “lite beer” are often used interchangeably, there are some distinct differences between the two. These include:

  • Light beer is a classification derived by regulating bodies based on the calories and OG.
  • Lite beer is a marketing term.
  • The calories are similar between both light and lite beers; however, lite beers tend to be lower in ABV.
  • Lite beers often exceed the 1.040 OG threshold that classifies a beer as light.

Benefits of Lite Beer

The main benefit of lite beer is the lower alcohol content compared to many craft beers. As we all know, drinking less alcohol is beneficial for your health. It can also help you to drink for longer, as the beer doesn’t cause a strong feeling of intoxication.

Lite beer can also help to reduce the feeling of a bloating stomach after drinking. When fermentable material (sugars, proteins and carbohydrates) has been process by yeast, beer can become quite heavy and can lead to an uncomfortable feeling of fullness. Very “light” beers can help to reduce this feeling, as they contain much fewer fermentable materials.

Popular Examples Of Lite Beer

There are a huge number of lite beers now on the market, with the most popular brands being:

  • Bud Light Lime
  • Miller Lite
  • Coors Light
  • Miller64
  • Heineken Light
  • Corona Light
  • Beck's Premier Light
  • Miller Genuine Draft
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These popular lite beers’ calorie count can range from 96 – 110, depending on the brand and ABV. The ABV for each also varies, ranging from about 4 – 6%.


So, to summarize, light beer is a classification set by regulating bodies and depends on the beer’s OG and calorie count. Whereas lite beer is a marketing term used to indicate that a beer has reduced calorie and alcohol content than the majority of craft beers.

The Beer Geek explains the light vs. lite anomaly extremely

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