BK samples three new “light” beers

For years those fat-asses in the West have been stressing over calories and carbs, letting Atkins and South Beach rule their lives, while we guiltlessly enjoy plate after plate of khao phat and bowl after bowl of ba-mii. Oh, and kalamang after kalamang of full-strength beer. Alas, all of this unselfconscious consumption has finally caught up with us, apparently. The proof is the arrival of “light” beers on the scene—only three so far, but three officially makes it a trend (and if it’s a trend it must be time to write about it).

Branding and marketing aside, there are three main reasons why people drink “light” brew instead of the regular stuff: One is that they’re (supposedly) lower in calories, and calories are those nasty little things that are magically transformed into highly unattractive fat on yer bod’ if you’re not careful. Another reason is that they’re (supposedly) “lighter,” “less filling” and more refreshing. And a third reason is because—pay attention here, kids—they’re (supposedly) lower in alcohol.

Of the three our panel of self-proclaimed experts sampled, only San Mig Light (B26.50) proudly boasts (on the can) that it is “low calorie.” It also has the highest alcohol content, a respectable 5%. Once the numbers were crunched by the BK computer, SML came a close second in the voting—mainly due to its pleasant, clean smell, which was described as “floral” and “citrusy.” Those who liked it praised it as a nice, easy-drinking beer; however, some complained that it had too much gas, like soda water, and one said it tasted like water.

The folks at Chang apparently forgot the rule that says the packaging for a light beer should be lighter in color than the original version—silver is best, but white works as well. Instead they’ve just added the word “light” to the familiar green-and-gold bottle. If you want a light with balls, or like your beer bitter, Chang Light (B28) is the one for you. The more experienced beer drinkers in our panel (who turned out to be a majority) preferred Chang Light as the most full-bodied of the trio and “bitter in a nice way.” It was also praised for its “hoppy” and “nice burnt toast or coffee” aromas. But those who didn’t like it really hated it, calling the poor little elephant various names like “not at all satisfying,” “dirty-smelling,” “harsh” and “sour.”

Our panel rated Singha Light (B22) behind the other two. At a delicate 3.5% alcohol, you’d think it would at least taste (or smell) good, but only one of our experts had anything “good” to say about it: “watery, but not bad.” “Weak” was the main criticism (“like flat beer in a glass with melted ice—from the night before”), but our panel members also described Singha Light as “stinky” and “rubbery.” We also found the foam to be “funny,” “strange” and “artificial.” Sorry, little Singha, but look on the bright side—you came in third! Now you just have to wait for more competition.


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