I spent a lot of time in my youth deriding 3.2% beer. Granted, this was well before the craft beer boom, so it’s not like we had a lot of options at the one gas station that would take our fake ID’s. Basically, we were choosing between Budweiser, MGD, and Busch Light. But in certain parts of the country, those same beers were watered down from the mighty 5ish% to a puny 3.2%. Same beer, less alcohol. It was like some sort of a state-sanctioned prank. We vowed never to visit the entire state of Utah, because of its state-wide 3.2% beer policy. On our occasional trips to Ole Miss for football games, we were careful to pack beer from Georgia, because Mississippi was also plagued by a 3.2 beer law.
Some 20 years later, the craft beer boom has hit mushroom cloud proportions, and I’m now dying to find a 3.2% beer. Look through that fancy beer menu at your local brewery—chances are you won’t see much under 6%. I like big beers as much as the next guy, but every once in a while, I want to sit down and have a conversation over a couple of beers without getting so torn up that I make a terrible decision that ends with me in a field chasing a cow.
Like tonight. I met a group of old friends I hadn’t seen in a while at one of my favorite local breweries, which is known for high-octane beers that tend to put me under the table. Three beers at this place, and I can pretty much kiss the next day goodbye. I’ll spend that workday trying to walk back from whatever cattle farm I wake up in.
The brewery must’ve realized their beers were knocking people on their ass, because now, they have a 3.2% beer. Right there on the menu between double IPAs and imperial stouts. Plenty of breweries are now making sessionable ales, those 5% beers that you’re supposed to be able to drink all day long, but I’m not aware of many that make a legit 3.2%, easy drinking, “like sex in a canoe” (it’s fu$*ing near water) beer. And it worked. I could drink more than one beer, still hold a semi-coherent conversation, and still walk home in a relatively straight line. And the beer actually tasted good.
Here’s hoping more breweries offer 3.2% beer for the lightweights in the world like myself who, occasionally, like on a weekday night, just want to have a few beers and not end up chasing cows in the middle of a field.