The Delaware brewery's answer to Michelob Ultra has just 95 calories per 12-ounce can.
Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA
Credit: Courtesy of Dogfish Head

When Dogfish Head announced its 2019 release calendar last month, the lead story was that the Delaware brewery was bringing back its Grateful Dead collaboration beer, American Beauty. For those who know the brand, you could find other takeaways as well: Liquid Truth Serum IPA joined the year-round lineup while the seminal Berliner weisse Festina Peche got axed. (I’m still angry about that one, Dogfish Head!) But apparently, what could end up being Dogfish Head’s most game-changing release of 2019 wasn’t even mentioned… the brewery will be slowly rolling out a new “lo-cal IPA” that it hopes could potentially be the craft beer world’s answer to Michelob Ultra.

Though Dogfish Head quietly added the new brew — called Slightly Mighty — to its website in December, details really came to light yesterday when writer Aaron Goldfarb spoke with brewery founder Sam Calagione for an article in Esquire. The brew — which is already on draft at Dogfish Head’s tasting room and is set to be sold more widely in cans this April — packs a purportedly full-flavored IPA punch at 4 percent ABV but with only 95 calories and 3.6 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. By comparison, Dogfish Head’s famed 90 Minute IPA has 294 calories.

The idea is that, like Michelob Ultra — which is one of the fastest growing beer brands over the past few years — Slightly Mighty will appeal to a new generation that is more lifestyle and health conscious — even when it comes to their drinking. Calagione, who’s still an active guy as he approaches 50, said he can relate. “That’s why I started developing these beers,” he told Esquire. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to slow down my drinking. So I better start innovating.’”

The key to Slightly Mighty’s innovation is said to be monk fruit extract — a natural, no-calories, no-carb sweetener that Calagione believes has never been used in a beer before. In the U.S., at least, getting approval to use it took thousands of dollars in legal fees and months of lobbying the FDA. The brewery uses a proprietary method to get the extract to boost flavor without tasting too sweet.

Goldfarb describes the new brew as having “a fragrant hop presence with pleasant tropical notes of pineapple and mango” before offering a “more brut champagne-like” feel on the palate. “The monk fruit creates a thicker mouthfeel, which makes the beer feel less like your typical thin, ‘diet’ brew,” he explains.

Meanwhile, Calagione thinks it could be a hit. “We just know there’s a shit ton of drinkers out there that want a lot of flavor but don’t want all those calories and carbs,” he was quoted as saying. Read between the lines, and he’s implying that Michelob Ultra doesn’t quite fit that bill.