There is a school of thought that says that low-alcohol and light beer isn't really beer at all and, in all honesty, I would tend to subscribe to that view, more often than not.
However, there comes a time in everyone's life where you are faced with the choice of light beer or no beer at all, which is where my views on the subject tend to fall apart.
I was at a do recently to celebrate a big brewing event and I was dismayed to discover that the choices of refreshment available consisted of wine, beer or juice. My tongue was hanging out for a beer - after all, it was a warm day and the venue was a brewery. The problem was, I had to drive after the event. So I asked for a light beer and was met with stares so blank and vacant that I thought I was talking to a mannequin for a minute. There was none to be had, which annoyed me no end.
After all, given the current ongoing debate about our drinking culture, you'd imagine that the industry would try to offer more than reconstituted orange juice to the drivers in the crowd.
And it's not that light beers are exactly rare. Steinlager, Stella, Mac's and Amstel all have light variants, between 1 per cent and 2.5 per cent alcohol. This allows you to have a couple of beers knowing you won't lose a roadside balloon-blowing contest with a police officer on your way home.
And in this season of Christmas merriment, I can think of no better time to drink them.
RRP 6-pack (bottles) $12.89
A blessing for those who like to be able to have more than two beers at a time without getting the head-staggers, this has a touch of fruity hop on the nose, followed by a nice malt sweetness. Not a huge palate, but it's close enough to a full-strength beer flavour to make it a sensible option over the summer.
Ranfurly Frontier Lager
RRP 1 dozen $19.99
I wasn't expecting much from this, having tasted Ranfurly Draught once, but it was a very pleasant surprise. It's not a big beer, but it slips down undemandingly, with a nice tangy freshness. And it won't break the bank.
Don is the editor of Thirst magazine.By Don Kavanagh