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Good Question: How Is Light Beer Made?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over the next few days, there will be many people watching the NCAA tournament with a beer by their side.

And when they do, there’s a good chance that beer will be light.

According to Beer Marketers Insights, Bud Light was the top-selling beer in 2012, making up more than 18 percent of the entire beer market.

Light beer was invented in the 1960s by a biochemist who believed many people didn’t like beer because they were afraid it would make them gain weight. Ultimately, that beer became the precursor to Miller Lite.

Schell’s Brewing in New Ulm is one of the few breweries in Minnesota that makes light beer. Assistant Brewmaster Dave Berg says making light beer is not as simple as just adding more water.

“What you do is break down as much of that starch as you possibly can,” Berg said.

Beer makers add an enzyme that break down more starches into sugars. Once yeast is added, those sugars turn into alcohol.

With fewer carbohydrates in a light beer, there is a higher alcohol content. At that point, the beer is generally diluted.

“You’ll add water to keep that alcohol at a normal level, like four or five percent,” he said.

Berg knows that means light beers generally have less flavor, but says companies have found people like the lighter taste. Light beer, though, still has flavor from barley and hops.

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