If I had to make an educated guess, I would estimate that light beers, kegs included, make up somewhere between 70 to 80 percent of the total beer purchased and consumed by Bowdoin students.

As with any other beer styles, there exist a number of brands and types of light beers, and we are greeted with a myriad of choices as we wander wide-eyed and thirsty down the aisles of Hannaford's, Bootlegger's, or Uncle Tom's. While the obvious choice is often a 30-rack of Natural, Keystone, or perhaps an upgrade to Coor's, it is not uncommon to find oneself drawn to the somewhat less-economical, and ever growing, selection of bottled light beers.

With time tested domestic veterans, such as Bud and Coor's, as well as relatively newer offerings from Sam Adams, Heineken, and Beck's, it is easy to wonder just how much better some of the "premium" light beers are than their cheaper and more widely available canned brethren. To answer this pivotal question, I have decided to taste and comment on a selection of light beers running the span from cheap to premium to shed some light on such a popular style.

For the lower end I have chosen the heralded Natural Light, quite possibly the most popular beer on campus, weighing in at $5.99 for a 12-pack of cans.

A step up is the $9.99 per 12-pack of Bud Light bottles, an ice-cold staple of Tuesday nights at Joshua's and Sunday afternoon football alike.

Representing the higher end are two newcomers to the light beer world, Sam Adams Light and Heineken Light, both priced around $12.99 for a 12-pack. While the Sam Adams promises "real beer taste" from a company that takes pride in crafting great American beers, the Heineken brings mass appeal and Euro style in what is the clear choice for coolest bottle design.

The real intention of this article is not to pick up on the flavor subtleties of four beers that most everyone reading this article has themselves sampled to varying degrees. It would, however, seem counter-intuitive and unfair to give you my opinion of the beers with no mention of how they actually taste, so what follows is an abridged version of my tasting notes.

Color-wise, these beers run a surprising spectrum, with the Natural Light and Bud Light showing a similar pale yellow shade. The Heineken is slightly darker, showing a bit of reddish amber, while the Sam is a true amber shade that is surprisingly real-beer like when compared to the others. The Sam is also the only beer to exhibit any aroma worth mentioning. It has a caramelly malt character and a hint of hops, whereas the other three smell light and crisp.

In terms of taste, the Natural is the lightest: crisp, carbonated, familiar, and refreshing with a slightly sour and clean aftertaste. The Bud Light was slightly smoother and richer while still refreshing. Not surprisingly, the Heineken Light tastes much like a watered down version of its big brother Heineken regular, which, for anyone who has tried it knows, is a great blend of crisp refreshment, smooth body, and great lager character.

The Sam Adams was perhaps the most promising of the group because of the bold flavor and body suggested by the color and smell. It was the sole beer to show "true beer" character with a hint of caremally malt and hop character, and I almost felt tricked into believing I was drinking a slightly watered down Boston Ale.

Overall, it seems like the choices to be made and the amount you spend when purchasing a light beer depend greatly on what it is you are looking for. The lower end Natty and its colleagues have proved to be the perfect blend of cost and refreshment, providing a crisp, lower alcohol drink that makes it well suited for parties or the occasional game of beruit.

The Bud Light offers a touch of class in its clear-labeled bottle, giving slightly more body and flavor while still remaining cost effective. The Sam Adams and Heineken are obviously the better tasting of the bunch, with the Sam approaching a level of sophistication I have never before experienced in a light beer.

The issue that I cannot seem to overlook, however, is the cost. If, as scary as it may sound, light beers represented the sole style of beer available, the obvious choices would be the Sam's and Heineken as they do offer a better beer drinking experience. Luckily, this is not the world that we live in, and it seems that for the same price we can gain a great deal of flavor and character by entering into the "real" world of beers. While the light beers do all offer fewer carbs and calories than a normal brew, I feel that if one is making the effort to pay full price for an enjoyable beer they ought to face these few extra calories and carbs and try something real. As for the Natural and Bud Light, I would have to pick the more expensive Bud Light Bottle for casual occasions; a few extra dollars can buy a little more flavor and a lot more class. I think we all know that Natty will always be Bowdoin's true party beer, and I see no reason why it should ever be replaced.