Sometimes older people (40+) and non-beer-drinkers will dislike hop bitterness, but not know what that means, and assume that "light" in color means "light" in bitterness.
Ignoring the 40+ thing (I'm 49), I think this raises a good point. What do people mean when they say "light"? Most casual lager drinkers probably don't know themselves, but it seems it may be any of the following, probably in descending order of relevance: color, bitterness, maltiness, calories, alcohol. One of the things I love most about brewing is the range of possible expression and potential for creativity. Want a straw-yellow, hopped-up, session beer - no problem. How about a black, 15 IBU lager - why not!
It makes me think back on my years in Cologne, ca. 1990. Koelsch was king, of course, but as a beer novice I always found it a bit insipid (but nothing beat hanging out in an outdoor cafe drinking from those tall delicate glasses on a summer afternoon!). Dusseldorf was nearby, but every time I'd order an Alt, I was disappointed by how bland it seemed for a "dark" beer. I know a bit better now, but it helps me realize how confusing it can be to the "non-specialist."
Thanks for all the great recommendations. I think I'll have to do a Koelsch soon for old times' sake and give that poor old Alt a second chance. I suspect the neighbors will enjoy them both, and if they're lucky, I'll share the saison.