Budweiser and Bud Light are two of the top brands for beer consumption in the United States. However, to many people, it’s not clear if they are made by the same company and if they were both invented by the same company. Let’s have a look:
Budweiser and Bud Light are both owned by Ab InBev, an international beer conglomerate with more than 600 beer brands in its portfolio. Furthermore, both Budweiser and Bud Light were invented by the same company, Anheuser-Busch, although Budweiser was invented in 1876 and Bud Light in 1981.
However, that certainly doesn’t answer the whole question. Below, we’ll give you a much clearer picture of what company has owned the two brands throughout the years and what the current situation looks like in detail. Furthermore, we’ll see if both beers are brewed in the same breweries and if they make use of the same ingredients. Finally, we’ll discuss why Bud Light was invented so much later than Budweiser. Read on!
What Company Owns Budweiser & Bud Light?
Currently, both Budweiser and Bud Light are owned by Ab Inbev, the largest beer brewing company globally. The brands of Budweiser and Bud Light are managed by Anheuser-Busch, the original company that invented Budweiser and Bud Light and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ab InBev.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole history of the ownership of these two major beer brands. For that, we need to go back in time a little.
The origins of Anheuser-Busch can officially be traced back to 1860 when Eberhard Anheuser and William D’Oench bought the Bavarian Brewery on Carondelet Avenue, St Louis, Missouri. This brewery had been struggling opened in 1852 and had been struggling ever since.
When they bought the brewery, they called it ‘E. Anheuser & Co.’. This is how it was known between 1860 – 1875. In 1869, Adolphus Busch (who had married the daughter of Eberhard Anheuser) bought the shares of William D’Oench.
Adolphus Busch is also the person that invented Budweiser in 1876 after his tour through Europe. Budweiser is, therefore, originally modeled after a Czech beer that they made in the region of Budweis.
Decades followed, and the popularity of the brewery increased significantly. In 1981 the company ‘Anheuser-Busch International, Inc.’ was founded. At that point, they owned around ten breweries in the United States. However, between 1981 – 2008 they also expanded internationally. In 2008, they owned 12 breweries in the United States, 14 in China, and one in the United Kingdom.
On July 13, 2008, InBev and Anheuser-Busch agreed on a $52 billion deal which meant Anheuser-Busch would officially become part of InBev. With this, the brands of Budweiser and Bud Light also both became owned by the newly formed Ab InBev company.
Are They Made In The Same Breweries?
Both Budweiser and Bud Light are made in the same breweries in the United States. This is because both beers are sold in large quantities, which means they need to be distributed across the country’s entirety. In this blog, we’ve already discussed the breweries of Budweiser in detail. Below, we’ve written a quick summary.
- St Louis, Missouri
- Newark, New Jersey
- Los Angeles, California
- Columbus, Ohio
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Merrimack, New Hampshire
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Fairfield, California
- Baldwinsville, New York
- Fort Collins, Colorado
- Cartersville, Georgia
Labatt breweries in Toronto, Canada, also brews Budweiser and Bud Light.
Furthermore, it’s interesting to know that Budweiser is also brewed in the United Kingdom. This is because the beer is also popular in this country, and logistically it turned out to be more efficient to brew it locally.
Do They Use The Same Ingredients?
We know that Budweiser and Bud Light use the same ingredients. Both beers consist of water, malted barley, rice, and hops. Furthermore, the same yeast is added to both beers to create their lager.
However, we do not know precisely if the hops, rice, and barley used are the same in each beer and if they are added in the same quantity.
In this blog post, we already discussed the ingredients of Budweiser and how it’s made precisely. Budweiser consists of 30% four-row barley malt and 40% six-row malt mixed with 30% rice. Furthermore, Budweiser uses a mix of different hops that are as follows: 70% of hops made in the United States are the Hallertau, Saaz, and Tettnanger varieties. The other 30% of hops are European hops and high-alpha and non-Germanic types such as Willamette.
However, the tricky part here is that no such information is available about Bud Light. On the website of Bud Light, the ingredients are stated, but there’s no additional information about the type of beer.
We assume that Bud Light is made with the same hops and barley as Budweiser. However, the Bud Light recipe may require less barley or rice (or a different balance between the two) to reach the 4.2% ABV (lower than Budweiser). Less barley or rice would result in less fermentable sugars and, therefore, a lower ABV.
On the other hand, it’s possible that Bud Light uses less barley and rice in general, thereby increasing the amount of pure water that’s in the beer. Bud Light could be considered a watered-down Budweiser in that case. However, it’s unlikely that Bud Light is made by simply adding water to Budweiser, as some people on the internet suggest.
Were They Invented At The Same Time?
Budweiser and Bud Light were not invented simultaneously; furthermore, they were both invented for different reasons.
The Invention Of Budweiser
As said earlier, Budweiser was first invented in 1876 after Adolphus Busch has made a tour through Europe. Here, he learned that Europeans enjoyed a bottom-fermenting, light beer that we now refer to as a European pale lager.
Amazed by the success of this type of beer in Europe, Adolphus wanted to create the same kind of beer in the United States.
This proved to be challenging because the barley that was available in the United States had different protein contents, which created a product that didn’t taste like the European pale lagers. Rice was eventually added to make a fresher, more crips beer and to offset the effect of the American barley.
Eventually, Budweiser turned out to be a completely different beer than the European pale lagers. Therefore, it’s now referred to as an American lager. However, American consumers tended to enjoy the lighter beer made with rice, which stayed and became a success.
The Invention Of Bud Light
On the other hand, Bud Light was invented in 1982. This was because American consumers started to prefer less bitter beers (which is what Bud Light provides) more and more in the late 1900s. Bud Light was introduced because it only had (and still has) an IBU of 6 (which is relatively low on the scale of bitterness). Therefore, it’s also classified as an American light lager.
During the same time, regular Budweiser had an IBU of 18, which made it much more bitter. However, also Budweiser has had to change its recipe in response to the success of Bud Light. Therefore, Budweiser now has an IBU of 12.