Is Bud Light Or Budweiser The Better Beer? (Ultimate Test)


Budweiser is one of the biggest American beer brands. It’s immensely popular throughout the United States and also enjoys a solid presence in Europe. Bud Light is effectively a lighter version of Budweiser’s flagship beer. Given the option, which tastes better? Let’s find out.

Budweiser is an American premium lager, while Bud Light is a simpler  American light lager. Budweiser has a herbier, fruitier taste, whereas Bud Light’s flavor is lighter and has more malt notes. Both are very low in bitterness and carbonization. Budweiser is smooth and drinkable, and Bud Light doubles down on this character.

Of course, this is far from the whole story. In this article, we’ll look at several distinct features of these subtly different beers to determine which Bud truly is the king of beers. We’ll discuss such factors as appearance, smell, history, flavor, mouthfeel, calories, and alcohol content. By the end of this article, you’ll be a Bud expert.

Stefan, the founder of Beveragebeaver.com, holding a can of Budweiser in his hand with other beers in the background
Is Budweiser going to be the beer that´s most enjoyed?

Flavor

First, the most crucial factor: taste.

Budweiser and Bud Light are American lagers, and you can find an entire review dedicated to Budweiser here. Funnily enough, Budweiser and Bud Light are sometimes marketed as vegan beers, as no animal products are used in brewing. We’ll go into more detail there later on in this article.

Both Budweiser and Bud Light have soft, light flavor profiles. These beers are meant to be consumed easily. Drinkers accustomed to heavier European-style beers often compare these classic American lagers to water! Bud Light is a little crisper and a little lighter than Budweiser. Neither beer has a particularly bitter character, but Bud Light has virtually no trace of bitterness or aftertaste at all. Compared side by side, Budweiser is noticeably bolder in flavor, but that’s not to say it’s a particularly bold-tasting beer. It’s just heftier than Bud Light.

Budweiser has a subtly fruity note to its palate, reminiscent of apple juice, and it’s a hint of fruitiness that’s absent from the clean, fresh malty sweetness of Bud Light. There are notes of malty grains to both beers, but neither are overwhelmingly bready or yeasty in taste. Overall, these beers are similar in taste and very light, but Bud Light is the lighter of the two.

Stefan, the founder of Beveragebeaver.com, holding a can of bud light
Or do we think Bud Light is the better beer of the two?

Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel of Budweiser and Bud Light is very similar. Their levels of carbonization are close, although as with the taste, Budweiser is a little roudner and a little heavier on the tongue. Budweiser is a pretty smooth beer, to begin with, and Bud Light even more so. 

Budweiser is a smooth, drinkable beer with minimal character to its mouthfeel. This is exactly what Budweiser was going for with their flagship beer, an attempt to stimulate interest in the beer after the Prohibition era. You can easily see yourself settling in for a hot day watching sports and consuming a few Budweisers in a row. 

Bud Light is even lighter, with absolutely minimal carbonization. If Budweiser was already a light, easy-drinking beer, Bud Light goes down even more easily. It’s hard to know how many you’d need to consume before noticing a difference in heaviness overall, but Bud Light’s famously close-to-water texture is apparent when comparing the beers side by side.

Smell

Neither Budweiser nor Bud Light has much to boast about in terms of smell. Like many American lagers, the aroma is dominated by faint grainy, malty scents. There are some notes of cereal, but both beers’ smell indicates their flavor. It’s light and inoffensive, letting you know well in advance that this is a light, crisp, easy-drinking beer.

Calories

Perhaps the most significant difference between Budweiser and Bud Light is the calories. After all, Bud Light is simply a lighter version of Budweiser, catering to a market that is more concerned than ever about calories and carbs.

Bud Light has 110 calories per 12 fl. oz. (one can) of beer, while Budweiser has significantly more at 145 per can. Bud Light also has fewer carbs, at 3.1 grams per serving, as opposed to Budweiser’s 10.6 grams.

Alcohol Content

Budweiser has an ABV of 5%, consistent with many other domestic lagers. Budweiser was once stronger, as brewing documents from the brewer’s late nineteenth-century genesis suggest that the beer had more fermentable sugars in the recipe. Accordingly, Bud had an alcohol percentage of 5.2% at the time, which has since been adjusted to the standard 5%. 

Bud Light has an ABV of 4.2%, considerably less than Budweiser. Its lower alcohol level makes Bud Light a popular beer, as you could enjoy a Bud Light with dinner and still drive home.

Appearance

As far as looks go, these beers look very similar. 

Pouring these beers into a glass, you’ll see a pale golden straw color, topped with a thin white head that quickly dissipates.

Bud Light looks like sparkling water, with tiny, fizzy bubbles rather than a frothy or foamy head. Overall, if you were to compare glasses of Budweiser and Bud Light side by side, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference by sight alone.

Budweiser and Bud Light are marketed as regular, middle-of-the-road American beers, which is clearly tangible in the packaging. 

What Do Other People Think About Both Beers?

Budweiser brews beer for the American people. These are everyday, regular beers for everyday, regular people. With that in mind, we’ve looked at the court of public opinion to determine whether people prefer Budweiser or Bud Light. Ratings are on a scale from 1 – 5.

PlatformBud LightBudweiser
Beeradvocate2.352.85
Ratebeer2.93.0
Untappd2.32.6
Influenster4.34.4
Drizly4.74.0
Average Score3.313.37

As you can see, these scores are remarkably close. While most reviewers gave Budweiser a slight edge across the board, Drizly drinkers preferred Bud Light strongly, giving it an almost perfect score of 9.4.

Budweiser enjoys a slightly higher average score of 3.37, so it can be said that there is a slight preference for Budweiser over Bud Light. Overall, however, the two seem almost even.

One Beeradvocate reviewer had this to say about Bud Light:

‘I decided to pick up a can at the LCBO in Ontario 473ml at 4% in Canada brewed by Labbats brewery.

anyways this bud light poured into glass with 1 finger head clear golden color good carbonation.. smooth easy drinking beer and very refreshing.’

Source

Brewing Process & Ingredients

Budweiser and Bud Light are bottom-fermented, and the yeast used in the brewing process sinks to the bottom instead of rising to the top. We’ve actually already taken a very closely detailed look at Budweiser’s brewing process here, but we’ll revisit the key points below.

Budweiser is brewed by combining 30% four-row barley malt and 40% six-row malt with 30% rice and purified water.

Budweiser’s choice of hops are Hallertau, Saaz, and Tettnanger varieties. They also use about 30% European hops and high-alpha and non-Germanic types such as Willamette.

This is consistent with Budweiser’s origins in the German brewing world. The name Budweiser comes from the region of Budweis, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) since the thirteenth century! Adoplhus Busch, born in Germany, developed their “Bohemian-style” lager in the USA after a trip to Bohemia. 

Budweiser is brewed over the course of seven discrete steps:

  • Milling
  • Mashing
  • Straining
  • Brew kettle
  • Primary fermentation
  • Beechwood lagering
  • Finishing

Budweiser is lagered with beechwood chips in the lagering vessel, although these are boiled before inclusion, so they don’t add any flavor to the final product.

With its lower alcohol content and lower calories and carbs, Bud Light uses fewer sugars during brewing. Budweiser also made much of their refusal to use corn syrup in brewing Bud Light.

Overall, the ingredients used in these beers are similar, if not identical. The significant difference is in the ratios used to produce the beer.

Brand Image

Budweiser enjoys a reliable reputation as the All-American beer for the average American. Although the last decade has seen a boom in craft brewing in the US, Budweiser doubled down on its branding, refusing to kowtow to the trends. 

Everything about Budweiser, from the brand’s vaguely Germanic name to the iconic red-and-white packaging, is aimed squarely at the average American drinker. Its parent company, Annheuser-Busch, is one of the biggest brewing companies in the United States. 

Bud Light was first introduced to the market in the 1980s, following trends that saw Americans become more health-conscious. Its lower calorie and carb count positioned Bud Light as a relatively healthy alternative to Budweiser.

Outside of the United States, Budweiser endured some branding issues. In Europe, Budweiser is sold universally as “Bud” to avoid confusion with either the Budweiss area or another European bohemian-style beer called Budweiser. 

Budweiser has a strong brand image in the USA and abroad as a quintessentially American beer.

Bud vs Bud Light

Because these beers are similar, it’s hard to argue a case to drink one over the other. Overall, we’d recommend Bud Light to anyone who enjoys an all-American lager but is looking to reduce their calories and carbs. 

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