The debate between Bud Light and Busch Light has gone on for decades. Sharing the same manufacturer, both of these beers have established themselves on the charts and drinking schedules of many Americans. One thing is clear – they are both excellent beers. But which is better? Let’s start with this quick answer.
Busch Light and Bud Light are both light American lagers and have similar properties and beer characteristics. Bud Light is slightly stronger, with an alcohol content of 4.2%, compared to Busch Light’s 4.1%. While the beers are both clean and crisp, Bud Light has a significantly fuller flavor.
While that paints a brief picture of the two beers, it doesn’t tell the full story. Here, we will explore the history, beer classification, and brewing process of both beers. Further, this article will delve into the characteristics, like flavor, mouthfeel, smell, calories, alcohol content, and appearance of both beers. Read on!
Both Bud Light and Busch Light are products of Anheuser-Busch InBev. As you would imagine, they are the light beer offerings of Budweiser and Busch, respectively.
The Budweiser brand is one of the oldest in the United States, debuting as an Adjunct pale lager in 1876. This beer went on to dominate the sales chart in the United States, replicating the same success in other countries. The Busch brand came a lot later, with AB InBev officially introducing it into the market in 1955.
Budweiser entered the light beer industry in 1982 with Budweiser Light. Two years later, the light beer was exclusively regarded as Bud Light. Although the light beer industry already had some major players, Bud Light catapulted to the top of the charts before long.
On the other hand, Busch Light is the light beer variant of the original Busch beer. Busch Light launched in 1989, seven years after Bud Light entered the market. It originally went with the name Busch Light Draft but abandoned the Draft from the title in 1994.
The principal classification of any beer is as a lager or ale. The basis of this classification is the fermentation technique the beer uses in its manufacture. Beers that use bottom fermentation at cold temperatures are lagers, while those that use top fermentation at warmer temperatures are ales. Since both of these beers are bottom-fermented, they are regarded as lagers.
After this initial classification, a sub-classification into specific types of lagers is necessary. For this sub-classification, we will rely on the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines.
According to the Program, light American lagers should have an International Bitterness Units (IBU) value between 8 and 12, Standard Reference Method (SRM) between 2 and 3, and alcohol by volume (ABV) between 2.8% and 4.2%. These beers meet these requirements and are therefore classified as light American lagers.
If you’re interested in knowing more about this type of beer, and why Busch Light is categorized as such, read this post: What Kind Of Beer Is Busch Light? (Explained). We also wrote a similar article for Bud Light, which you’ll find here: What Type Of Beer Is Bud Light Exactly? (Detailed Explanation).
Both beers use water, hops, and barley malt as their primary ingredients but differ in their adjunct grain. Various adjuncts are used in beer manufacture, but rice and corn are by far the commonest in beer lagers.
Most brewers in the United States prefer to use corn instead of rice as adjuncts. Although these adjuncts don’t significantly impact the ultimate flavor of the beer, beer enthusiasts can tell the difference between the two.
Bud Light uses rice, while Busch Light uses corn as an adjunct. This is in line with their parent drinks, Budweiser and Busch, which also use rice and corn, respectively. As such, Bud Light has a mild rice water flavor, while Busch Light has hints of diluted corn water. Note that you may not notice the corn and rice flavors in these beers if you are a casual drinker or you drink the beers mindlessly.
Furthermore, both beers are crisp, refreshing, and balanced. However, Bud Light is the more flavorful of the two beers. It has mild fruity notes and is generally fuller than Busch Light. In fact, many drinkers refer to Busch Light as the closest beer to water they’ve had. That’s not overstretching it, as the Busch brand ensures Busch Light undergoes a longer brewing process to produce a very light-body beer.
Busch Light has no noticeable lingering bitterness after drinking. However, Bud Light has mild bitter lemon notes, although they do not linger. Generally, though, both of these beers are balanced and cannot be regarded as bitter.
Which of the two flavors is better? That depends entirely on what you want. Both beers have soft taste profiles, but Busch Light is even lighter in taste than Bud Light.
Bud Light and Busch Light are both carbonated and refreshing beers. They also have close alcohol content values, and there’s no difference in the drinkability of the beers under normal conditions.
However, Busch Light has significantly fewer calories and carbs and is the lighter o the two beers. You may notice this when you drink, as Bud Light feels fuller-bodied on the mouth. Also, Bud Light leaves a mild bitter aftertaste, while Busch Light doesn’t.
Both beers have mild fruity and malty aromas. However, Bud Light has a stronger aroma than Busch Light. That’s not exactly saying much, as Busch Light’s aroma is practically unnoticeable under normal drinking conditions.
Both of these beers are light beers. As such, they have fewer calories than traditional beers. The calorie count of the beers is especially important to people mindful of their calorie intake.
Bud Light is the heavier of the two beers, and its calorie count reflects this. According to official figures, Bud Light has 110 calories per 12 fl. oz. (one can) of beer, while Busch Light has 95 calories. Note that the industry average of calories for light beers is between 90 and 100, implying that Bud Light is heavier than Busch Light and most other light beers in the industry.
Aside from calories, Bud Light has more proteins and carbs than Busch Light. More specifically, Bud Light has 6.6g of carbs and 0.9g of proteins in a can of beer, compared to Busch Light’s 3.2g and 0.7g, respectively.
As you can see, if you are on a special low-calorie or carbs diet, you would be better off with Busch Light.
The alcohol content of a beer, measured in alcohol by volume (ABV), is a measure of the pure alcohol in the drink. The higher this value, the more alcoholic beer is. The BJCP states that light American beers contain no more than 4.2% alcohol content.
Bud Light has 4.2% ABV, while Busch Light has a 4.1% ABV. The difference between these two is slight, and you will not notice any difference in effects under normal drinking conditions. However, with increased consumption, Busch Light becomes increasingly more drinkable of the two beers.
Bud Light and Busch Light have a medium yellow to straw color. They look virtually the same, and you cannot tell the difference between them even upon close inspection. The only viable way to differentiate based on their appearance is by how their cans appear. Since they are different brands, they have very different beer containers.
Brewing Process And Ingredients
These beers belong to the same parent company but don’t use the same ingredients in manufacturing. Of course, while the primary ingredients of water, hops, and barley malt are present in both beers, they use different adjunct grains.
Busch Light uses corn, while Bud Light uses rice. These adjunct grains are acceptable in light lagers and often correlate to a lighter-bodied brew.
Aside from using different adjunct grains, the beers likely use different amounts of sugars in manufacturing. This is because of the significant gap in the number of calories and carbs in the final products.
Both brands do not disclose their exact brewing process, and understandably so. But other than the difference in ingredients, I do not expect significant differences in how the beers are manufactured.
What Do People Think About Both Beers?
The debate between Bud Light and Busch Light has protracted for years now. Many beer enthusiasts and drinkers are torn on which is better. Before I give my opinion, let us view what other people think about these beers. We will examine five of the major beer review platforms on the internet today and arrive at an average rating for each beer.
|Platform||Busch Light||Bud Light|
Bud Light is the slightly better beer from the average score on these platforms. However, it’s not that straightforward.
The first four platforms are experienced review sites, which usually reflect experienced drinkers’ opinions. Bud Light wins on two platforms, with Busch Light taking the other two. That’s a recurrent theme among many older drinkers, with split results between the two.
However, what’s more telling is the rating from one of the less experienced platforms. Bud Light is the winner here, and it does so rather convincingly. While many older drinkers are unsure of which is better, less experienced and younger drinkers are overwhelmingly in favor of Bud Light. According to one reviewer, “Busch Light tastes like nothing, while Bud Light tastes like a light beer.”
Bud Light and Busch Light have a lot of history between them. They have their fans, too, and neither is willing to concede the self-imposed better beer crown. However, while Bud Light takes a huge lead in terms of sales, the difference in average ratings is not nearly as wide.
I think Bud Light is the better of the two beers, but it all depends on preferences. If you want your light beer to be more neutral and watery, you will prefer Busch Light.