Speaking of fast-rising beers, no two beers in the United States are better than Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Both beers are solidly among the top five best-sellers in the US, a testament to their outstanding quality. It is clear to many that both beers are extremely good, but the question of which is better just won’t go away. Let’s quickly address that.

Michelob Ultra and Bud Light are light American lagers of the Anheuser-Busch InBev brewing company. Although they have similar alcohol content, Michelob Ultra is the lighter of the two beers in terms of calories, carbs, and taste. Both beers are crisp, clean, and refreshing.

The answer above does not tell the full story about which is the better beer. To answer that, more extensive insight into both beers is necessary. This article will give that, considering the history, beer classification, and brewing process of both beers. Also, we will look into the characteristics, like flavor, mouthfeel, smell, calories, alcohol content, and appearance of the beers. Keep reading!

History

Bud Light and Michelob Ultra are light beers of the Budweiser and Michelob brands, respectively.

The Budweiser brand has a rich history, first entering the market in 1876. This beer quickly gained a lot of fans in the United States, which was duly reflected on the sales chart. Along the way, Budweiser famously earned the title “the King of Beers.”

Likewise, the Michelob brand was around before the 20th century, debuting in 1896. However, this beer and all of its initial variants could not replicate the success of Budweiser.

In 1982, AB InBev’s foray into the light beer industry began with Budweiser Light, which adopted the name Bud Light in 1984. This entry into the light beer industry came after other major brands had dropped light variants of their flagship beers. This was due to customers’ preferences shifting towards consuming lower-calorie drinks.

In like fashion to Budweiser, Bud Light blazed through its competition. Soon after its launch, it became not just the top-selling light beer but also the best-selling beer of any kind.

Michelob’s first light beer was actually Michelob Light, debuting four years before Bud Light. However, the beer couldn’t compete with the best in the industry, causing the Michelob brand to focus on other beer variants. Eventually, in 2002, Michelob Ultra hit the market as another Michelob light beer.

Michelob Ultra’s rise was astronomic and smashed all expectations. Many argue that the beer had a greater rise and impact than Bud Light, which is saying a lot considering Bud Light’s rapid ascension to the top.

Today, Bud Light comfortably holds the top spot on the beer sales volume chart, with Michelob Ultra in fifth place.

Beer Classification

Michelob Ultra and Bud Light are both lagers. This is because they are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast at low temperatures. After this initial classification, a more specific sub-classification is required.

Using the guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program, both of these beers meet the requirements to be classified as light American lagers. These requirements are an International Bitterness Units (IBU) between 8 and 12, a Standard Reference Method (SRM) between 2 and 3, and an alcohol content between 2.8 and 4.2%. More on Bud Light’s classification, you’ll find here.

Flavor

Bud Light and Michelob Ultra have soft flavor profiles, which is generally characteristic of light beers. Both these beers have fruity flavors, with Bud Light tasting more like lemon and Michelob Ultra sporting a general citrusy taste. However, Bud Light is the more flavorful and fuller of the two beers, and by quite a distance.

This is what you would expect, considering the emphasis the Michelob brand places on their beer being one of the lightest among light beer offerings in the United States. If you don’t pay attention while drinking, you may miss the citric Michelob Ultra taste altogether.

Let’s talk about their adjunct grains for a moment. Both of these beers use rice adjuncts; however, Michelob has no noticeable rice taste. Bud Light, on the other hand, has a mild rice water taste, but you can only notice if you drink the beer more mindfully. On the other hand, you will find it almost impossible to discern any grainy notes when you drink Michelob Ultra.

Both beers are not bitter while drinking, nor do they leave strong bitter aftertastes. Although, it is worth noting that Bud Light has a mild bitter lemon aftertaste, although it doesn’t linger.

It all boils down to this – Bud Light will be the way to go if you want the more flavorful and fuller beer. Conversely, fans of extremely light beer will favor Michelob Ultra.

Mouthfeel

Bud Light and Michelob Ultra are carbonated and refreshing beers and will quench your thirst. They are also balanced and crisp beers with clean finishes.

The primary difference in the mouthfeel of both beers is down to Bud Light being the heavier of the two beers. Bud Light has a fuller body than Michelob Ultra. Also, Bud Light leaves a slight bitter lemon aftertaste, which is altogether absent in Michelob Ultra.

While the gap in mouthfeel between the two beers is not wide, they still have different effects on the mouth.

Smell

Both of these beers don’t have strong aroma profiles. If you pay close attention, you may notice a citrusy aroma with Michelob Ultra, while Bud Light has a malty and fruity aroma. Under normal conditions, though, both beers would have no observable smell.

Calories

Both of these are light beers, meaning they would naturally have fewer calories than traditional beers. According to official data, Bud Light has 110 calories per 12 fl. oz. (one can) of beer, while Michelob Ultra has 95 calories in the same amount. The difference is quite significant and reflects just how much lighter Michelob Ultra is than Bud Light.

This is also the trend when considering their carbs content, with Bud Light having 6.6g per can while Michelob Ultra has 2.6g. When it comes to which of these beers is healthier, the answer is crystal clear. And this makes sense, too, when you consider that Michelob Ultra debuted to appeal to older people on an Atkins low-carb diet. As time progressed, Michelob Ultra became very common with athletes and younger people wary of their calorie intake.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of a beer is a measure of how much pure alcohol the beer contains and is usually measured in alcohol by volume (ABV). Light American beers have no more than 4.2% alcohol content, per the guidelines of the BJCP.

Bud Light and Michelob Ultra have 4.2% ABV, which is acceptable for light beers. The fact that they have the same alcohol content may surprise many, considering Michelob Ultra is widely regarded as the much lighter beer. However, Michelob Ultra makes up for it in the calorie, carbs, and taste departments.

Owing to the similar low alcohol content, both beers excel in the drinkability tab.

Appearance

Bud Light has a pale straw to medium yellow color, similar to Michelob Ultra’s pale yellow color. It is virtually impossible to tell which beer is which by just their appearance, even when they are placed alongside each other in clear glass bottles.

In a bar or party, the only way you can judge them apart from a distance is if their cans are present.

Brewing Process And Ingredients

Michelob Ultra and Bud Light are both products of the AB InBev brewing company, the biggest in the world. While the company does not divulge all the details about how the beers are brewed, they are likely brewed similarly. Both beers also state the same primary ingredients: water, rice, barley, and hops.

However, the proportion of the ingredients they use for their respective beers may be different. Since they have different calorie and carb counts, Michelob Ultra most likely uses fewer sugars during brewing than Bud Light.

What Do People Think About Both Beers?

Michelob Ultra and Bud Light are similar in quite a few things, particularly their astronomic and unprecedented rise to the top of beer sales charts. Many have given their opinions about which of these two beers is better, and we will consider this briefly. Precisely, we will overview ratings from five of the biggest online review platforms today.

PlatformMichelob UltraBud Light
BeerAdvocate4.84.7
Untappd5.04.6
RateBeer2.82.9
Drizly9.69.4
Influenster9.08.6
Average Score6.26.0

From the table, Michelob Ultra has a slight edge. The first four of these platforms are the most experienced online and show the views of the more experienced drinkers.

Michelob Ultra wins in all of these four platforms except one. This is not too out of the ordinary as Michelob Ultra is rapidly gaining prominence. Despite Bud Light breaking into the market first, Michelob Ultra’s style has swayed the hearts of many older drinkers with its unique taste.

The last platform is less experienced and reflects the views of younger and more casual drinkers. As expected, Michelob Ultra takes the lead. Interestingly, the beer first debuted to cater to the needs of older adults, but just two years later, Michelob changed its strategy to favor a younger audience. This was in the wake of more young people getting hooked on the beer.

Final Thoughts

Michelob Ultra and Bud Light are perhaps the most impactful beers in modern history, and the numbers reflect it. Bud Light is stronger than Michelob Ultra in terms of taste and aroma. However, they look and smell the same.

I think Michelob Ultra takes the crown here, being unique in flavor and also very healthy.

References

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