busch light vs natural light

Busch Light and Natural Light are both forces to reckon with in the American beer industry, occupying the eighth and ninth places, respectively, on the top-selling beers in the country. Unsurprisingly, there’s fierce but healthy competition between the two light beers.

Hardcore fans of the respective beers would go to any length to prove that their favorite is the better offering. This leads us to the million-dollar question – which is better between Busch Light and Natural Light? Let’s start with a quick answer.

Busch Light and Natural Light are both light American lagers with similar properties and beer characteristics. The only real difference between the two is the alcohol content, with Natural Light having 4.2% and Busch Light with 4.1%. Therefore, Busch Light is the lighter of the two beers.

Beyond this quick answer, there’s much more about the two beers. In this article, we will consider both beer’s history, classification, and brewing process. Then, we will consider beer characteristics, like flavor, mouthfeel, smell, calories, alcohol content, and appearance. All of these will inform our choice of which we think is better. Let’s get started!

busch light vs natural light


Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose corporate headquarters are in Saint Louis, Missouri, is the manufacturer of both beers.

The company’s first light beer was Natural Light. It was introduced in 1977, five years after the debut of Miller Lite, America’s first light beer. The intention was undoubtedly for Natural Light to compete with Miller Lite and steal some light beer market share, and it did just that. The beer, nicknamed Natty Light, was an instant hit among beer fans.

In 1989, twelve years after the company’s first light beer, Busch Light hit the scene. It initially launched with the name Busch Light Draft, but the company dropped “Draft” from the title in 1994.

When the company launched Busch Light, it already had multiple light lagers on the market. However, fans of the original Busch pushed for a light beer of the brand, considering other significant brands had done the same.

Today, both Natural Light and Busch Light occupy eighth and ninth, respectively, on the top-selling beers in America list.

Beer Classification

Busch Light and Natural Light are lagers. This classification is due to the use of bottom-fermenting yeast when brewing the beers. More specifically, the beers are sub-classified as light American lagers.

The sub-classification is based on the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) requirements. According to the BJCP, 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%. Both Busch Light and Natural Light meet these requirements.

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 Natural Light, which you can find here: What Kind Of Beer Is Natural Light? (Explained)


Both beers use the same ingredients, adjuncts, and brewing process. By implication, they have similar flavors. The beers have a crisp, pleasant, and balanced flavor.

Both beers are light lagers, implying they feel like watered-down regular beers. As such, the flavors aren’t particularly strong or prominent. Nonetheless, you may be able to discern the taste if you pay enough attention.

Also, the bitterness levels of both beers are low relative to traditional beers. That’s not surprising, as it’s one of the differences between traditional and light lagers. Compared to each other, there’s no noticeable difference in bitterness between Busch Light and Natural Light.

As is characteristic of beers with low overall bitterness, there’s no lingering bitter aftertaste after you drink both Busch Light and Natural Light.

Summarily, both these beers have a soft flavor profile, making them very welcoming to new and inexperienced drinkers.


As far as the mouthfeel goes, both beers are identical. And yes, this is because they use the same ingredients, adjuncts, and brewing process. They are soft and smooth beers.

Busch Light and Natural Light are highly carbonated beers, positively influencing their refreshment levels. They are both very drinkable and thirst-quenching.


Both Busch Light and Natural Light are light beers with mild, tricky-to-discern aromas. However, you may observe a corn-like scent upon close inspection. Hop aroma is also essentially non-existent.


Perhaps the calorie count is the most important distinguishing factor between light and traditional beers. Let me take you back to the 70s when light beers became a thing in the United States.

In a bid to lead a healthier life, many people started cutting off high-calorie meals and drinks from their diet plans. Beers were undoubtedly going to be targeted, so manufacturers devised a way to make beers lighter in calories while still tasting like beer. Win-win for all parties.

This led to the light beer craze that began in the late 70s and extended well into the 90s. Natural Light debuted in 1977 as a 97-calorie per 12 fl. oz. (one can) beer. However, the beer has 95 calories today. Similarly, Busch Light has 95 calories in a can.

The calorie count is not the only identical nutritional parameter between the two beers. They also both have 3.7g of carbohydrates and 0.7g of proteins.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of beer, measured in alcohol by volume (ABV), is a measure of the pure alcohol in beer. The higher a beer’s ABV, the stronger it is. Light lagers usually have less than 4.2% ABV.

Interestingly, the ABV is the only significant difference between Busch Light and Natural Light. Busch Light has an ABV of 4.1%, while Natural Light has an ABV of 4.2%. The difference is only 0.1%, but it’s still a difference. You will likely not notice any difference in effects while drinking both beers in reasonable quantities.

Also, because of the stronger alcohol content, Natural Light is regarded as the heavier of the two beers, although this difference is very small.


As is the recurring trend in this article, both beers have the same appearance. They both have a medium yellow to straw-like appearance. You will not be able to tell them apart even if they are next to each other.

The only way to differentiate between the two beers is the container. Despite belonging to the same parent company, they have different brands. As such, their containers are different.

Brewing Process And Ingredients

Busch Light and Natural Light are both lagers, meaning they are bottom-fermented. They have the same basic ingredients in water, barley malt, rice adjunct, and hops. Considering they are both light American lagers, they essentially have the same brewing process.

However, the beers are not perfectly identical, as Natural Light has a higher alcohol content. What’s interesting here is the calories and other nutritional parameters are the same. This means there must be a difference in the manufacturing of the beers responsible for the minor difference.

Unsurprisingly, the differences in the brewing process are not open to public knowledge. However, it likely depends on the beer type and amount of yeast. Recall that yeast is responsible for actually forming alcohol in beers.

Brand Image

Both beers are in the top ten best-selling beers in the United States. Natural Light holds the number 8 position, while Busch Light is right behind it, holding the number 9 position. They are also among the top five in sales among light beers, occupying the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

In 2018, Natural Light shipped 6.7 million bottles compared to Busch Light’s 6.2 million. However, they both have 3.3% of the United States beer industry market share.

The marketing of the two beers is quite different. Natural Light is very common in colleges. In fact, the only recollection of the drink many have is in beer pong and beer games during college parties. This may be because of the very affordable price of the beer, making it one of the most cost-effective on the market.

Busch Light is more associated with hiking, mountaineering, and other outdoor activities. This brand also partners with organizations that preserve wetlands and forests.

AB InBev has done a great job marketing the two beers to their target audience. While they are similar in core beer characteristics, they are famous for different reasons and to different audiences.

What Do People Think About Both Beers?

Online reviews written by other beer enthusiasts are frequently a reliable indicator of a beer’s caliber. While it doesn’t necessarily imply that you’d despise a beer everyone enjoys, it might be a helpful indicator when comparing two beers, especially very similar ones. We will limit our discussion in this article to five of the most popular beer review sites.

PlatformBusch LightNatural Light
Average Score5.96.1

If you expected other people’s opinions to offer a definitive answer about which of the beers is better, you couldn’t be more wrong. The rating table above shows no significant difference between both beers. Let’s break it down.

The first four beer review platforms we considered are the most experienced you can get. The results show that Busch Light comes out on top, albeit with a minimal gap. This tells us that experienced drinkers feel Busch Light is better, but not by a large margin.

The last platform on that list is a relatively inexperienced beer review platform. According to this platform, Natural Light is better than Busch Light, and it’s not particularly close. Let me rationalize that for you.

The platform is inexperienced and likely contains reviews from average and inexperienced drinkers. This should not surprise you, as Natural Light is most popular among college students, who are relatively inexperienced drinkers.

Our Takeaway

Choosing which of these beers is better is difficult, as you can see from the public’s opinion of the beers. The beers are so similar that they feel the same. Natural Light is a little stronger and may be less drinkable in large amounts. It is also the heavier of the two beers. But that doesn’t make it better. It just depends on what you want and like.

If I had to pick one, I’d probably also go Natural Light.