We’ve written extensively about Bud Light on this blog. Today, we will talk about when Bud Light was first founded and why Anheuser-Busch felt the need to introduce a new light beer to the North American market then. Let’s start with a quick answer:

Bud Light was first introduced in the United States in 1982. Between 1982 and 1984, it was known as Budweiser Light, and it was only available in a 14.8 fl. oz. can. From 1984 onwards, the beer was named Bud Light, and later it also became available in a glass bottle.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below, We’ll first explain the three reasons why Bud Light was introduced to the American market. After that, we’ll also discuss where the drink was first brewed and how much of it was sold in the first years of its introduction. Finally, we’ll discuss if Bud Light was the first light beer sold in the United States. Read on!

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Why Did Bud Light Come Out?

Bud Light was first introduced in 1982. At that point in time, original Budweiser had already been on the market for more than a hundred years. Why did Anheuser-Busch (the owners of Budweiser and Bud Light) feel the need to start making a light beer when their original recipe was already the most popular domestic beer?

Changing Consumers

This is because consumers started demanding a different type of beer. Original Budweiser was a typical American lager. This meant that it had (and still has) 5% alcohol and a bitterness IBU 18. However, American consumers started preferring a more refreshing beer with less alcohol and, more importantly, a lower bitterness.

For this reason, Budweiser invented Bud Light. Bud Light has always had an IBU of 6, which means it is much less bitter than regular Budweiser. Furthermore, the 4.2% alcohol that Bud Light has also made it more appealing for younger consumers who tend to be more health-conscious and prefer a beer that has less alcohol.

Bud Light became an instant success, and with this success, Anheuser-Busch also realized that consumers did prefer a much less bitter beer. For this reason, they also dropped the IBU of the original Budweiser over time from 18 IBU to the 12 IBU it has today.

Different Market Segments

Another reason for introducing Bud Light was that it was a medium-priced light beer. At this point, Anheuser-Busch was (and still is) the owner of Michelob and Natural. Both these brands have a light version of their beer. Michelob Ultra is a higher-priced American light beer, whereas Natural Light is the lowest priced light beer.

However, Anheuser-Busch did not yet have a mid-priced American light beer (which is the type of beer Bud Light is), something that would appeal to the masses as Budweiser did. Therefore, they introduced Bud Light to fill this gap. Just like regular Budweiser fits right in between Michelob and Busch.

To Compete With Miller

The third, final reason why Bud Light was introduced was to compete with Miller Lite. This light version of regular Miller beer was introduced in 1975 and had propelled Miller from a small brewery to the second largest brewery in the United States.

The introduction of Michelob Light and Natural Light had done little to stop the growing popularity of Miller Lite and, for this reason, Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Light.

Where Was Bud Light First Brewed?

Bud Light was first brewed in the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Los Angeles. This brewery is located in the San Fernando Valley and, these days, it’s responsible for brewing more than a hundred brands owned by Ab InBev (the company that took over Anheuser-Busch in the 2000s). However, production expanded rapidly from there on out. Because of the popularity of Bud Light, the brewery in Houston, Texas, also started brewing this light beer in 1982.

These days, Bud Light is brewed in all 12 breweries of Anheuser-Busch in the United States. All these breweries also brew Budweiser (and most of them brew between 20 – 100 other brands of beers). If you want to know what breweries these are and where they’re located, read this blog post we wrote earlier.

How Much Bud Light Was Sold When It First Came Out?

How much Bud Light was sold precisely in the first years of its introduction is hard to find out. However, we do understand how the market share of Bud Light increased throughout the decades.

When Bud Light was first introduced in 1982, it immediately took the number three spot in the premium light beer segment and a 15% market share. Throughout the years, they’ve been able to increase that number significantly. These days, it’s estimated they have a market share of 55% in this particular segment.

Furthermore, Bud Light still holds the strongest position when we look at the entire beer market (including regular beers). It has an 18.4% market share which is about twice as much as its closest competitor Coors Light which has a market share of 9.6%. For comparison, Budweiser has a 6.5% share of the total beer market in the United States.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to know that sales of Bud Light have increased steadily over the years. For example, in 1989, Bud Light had sold 10 million barrels for the first time. In 2019, they sold a total of 27.2 million barrels of Bud Light.

Was Bud Light The First American Light Beer?

Even though Bud Light has the largest market share, it was not the first light beer introduced in the United States.

The first commercially successful light beer was Miller Lite, introduced in 1975. However, it had already been on the market, under various names, since 1967. This year, it was sold as Gablinger’s Diet Beer.

Eventually, the recipe was given to another brewery sold as Meister Brau Lite. However, in 1972 this brewery had significant financial problems and sold some of its labels to Miller. Miller then introduced the beer in 1975 as the Miller Lite that we know today.