Coors Light is the second top-selling beer brand in the United States. That statistic should surprise no one considering the beer has consistently maintained a very high quality for years. Coors Light has been around for as long as most can remember, but not many know precisely when this beer debuted and why it did. This article will address that in detail, but let’s start with a quick answer.

Coors Light was first introduced in the 1940s but was discontinued after the world war. It was reintroduced in 1978, dubbed the Silver Bullet because of its silver can, and has remained in the American beer market ever since. Coors Light was launched primarily to compete with Miller Lite.

There’s more to the launch of Coors Light than this answer tells, though. In this article, we will examine the reasons behind Coors Light’s launch and where the beer was first brewed. Also, we will consider the market value of the beer in its early years and if it was the first American light beer.

Let’s get into it!

When did Coors Light first come out?

Why Did Coors Light Come Out?

The official launch of Coors Light as we know it today was in 1978. However, the beer’s first appearance was in the 1940s when Coors Brewing Company introduced a beer that was lighter in body and calories than regular beers. Its production ceased when the Second World War started.

Why did Coors Brewing Company reintroduce the beer to the American market? Find out below.

To Compete Against Miller Lite

The primary reason for the reintroduction of Coors Light in 1978 was to compete against Miller Lite, which had been released five years before. Light beer was relatively unfamiliar in the beer industry until 1973 when Miller Lite debuted.

Many beer brands were reluctant to delve into light beers because they were unsure, but that soon changed after Miller Lite started making waves in the American market.

Coors Brewing Company was the second major company to venture into light beer in a bid to compete with Miller Lite. This made much sense, too, as the company had a history with this type of beer and figured they could build on their experience and already excellent portfolio.

Faltering Business Due To Boycott And Strike

While competing with Miller Lite was the direct trigger, the fact that Coors Brewing Company was rapidly losing market share due to a boycott and worker’s strike heavily contributed to launching Coors Light. Let’s explain.

Between 1965 and 1975, Coors Brewing Company moved from 12th to 4th on the list of the biggest brewing companies in the country. The rise was expected to increase even more, with the company fast gaining market share, reaching 40% in 1977. However, the company faced a massive setback in 1977 with widespread boycotts of the beer company country-wide.

The 1977 boycott was not the first the company had faced at that point, with some sections of the population boycotting the company in 1966. But 1977 was the first time the boycotts gained tremendous traction. The premise behind the boycott was the company’s perceived racism in hiring, anti-union stance, and the use of polygraphs to weed out “political radicals”.

Eventually, workers went on strike in 1977, voting the company’s ruling union out. This, along with the wrong public opinion of the company, caused their market share to dwindle. The company needed to re-strategize to regain public trust in its brand.

In light of this, the move to Coors Light to compete with Miller Lite was not a difficult one for Coors Brewing to make.

Changing Beer Trends And Preferences

The American beer market started seeing significant changes in beer preferences in the mid-1970s. Before then, the beer trends and tendencies in America were similar to the rest of the world, particularly in Europe. Then, regular beers were quite bitter (IBU around 18) and had a 5% ABV.

It is difficult to say what prompted the change, but baby boomers in the United States started favoring less bitter and lighter beer versions. Lighter in this sense means fewer calories and lower alcohol content.

The transition to light beers may have been due to the increased awareness of healthiness, particularly calorie intake and alcohol content. Additionally, younger people preferred refreshing, watery beers to bitter, more filling regular beers.

Coors Brewing Company swooped in and exploited the changing trends as any good company would. They even marketed Coors Light (4.2% ABV ) as the “world’s most refreshing beer,” further endearing younger beer lovers.

Where Was Coors Light First Brewed?

Coors Light was first brewed in Golden, Colorado, United States, by the Coors Brewing Company. Golden has been the home of Coors since the company started in 1873, so no surprise there. Now, Coors light is brewed in Georgia, Virginia, Texas, California, and Wisconsin.

Before Coors Light launched, Coors Brewing focused its products on only eleven states, majorly on the western side of the country. However, after the successes of the light beer, Coors Brewing moved more eastward, eventually entering the beer markets of all fifty states in the country.

How Much Was Coors Light When It First Came Out?

The exact price of Coors Light when it first came out is not commonly known. However, what we do know for a fact is that Coors Light boasted substantial market share numbers a few years after its inception. In the early 2000s, Coors Light had an 8% share in the beer industry, eclipsing the original Coors beers.

Coors light became the second top-selling beer brand in the country in 2011 and has remained in that position.

Was Coors Light The First American Light Beer?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. Coors Light made its first appearance in the American beer market in the 1940s, three decades before light beers became popular. However, it didn’t last long on the market, with the Second World War causing its production to cease.

In 1967, Joseph Owades invented Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which was essentially a beer lighter in alcohol content and calories than the regular beers on the market. This product flopped. Another light bere, Meister Brau Lite, hit the market some years later. This did better than its predecessor, but the manufacturer, Meister Brau Brewing, went bankrupt and had to sell its recipe.

The first real success with light beers in America was Miller Lite in 1973, which was produced by Miller Brewery, improving on the recipe of Mister Brau Lite. Coors Light came around five years later.

In short, the Coors Light we know and love was the second major light beer in America, but its history traces back decades before the first major light beer was produced.