Corona Premier vs Corona Light: Which is the Better Beer?

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Walking down the aisle of your local beer shop, you stop in front of imports on the hunt for a crisp and refreshing light beer. Your eye is drawn to the familiar blue and yellow color scheme of the iconic Corona brand of beers, but you are puzzled by two light lager offerings. Instantly, your mind starts cranking, Corona Light or Corona Premier? Which is better for me? 

Corona Light and Premier are both light beer offerings from Grupo Modelo. The Corona beer brand has staked a claim on light, refreshing beers for the beach and beyond, but with two beers existing in the same sales space, how’s a beer drinker to choose? Luckily, we’ve got you covered. 

In this review, we look at Corona Premier and Corona Light to help you make a choice you will like. From my point of view, I prefer Corona Light, but there’s not much in it.

We’ll cover the history of the beers, their flavor characteristics, and how to enjoy each to the fullest. Crack open a beer (or two) and drink along!

Corona Premier and Corona Light Compared

History

Mexican Brewery Cervecería Modelo has been brewing Corona since 1925. Corona beers are now recognized worldwide for their perfectly balanced drinkability, celebrity endorsers, and familiar clear bottle crowned with a lime wedge. 

Today, Grupo Modelo is owned by Belgian Company AB Inbev worldwide. Constellation Beverage owns the brand in the United States. It’s complicated – we know. But allowing Constellation to own brand rights in the US helps ABI avoid being deemed a monopoly by government regulators.

Corona offers a variety of pale yellow beer and beyond beer offerings like seltzers and refreshers. Corona Extra is the most well-known brand of Corona. Corona Light came out in 1989. Corona Premier came out in 2018. 

Beer Classification

As light lagers, both Corona Premier and Corona Light fit broadly into the light beer category for retail purposes. Still, the beers differ enough that a specific type for these beers is more challenging to choose. 

The Beer Judge Certification Program keeps a comprehensive style guide for amateur beer competitions. Both beers would fit in international lager Category 2:

“International lagers are the premium, industrial, mass-market lagers produced in most countries in the world. Whether developed from American or European styles, they all tend to have a fairly uniform character and are heavily marketed. Loosely derived from original Pilsner-type lagers, with colored variations having additional malt flavors while retaining a broad appeal. The styles will be referred to by their local country names in many countries. The use of the term “international” doesn’t mean that any beers are actually labeled as such, but is more of a categorization of similar beers produced worldwide.”

However, Corona Premier might fit better in Category 1: American Lager, as the hopping rate for this beer, is much lower than many of the International examples. The BJCP describes this broad category as “everyday American beers that have a wide public appeal. Containing both ales and lagers, the beers of this category are not typically complex and have smooth, accessible flavors. The ales tend to have lager-like qualities or are designed to appeal to mass-market lager drinkers as crossover beers. Mass-market beers with a more international appeal or origin are described in the International Lager category.”

Ultimately, the difference comes down to the hop character. Corona Light resembles a traditional pilsner, while Corona Premier is a more accurate light beer, similar to Michelob Ultra. Let’s break them down.

Aroma

Corona Premier smells of lightly toasted malts but no hops. The aroma is clean as a result of the bottom fermenting yeast.

While hops are absent in Premier, Corona Light has a mild minty hop aroma. The stronger hop character could be described as fresh cut grass, but it remains cleanly fermented like Corona Premier. 

While I prefer the hop aroma, neither aroma is inappropriate for their specific categories. Broadly speaking, the lack of hop aroma is appropriate for light beers, or at least it is not a fault. If we’re keeping score early on, this is a tie.

Appearance

Expect Corona Light to have the same golden hue as all the other beers in Corona portfolio. We’d describe the range as between yellow to light gold with a white head of different-sized bubbles that collapse quickly. Generally, hops are good for head retention, but the type of hop products used can complicate this. My thought is that Corona is brewed with hop extract rather than whole cones. I believe this has been confirmed on other sites.

Corona Premier is lighter, yellow to straw, but similar to other Corona beers. The head disappeared the quickest of the beers we tasted. 

Corona Light is more appealing to look at than Corona Premier. After two rounds, we have 

Corona Light in front of Premier 2 to 1. 

Flavor

Light beers have subdued beer flavors. Despite all of the marketing promoting how one product tastes great or is smoother than the rest, light beers are best drank at cold temperatures, which hides their flavor. Corona Premier has lightly toasty malt notes that are a step up from most light beer’s grainy flavor and often skunky aftertaste.

Corona Light has a nice balance of cracker-like malt and noble hop character. It tastes like a regular strength pilsner would, just on the lower end of the intensity spectrum. Again, there is no clear winner here. They are both appropriate for the style.  

Corona Light 3 Corona Premier 2

Mouthfeel

Expect Corona Premier and Corona Light to be light to medium-bodied with a lot of carbonation, making them feel even lighter. Corona Light finishes quickly. Corona Premier has a bit of acidity, which is unique to this particular Corona beer; it is also much more carbonated than the other beers. 

We give the edge to Corona Light. A slight acidity can brighten a beer, but this seemed out of place in the Premier and clashed with the pleasant malt flavor. Corona Light appeared more beer-like. If you’re keeping score:

Corona Light 4 Corona Premier 2

Calories

Light beer brands dominate because they offer something other beers can’t, low carbs. Light lagers are the diet friendly version of a full-strength lager. Most beers will have around 140 calories; light beers have considerably fewer calories at about 100. 

Corona Light beer has 99 calories.

Corona Premier beers have 90 calories.

Edge goes to Corona Premier; Light 4 Premier 3

Alcohol Content

Light beers aren’t just low calorie; they’re low alcohol too. A good portion of the calories in beer come from alcohol, so it makes sense that to reduce the calories in these beers, the brewers should reduce the alcohol by volume. 

Corona Light alcohol content: 4 percent by volume.

Corona Premier has an ABV of 4 percent.

The score remains the same, 4 to 3.

Brewing Process And Ingredients

Both of these Corona beers are light lagers. Lagers ferment at a cold temperature, in many instances near freezing. Because they are cold-fermenting many lagers, they undergo extended cellaring time compared to warm fermenting ales. However, It is unlikely that a sophisticated brewery like Cerveceria Modelo is allowing these beers to lager for months; large breweries have innovated to speed up fermentation.

Both beers utilize unmalted cereals as adjuncts that lend a drinkability and a pleasantly dry finish. Additionally, these beers are brewed with malted barley. Barley malt lends color, flavor, aroma, alcohol, and body to the beer recipe. 

Corona uses tetra-hops, a hop extract that is not susceptible to skunking, by removing light-sensitive chemical properties and proves helpful with clear glass bottles.

What Do People Think About Both Beers?

Neither Corona Light nor Corona Premier garners much critical acclaim. We are surprised that RateBeer was so much more critical of Corona Premier. We aren’t sure why, but the sub-two-star rating seems an outlier in the comparison. 

An excellent question to consider is which style each reviewer believes these beers reside in. Was each ranked on their light beer merits or in their separate subcategories? To be clear, placing these beers in different categories is as subjective as the reviews themselves. Still, it would be nice to understand as we make sense of their popularity ratings.

ReviewerCorona PremierCorona Light
Untappd2.9 out of 52.8 out of 5
RateBeer1.56 out 52.76 out of 5

What’s the Best Way to Drink Corona

Corona Light and Corona Premier are everyday beers. Their versatility speaks to their popularity, but I can see them shining at a neighborhood BBQ and on the beach. Here are some details to keep in mind.

Temperature

Drink Corona Light and Corona Premier right out of the cooler. The cooler the temperature results in the most refreshing taste of these beers; Corona Light benefits from a slightly warmer serving temperature but won’t be harmed by the extreme cold. 

Can or bottle?

Typically, we’d say neither. Experienced drinkers know that to get the whole beer drinker experience, you should pour your beer into a beer clean glass. That said, Corona has made its long-necked bottles the way to enjoy their beers. That said, most beaches don’t allow glass, so cans are nice too. 

So here is the definitive answer: Corona Light: In Bottles Corona Premier in a can.

Food pairings

Beer lovers should try beer with various Latin American cuisines, especially citrus infused dishes. Corona Light’s pilsner qualities make it a good bet with seafood and light German sausages. 

Our Verdict

Tough to pick a favorite between these two. Both are great examples of the broad category of light beers. The difference between Corona Light and Premier comes down to the hop character and the fact that it tastes more like beer. We give the edge to Corona Light as the better beer, but the difference in the score was virtually negligible. 

Corona Premier is an exceptionally drinkable corona with a crisp and clean finish. It would be an excellent substitute for Michelob Ultra. Either of these beers is a great option for a couple of six packs to bring to a BBQ or beach party.

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Author

Andy Sparhawk is an avid beer lover and the former editor-in-chief for CraftBeer.com. Andy is the lead writer for The Beer Babe and lives in Westminster, Colorado, with his family. As beer enthusiast and experienced beer judge, he loves sharing his experiences with The Beer Babe's dedicated audience of beer enthusiasts.