What Type of Beer is Bud Light? Plus How Many Calories

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In the United States, roughly one in ten beers consumed is Bud Light. The best selling beer of the world’s largest beer company (AB InBev) adorns billboards, sponsors massive music and sporting events, and can be ordered practically anywhere beer is served. But what kind of beer is bud light? 

Is Bud Light A Lager Or Ale?

Bud Light is a lager. It is fermented with lager yeast at cold temperatures. The result of lager yeast fermentation is a neutral taste that allows the beer’s other ingredients to come through. Though steeped in tradition, lagers like bud light are an innovation in brewing compared to ales.

Ales are made with yeast that prefers to ferment at warm temperatures than lager yeast. All types of yeast exist, but ale yeast is primarily the strain Saccharomyces Cervisiae.

Lager yeast, or Saccharomyces Eubayanus, is a hybrid of ale yeast that crossed to form the cold-hearty, clean fermenting yeast that has since taken the beer world by storm.

What Kind Of Lager Is Bud Light?

Author Andy with a can of Bud Light

Bud Light is a light lager, a sub category of American Lagers similar to Miller Light. Like a pilsner, American light lagers are rooted in classic European lagers. Early American brewers supplemented adjuncts like corn and rice in the brewing process. This choice was largely based on many factors, but the availability of barley malt at the time was one.

As standard American beers developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, consumer choice favored crisp, pale beers with golden color. The adjuncts contributed to the alcohol content of the beers while retaining these beers’ light gold color. 

What Makes Bud Light An American Light Lager?

Light beers are commonly pale lagers with reduced carbohydrates and calories, though some may refer to a beer with reduced alcohol. The light beer trend emerged from the desire to market beer to women and leverage America’s increasing obsession with diets.

Coors was the first to use the term light beer with the pre-World War II introduction of Coors Light. 

Light beers are produced by adding additional enzymes during the fermentation process. In 1967, a biochemist named Joseph Owades added amyloglucosidase to a batch of beer. The enzymes acted on non-fermentable carbohydrates, effectively creating the first diet beer. The beer, initially owned by Peter Hand Brewing in Chicago, would later be sold and marketed as Miller Lite.

It is increasingly rare that low ABV beers be considered or categorized as light beer. For a long time, a light beer was expected to be less alcohol than its full-calorie version. For example, Bud Light has a 4.2 percent ABV while Budweiser has an ABV of five percent.

But then Anheuser Busch InBev introduced Bud Light Platinum at six percent ABV. The difference in alcohol content does have some correlation to calories. Most calories in beer come from alcohol, so a higher ABV suggests more calories in any beer. Alcohol is produced when yeast consumes the fermentable sugars in brewing wort. 

During the brewing process, sugars are extracted from the grains during the mash and transported to the boil kettle. After the boil, the sugars will be concentrated.

That concentration is measured and reported by the brewer as original gravity. During fermentation, that expression of gravity will be reduced as the yeast convert the sugars into alcohol.

The brewer will note the final gravity at the end of fermentation when the yeast has consumed as much of the sugars as possible. The difference between the original gravity and final gravity will yield the beer’s alcohol levels.

Beer Calories

  • Bud Light | 110
  • Coors Light | 102
  • Miller Lite | 96
  • Budweiser | 145
  • Coors Banquet | 145
  • Miller High Life | 141
  • Average Craft Beer | 200 – 350+

Does The Use Of Rice Change How The Beer Is Categorized?

Using rice or corn adjuncts can change how a beer is categorized. Most European lagers are all-malt. A beer that is brewed as a European pale lager that includes rice may fit in the American Light Lager or American Lager category, where these additions are common and permitted in competition. 

When Was Bud Light Introduced?

Released in 1982, as Budweiser Light, this light lager was rebranded as bud light a short time later. Since then, it has become one of the largest beer brands in the world. The beer is bottom fermented with lager yeast, malt, hops, rice, and water.

Like other beers in the light lager category, like Coors Light and Miller Lite, Bud Light is a low-calorie American Lager with a golden color and delicate grainy flavors. The hop bitterness is low, and the carbonation is high. 


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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.