When did Coors Light Come Out, and Why? Complete Guide

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Coors Light was released twice. The beer was first released in 1940 and then in 1978. So what does one make of a beer that was introduced twice? An initial failure to launch, or a beer before its time?

We’ll explain the dual dates and describe this innovative beer that continues to be one of the world’s best selling beers.  

Why Was Coors Light Introduced?

Coors Brewing Company introduced Coors Light to the market in 1940. The brand was advertised as a lower calorie, lighter beer than Coors Brewing Company’s flagship, Coors Original, also known as the Banquet beer. This beer was discontinued due to the Second World War.

Coors Light was reintroduced in 1978 to compete with other diet beers that were launched around the same time, namely Miller Lite. The growth of the light beer category has been led by these two beers ever since.

Today, Coors Light is the second highest selling light beer brand in the US, behind Budweiser brand Bud Light.

The Coors Brewing Company has merged with Miller and Canadian beer maker Molson, now known as Molson Coors. Though production of Banquet in Golden, Colorado. Coors Light is brewed in multiple locations, both in and outside of the United States. In 2019, Molson Coors moved its headquarters from Denver, Colorado to Chicago, Illinois.  

The beer has had wild success with countless advertising campaigns. Its nickname continues to be the Silver Bullet, coined by the Coors Family’s college-age children. It has hung its hat on being incredibly cold and refreshing with other tags like “as cold as the Rockies” and its current campaign, “Made to Chill.”

Of the major Light Beers, Coors is the most neutral tasting, with fans and detractors describing it as the beer closest to water. On the other hand, Miller Lite has the most hop flavor, while Bud Light could be described as the most balanced.

What Kind of Beer is Coors Light?

Coors Light brand is, of course, a light lager. The category is a subcategory of the American Lager style which commonly leverages the use of corn or rice as an adjunct to create an extremely light, and refreshing beer-drinking experience. Brewers use enzymes that consume greater amounts of carbohydrates during the brewing process. The result is a low-calorie beer that many consumers prefer.

See also: Andy Sparhawk’s review of Coors Light.

Light Beer Description

The Beer Judge Certification Program describes a light beer as flavorless with high carbonation. The key to a great light beer is that it delivers refreshment.


Light beers are straw to yellow collared with a thin, white head that disappears quickly.


Any aroma should be low. Malt is usually grainy and hops, if present, herbal. A Sweet corn aroma from the malt known as DMS is not a fault in this style, though it would be in other style categories.


The flavor imparted by these beers is not the primary goal; thirst-quenching is. The brewer does not want strong flavors getting in the way of the clean aftertaste. Thus, these beers are often described as smooth (code for they taste like nothing). 


Light beers are highly carbonated, which lends to the very light body, and this carbonation will result in a sharp carbonic bite. 

Coors Light Comparison

Given the above description, Coors Light is a perfect example of a light beer. Carbonation dominates the beer experience, and the beer tastes watery, though it is very clean and free of DMS. Bitterness is not really a factor, but a carbonic bite adds to the crisp taste. 

Where is Coors Light Made?

Coors Factory from across the stream that flows into the facility.
The Coors brewery in Colorado. Photo by Nolan Kent on Unsplash

Coors Light was originally produced at their Golden Brewery in Colorado, and for decades, the Golden Headquarters was the site of the largest single brewing plant in the world. It is nestled between two mesas; the Coors Facility sits along the Clear Creek, a small river that starts in the Mountains West of town and supplies Coors with its water for brewing, cooling, and occasionally the spill of chemicals, sludge, and beer into the ecosystem.

Today, Coors expanded its production of Coors Light to Albany, Georgia; Elkton, Virginia; Fort Worth, Texas; Irwindale, California; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the Molson Coors website. Internationally, Coors Light is made in Canada.

What’s the Difference Between Coors Light and Coors Banquet?

Banquet gets its name as the beer prospectors drank when they came down from their gold mining claims to party. This Rocky Mountain Legend provides the origin story of “The Banquet Beer,” as it is still referred to today, is an American Lager made with water, barley malt, corn syrup, yeast, and hop extract.

These are the same ingredients that go into brewing Coors Light. However, Banquet does not receive the enzymatic treatment that Coors Light does to lower the caloric content.

Coors Banquet has 147 calories. Coors Light has 102 per 12-ounce serving, and also has more alcohol, 5 percent compared to 4.2 percent.

Flavor-wise, Banquet has more malt flavor than Coors Light. Lightly toasted malt is prepared onsite at the Coors Brewery in Golden. Coors highly prizes this caramel malt, which is of exceptional quality. While Coors Light utilizes the same malt, the flavor is much lighter and neutral. Neither beer has a robust hop flavor or aroma, but both will have enough bitterness to create a well-balanced beer – no higher than 11 to 15 IBUs.

Overall, Banquet tastes more like beer than Coors Light. Coors Light has very little going for it other than being palatable, cold, and refreshing when you don’t feel like being choosy. As a Colorado resident, born and raised, I’m somewhat disappointed in Coors Light compared to other light beers. I’d expect more from one of its most recognizable brands in a state so well known for its brewing and beer. Banquet, on the other hand, is a solid beer.

What Are Some Similar Beers in Other Brands?

Some similar beers made by other manufacturers:

  • Keystone Light (Arguably the same beer at a fraction of the price.)
  • Michelob Ultra 
  • Bud Light
  • Lone Tree Mexican Lager
  • Heineken Light
  • Corona Premier
  • Night Lite 

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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.