American Light Beers – Special Report


Over the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to add an additional element to our Monday celebration. We took five American light beers, and did a blind shootout with 5 friends and family members to see if we could tell the difference, and to see if we liked any of them. [Spoiler alert: no and no.] The blind shootout is an idea we stole from the guys over at the Totally Beverages and Sometimes Hot Sauce podcast (GFY). Go check it out if you haven’t heard of them. If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ll probably enjoy that as well.

The shootout was much harder to implement than I had expected. We had to match up each beer with a label on the bottom (a different number of dots for each one) and label 7 cups with the same label on their bottoms. Then we poured each beer in to the appropriate cups, and swapped each row around with others until we had no idea which column of cups went with which beer. Since we couldn’t see the labels, this wasn’t too hard, especially since all the beers looked the same in the glass, but it still took a few rounds of “one person leaves the room and the other mixes them around.”

So what did we test? Well, this was partially decided by what was available in the store. I am a weirdly proud fan of classic Budweiser (not Bud Light) but unfortunately there weren’t enough small quantities of normal beer [What is the opposite of light beer? Full beer?] so we went with the light ones:

  • Bud Light
  • Miller Lite
  • Coors Light
  • Michelob Ultra
  • Natural Light

We set them all up, one cup of each per person, and so the tasting began! For the record, there was only a small amount in each cup, so we were all more or less sober when judging. At least, the PiC and myself were. We can’t speak to how much was drunk before we arrived.


As mentioned before, they all sort of looked the same, so there weren’t very many visual cues to go off of.


However, this didn’t stop one of our crew from going through in about 30 seconds and naming them all very confidently nonetheless. He was, of course, 100% wrong.

The rest of us took our time, and tried to find the subtle differences between them. This was pretty difficult. Other than the first two being terrible, and the last three being slightly less terrible, there wasn’t much. I chose the one I liked best as being Bud Light, because of my preference for Budweiser, and then I chose the last beer as being Michelob Ultra. This was the only one I could actually point to a reason for. It was different from the others, a little more taste and individuality. Since it’s really going for a different market (not beer pong but classy/healthy/whatever), I understood that it would probably be different.

And, as you may or may not have expected, those were the two I got right. Two others and myself guessed the same lineup, and unfortunately 2/5 was the best score anyone got.

In terms of preference, it was a little more varied. What turned out to be Miller Lite and Natty Light were uniformly the worst, and most people enjoyed Michelob Ultra the most, but the rest were kind of randomly assorted. Tabulating the results, the averages ended up:

  1. Michelob Ultra (average ranking 1.9)
  2. Coors Light (average ranking 2.1)
  3. Bud Light (average ranking 2.3)
  4. Natural Light (average ranking 4.1)
  5. Miller Lite (average ranking 4.6)

Note the big jump between #3 and #4. Suffice it to say, to each his own, but if you’re going for a light beer, pick one of those first three. Michelob for something a little different, and Coors or Bud if you’re going to play beer pong.

Which we proceeded to do.


A final note: this was really fun, so I’m definitely going to try to organize a few more of these in the future. Let me know in the comments if there’s something you want us to try!


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