A Light Macrobrew with Soul?

Bud Light Golden Wheat

Bud Light Golden Wheat

I Paid: $6.99 for a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

Let’s give Budweiser some credit: By introducing the craft-ish Bud Light Golden Wheat, it has created a tiny little stepping stone that might help wean folks off of macrobrews and onto the good stuff. And you’ve got to applaud the ambition of attempting to stuff real flavor and soul into a macrobrewed light beer—emphasis on the word attempting.

I blind-sampled six one-ounce shots of beer that included Bud Light Golden Wheat, regular old Bud Light, and Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, a “natural wheat” craft brew that has a stated flavor profile similar to that of Golden Wheat. I knew there’d be at least one shot of each, but that’s all the information I had.

Regular old Bud Light stuck out like a hop vine in a cornfield. It was totally clear and considerably lighter in color than the other five shots. It was almost totally flavor-free, with just a bit of yeasty taste.

On first inspection, the remaining five shots had similar cloudy golden colorations, but two of them had a more robust head of foam. Sampling the foamy shots revealed a rich coriander flavor, a relatively light overall body, and a nicely balanced total package. If this was Golden Wheat, Budweiser had pulled off a coup.

Alas, no. The two tasty shots were Paulaner. All three of the remaining shots revealed a lighter coriander flavor and a disappointing, empty-bodied, watery finish. I thought back to the original bottle description of Golden Wheat, which boasts of being “brewed with coriander and citrus peels,” and tried to taste the orange. It was there, but only faintly detectable, a flavor somewhat along the lines of an orange sugarless chewing gum.

From a nutritional perspective, the three beers are similar: Bud Light Golden Wheat has 118 calories per 12-ounce bottle, compared with 110 for regular Bud Light and 126 for Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. But though the Paulaner tastes a great deal better, it’s also significantly more expensive: A six-pack cost me $9.49, or $2.50 more than the Golden Wheat. So the choice isn’t about being healthier. It’s about whether you want to pay more for better beer.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

See more articles
Share this article: