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Friday, August 09, 2019

Tastes not-so-great, barely less filling: Michelob Ultra continues its fast growth.

'Craft' breweries make pastry stouts and beers with fruit loops. Mega-breweries do this.

Michelob Ultra has surpassed Miller Lite as the third-best best-selling beer in the U.S. Bud Light and Coors Light remain at number one and two, respectively.


Michelob Ultra launched nationally in 2004, and, according to sales data, it’s now the third-largest beer brand in America, with Miller Lite slipping to number four. That’s by dollar sales, though, not volume. Because Michelob Ultra costs more than Miller Lite, it still sells less by volume than Miller Lite, but rakes in more money.

'The first two years [of Michelob Ultra sales] were ridiculous and it’s been a double-digit growth brand for a decade. There’s nobody else except for upstart brands that can lay claim to that,' Bryan Roth, a beer writer who’s covered Michelob Ultra extensively, tells The Takeout. A piece he wrote for Good Beer Hunting last year calls Michelob Ultra 'the most important American beer since Bud Light.' [...] 'The way the brand has integrated itself into the lifestyle activity and the minds of people consuming it is a true differentiator. It’s built this ‘better for you’ category for modern beer audiences.'
— Kate Bernot
The TakeOut.

Almost three decades ago, 'clear ' beer —implied as a product better for you— fell with a thud. In this year's data, there is a 'sobering' trend for the conglomerating breweries to note. Of the top 20 brands (by sales dollars), only fourMichelob Ultra (Anheuser-Busch), Modelo (Constellation / Anheuser-Busch), Natural Light (Anheuser-Busch) and Stella Artois (Anheuser-Busch)— are up in sales. Dollar sales of Modelo have increased 18.9% over last year; Stella barely 0.2%. Miller Lite, owned by Molson Coors, is down 0.3%.

What's it all about, Alfie? Other than the dollars, not much. One can of Michelob Ultra contains 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates, whereas Miller Lite contains 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbohydrates. Tastes not-so-great; barely less filling.

The only 'craft' beer on the list —to be precise, the only beer produced by a [U.S.] Brewers Association-defined 'craft' brewery— is Yuengling Lager. Its dollar sales are down 3.5%, this year vs. last.

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