If you are of a certain age like me, you probably have fond memories of the iconic “teardrop” bottle of Michelob seen in most fashionable and upmarket bars in the 1980s.
With its stylish dark brown glass bottle and gold labeling, Michelob always seemed to be a little bit more premium than the standard fare of Budweiser, Millers, or Coors.
A successful advertising campaign using the slogan “Weekends were made for Michelob” targeted young adults who were looking for a sophisticated and trendy beer to enjoy on the weekends, ensuring it was a popular beer among the important young professionals market.
Then, all of a sudden, Michelob and its variants seemed to disappear from the coolers in bars and off the supermarket shelves as imported beers like Corona, Kronenbourg, and Stella Artois, to name but a few, became more popular.
Even the popular Michelob Light saw a downturn in sales which led to a Time Magazine article putting it at the top of a list of “9 Beers Americans Don’t Drink Anymore”, with a 69.6% decline in sales between 2007 – 2012.
Whatever happened to the popular brand Michelob which has been around since 1896? Who owns and brews Michelob? Has Michelob Light been discontinued?
Let’s take a look at the long history of this beloved brand among beer enthusiasts and find out whether they make Michelob Original any longer.
Where Is Michelob Beer From?
Despite its foreign-sounding name, Michelob is actually an American beer in origin, as American as apple pie (Michelob is the German name for the town Měcholupy, now in the Czech Republic, where Anton Dreher, a key figure in the development of pale lagers, had a brewery).
How did a Czech beer brand end up being produced in the US? It’s believed by many beer historians that the German-born Anheuser, along with his brother-in-law Busch, entered into a partnership with Dreher to distribute beers from Měcholupy in the USA.
However, when Michelob was born in 1896, Anheuser Busch presented Michelob as their own brand.
Originally brewed by the Anheuser Busch brewery in Saint Lois, MO in 1896, Michelob Original Lager was marketed as the “draught beer for connoisseurs” and was to be served only on draught in the finest retail establishments.
At $8 a keg, it was significantly more expensive than other beers in the Anheuser Busch portfolio such as Budweiser but was known for its high quality and distinctive taste.
In the early 20th century, Michelob was a regional beer, primarily available in the Midwest and South due to it being only available on draught.
It wasn’t until 1961 that Anheuser-Busch started pasteurizing their beers, which facilitated the legal shipment of their beer across state lines.
What Style of Beer Was the Original Michelob?
The original Michelob lager was a classic 100% all-malt European bottom-fermented beer. Originally it would use only the finest two-row barley malt, which gave it a nice malt flavor and made it a higher-end, more expensive product than other adjunct lagers such as Budweiser.
Caramel malts added to the traditional two-row malt gave the lager more of a dark amber color than later iterations of Michelob lager.
It was lightly hopped with German noble hops for a very smooth taste, and Michelob was a premium strength alcohol beer at 6% ABV. The classic label featured a red-and-blue crest and the words “Michelob on top”.
It was only when the pasteurized version of Michelob was produced in 1961 (it was the first beer that Anheuser Busch pasteurized), and following the shortage of grain after WWII, that rice and corn were added to the recipe.
Do They Make Original Michelob Anymore?
Although for many years the bottled and canned versions of Michelob contained rice and other adjuncts, in 2007 Anheuser-Busch announced that Michelob Light and Michelob Lager would be returning to their iconic teardrop bottle and all-malt flavor, and would be brewed using 100% malt again.
Don Muhleman, the group Vice President of Brewing Operations and Technology at the time, argues that using a 100% malt and a traditional mashing process would result in a taste befitting the heritage of Michelob.
“The taste will reflect the basic style that Michelob is known for, but with an added dimension of taste intensity. The beer will have a rich toasted maltiness, a balanced hop profile from the use of noble aroma hops, a rich color, and a smooth velvety finish”, Muhleman went on to explain.
Although the Michelob Original can be hard to track down, you can still find it occasionally on the shelves of your local 7/11 and most good online retailers. It is still widely exported too, to the European markets of the UK and continental Europe.
The 1960s and the Introduction of the Teardrop Bottle
In the 1950s, Michelob underwent a significant transformation. The brewery began marketing Michelob as a premium beer, positioning it as a high-end alternative to the more common, mass-produced beers.
The brand’s new tagline, “The beer that’s brewed for connoisseurs,” emphasized Michelob’s quality and exclusivity.
In 1961, after Michelob became the first pasteurized beer in the USA, it was more widely available across the United States and abroad.
An iconic teardrop bottle design was created to make the beer more identifiable in a darkened bar or restaurant while also being appropriate for home dining or entertainment.
The teardrop bottle which resembled a water droplet was awarded a medal from the Institute of Design in 1962 and five years later was redesigned for more efficiency.
The result was a bottle that balanced well with an easy grip for pouring. Over the next 40 years, Michelob used several variations of the design before moving to the traditional long-neck beer bottles of other competitor beers.
It was only in 2007, with the move back to a 100 percent malt blend, that the teardrop bottle was reintroduced.
In 1966, Michelob was sold in cans for the first time. The cans still featured the distinctive blue and red royal crest and were still marketed as a premium beer, an upper-middle brow version of an American lager that was still accessible and popular.
Michelob Light and Michelob Ultra – What’s the Difference?
Michelob Light was Anheuser-Busch’s first foray into the world of light beers. It predated Bud Light and met the increasing demand of drinkers in the late 1970s for satisfying and low-calorie beers.
Introduced as the country’s first super-premium light beer, it was brewed with a high percentage of two-row barley malt. It was a refreshing summer beer that fitted in well with the ever more active lifestyles of the younger beer-drinking market in much the same ways as Miller Lite.
Michelob Light is brewed using a special brewing process called “micro-carbonation” which helps to produce a crisper and more refreshing taste.
Michelob Light is a lager-style beer and has a light golden color, a slightly sweet aroma, and a smooth, refreshing taste.
The beer is a good choice for people who are looking for a lower-calorie alternative to traditional beers and was also a popular option for those who are looking for a beer that’s easy to drink and goes well with a variety of foods.
Many people find Michelob Light to be a delicious and refreshing alternative to other beers, making it a popular choice for those who want a lower-calorie option.
As styles of beer go, the light beer trend of the seventies and early eighties has endured well with brands like Coors Light, Bud Light and Miller Lite being among the top-selling brands in the US every year. But whatever happened to Michelob Light?
Michelob Light wasn’t a terrible beer, however, it didn’t take the market by storm or come anywhere close to the lofty expectations that Anheuser Busch had set for it of featuring in the top 20 best-selling beers.
Instead, they would focus their marketing on the Bud Light brand, which was much more successful on its debut four years later.
The Rise of Michelob Ultra
In 2002, Michelob Ultra Light, better known today as just Michelob Ultra, was launched to try and salvage the high-end Michelob family of beers. This new beer was targeted at adults on the immensely popular Atkins diet and was an ultra-low-carbohydrate beer.
The ABV was dropped from the 4.3% of Michelob Light to 4.2% ABV with a calorie count of 95, making it the lightest in calories of all the major light beers in the US. Ultra-low in calories, Michelob Ultra is also ultra-low in carbs at just 2.6g of carbs in a can.
One of Michelob’s most successful marketing campaigns in recent years was the introduction of the Michelob Ultra line of beers. The brand has positioned itself as the beer of choice for active, health-conscious consumers, using slogans like “Live Fit, Live Fun” and “You Can Do It, We Can Help.”
The Michelob Ultra line now includes several different varieties, including Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus and Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, which is made with organic grains.
Michelob Ultra has continued to grow and is now the 8th most popular beer in the US and the most successful beer launch after the phenomenal launch of Bud Light.
Flavor-wise, the more intense beer would be Michelob Light, which uses a corn adjunct rather than rice. While both beers have a mild citrusy flavor, Michelob Light has much more prominent flavors, with some critics arguing that Michelob Ultra is as close to water as you will find in a light beer.
Michelob Light is sweeter-tasting, and you can even taste the pale malt notes. Neither of the beers has the bitter aftertaste which is often found in many other light beers.
Do They Still Sell Michelob Light?
Yes, Michelob Light is still being produced and sold as of 2023. Although it was discontinued briefly in 2005, it was reintroduced in 2007 as an all-malt light beer.
Michelob Light may be harder to track down here in the US, only available at select bars or online retailers, but can be found in a number of different countries around the world where it is a popular choice at bars and restaurants.
Michelob Light can also be found at a variety of retail outlets such as grocery stores and convenience stores, often at bargain prices for a premium light beer.
Michelob’s Popularity in the 1980s and 1990s
In the 1980s, Michelob experienced a surge in popularity, thanks in part to a successful advertising campaign that featured the slogan, “Weekends were made for Michelob.” The campaign targeted young adults who were looking for a sophisticated and trendy beer to enjoy on the weekends.
During this time, Michelob also introduced several new varieties, including Michelob Dry and Michelob Classic Dark. These new offerings helped to broaden the brand’s appeal and attract a wider range of beer drinkers.
1n 1991 Michelob Golden Draft was introduced to compete with Miller Genuine Draft in the Midwest. Other beers launched under the Michelob brand in the 1990s included
- Michelob Honey Lager
- Michelob Pale Ale
- Michelob Marzen
- Michelob Pumpkin Spice Ale
- Michelob Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale
Who Drinks Michelob Beer?
Although originally, as we have seen, Michelob was marketed as a beer for connoisseurs, over recent years the demographic market for a Michelob drinker has changed significantly.
The Original Draft Michelob Beer was enjoyed by all-American beer lovers who were looking for a premium beer with that European taste but without actually buying an imported beer.
It was seen as the middle-brow version of domestic beer, and always slightly more expensive than your traditional Budweiser or Miller.
Successful advertising campaigns in the 80s used slogans such as “The Night Belongs to Michelob” and showcased songs that had the word ‘night’ in the title by artists such as Steve Windwood and Eric Clapton. This helped Michelob find a new customer base among the baby boomers and the yuppies of the time.
However, the last 20 years have seen Michelob focus on the more active, energetic, and sports-loving beer drinkers.
More commonly known as Michelob Ultra in recent years, Michelob beer, through a series of advertisements with major sporting superstars and the sponsorship of major sports events like the PGA tour, is seen as super-premium light beer.
It’s even cool with surfers, and in 2017 Michelob Ultra became the official beer sponsor of the World Surf League (WSL).
A 2019 study on alcohol preferences among American voters revealed that Republicans’ beer of choice is Michelob Ultra, followed by other light refreshing beers such as Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Light.
Republicans also reach for diet sodas, according to the report. Democrats’ beer taste meanwhile is for Mexican lagers such as Corona, Modelo, or Tecate.
Changes in Ownership and Production
In 2008, Michelob’s parent company, the nation’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch, was acquired by the Belgian beer giant, InBev. Following the acquisition, Michelob underwent several changes in production and distribution.
One significant change was the decision to discontinue Michelob’s specialty beers, including Michelob Light and Michelob Classic Dark. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s focus shifted to its flagship beer, Michelob Ultra, which was introduced in 2002 and quickly became the brand’s best-selling product.
Another change was the decision to produce Michelob in smaller quantities, which allowed the brewery to focus on quality over quantity. The beer is now brewed in limited batches, using high-quality ingredients and a slower brewing process.
The Future of Michelob
Today, Michelob continues to be a popular beer brand, known for its quality and distinct flavor. The brand’s focus on producing small batches of beer has helped to maintain its reputation as a high-end, premium beer.
In recent years, Michelob has also made a commitment to sustainability. The brand’s brewery in St. Louis is now powered entirely by renewable energy, and the brand has introduced a line of organic beers made with ingredients sourced from local farmers.
In addition to its commitment to sustainability in production and ingredients, Michelob has also made strides in packaging innovation. The brand has introduced several different types of cans and bottles, including aluminum bottles, slim cans, and 24-ounce “tall boy” cans.
Michelob has also introduced a new “selfie bottle” that features a built-in camera stand, allowing consumers to take photos and videos while enjoying their beer.
What is Michelob’s New Beer?
The brand’s Michelob Ultra Pure Gold line is made with organic grains and features a low-carb, low-calorie recipe that appeals to health-conscious consumers.
Michelob has also introduced a line of hard seltzers made with natural fruit flavors and organic ingredients, tapping into the growing demand for low-calorie, low-sugar alcoholic beverages.
The one all Michelob Beer lovers have been waiting for, Michelob Ultra Amber has also recently been released. Fruit Infusions which have also been recently announced see the low-calorie beers of Michelob infused with fruits such as lime, strawberry, or kiwi for a more accessible taste for non-beer lovers.
Is Michelob Here To Stay?
Overall, Michelob has undergone several changes over the years, but it has remained a beloved beer brand among consumers.
With its commitment to quality, sustainability, and innovation, Michelob is well-positioned to continue its success in the years to come.