Budweiser may be “the King of Beers,” but to paraphrase a 2019 Bloomberg report, Michelob Ultra is the crown jewel.
That’s because Michelob Ultra strategically answered the peoples’ call. During the late 1990s, on the heels of the success of Bud Light, Americans craved something less: a beer that was lower in carbs and calories, with a sleek physique to enjoy after a run. Enter Michelob Ultra.
Upon its 2002 debut, Michelob Ultra hit the ground running as a new light beer for health conscious drinkers, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes. Thanks to major marketing efforts and big time sports ambassadors like Lance Armstrong and Kerry Walsh, Michelob Ultra soon rose to be one of Americas top light beers.
Over the years the Michelob beer family grew to include four beers: Michelob Ultra, the classic light lager; Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, a morally superior light beer made from organic grains; the gluten-reduced Amber Max, another light beer with a richer taste; and Michelob Ultra Infusions, with added fruit flavors. Michelob Ultra’s latest venture took a dip into growing pool of hard-seltzers.
Here are 12 more things you should know about Michelob Ultra.
Michelob Ultra is the Gatorade of beer.
For more than a decade, Michelob Ultra has been marketed as a sports drink, with ads featuring the likes of Lance Armstrong in 2010, and three-time Olympic gold medalist beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2019.
Speaking to Fortune, Spiros Malandrakis, head of alcoholic drinks at research firm Euromonitor International, said Michelob Ultra capitalized on the rising trend of health and wellness more than any other premium lager.
Michelob Ultra was originally made for Baby Boomers.
So, the message is clear: This light lager is for youthful, active types and marathon runners, right? Not so fast. It turns out the young, sporty audience Michelob Ultra enjoys today was an accident. According to AdAge, Michelob Ultra launched with a different target in mind: Baby Boomers. The brand and its tagline (“Lose the carbs. Not the taste.”) was meant to resonate with Atkins-dieting seniors.
Yes, Michelob Ultra is “keto.”
Although Atkins may be out of style, Michelob Ultra drinkers are still celebrating its low-carb count. The latest dieters’ accolade? It’s keto-friendly. “Michelob Ultra is making dreams come true for keto dieters,” Women’s Health reported in March 2019. It referred to Michelob Ultra Infusions, a new line of fruit-flavored light lager. Women’s Health’s Marissa Gainsburg also referred to Michelob Ultra as a “beloved keto-friendly, low-calorie light beer.”
This is because “the keto diet requires consuming fewer than 50 net carbs per day (and ideally no more than 20) in order to encourage the body to burn fat for energy, in a state called ketosis (hence the name),” Gainsburg wrote. While that typically means beer is a no-no — and fruit, too — Michelob Ultra Infusions “is truly giving keto dieters the best of both worlds,” she wrote.
It’s the calories and carbs that count.
Michelob Ultra keeps its stats low. The 4.2-percent-ABV beer has just 95 calories per 12-ounce serving. That’s less than the calorie count in almost every competitor, including Bud Light (110 calories), Coors Light (102 calories), and Miller Lite (96 calories). Michelob Ultra has the same amount of calories as Natural Light and Busch Light, but beats the other two in the carb department — Michelob Ultra has 2.6 grams of carbohydrates per serving, while Natural Light and Busch Light have 3.2 grams each.
Meanwhile, Michelob Ultra Organic dips even lower, to 85 calories per 12-ounce serving.
Michelob Ultra is still a top-tier beer.
In 2019, Michelob Ultra became the third-largest beer brand in the U.S. That put it behind No. 1 and No. 2, Bud Light and Coors Light; leap-frogging over Budweiser and Miller Lite, which were previously No. 3. and No. 4, respectively. Even though the market continues to change with rapid sales growth for hard seltzer products, Michelob Ultra continues to climb the ranks: The brand recently became the No. 2 top-seller in the U.S, beating out giants like Coors Light and Miller Lite, and former front runner Budweiser.
The Michelob Ultra family keeps growing.
There are four Michelob Ultras in the brand family. The original Michelob Ultra “Superior Light Beer” launched in 2002. It wasn’t until 16 years later, in 2018, that A-B launched Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, an organic version of the light lager billed as the first USDA-certified organic beer from a national brewer.
A little over a year later, the brand launched Michelob Ultra Infusions and Michelob Ultra Amber Max, a gluten-reduced version of the beer. Finally, in 2021, we got what we’d been waiting for: Michelob Ultra Hard Seltzer.
It went from beer to clear with two hard seltzer packs.
A brand all about low calories and carbs was about to release and even lighter version of its light beer (that is to say, clear). The release of Michelob Ultra’s line of hard seltzers comes at no surprise. There are two variety packs available: a classic collection made up of popular flavors such as black cherry and citrus; and a signature collection that offers the slightly more complex flavors cucumber lime and spicy pineapple. While different in taste, every Michelob Ultra hard seltzer clocks in at 4 percent ABV and 90 calories or less.
Pure Gold is so organic, it’s solar-powered.
In 2018, A-B announced the launch of their U.S. 2025 Sustainability Goals to focus on four key areas: Renewable Electricity and Carbon Reduction, Water Stewardship, Smart Agriculture, and Circular Packaging. Efforts have been made in many of A-B’s brands, but in 2021, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold became the first of the portfolio to be brewed with 100 percent renewable energy sourced from solar power.
Michelob Ultra is cool with surfers.
In 2017 Michelob Ultra became the official beer sponsor of the World Surf League (WSL). Since then Michelob has sponsored the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing competition and the Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold challenger competition, both of which feature men and women competitors. The partnership between the two continues to be a natural affiliation, as Michelob has always prioritized an active and athletic lifestyle. At this current time, this years event is taking place in Haleiwa, Oahu/Hawaii with highlights and updates reported daily.
Republicans love Michelob Ultra.
A 2019 study on alcohol preferences among American voters revealed that Republicans’ beer of choice is Michelob Ultra, followed by other light beers such as Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Light.
Michelob Ultra ads are fun, and made fun of.
Michelob Ultra ran two Super Bowl ads for the first time ever in 2018. Both starred Chris Pratt, the first a “meta,” tongue-in-cheek ad following Pratt as he “trains” for his big role as the Mich Ultra spokesperson; and a second, “real” ad featuring Pratt, along with golfer Brooks Koepka and surfer Kelly Slater.
Perhaps a more memorable Super Bowl ad was the spoof commercial for Michelob Sport, a “healthy” light beer targeting outdoorsy bros who want to be better hikers.
You can drink Mich Ultra and wear it, too.
Michelob Ultra is a longtime supporter of running events. It’s the official beer of the Turkey Trotters. At the 2020 New York City Marathon, Michelob Ultra debuted Michelob Ultra-branded shoes from Newton Running. And at the time of this writing in 2021, an ultra-slick $200 track suit is for sale in its online store. Not a fan of racing or fancy sneakers? You can also enjoy Michelob Ultra playlists on Spotify.