Despite the common complaint that Budweiser “just tastes like water,” there’s a reason why its gently sweet and floral flavors put Anhauser-Bach’s signature American lager in the top 5 most popular beers in America.
As an adjunct American lager, Budweiser is defined by its crisp, clean flavor with very low levels of malt and bitterness. The beer’s signature light floral and fruity characteristics, intense carbonation and a sweet rice-like aftertaste pair perfectly with salty bar snacks and fried foods, while its light body makes for unmatched drinkability.
Read on to learn more about Budweiser’s flavor profile, food pairings, and serving recommendations!
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What type of beer is Budweiser?
Budweiser is an American-style lager with a medium body and crispy mouthfeel defined by its subtle malt flavors, very mild bitterness, and lightly floral and fruity aroma.
Tasting notes and flavors for Budweiser
Budweiser is considered an adjunct American lager, a type of lager with added rice or corn in addition to Barley. As such, it shares the crisp, clean flavor profile with other styles of lager but with a little bit of sweetness from the adjunct grain.
Budweiser has a crisp, delicate flavor with a faint fruity acidity from heavy carbonation. Though a bit heavier than traditional lagers due to the added rice, this crystal clear, pale gold beer remains incredibly drinkable thanks to its high carbonation and cold serving temperature.
For a more in-depth picture of Budweiser’s profile, let’s consider the Brewers Association’s style guidelines for adjunct American Lagers in the following categories:
Adjunct American lagers, like most lagers, are known for their clean flavors and drinkability, so don’t expect much in the way of bold malty or hoppy flavors.
Some hallmarks of the style include:
- Very low maltiness
- Very low bitterness
- Extremely faint fruity or floral hops
- Present yeast character
- High carbonation levels
- Sweet aftertaste from adjunct grains
Budweiser’s recipe features rice, which produces a starchy sweetness sometimes described as a “gummy bear” flavor. Other flavors you might encounter include banana-like esters or a faint acidity from the high levels of carbon dioxide.
Does Budweiser taste like water?
As mentioned above, lagers prioritize a crisp, clean flavor over strong aromas. Unlike powerful styles like IPAs or Imperial Stouts, big flavors are considered a fault for lagers and would lose a beer points competition.
Lagers’ extreme drinkability developed during a long, slow fermentation process will certainly leave you with a beer that can go down as easily as a glass of water.
That said, any experienced palate would easily differentiate a Budweiser from tap water; The faint fruity esters, gentle sweetness, carbonation, and strong yeast aroma all serve to define Budweiser’s profile.
The aroma found in Budweiser matches up pretty closely with the flavor profile described above.
Though extremely faint, adjunct American lagers will have a low to medium-low maltiness enhanced by its sweet rice-like aroma. You can also expect some light floral or fruity esters on the nose.
American Lagers are known for their outstanding clarity, courtesy of the lagering process. The thin but sparkly white head will stand out against the pale gold beer.
Overall, you can expect the following visual characteristics from a glass of Budweiser:
Color: Very pale straw to pale gold (2-4 SRM).
Opacity: Crystal clear, with no chill haze.
Head: Frothy, sparkly white head with low retention.
Lacing: Low lacing due to low alcohol content and poor head retention.
Budweiser is famous for its drinkability, a feature of its mouthfeel as much as its flavor.
Like most lagers, Budweiser will have a light, clean, and crisp mouthfeel. Though adjunct American lagers will have slightly more body thanks to the adjunct grain used in the recipe, the very high levels of carbonation will balance out the added sweetness with added acidity and effervescence.
Budweiser recipe and ingredients
Though the exact recipe used by Anheuser-Busch is kept top secret, the Budweiser website features the lager’s ingredient list, and a number of clone recipes aim to capture the taste of this famous adjunct American lager.
According to Budweiser.com, the ingredients list is made up of:
While not listed in the above ingredients, Anheuser-Busch’s proprietary yeast strain is incredibly important in maintaining Budweiser’s unique flavor.
For a precise ingredients list, check out this great clone from HomebrewAdvice.com to produce a 5-gallon batch of Budweiser lager clone:
- American Pale 6-Row Malt (8 lb.)
- Flaked Rice (3 lb.)
- Tettnanger Hops (1 oz.)
- Heat up about 5 gallons of water to 148°F
- Add grains and hops and mash
- Heat up water for sparging to 170°F
- Sparge with water and reach about 8 Gallons of wort
- Boil wort for 60 minutes
- Transfer wort to primary fermenter
- Pitch and add yeast
- Ferment in a cool place for 1-3 weeks
- Rack to secondary to clear up the beer
- Let it ferment in secondary for 2-6 weeks, depending on personal preference
- Bottle beer and let it carbonate for a minimum of 2 weeks. Longer is usually better for lagers
Tettnanger Hops are traditional hops used for lager produced in the Saaz region of Germany, and they are featured in Budweiser’s signature lager.
If you can’t get your hands on Tettnanger, a wide variety of American hops can provide the faint floral spice Budweiser is known for. Cascade, Chinook, Magnum, and Cluster hops are all excellent choices for American lagers.
Budweiser is an adjunct American Lager. Like other lagers, this style gets its crystal clear appearance and mellow flavors from its long, slow fermentation and conditioning process known as lagering. Adjunct lagers feature additional grain in addition to barley, usually rice or corn.
According to the Anheuser-Bach website, Budweiser has 5% Alcohol by Volume.
This is right in line with other adjunct American lagers, which usually range between 4% and 6% ABV.
Budweiser calories and nutritional information
Here’s a rundown on the nutritional value of a 12 fl oz (or 357g) bottle of Budweiser:
- Calories: 146
- Fat: 0 g
- Sodium: 11 mg
- Potassium: 118 mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 11 g
- Protein: 1.3 g
How to drink Budweiser for the best flavor
Like any other beer, there are best practices when serving any American Lager for the best drinking experience. Factors like temperature and style of glass can have a big impact on the flavor of your beer.
For the best experience, enjoy your Budweiser cold, in a pilsner or pint glass on draft or from a can.
Let’s break down how each of these factors improves the quality of your Budweiser.
The ideal temperature to serve American lagers is about 38-40 degrees F.
While some flavorful beers are enhanced at warmer temperatures, lagers excel as a cold, thirst-quenching beverage.
Because lagers have very low bitterness and high carbonation (both qualities that become more pronounced at colder temperatures), a cold serving temperature can highlight this beer’s crisp effervescence without the unpleasant bitterness that could show up in hoppier chilled beers.
Bottle, can, or draft?
As with most beers, the best serving container will usually be a can or keg. Both of these serving containers are hermetically sealed and let in no air or light that might damage the beer.
If you’re deciding between a can or a draft, your choice will have to come down to how fast the Budweiser is being served; kegs tend to be the best choice, but only if served quickly.
Meanwhile, cans’ small serving size allows for a more relaxed drinking experience.
Type of glass
When deciding on a glass to serve your Budweiser, you’ll want to highlight the beer’s best qualities. As a crisp and refreshing beverage, any large, wide-mouthed glass would be a great choice.
The best glasses for serving Budweiser will include pilsner glasses, pint glasses, or glass mugs.
What kind of foods pair best with Budweiser
Budweiser is a great beer to pair with classic bar fare; the neutral, slightly sweet taste and crisp, effervescent finish is the perfect choice when eating anything salty, fried, or spicy.
Though you’ll want to keep your food on the lighter side (avoiding chocolate cake, for instance), the beer’s carbonation will help cleanse your palate when eating fatty or greasy foods. Here are some specifics:
Salty foods are a great match for lagers, since the crisp, clean beer can keep you refreshed while enjoying plenty of salt. This pairing is so classic that salty foods are some of the most classic bar snacks around:
- Roasted Peanuts
Seafood is another good choice to pair with lagers. As with salt, lagers’ clean flavor is a great palate cleanser to balance out fishy flavors that might otherwise be overpowering.
Lagers and seafood are both great beachside summer treats, so definitely reach for a Budweiser next time you enjoy any of the following:
- Fish Tacos
- Charred Fish
- Grilled Shrimp
- Steamed Mussels
Spicy foods play well with lagers. A cold, refreshing drink can be a great way to recover from too much spice, while the high carbonation levels can work to cleanse your palate. Here are some salty and fatty spicy snacks that tick all the boxes for pairing with lagers:
- Chips and Salsa
- Lightly Spiced seafood
- Loaded Nachos
- Hot Wings
Same idea as above: Budweiser’s refreshing taste highlights and balances out the stronger flavors associated with fatty and deep-fried foods. Grilled meat, cheesy snacks, and anything cooked in oil can sometimes be greasy when eaten alone.
But with a cold glass of lager, you can really get the most out of these delicious fatty foods:
- Grilled Steak
- French Fries
- Fried Chicken
Is Budweiser a good beer to drink?
While Budweiser is sometimes looked down on as inferior to more powerful beers with strong hops or malt characters, nothing beats an ice-cold American lager on a hot day with a side of salty, spicy, or fatty foods.
At the end of the day, Budweiser is an excellent choice in many circumstances where more intense flavors would be out of place. Whether it be a specific food pairing, warm weather, or a simple desire to enjoy an easy-sipping experience, there are countless reasons to reach for a Budweiser over other beers.
Never feel bad for drinking a style of beer you enjoy as long as you enjoy it responsibly. But do be sure to store and serve your American lager in the best conditions:
- Use a cold glass from 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit
- Drink your beer fresh, preferably from a keg or can, or a properly stored bottle
- Serve in a large, wide-mouth beer glass like a pilsner glass or a bar mug
- Optionally enjoy salty, fatty, or spicy snacks
Follow these recommendations, and you’ll have an unmatched drinking experience next time you enjoy a Budweiser with your friends!
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