What Does Michelob Ultra Taste Like? (Flavors and Tasting Notes)

In 2019, Michelob Ultra became the third-largest brand in the United States. This is largely due to its branding and popularity among the younger, health-conscious crowd. With this kind of popularity, you may wonder what Michelob Ultra tastes like.

Michelob Ultra is a light American lager made from barley, rice, Herkules hops, water, and yeast. It has a mild malt taste and light citrus aroma with a crisp, refreshing finish. It’s a great low-carb and low-calorie light beer if you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle while still enjoying a few beers now and then.

Read on to discover more about Michelob Ultra’s flavors, what you can pair it with, and how best to drink it. If you want to re-create a similar beer at home, then follow the included clone recipe below.

Tasting notes and flavors for Michelob Ultra

“Lose the carbs. Not the taste” was the original tagline aimed at dieting baby boomers at the height of the Atkins diet craze when Michelob Ultra was introduced in 2002. Just after its launch, the segment driving sales wasn’t baby boomers as expected, but 21 to 27-year-olds.

It’s been described as a great summertime beer due to its less filling nature and easy drinkability.

Taste

Many reviews for the taste of Michelob Ultra are not flattering. It seems many people drink it for the low-carb, low-calorie benefits rather than taste.

Michelob Ultra’s taste is very neutral in flavor with a slight malty corn-like flavor. It has a low hop presence that is slightly citrusy with a highly carbonated, dry finish.

Aroma

It has a slight biscuit aroma with a bit of light citrus, but no strong discernable smell.

Appearance

Michelob Ultra pours a light straw yellow color with a thick, white head that dissipates somewhat quickly. It leaves no lacing on the glass.

Mouthfeel

Many reviewers describe the mouthfeel of Michelob Ultra as thin, almost watery with a crisp, slightly bitter finish. It is highly carbonated with a slightly metallic taste.

Michelob Ultra recipe and ingredients

Michelob Ultra is made with malted barley, rice, Herkules hops, water, and yeast. Although the recipe for Michelob Ultra is a trade secret, it is possible to brew a similarly flavored light American-style lager at home. This clone recipe is for 5.5 gallons of finished light lager, which tastes similar to the Michelob Ultra brand.

Brewing a light lager can be challenging. The character of the beer being mostly beer-flavored water means there’s nowhere for any off-flavors to hide. It was difficult to find a recipe for this style of beer. The recipe below comes from the Beersmith Homebrewing Forum.

There are also extract kits available that may be easier to brew.

  • Style: Lite American Lager
  • Type: All Grain
  • Batch Size: 5.50 gal     
  • Boil Size: 6.92 gal
  • Estimated OG: 1.028 SG
  • Estimated Color: 2.1 SRM
  • Estimated IBU: 8.1 IBU
  • Brewhouse Efficiency: 76.60 %
  • Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 4.0 oz – Rice Hulls
  • 3 lbs – Pale Malt (2 Row)
  • 2 lbs – Corn, Flaked
  • 8.0 oz – Rice, Minute Rice
  • 0.25 oz – Hallertauer (60 min) Hops
  • 0.25 oz – Hallertauer (20 min) Hops
  • 0.25 oz – Hallertauer (0 min) Hops   
  • 0.50 tsp – Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min)
  • 2.00 tbsp – PH 5.2 Stabilizer (Mash 60.0 min)
  • 1 Pkgs – Pilsner Lager (White Labs #WLP800)     

Instructions

Step TimeNameDescriptionStep Temp
30 minProtein rest Add 5.18 qt of water at 132.1 F 122.0 F
60 minSaccharification Add 4.60 qt of water at 187.9 F 150.0 F
10 minMash out Add 4.60 qt of water at 210.3 F 168.0 F

Michelob Ultra Style

Michelob Ultra is an American-style light lager. Light lagers are generally a lighter version of a premium lager with fewer calories and carbohydrates. 

This style is light golden or straw-colored with a very light malt flavor and an almost non-existent hop character. The use of large percentages of adjunct corn and rice dilute the flavors and they are often referred to as watery or bland.

Other popular American-style light lagers are:

  • Coors Light
  • Bud Light
  • Natural Light
  • Miller Light

Michelob Ultra ABV

Michelob Ultra is  4.2% ABV like most American Light Lagers, which is slightly higher than their European counterparts.

Michelob Ultra calories and nutritional information

Nutritional information for Michelob Ultra is similar to other beers of its style. The carbohydrates in Michelob Ultra come from the grains used to produce the beer.

Michelob Ultra has 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates per 12 oz serving.

How to drink Michelob Ultra for the best flavor

Bartenders have suggested that adding lime to Michelob Ultra gives it a bit more flavor. Much like adding lime to a Corona Light, it masks the lack of depth and adds a splash of citrus in an otherwise barren flavor landscape.

Michelob Ultra and all light lagers are intended to be consumed when they are very cold. Since these beers have very little flavor, the cold temperature will mask the lack of depth and make the beer seem more refreshing. The goal is mindless drinkability without guilt.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for Michelob Ultra, like all other light lagers, is between 36°F and 38°F degrees. The refreshing quality is what you’re going for when drinking this beer.

Bottle, can, or draft?

For Michelob Ultra there really is no “best” option. With the weak flavor profile, it really comes down to where you are and what’s available. The best option is the one you can get that is the coldest.

Type of glass

Michelob Ultra should be poured into a tall pilsner glass to develop its aroma and flavor profile and showcase its color and carbonation.

What kind of foods pair best with Michelob Ultra

With Michelob Ultra’s light and refreshing flavor, it’s best to pair it with foods that are mildly flavored and healthy as a meal option such as light salads, grilled chicken, or fish.

It pairs equally as well with salty snack foods, meats, and cheeses for those that aren’t as health-conscious since its refreshing quality offsets the saltiness of these foods. It also won’t compete on the strong flavors of the cured meats.

Check out these meal pairings from Bon Apetit Magazine and Michelob Ultra:

  • Seared Salmon with Lemons, Fingerling Potatoes, and Winter Greens.

This pairing works well with the lemons over the fish and in the salad dressing adding a bit of depth as you follow them up with a sip of ice-cold Michelob Ultra.

Dark meat chicken adds flavor and depth and is balanced out by the tender wilted watercress and herbs. A flavorful meal calls for a delicate, refreshing beer like Michelob Ultra.

Is Michelob Ultra a good beer to drink?

According to reviews on sites like Beer Advocate, Michelob Ultra doesn’t enjoy great ratings. Many reviews say that it’s easy to drink but it has little to no actual flavor. 

It’s a refreshing beer after mowing the lawn or to drink at a friend’s super bowl party, but only rates as a first choice beer for people who are intentionally dieting. It’s also recommended for those with diabetes since it is so low in carbs.

Is Michelob Ultra a girly beer?

Michelob Ultra was first introduced as a beer for dieting baby boomers. Since then, it has become a mainstay in the younger fitness-obsessed crowd. It’s been described as a “beloved keto-friendly, low-calorie light beer”.

It got the girly beer reputation starting in 2004 when advertisers started targeting younger people with a focus on women. This was after they realized the actual drinkers weren’t their target demographic. The New York Times reported that 37% of Michelob Ultra drinkers were women at the time.

However, there are a surprisingly large number of men who also drink it. Men who play sports, or are generally trying to be more mindful of their diet seem to enjoy Michelob Ultra. It lets them have a refreshing post-workout beer without the bloat, carbs, or calories of craft beers.