Bookmark and Share April 1, 2012 - Dave Mulder

What the heck is in Budweiser and Bud Light Chelada!?

Before getting underway, I’d like to preface this post by saying that I have never tried Budweiser or Bud Light’s Chelada offerings, which are a canned mixture of beer and Clamato Brand cocktail juice. Though I love a good beer, a good tomato, and a good clam, I’ve never particularly enjoyed their combined taste in beverage form.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not require beer and wine manufacturers to list ingredients, and most take full advantage of these regulations. You can search all day long, but you won’t find Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ingredient listings anywhere. Cracking the Chelada mystery, then, requires deduction. That’s right, it’s time to bust out our monocles and magnifying glasses.

Cans of Budweiser Chelada and Bud Light Chelada

Let’s start with the product label. “Beer with natural flavor and certified color.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a brand brag about its use of certified color. I’m actually chuckling out loud at that thought. “Our color is certified.”

If Chelada equals Bud Light and Mott’s Clamato Brand cocktail juice, we can reasonably assume that the Bud Light portion is water, hops, barley, and rice. You might be thinking, rice!?!!?! Yep, but it’s not uncommon. Rice is used by all the macro-brewers because it’s cheaper than barley and produces a lager that’s lighter on flavor. Unfortunately for them, they still have to include some expensive barley to meet the legal definition of beer.

With the beer component revealed, figuring out the Clamato end only means finding a photo of the label somewhere online. Mott’s, of course, doesn’t mention Clamato’s ingredients on their websites.

Ingredients in Mott’s Clamato Juice

Water, tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, salt, citric acid, onion powder, celery seed, ascorbic acid, garlic powder, dried clam broth, spices, vinegar, natural flavors, red 40.

Somewhat surprisingly, Mott’s is not using any artificial flavorings, though they are using artificial red dye to enhance the color. The only other negative is high fructose corn syrup, which in my book is a deal breaker by itself.

Assuming A-B InBev isn’t using some more magic in the production of their Chelada drink, we’re done here. The next time you crack open an ice cold Chelada, I hope you are able to enjoy the natural flavor and certified color.

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