The Keystone Light = Coors Light Conspiracy

Never bitter.

Never bitter.

By: Billy BeerSlugger

It’s topical and it’s a question everyone has pondered from time to time.  There’s a lot of theories out there, a lot of conjecture about what is and what is not.  What follows is an in depth and logical look at the theories and rumors that your friends and colleagues have been debating since the dawn of time, Is Keystone Light the exact same thing as Coors Light.

The Facts:

  • Coors Light and Keystone Light are brewed by the same company, Coors Brewing Company.
  • Both beers have an Alcohol by Volume of 4.2%.
  • Both beers share a similar can if not the exact same can dimensions.
  • Coors Light is generally more expensive than Keystone Light.
  • Beer Can labels are inked directly onto the can before it is filled, not after.

The Theories:

  • Keystone Light is just Coors Light cans which were dented and then re-branded as the cheaper Keystone Light.
  • Keystone Light and Coors Light are the exact same beer just marketed in two different brands.

BeerSlugger Analysis:

One thing I know personally is that Keystone Light does not taste exactly like Coors Light.  It tastes similar but not the same. The Coors Light can now has the “Mountains Turn Blue” aspect to it which I’m going to venture to guess would need to be removed from the Coors Light can if it was re-branded to become Keystone Light.

From a financial aspect, it costs money to re-ink a can thus pretty much debunking the theory of Keystone Light being dented Coors Light cans.  It does not make financial sense to spend the money and manpower to re-ink beers only to sell them at a lower price (Keystone Light being cheaper than Coors Light).

I doesn’t make sense to brew the same beer, give it two different brands and sell them for two different prices.  That’s two different can inking departments, two different beer box orders with two distinctly different graphics on them.  If there’s one thing I know about printing, the more  you order of something, the cheaper it is.

When it comes down to it, breweries are in business to make money.  So why would Coors spend more money to produce two different brands of the same beer when they could spend less money and have one brand, the more expensive one I might add? Why would Coors re-ink dented Coors Light cans at a cost to the brewery only to sell them at a lower price? Why not just sell the dented Coors Light cans at a lower price and skip the costly extra step?

There’s no doubt that Keystone Light is in the same family as Coors Light but they are hardly identical twins.  I think from the logistics and costs of running two brand names of the same beer or re-inking dented beer cans to sell at a lower price I have pretty much laid these rumors to rest. It’s not like Coors is having a hard time selling Coors Light either even at it’s higher price tag.  Why mess with success and profit by taking extra steps to make less money?

Sorry Key Light conspiracy theorists, it just doesn’t make sense business-wise and I’m fairly certain Coors has stayed in business since 1873 by making the kinds of decisions which make more money, not less.

24 comments to The Keystone Light = Coors Light Conspiracy

  • Jake

    You are obviously not an economist because
    muti leveled branding is a rather basic concept

  • Brew Man

    Coors Light and Keystone are one in the same. Coors is pulled from the same batch as keystone. Coors is from the upper half of the batch, Keystone is from the lower half closer to the yeast bed. Keystone will have a slightly bolder taste because it’s closer to the yeast.The dented can theary is a myth. hope this helps!

  • nick moriston

    i got a golden can in my 30 pack so whatis this about im guessing it means i got a 29 pack and a mantel peice if anyone can tell me someting cool about it let me know

  • Joseph R. Wood

    But Brew Man, how do you know this? I heard the theory that Keystone is the “misbrewed” coors light, or coors light not brewed to the correct specs. I definitely believe you, but how did find this out?

  • Tonya

    When was the last time you saw a Keystone Light commercial? Oh right, NEVER. Coors (now Coors Miller) does not spend any money to advertise Keystone and a ton on Coors, thust the price differnce.

  • Leedoffman

    Brew Man – Where did you pull this crazy a** theory on upper and lower half batches?!? And by the way, dented cans on Keystone Light is not a myth, it’s a fact!

  • paul.

    beers are tastey who casres

  • paul.

    Coors light taste very good with pizza and keystone does not. Delta chi is a bunch of loosers if you are at hws.

  • Guy who went on the factory tour...

    i went to the coors factory on a recent trip to colorado. the guide asked people who have tried coors light to raise their hand, he then asked the same of people who have had keystone light. Next, the guide asked, who has had both? several people raised their hands again. he went on to ask who can tell the difference. one guy said he could because keystone tastes like shit; the guides immediate reply was, and i quote, ‘your full of shit. its exactly the same beer!’ You, sir, have just been served by my recount with a low wage tour guide. lol. but really, thats what they said at the factory.

  • Sydney

    I agree with Jack and Brewman. I had a professor tour the coors brewery and according to him, when he asked what the difference was, the tour guide switched the labels on the two big vats of beer and said, “marketing”

    They market coors, they dont market keystone.

    At the very least, keystone is the bottom of the coors barrel.

    Same shiznit.

  • pat

    for what its worth unbelievably we had a guy show up with a pack of keystone light and quite to our surprise we opened it up to find it full of coors light but cans looked like they had been roughed up so i dont know what to think

  • Brew Man is correct..same beer different parts of the process.

  • Josh

    Selling the same or relativity the same product as 2 separate brands at different price points is a pretty common tactic. The value conscience consumer who buys Keystone would never pay the higher price for Coors Light, they would just buy Bucsh Light or PBR instead. Coors would be missing out on all those consumers if they only used the 1 brand. As long as they are still making a profit at the lower price point (which they could bc they would be spending no marketing or trade dollars on the brand) then it is a really smart move by Coors.

  • I work at the plant

    short answer: the two beers are identical.

    long answer: coors light is the flagship brand, must not tarnish the brand, so it has to be in spec. any time anything is out of spec, in stead of dumping it (or giving it to the employees), it goes into keystone light, a subpremium brand which people care less. Since Coors forever had only Banquet, Coors Light/keystone light, Killians, and blue moon, there aren’t many options to blend off-spec tanks into, it makes sense to just put them in a different can and different brand.

    Most of the time, Coors light and keystone light are sourced from the same tank (not top or bottom — just one single tank feeding multiple packaging lines). but once every while there will be a tank designated as keystone light and can only be packaged into keystone.

    IF you really don’t believe me, try to find matching date coors light and keystone light and do a blind sensory triangle tasting (google that). you will only have 1/3 of chance guessing it correctly.

  • I also have toured the brewery in Golden,Co. Coors Light comes off the top of a vat and Keystone the bottom. Think about if you have tried both and know anything about beer. C/L has a bit more of a watery taste than K/L because it is “more fresh” because it comes off the top. According to the experts at Coors, beer taste its’ very best when it is most fresh or off the top in a manner of speaking.
    They are close enough to being the same to me but save the money unless you are one of those assholes who don’t want your friends to think that you drink cheap beer.

  • this guy

    Keystone is Coors that didn’t pass inspection.

  • Jason

    You say they do not market keystone light? Apparently you do not remember the bitter bitter beer face commercials that was huge for keystone light

  • Mitch Lite

    Dented Cans…of course. The (only) difference between CL & KL is…the weight (thickness) of the can…cheers

  • steve-o

    I was told by a Coors distributor that Coors Light and Keystone Light are exactly the same beer. He explained that Coors was losing sales to people who won’t spend but $7.99 or so on a 12 pack of beer — Natural Light, Milwaukee’s Best, PBR… to name a few. It was in Coors best interest to tap into that market and sell Coors Light as Keystone Light to lure buyers into buying a “cheap” Coors product. Simple explanation. I love Keystone — especially the price.

  • Let'ssaythis

    I personally don’t think they are the same beer. Because after drinking keystones I get a vinegary after taste from burps that I don’t get from regular coors light.

    However, I will say this, companies who have the most shelf space want to keep it that way. They will put as much stuff as they can on the shelves, even if it sells or not. Coors wants its 30% shelf space so the microbrewerys can fight over the 10% they get after bud has its share.

  • Sean

    It is beer from the same tank, but the keystone comes from the bottom where there are more toxins due to gravity. That is the only difference. It is the same with busch and beast.

  • Jimmie

    Well coors is starting to spend money on keystone ads now. They got Troy Landry from swamp people as a spokesman.
    Does this mean they will start going up on the price??

  • Bobby

    We have a family friend who works for the Coors Brewing Co., and he put this mystery to rest for us. The dented Coors cans, misbrewed Coors Light rumors are just that. Rumors. I probably shouldn’t be giving the secret away, but I really don’t feel like it’s a big deal, myself. So here it is: Keystone Light is brewed, bottled, then shipped. Coors Light is brewed, then aged, bottled, and shipped. Sounds way too simple, right? Funny what aging a brew for several months will do. Personally, I’m a microbrew man (Lagunitas, Stone brewing Co, etc.), but I’ll down a Coors or a Keystone or 5 on a hot day!

  • Wubba

    All I know is the fact that in my humble opinion, keystone light is better. I don’t know why, but it taste more like a good beer and not a watered down beer like Coors light. So bonus for me because I save a little dough.

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