There are thousands of breweries all over the United States, with more and more popping up every year. Of course, there are even more scattered around the rest of the globe, all making various types of beer. But which beer brands are the most popular? You can probably name some of the big U.S. breweries, but do you know which companies are most popular in China or Japan? Find out as we explore some of the top beer brands in the world!
Also called AB InBev, Anheuser-Busch is hands down the ruler of the beer world. This Belgian beer conglomerate now owns over 500 beer brands from around the world, including major beer brands such as SABMiller (Miller Lite, Miller High Life) and craft beer brands such as Ballast Point.
One of the brand's flagship beers is, of course, Budweiser. It can be purchased in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and several countries in the European Union. You may see it labeled as "Bud" overseas, since a Czech brewery owns the right to use "Budweiser." There are 12 flagship locations throughout the U.S. that offer tours; the original location opened in St. Louis in 1852.
The now-famous Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to celebrate the end of Prohibition, when August Busch hired a team of German draft horses to pull the first case of beer down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Since then, the horses have represented the brand and can now be seen on the television screen during the Super Bowl. Like many U.S. breweries that survived the Prohibition, Budweiser sold ice cream, ceramics, and low-alcohol beer.
Boddingtons Brewery, a British beer producer, was acquired by AB InBev in 2000, and its beer is available internationally. The brewery produces low-alcohol British-style ales. Its Draught Bitter is 3.8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and its Pub Ale is 4.7 percent ABV. These ales have a strong, malty flavor, but their lower alcohol content makes drinking them as easy as downing a few American light lagers.
Corona is another popular brand in the AB InBev line. Available globally, Corona is worthy of a spot of its own on this list, but it is owned by Anheuser-Busch. The brand's signature beer is its eponymous Mexican light lager. Other Corona varieties include Extra, Light, and Familiar.
Other noteworthy AB InBev brands include:
Snow is a Chinese brewery that was founded in Beijing in 1934. It accounts for a massive chunk of the global market share. To put things in perspective, it outsells Budweiser, but it can't compete with the total brand power of AB InBev. At one point SABMiller owned just under half of Snow; however, once AB InBev purchased SABMiller, it sold the shares back to the other stakeholders.
Snow is only available in China, but it is the top-selling beer brand in the world in terms of volume. Its flagship ale, Snow, is sold at the equivalent of one dollar per liter.
The brewery's other varieties include Snow Extra Cool, Snow Premium Light, Mons Snowflake, and Snow Light Refreshing Beer. Snow beer has a very light flavor with some corn notes and is similar to Corona Light. It pairs well with many of the rich foods eaten in China.
This is another wildly popular Chinese beer brand. However, unlike Snow, you can get Tsingtao in the U.S. Many Chinese restaurants in the U.S. offer this beer alongside other domestic and imported favorites. Tsingtao, China's second-largest brewery, was founded in 1903.
The brewery produces several types of beer, including its eponymous pale lager. Its other popular offerings include a light version, a premium version, Tsingtao Stout, and Tsingtao Icy Smooth. Tsingtao is a straw-colored lager with a bright and bubbly taste. It tastes like Heineken, albeit a bit lighter and sweeter.
Yanjing beer isn't often sold outside China, so if you encounter some, give it a try -- you may not get the opportunity again anytime soon. Though it is a relatively new brand -- the company was founded in 1980 -- Yanjing is very popular in China.
Yanjing makes plenty of options for choosy drinkers. In addition to its standard pale ales and light lagers, Yanjing brews two fruit beers and a wheat beer. Their American-style lager, Yanjing, is very similar to Budweiser in flavor and appearance. If you're a fan of Budweiser or Corona, you'll want to give Yanjing a shot.
This globally distributed beer has fans across the world. The Heineken brewery was founded in Amsterdam in 1864 and has since become famous for its green glass bottles. Since the green glass makes the beer more prone to skunking than beer in amber-colored bottles, you may find this college favorite tastes different in a can.
Aside from the original Heineken lager that everyone knows and loves, the company produces several other beers; however, these are harder to find than the flagship lager, which has a smooth and clean flavor and is mildly hoppy as well.
Heineken produces more beers under the brand Newcastle. Newcastle Brown Ale is a dark beer in a clear glass bottle; it has a clean, malty, and toasty flavor and is readily available in the U.S. Other popular Newcastle beers include the Irish Red Ale and British IPA. If you're looking to try something a bit different from the other popular beers on this list, try one of the Newcastle ales.
Carlsberg is another brewery conglomerate that owns over 100 beer brands. Carlsberg was founded in 1847 and experienced rapid growth in the '90s, when it began purchasing other breweries.
Carlsberg produces a few popular beers, including a light pilsner called the Carlsberg Lager. The company also makes the Special Brew, a strong lager only available in the UK and Denmark. Carlsberg beer is similar in flavor and appearance to Stella Artois.
Coors beer needs little introduction. The U.S. division of the company is owned by SABMiller (which is owned by AB InBev), and the international division is owned by Molson Coors. The brewery was founded in 1873.
Aside from its popular Coors and Coors Lite, the company produces other beers, including George Killian's and Caffrey's. Although Heineken produces Killian's internationally, Coors brews it for the U.S. Of all the light American lagers on this list, Coors is the hoppiest, so if you're looking for a little change of pace at a party, try a Coors or two.
This Milwaukee brewing company was founded in 1844 and is an American classic.
Pabst's most popular beer is Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). It got its name when it won the title of best beer -- and a fancy blue ribbon -- at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The brewery also produces Ballantine, which bills itself as America's original IPA. It has a hoppy flavor; however, it's not overpowering, and the beer falls on the lighter side of the IPA range.
Yuengling was founded in 1829 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and is one of the oldest operating breweries in the U.S. This brand has a rabid following and produces several popular beers.
Yuengling only produces a handful of beers, but loyal fans can't get enough. The company's most popular beers are the Light Lager, Black And Tan, Golden Pilsner, and Yuengling Traditional Lager. Yuengling's original lager is crisp and clean with a bold and malty flavor that isn't overpowering.
This infamous party beer nabs a spot in the top 10 thanks to its popularity and affordability. While most people won't admit to liking the flavor, the beer is still being bought up in mass quantities. Steel Brewing Company is one of the youngest companies on this list -- it was founded in 1994 and is now owned by SABMiller.
Aside from its original malt liquor flagship beer, the Steel Brewing Company produces several other beers for more adventurous palates. The Steel Reserve Alloy Series includes a line of fun and fruity flavors such as berry and margarita. You can also be on the lookout for Steel Reserve 211 and Steel Reserve Triple Export. The higher alcohol in Steel Reserve makes for a lively occasion.
What's this one? You've probably had it plenty of times, with most of your consumption occurring on or around March 17. If you haven't guessed, Diageo is responsible for brewing up all that amazing Guinness! The Guinness brewery was founded in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland, and purchased by Diageo in 1997.
In addition to its lineup of delicious stouts, Guinness also produces a blonde lager. You can also find a hoppy lager if you're lucky. Guinness's smooth and thick flavor comes from the nitrogen added to the beer. The plastic widgets in the cans allow for better pouring and give the beer its famous cascading head.
Kirin is a Japanese beer producer that also owns major brands in countries such as Australia. In addition to producing beer, Kirin Holdings makes several soft drinks and manages many restaurants. Kirin is also the owner of the Four Roses Distillery. The Kirin Holdings Company and Brewery was founded in 1885.
Kirin produces several light lagers and similarly refreshing beers. One of Australia's largest breweries is Lion, and Lion is owned by Kirin. Kirin's own beers include the Grand Kirin, Kirin Bar Beer, and Kirin Classic Lager. Kirin beers are similar in flavor to American light lagers like Budweiser and Coors.
The last brand on our list is actually the oldest brewery in the world; the Weihenstephaner Abbey has been selling beer since 1040. The company primarily produces wheat beers, since the German Beer Purity Law decrees that beer may only be brewed using malt, water, hops, and yeast. The company distributes its beers internationally, and the price for the quality is second-to-none.
The brewery produces a few regular offerings and some seasonal options. Some of their most popular beers include the Vitus, a wheat beer, and the Oktoberfest Lager. The Oktoberfest Lager has a crisp, refreshing, malty flavor and a copper color.