Whilst America might not be the first place you consider when you think of lager and beer.
The immigration the country received across the 19th and 20th centuries ensured that brewing secrets from all across Europe came to the new world to create a fresh.
Unique tradition. Based on figures released in 2018, here are the top selling American brands in the US.
Coming in first on our list, and probably no surprise to anyone, is Bud Light.
In recent years, with the rise in healthy eating, conscious choices, and calorie counting, light beers have certainly been on the rise, frequently topping $2 billion in annual sales.
Thanks to the household name popularity of Budweiser, a subsidiary of Missouri beer magnate Anheuser-Busch.
As well as widespread celebrity endorsement from American rapper Post Malone, the light beer has found longevity amongst a younger market, as well as those conscious of what they consume.
At number two, with over $1 billion in annual sales, is Coors Light.
Introduced in the 1940s by the Coors Brewing Company (based in Golden, Colorado), and pitched as a beer with lighter body and calorie count.
Coors Light was originally discontinued at the outbreak of World War Two, but some decades later, after the release of Miller Lite, it was reintroduced in 1978 to a popular reception.
Now part of the parent company, Molson Coors, based out of Chicago Illinois, to this day Coors Light remains one of the best-selling, and most popular beers in the United States.
Originally invented by biochemist Joseph L. Owades in 1967, after he discovered how to remove starch from beer.
The product was branded as “Gablinger’s Diet Beer”, released by Chicago-based Peter Hand Brewing.
After failing to find mainstream success, the property was acquisitioned by Miller in 1972, and rebranded as “lite”, where it maintains popular standing in the American market to this day.
With annual sales of just under $900 million, it looks as though this particular light beer is here to stay.
When it comes to American beer, few brands are more recognizable than Budweiser.
Introduced in 1876 by Carl Conrad & Co. based out of St Louis Missouri, Budweiser remains one of the most popular beers on the planet.
Beginning in 1852 when German brewer George Schneider opened his “Bavarian Brewery” in south St. Louis, financial problems drove the company to bankruptcy by 1860.
After which local pharmacist William D’Oench and soap manufacturer Eberhard Anheuser purchased the company.
Things changed dramatically when Adolphus Busch, a German wholesaler who married Anheuser’s daughter in 1861, rose through the ranks from salesman to part owner.
It was his innovations towards the end of the 19th century, such as refrigerated rail cars for transportation, and using pasteurization to keep beer fresh.
His partnership with Carl Conrad (the owner of the Budweiser name), led to the manufacturing of Budweiser in the United States, quickly rising in popularity, and remaining so to this day.
Michelob Ultra Light
At five, with over $600 million in annual sales, Michelob Ultra Light is another product in the Anheuser-Busch family.
Introduced in 2002 as an improved low calorie beer, and using the tagline “Lose the carbs.
Not the taste”, Michelob’s lighter composition has made it a popular choice, even amongst the other major players on this list.
Another product of the Anheuser-Busch company, Natural Light (or “Natty Light”) was introduced in 1977.
Boasting a very limited ingredients list (water, barley malt, cereal grains, yeast, and hops), and a calorie count of only 95 calories per 12 fluid ounces.
Popular among college students, and the world’s first widely distributed light beer, Natural Light has remained a strong contender in the saturated light beer market.
Another light beer on the list produced by Anheuser-Busch, Busch Light was introduced in 1989 as a pale lager.
Brewed through a longer process than regular Busch to create a lighter texture and a lower calorific content (of 95 calories).
This remains a commonly consumed beverage amongst the American market.
Miller High Life
Released in 1903 by the Milwaukee Wisconsin-based Miller Brewing Company.
Miller High Life is Miller’s oldest brand, and with an annual turnover of over $195 million, it remains one of America’s most popular beers.
This pilsner beer is known for its high levels of carbonation, with the bubbly appearance giving it the nickname “the champagne of beers”.
Operating as the flagship of Anheuser-Busch’s economy line, Busch Beer started life as Busch Bavarian Beer, originally created in 1955.
A light and easy beer, it has a mid-range alcoholic content, and remains a popular choice, with annual sales of $194 million.
Blue Moon Belgian White Ale
Possessing a creamy, orange-infused taste, and often served with a slice of orange in the top, Blue Moon is perhaps the most unusual entry on this list.
Originally created in 1995 by brewmaster Keith Villa at the Coor field Sandlot Brewery in Denver Colorado.
This Belgian-style beer has been a popular product within the Molson Coors Brewing Company since its creation.
Brewed at the Molson Brewery in Montreal under the “Blue Moon Brewing Co.”, this beer remains a popular choice, both in the US and internationally.
And sales figures don’t lie, as Blue Moon reaches annual sales of $164 million in the US.
Another Miller product, Keystone Light, first introduced in 1989 in Chico California, entered the market as a smoother, low-calorie beer with an even lower price.
Found in its distinctive blue color, it is common to see the brand in supermarkets across the US, more so than its full-fat competitors (such as Keystone Premium and Keystone Dry).
Using clever marketing over the years to remain relevant, including the youth-marketed “Lil Breezy Keezy” (a Hawaiian shirt-wearing French Bulldog), and “Keith Stone”.
A trucker hat-wearing, beer drinking everyman, who always carries a box of Keystone Light under his arm.
Their popularity continues, albeit with considerably more effort than other products on this list. Even so, the figures don’t lie, and with annual sales of $160 million, they might be here to stay.
Yuengling Traditional Lager
Despite being America’s oldest brewed beer, Yuengling might not be one that immediately springs to mind.
Starting in Pottsville Pennsylvania in 1829 (under the Eagle Brewery banner), the beer was created by German brewer David Gottlieb Yuengling.
An anglicisation of the German word Jüngling, meaning “young person”, Yuengling Traditional is an amber lager with a large US following.
Especially prevalent in Georgia, New York, Kentucky, and Illinois. With over $149 million in annual sales, it continues to hold its own on an ever-expanding market.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Beginning in 1844 in Milwaukee Wisconsin, under the name “Best Select”, Pabst didn’t become a household name until Frederick Pabst.
The son of German immigrants, married Maria Best in 1862 (daughter of Best Brewing Company’s Phillip Best), and became the chief brewer at his father-in-law’s brewery.
Becoming Pabst Blue Ribbon in 1893, named after the blue ribbon that was tied around each bottle neck from 1882 until 1916, it led a precarious life through the 20th century.
Peaking in the 1970s, declining somewhat in the late 80s and early 90s, before ending production in 1996.
During the 2000s, a series of rebrands launched the beer back into popularity, earning it a place on this list with $128 million in annual sales across the US.
Forming in Golden Colorado in 1873 (under the name Adolph Coors Company), Coors didn’t become a household name overnight.
Despite buying a successful Pilsner recipe from Czech immigrant William Silhan, and relocating to Golden Colorado to take advantage of the large.
Pure water supply in the region, much of Coors’ early history was marred with distribution problems and prohibition.
Whilst other western states such as Montana and Washington weren’t even added to distribution until 1976.
However, despite these setbacks, Coors still operates in the US today, with products such as Coors Banquet drawing $124 million in yearly revenue.
Bud Light Lime
Drawing in $119 million in annual sales, the success of Bud Light Lime is mostly down to its $35 million marketing campaign, which in 2008 launched the drink successfully onto the American market.
Drawing on the citrus-themes pioneered in products like Blue Moon, Bud Light Lime pitches itself as a low-calorie, lower alcohol, fruity twist on a classic.
As the figures show, the product was incredibly successful, remaining popular in the US fourteen years later.
Coming in lower down the list, at $97 million in annual sales, the Natural Ice (or “Natty Ice”) rode the mid-90s wave of “iced” beers, offering an extra-cold refreshment to the average beer.
What this popular beer might lack in taste and flavor though, it more than makes up for in its low price and trademark coldness, which goes some way to explain how it has endured so long.
Bud Light Platinum Lager
Offering similar things to the leader of this list (the Bud Light), the lesser known Bud Light Platinum boasts a higher than average alcohol content, and a sweeter taste.
Whilst still maintaining the low-calorie appeal of standard Bud Light.
Coming in a distinctive, deep blue bottle, this somewhat obscure product of the Anheuser-Busch corporation was introduced in 2012, banking on the continued success of Bud Light.
Whilst this might not be as common, nor as popular as its successful counterparts.
With annual sales in the US of $84 million, it remains a middle of the road beer that has sticking power ten years later.
Samuel Adams Seasonal
This New England favorite, introduced by the Boston Beer Company as a seasonal offshoot of the Samuel Adams brand.
Has become an instant classic, appearing in a variety of flavors (depending on the seasons) and themes.
Founded by Jim Koch in Cambridge Massachusetts as a microbrewery based in his home, the beer brand has become a globally recognised range of products.
Becoming a Bostonian stereotype, and becoming as synonymous with the city as Samuel Adams and Paul Revere themselves.
At $80 million in annual sales, focused predominantly in the New England area, Samuel Adams Seasonal proves that regional flair and ingenuity can indeed make dividends.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Coming in next to last, with a (still staggering) annual sales record of $76 million, Sierra Nevada is a relatively recent brand.
Created in 1980 by Ken Grossman, who sought to introduce the taste and character of home brewed beer to a mainstream audience.
Since then the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has become a favorite in the US, and stands as a spiritual precursor to the contemporary IPA craze.
With its hoppier, home brew taste, but with the coldness of an American lager, this pale ale offers a flavourful, refreshing taste, reminiscent of the majestic mountains from which it takes its name.
Leinenkugel Shandy Seasonal
Now a subsidiary of Molson Coors, but formerly the property of a tavern owner and brewer called Jacob Leinenkugel.
The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is one of the oldest businesses in Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, having been in operation since 1867.
This particular beer came to fruition in 1922, when a shortage of product forced Leinenkugel to water down his beer with lemonade and soda to make it go much further.
Leading to a refreshing taste he didn’t expect to be so popular.
This popular line of shandys soon became their signature drink, distributed solely to the midwest as a proud product of the area.
But now available through all fifty states, with an annual turnover of $70 million.
And there we have it, the best of the American market, infused with a strong sense of heritage, and laden with brewing traditions passed down through the generations.
All that’s left is to go out and try some. Anybody else thirsty?
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