Top US Beer Brand Stats (2009 Update)

By on March 24, 2010 @ 8 PM (7 Comments)

A few years back your humble BeerFathers wrote a post about the Top US Beer Brands for 2007. We thought it was a good time to update that post. This information comes from the March 2010 issue of Beverage Industry magazine and is for U.S. sales for 2009. Ready the new bullet points:

Top Craft Beer Brands 2009:

  1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (unchanged from 2007)
  2. Sam Adams Boston Lager (unchanged from 2007)
  3. Sam Adams Seasonal (unchanged from 2007)
  4. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (unchanged from 2007)
  5. Shiner Bock (up from #6 in 2007)
  6. Widmer Hefeweizen (up from #7 in 2007)
  7. Sam Adams Variety Pack (not listed, per se, in 2007, but Sam Adams Brewmaster Collection was #8)
  8. Sam Adams Light (down from #5 in 2007)
  9. Sierra Nevada Seasonal (not listed in 2007)
  10. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (not listed in 2007)

The BeerFathers Notes on Top Craft Beer Brands:

  • Same as in 2007, Sam Adams gets to lump its collections together, like seasonals and the variety pack, to show up as one brand, which is quite misleading.
  • I wonder if you lumped together some of New Belgium’s seasonal offerings like Skinny Dip, 2 Below, etc if they’d show up on this list like the Sam Adams collections do? It’s noted that New Belgium Seasonal sales are up 40% for 2009.
  • Though the overall beer category was flat in dollar sales for 2009, the craft beer category was up 12%. Maybe taste does win?
  • Hooray for one of our favorites – Shiner Bock – moving up the list to push out Sam Adams Light for the #5 spot!
  • Never heard of the Mirror Pond Pale Ale – but congrats for knocking off Pyramid Hefeweizen Ale from the #10 spot in 2007. Substandard hefes have no place on this list, no offense Widmer.

Top Imported Beer Brands 2009:

  1. Corona Extra (unchanged from 2007)
  2. Heineken (unchanged from 2007)
  3. Modelo Especial (up from #6 in 2007)
  4. Tecate (unchanged from 2007)
  5. Corona Light (down from #3 in 2007)
  6. Heineken Premium Light Lager (down from #5 in 2007)
  7. Labatt Blue (up from #9 in 2007)
  8. Dos Equis XX Lager Especial (not listed in 2007)
  9. Stella Artois Lager (not listed in 2007)
  10. Newcastle Brown Ale (down from #7 in 2007)

TheBeerFathers Notes on Top Imported Beer Brands:

  • Wow! Guinness Draught was knocked completely off the 2007 list (was in #8 spot). Has Guinness lost a bit of it’s luster?
  • Heineken continues to prove marketing can overcome all obstacles, including skunky taste.
  • We address the Dos Equis rise up the list in a separate post about their spokesperson – The Most Interesting Man in the World.
  • The highest rated beer on this list according to RateBeer.com is Newcastle Brown Ale with a 49. No beer on this list is above the 50th percentile and you’d be shocked at the score for the rest of them. Let’s put it this way – Stella Artois, with a 15, is the only other beer on the list that ranks in double digits. One beer on the list is a zero (bonus points if you’re the first to comment with the correct beer that has a zero without looking at RateBeer!). All the single digit beers do have one thing in common though – heavy marketing dollars. Let that be a lesson to you MBA students out there.

Top Beers by Brand 2009:

  1. Bud Light (unchanged from 2007) – 28.3% market share
  2. Budweiser (unchanged from 2007) – 11.9% market share
  3. Coors Light (up from #4 in 2007) – 9.9% market share
  4. Miller Lite (down from #3 in 2007) – 9.2% market share
  5. Natural Light (up from #6 in 2007) – 6.1% market share
  6. Corona Extra (down from #5 in 2007) – 5.3% market share
  7. Busch Light (up from #8 in 2007) – 3.7% market share
  8. Busch (up from #9 in 2007) – 3.4% market share
  9. Heineken (down from #7 in 2007) – 3.3% market share
  10. Miller High Life (unchanged from 2007) – 2.7% market share

The BeerFathers Notes on Top Beers by Brand:

  • All the same players as 2007 – no new entrants crack the list.
  • Budweiser absolutely dominates the brands with over 40% of the market. Pretty incredible.
  • Anheuser-Busch owns 53.4% of the US beer market – in 2007 they had 41.8% of it.
  • There’s not a single company on this list whose owners are headquartered in the United States.
  • The highest rated beer on the list at RateBeer.com? Forget it. Okay, it’s Heineken. It has a 6. Out of 100.
  • We think Heineken is rated too high with its 6 out of 100.

Top US Beer Brand Stats (2009 Update) Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)


7 Comments (Add Your Comments)

  1. Geoff says:

    This is very interesting. While it’s no massive surprise seeing Sam Adams so many times in the top 10 it’s great to see the craft market still growing during the global financial crisis.

    The Australian market is also continuing its demand for more flavour.


    Beer Cartel

  2. Interesting stuff indeed! I agree, its truly amazing what a boatloads of cash for advertising can do for a substandard product, and I also don’t think its accurate to bunch up beers like Sam Adams was.

  3. The Coors Miller merger is not going to make all that big of dent. Glad to see Sam Adams rocking it!

  4. Matt says:

    Hey John, could you help me out with some of the latest market share stats? What is the combined market share of US sales for AB-Inbev and MillerCoors combined?

    Appreciate it – great site!!

  5. John says:

    Matt – I went back and referenced the same article and this phrase appears:

    “Both companies (MillerCoors and A-B InBev) together control about 80% of the market.”

    There’s no hard numbers to back that up though – either sales or the actual market share number. Take my top beers by brand numbers from above and add up all the A-B InBev ones (Bud Light, Budweiser, Natural Light, Busch Light, Busch) and all the MillerCoors ones (Coors Light, Miller Light, Miller High Life) and you get 75.2%. Of course this is only the top 10 so anything below that, which would be anything under 2.7% market share doesn’t show up. You know there are other brands of theirs outside the top 10, so I’d say comfortably 75% to 80% is your answer. Hope that’s enough!

  6. Matt says:

    AB-Inbev about 79% in U.S. for 2009? What about Craft beer as a whole – minus those guys?

  7. John says:

    Matt – it’s AB-InBev AND MillerCoors that make up about 79%.

    As for craft beer – as a whole segment in 2009 it had about $980 million in sales. All of domestic beer in 2009 had about $17.9 billion in sales.

    Do the math by dividing total craft beer sales and total domestic sales and you get a number of 5.45%, which you could say represents the craft beer market.

    Complicate it further by adding total imported beer sales in 2009 of about $3.3 billion to the domestic beer sales (for a total of $21.3 billion) and you get craft having only about 4.6% of the total market. Complicate that further by realizing that some of the imports could be called craft beers (Newcastle Brown Ale, Stella Artois, etc) and you have a somewhat cloudy final number. Depends on your definition of craft, but call it 5% of the overall beer market and I think you’ll be close.

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