Even though the 12 largest beer companies in US dominate the market, the top three companies are its absolute leaders as they own large portfolios of brands and are actually among the 10 largest beer brewing companies in the world. The beer market in the US is valued at around $107.60 billion, according to the Brewers Association.
Latest trends show that the consumption of Alcohol among the US population has declined. According to a Fortune article, in 2016, Americans consumed 3.39 billion nine-liter cases of alcohol, down by 3.5 million nine-liter cases compared to 2015. This was the first annual decline since 2011.
Nevertheless, alcohol remains to be popular among Americans. According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 65% of Americans drink alcoholic beverage, but a quarter of drinkers say that they drink too much sometimes. At the same time, beer remains the alcohol of choice for most Americans. Out of the total number of Americans who drink alcohol, 43% say they prefer beer, while 32% and 20% prefer wine and liquor, respectively.
At the same time, the US beer market has not grown last year, according to the Brewers Association. A total of 196.75 million barrels (one barrel has 31 gallons) were sold last year, the majority of which (139.28 million barrels) was domestic beer, followed by imported beer (33.37 million barrels) and craft beer (24.10 million barrels). Craft beer is a type of beer that is made using traditional technologies and is usually what small breweries produce. Currently there are around 6,500 craft breweries in the country.
Beer has been around for thousands of years, but it has become widely available during the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century. In the US, beer was made by Native Americans, who used maize, birch sap and water. With the colonization, the brewing technologies and traditions from England and the Netherland were brought to North America and the first commercial brewery in the US was built in 1632 by the Dutch West India Company. In the 19th century, German immigrants brought their own brewing technologies, which proved to be more profitable for large-scale manufacturing as the beer had a longer shelf-life.
In this way, beer has been the dominant alcoholic beverage among Americans for centuries. Even during the Prohibition, when production, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was made illegal, started to crumble starting with the legalization of beer. During World War II, beer makers got the approval of the government to manufacture beer for servicemen and started to promote beer among the American population.
Because the majority of smaller breweries closed during the prohibition, and the beginning of the World War II affected the recovery of the industry, only large breweries managed to survive and even thrive, as during the war, the beer production surged by 40%. That’s when companies like Anheuser Busch Inbev NV (ADR) (NYSE:BUD) and Molson Coors Brewing Co (NYSE:TAP) got a lot of traction and continue to remain market leaders.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at 12 largest beer companies in US. The list is compiled based on the Brewers Association list of top 50 overall brewing companies. We added Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) as it is a US-headquartered importer of beer.