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Mainstream beer sales have fallen basically all over the world in 2013 so far. 2012 might have been a stellar year, but the first half of 2013 have hurt the Big Players, even though the better craft beer brands continue to climb. 

Craft beer have grown to claim 6.5% of the US beer market, up from 5.7% in 2011 (that's around 10% growth in two years) and turning over around US$10 million.

Instead of diverting all that marketing money and muscle into creating better beers to match the great craft brewers, our guess is the contenders on the list of 2013's biggest-selling beer brands will just turn to the age old cure all. More marketing dollars.

But while mature markets have fallen again, China, Brazil and even the US have grown this year and China has become the world's biggest beer market, accounting for around 25% of all beer brewed on planet earth. No kidding.

So here for your education is the list of the Top 10 beer brands in the world, by sales. If you guessed them all, you have done far better than we did.


1. Snow Beer. 

Brewed in a joint-venture operation between SAB Miller and China Resources Enterprises (listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and owning 51% of the deal), Snow Beer is the best selling beer in the world.

What's more remarkable is that it's only sold in China. It's a very light brew in colour, at 3.9% ABV, and uses Satz hops from the Czech Republic. A lot of Satz hops from the Czech Republic.

In 2011 the value of the Snow beer brand increased by around 350 million yuan to just over 46.3bn yuan, making it one of China’s most valuable brands. Snow beer is also still China’s fastest-growing and most valuable beer brand.

It turned out 74.8 million barrels of the pilsner-style beer last year and there has been a big investment to lift that by another 20 million litres a year.


2. Tsingtao 

Unlike Snow beer, Tsingtao is exported and has a long history, being founded by German brewers around 1904 in Qingdao (pronounced "Chingdow") and originally brewed under the German Beer Purity Act.

It's been a while since that last bit applied, but they're turning out almost 58 million barrels a year on 2012's rates and it's planning for more.

It's the number one Chinese beer in the US (and almost certainly everywhere else, too) and it claims to be the most exported product of any kind to leave China's shores.

With the departure of Zee Chermans, Tsingtao became state owned, was privatised in 1990, with AB InBev taking 27% of it, but it sold 19.9% of it to Ashai Breweries in 2009, then sold out completely, by selling its remaining holding, to a local businessman in May, 2009. Does he have a daughter, Beeriosity wondered?


3. Budweiser

This one you might have guessed, given its ubiquitous advertising that has brainwashed several generations of Americans that this is the Greatest Beer in the Entire World. And, probably, that Budweiser invented beer. And drinking. And fun.

But Budweiser moves only half of Snow's volumes, with 40 million barrels last year. It's even outsold in the US by stablemate Bud Light, but the low calorie beer thing really hasn't taken off outside Obesity Central.


4. Yanjing 

Hah, there's another name you weren't expecting, even if you got Snow. 

It's less than a million barrels a year from overtaking Budweiser in volume and has 11% of the Chinese market, but its real strength lies in its dominance of the Beijing beer market, where it accounts for nearly nine out of every 10 beers sold and was the official beer of the Beijing Olympics.


5. Bud Light

Low calorie beers haven't taken off anywhere outside the US, but they've taken off enough there to make Bud Light the fifth-biggest beer in the world with 36.7 million barrels in 2012.

Bud is still working on its export markets, but in the meantime it's inflicting all manner of variations on its loyal faithful, including Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Cheleda, Bud Light Lime and Lime-a-rita.


6. Corona Extra

No, really. That insipid thing is the sixth biggest selling beer in the world. That's largely because it's the biggest seller in Mexico and the number one imported beer into the US. And it's single-handedly responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent limes.

AB InBev now has total control of it, after some legal wrangling with the US Justice Department, and it does around 31.6 million barrels a year.


7. Skol

With 29.9 million barrels last year, Skol is another beer brand that is huge and is hardly ever spoken about in beery circles.

It's owned by AB InBev (though Carlsberg has the European licence) and gets basically all of its volume by being the biggest selling beer in Brazil, with 30+% of the market.


8. Heineken

29 million barrels. 18.4 billion euros in turnover. Beer Chicken. That is all. 


9. Coors Light

The second biggest selling beer in the US, having pushed Bud down to third, but it's 9th in the world? What does that tell you?

It tells you that they're either not very good at exporting it, they're not interested in exporting it or the export markets for it aren't interested in drinking it.

It's a 4.2% ABV pilsner with 5 grams of carbs instead of the normal 10 in a 355ml bottle of Bud and 12 in a Guinness.

They also want you to serve it very cold, presumably so you have less chance of recognising its lack of taste.


10. Brahma

Another AB InBev cash cow, Brahma got through 18.1 million barrels last year.

It's a pilsner, like Skol. And it tastes every bit as good...




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