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Top 10 biggest beer brands 2014

In the latest instalment of our global drinks brands report, compiled in partnership with Euromonitor International, we reveal the world’s top 10 biggest beer brands of 2013.

The drinks business annual brands report compiles profiles of the world’s biggest brands, in this case based on the consumption volumes of each beer brand in 2013.

And with China set to become the world’s biggest beer market by 2017, it seems appropriate that this year’s beer report is dominated by the country’s big brands which enjoyed huge sales in their native country.

While brands such as Snow, Yanjing and Tsingtao return to take a spot in the top 10, Chinese beer brand Harbin made its first appearance this year debuting in seventh place.

Amin Alkhatib, alcoholic drinks Analyst at Euromonitor International, said: “Chinese dominance is the key theme to 2013’s volume sales of the top 10 global beers. This is seen with Tsingtao taking over the number two spot from Bud Light and Harbin breaking into the top 10 following the sale of Modelo Grupo in the US by A-B InBev.

“China’s dynamic performance in beer volume consumption has already overtaken that of the US’s and is due to be the leading beer market in value terms by 2016, and this is reflected in growth of Chinese brands and decline of North American ones.

“Although AB InBev had successfully introduced Budweiser into the Chinese market and increased its global volume sales performance it will not catch up with the dynamism of identifiably Chinese brands. This is observed in A-B InBev’s own local brand –  Harbin  – that is its key brand ever since it purchased Harbin brewery in 2004.”

Elsewhere Bud Light overtakes its ancestor Budweiser for the first time, while Brahma overtakes Coors in the fight for ninth.

Scroll through to see which brands made it into this year’s top 10…

Click here to see our 2014 top Champagne brands report, and click here for our wine report.

10. Coors Light

Molson Coors’ flagship light brand holds its position in 9th place this year with its key markets in Canada, the US and Europe. Molson and Coors were founded as separate companies in 1786 and 1873 respectively, and became Molson Coors Brewing Company in 2005, although Coors had been incorporated into the Molson brand since 1913. In 2013 Coors Light held a 13% market share in the Canadian drinks market, making it the country’s top selling beer brand.

While its main markets are Canada, the US and Europe, the brand is pushing further into Asian markets, particularly in Japan and China, as well as Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean and Australia, with the company reporting an overall 8.5% increase to its worldwide beer volumes this year compared to 2012. Its 2013 annual report read: “Our US business improved results, especially late in the year. Europe performed well in a difficult environment, Canada continued to face challenges, and our international business made progress toward its goal of profitability by 2016.”

Brand owner: Molson Coors

Head office: 1225 17th Street, Denvern CO, 80202 USA

Tel: +1 800 642 6116


CEO: Peter Swinburn PR: (in-house): +1 866-672-2682

Volume 2013: 25m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 9

9. Brahma

Strong performance in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, saw Brahma jump two places to become the 8th biggest beer brand in the world in 2013. Brahma was first founded in 1988 by the Companhia Cervejaria Brahma, and was only taken global by AB InBev in 2005. Since then it has grown to become one of the country’s top beer brands, producing 27.9 million hectolitres in 2013. From a marketing point of view, AB InBev has been quick to capitalise on the World Cup to showcase the Brazilian beer to even wider markets.

Earlier this year it launched a limited edition beer made from barley grown on a football pitch used as a training ground by Brazil’s national team. Brahma Selecao Especial went on sale in March to coincide with the build up to the World Cup, priced at around twice the price of regular Brahma beer. Overall, ABInBev’s global brand volumes increased by 4.7% in 2013.

Brand owner: AB InBev

Head office: 1 Busch Place, St Louis, MO, 63118 USA

Tel: +1 800 342 5283


CEO: Carlos Brito

PR: (in-house): +1 212 573 9281

Volume 2013: 27.9m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 10

8. Harbin

A newcomer to our brands report, Harbin beer is brewed by the Harbin Brewery in China. In recent years the brewery has dramatically increased its production capacity allowing it to emerge as one of the world’s top 10 beer brands. AB InBev took over the brewery in 2004 following a bitter battle with SABMiller, allowing it to further increase its distribution in European and North American markets, however its share is tiny compared to other big Chinese beer brands such as Tsingtao. Its key market is China.

Founded in 1900, it is China’s fourth largest – and the oldest – brewery, and it also produces the Hapi beer brand. Harbin’s history dates back to 1900 when a Russian citizen founded the Manchuria brewery in northeast China. In 1908 the company was renamed Gulunia, then Harbin Brewery in 1932. For the most part of its history it was controlled by the Chinese state government, during which time it became the first company to brew beer with corn instead of rice during the Great Chinese Famine.

Brand owner: AB InBev

Head office: 1 Busch Place, St Louis, MO, 63118 USA

Tel: +1 800 342 5283


CEO: Carlos Brito PR: (in-house): +1 212 573 9281

Volume 2013: 28.1m hectolitres

Previous ranking: New entry

7. Heineken

Heineken admitted that 2013 had been a “challenging year”, with its volume dropping by 1 million hectolitres in 2013. Despite this, its flagship brew – available in 178 countries – continues to perform with total revenue increasing by 4.5% to £15.2 billion. Strong progress was made within the brand’s growing Chinese market, however this was offset by a decline in growth in key markets including the US and France.

Commenting on Heineken’s brand performance in 2013, CEO Jean François van Boxmeer, said: “We saw a solid performance in a number of key countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, Chile, Brazil and South Korea. And for the first time we surpassed 1mhl in China. However, the performance of Heineken was not at the level we have become accustomed to. This was driven almost exclusively by lower growth in key markets such as the US, Vietnam and France. We are confident that these markets continue to represent positive growth opportunities for the brand”.

Brand owner: Heineken International

Head office: Tweede Weteringplantsoen 21, 1017 ZD Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)20 523 93 55


CEO: Jean François van Boxmeer

PR: (in-house) +31 (0)20 523 93 55

Volume 2013: 28.3m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 8

6. Yanjing

Founded in 1980 The Beijing Yanjing Brewery produced 37.9 million litres of its flagship beer Yanjing in 2013. Also known as Beijing Beer, the brew is often described as the “taste of China”, alluding to its prevalence in the country. Its brewery is one of the largest in Asia, employing around 20,000 people and producing a range of pale lagers. The vast majority of its sales are owed to its native China, where it has been one of the best selling beers since the turn of the century, however the brand has made no secret of its plans to push into international markets with ambitions to strengthen its “brand management” to increase its prominence on the global stage.

Beer consumption in China is estimated to have increased on average by 7.1% each year over the past five years, with volumes predicted to rise by an average of 8.7% annually up to 2018, according to analysts at Corporate Financing Week.

Brand owner: Beijing Yanjing Brewery Corporation

Head office: No. 9 Shuanghe Road, Shunyi District, Beijing 101300

Tel: +86 (010) 89495511

Website: Chaiman: Mr Li Fucheng

Volume 2013: 37.9m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 4

5. Skol

Skol climbed two places to fifth place this year with volumes reaching 40.6 million hectolitres. Since 2008 the brand has increased its global volumes by 8.2%, according to Euromonitor. Skol was created in 1960 when a number of breweries were licensed to brew Skol international to a standard formula. Today the brand is marketed and brewed by three different companies; AB InBev in South America, by Unibra in Africa and by Carlsberg in all other countries.

Despite Carlsberg holding the rights to the brand in the largest number of territories, Brazil overwhelmingly leads global sales of Skol where AB InBev controls its distribution. The brand was originally produced by Caracu in Brazil, which was later bought by Brahma in 1980, which later went on to become part of AB InBev. The 4.7% abv pale brew remains one of the country’s biggest beer brands.

Brand owner: Carlsberg Breweries

Head office: 100 Ny Carlsberg Vej, 1760, Copenhagen, Denmark

Tel: +45 2298 2185

CEO: Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen

PR (in-house): +45 3327 2887

Volume 2013: 40.6m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 7

4. Budweiser

Sold in more than 85 countries Budweiser is one of the world’s most internationally recognised brands making it also one of the most valuable. In 2013 AB InBev’s Budweiser brand saw excellent growth with worldwide volumes increasing by 6.4%. Sales were largely driven by China, Brazil, Russia and the UK, according to its annual report. The brand has gained a particularly strong foothold in Russia and Ukraine’s premium beer markets, while growth in China is said to be “extremely robust” due to the brands increasing popularity in Asia.

Kees Storm, chairman of AB InBev said of its portfolio: “We continue to see exciting long-term growth for AB InBev. We have a strong presence in the world’s largest and most profitable beer markets, including developing economies where a growing consumer class should drive increasing demand for our premium products. We have a diverse portfolio that includes many of the industry’s leading brands, several of which are gaining share in new markets. We also believe we have the world’s strongest international premium portfolio.”

Brand owner: AB InBev

Head office: 1 Busch Place, St Louis, MO, 63118 USA

Tel: +1 800 342 5283

CEO: Carlos Brito

PR (in-house): +1 212 573 9281

Volume 2013: 44.2m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 3

3. Bud Light

The top-selling beer in the US, Budweiser Light overtook its stablemate Budweiser this year jumping two places to become the world’s third biggest beer by volume. A total of 51 million hectolitres of the light beer was produced in 2013 helping AB InBev to generate revenues of $43.2 billion. This continued success has been helped in part by the brewer’s experiential marketing campaigns, which have involved hosting large-scale events throughout the year. These include the first Bud Light Music First’s 50/50/1 event in 2013, which saw the brand co-ordinate 50 concerts in 50 US states on a single day in partnership with LiveNation. Its Bud Light Hotel has also proven successful at promoting the brand, in which an existing hotel or restaurant is temporarily rebranded with the beer’s stripes, immersing guests in the brand. Bud Light has staged promotional events such as these for the past five years at the US Super Bowl.

Brand owner: AB InBev

Head office: 1 Busch Place, St Louis, MO, 63118 USA

Tel: +1 800 342 5283


CEO: Carlos Brito

PR (in-house): +1 212 573 9281

Volume 2013: 51m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 5

2. Tsingtao

The Tsingtao Brewery was founded by German settlers in 1903 and holds the mantle as China’s earliest beer manufacturer. It remains the number one Chinese beer in the US and the UK and also claims to be the number one consumer product exported from China, gaining significant volume through its sales in Chinese restaurants and UK supermarkets.

In 2013 it signed a deal to sponsor British Superbikes and an Isle of Man TT team, and launched a major cinema campaign in early 2014 to promote the brand’s table tennis Dragon Ping Pong activity, which has been rolled out across a number of UK bars & events. The company currently owns 42 beer plants and malting mills in 15 provinces and cities around China, and exports to 85 countries.

Brand owner: Tsingtao Brewery Co.

Head office: Tsingtao Brewery Mansion, Wusi Square, Hong Kong Middle Road, Shinan District, Quingdao 266071

Chairman: Sun Mingbo


UK contact: Halewood International +44 (0)151 480 8800

Volume 2013: 52.5m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 2


Since its launch in 2004 Snow has built a solid reputation as the world’s largest beer brand, taking the title of best-selling beer in the world for a third year running. Brewed by CR Snow, a joint venture between SABMiller and China Resources Enterprises, it is also China’s fastest growing beer brand. The vast proportion of Snow’s sales volume is of course generated in China, where beer consumption has grown in recent years to 110 billion pints a year, which is almost twice as much as the USA, according to Euromonitor. To cope with rising demand the brewer has had to rapidly increase its production capacity, growing from just three breweries to today figure of 80 breweries in operation across the whole of China.

Brand owner: SABMiller

Head office: 1 Stanhope Gate London, W1K 1AF

Tel: +44 (0)20 7659 0100


Chief executive: Alan Clark

PR: SABMiller press office: +44 (0)20 7659 0105

Volume 2013: 103.3m hectolitres

Previous ranking: 1

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