Close Menu

These are the 9 fastest-growing beer styles in the US

It’s always tempting to try and predict what consumers will be drinking in the future, but brewers know it’s important to look at the state of the market as it stands.

Consumer data analytics firm Nielsen recently released figures on the total sales of beer in the US based on a variety of factors, from brands, to parent companies, right down to styles.

With the brewing industry’s rapid diversification over the past decade, we wanted to look at which styles stateside drinkers can’t get enough of right now.

From IPAs to wild ales, click through to see which styles have proved most popular in the US since last summer.

Methodology: We have ranked these figures according to sales growth in the 52 weeks between July 2017 and 2018.

9. Low-and-no

Low alcohol beers have been making headlines in both the US and UK in recent months.

Brewers such as Lagunitas and Guinness have said the plan to bolster their low ABV offerings with new beers which they claim are as good as their traditional range, and while the proliferation of low ABV beers on the market is still in its early stages, the interest is there.

Sales have risen by a modest 0.1% in the past 52 weeks, giving the low alcohol beer industry a value of just over $102 million (£79 million).

However, it’s important to keep perspective. The data shows that the category still makes up just 0.7% of the US’ total beer sales.

8. Flavoured

Brewdog recently rolled out a hibiscus and yuzu-flavoured ale (Photo: Brewdog)

Innovation and cross-polination have also been trending topics in the drinks industry, with a huge range of fruit-flavoured beers now available to drinkers. Sales of flavoured styles rose by 0.3% to $102.9 million last year, giving the category a 0.7% market share.

7. Lager

(Photo: Budweiser)

Lager has long been the dominant style in the beer industry, particularly in the US, where it has a total market share of around 79.2% when it comes to sales, but as a result it has less room to grow. Volumes rose by 1.2% within the past year, but sales are up just 0.6%, meaning lagers raked in around $11.7 billion over 2017. The most popular brand, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Bud Light.


6. Porter

Porters —  which unlike their stout counterparts use malted barley — can be something of a marmite to beer drinkers, and suffered from a slightly negative reputation before the rise of craft beer, but with more and more independent brewers experimenting with this dark style, it’s no wonder consumer intrigue is on the rise. Brewers from independent Cloudwater in Manchester to California’s Sierra Nevada have released diverse takes on porters.

Sales of inky ales rose by 0.7% in 2017, bringing in a total $37.2 million. However, there’s been no change to its market share, which still stands at 0.3%.

5. Hybrids

Chapel Down’s Curious Brew is Majestic’s best selling beer

Cross pollination was one of the key trends for 2018 cited by everyone from Euromonitor to Waitrose, and while the category is only worth 0.4% of the whole beer market in sales, it has taken over a small portion of overall market share in the past year. Sales were up 3.8% to $58.8 million, while units also rose by 0.4% over.

4. Stouts

Not to be confused with their porter counterparts, stouts — brewed with roasted unmalted barley to impart their signature coffee flavour — stouts have also seen a rise in popularity, and were tipped to be one of the tipples of 2018 in a number of trends reports.

Stout sales rose by 4% in the US, with consumers spending $157.1 million on the dark brews. Their market share rose by 0.04%, to make up 1.1% of all beer sold in the states.

3. IPAs

IPAs are everywhere, and they’ve been one of the breakout success stories of the craft movement since it began to pick up speed in the 1990s. Virtually every indie brewer has their own take on the style, whether bitter and hoppy, juicy and hazy, or more recently, “Brut”  (craft firms like Cinicnati’s Listerman California’s Drake brewing are churning out their own versions this summer).

IPA sales rose by a healthy 10.1% in the US over the 12 months to July, bringing in around $895.8 million. IPAs now make up 6% of the overall market, having risen 0.52% this year.

2. “Other”

(Photo: Bernt Rostard/Flickr)

It’s worth mentioning how diverse the range of beers available to consumers in both the US and UK has become in the last 12 months. “Other” styles, like smoked beers, rye ales and wild beers which rely on wild yeast for fermentation, have also had their moment in the sun this year. Sales are up 11.2% stateside, with consumers spending around $133.6 million on curious brews.

1. Sour

Low ABV specialists Big Drop recently launched their own sour beer. (Photo: Big Drop)

While IPAs continue to grow, and the beer category gets increasingly diverse, 2018 has been the year of the sour beer.

Though the style holds just 0.1% of the all beer sales in the US, consumers just couldn’t seem to get enough of them this year. Sales rose by a staggering 42.7% in the US, with beer fans buying $14.8 million worth of sour ales between July 2017 and this summer.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No