The 15 most popular ‘craft’ beer brands in the US

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.

While some figures show that the craft beer boom is starting to ebb in America, the category is still growing.

Mid-year figures from the Brewers Association, the trade group for independent brewers, shows that American craft beer production volumes increased 5% in the first half of 2017.

That’s slightly less than 2016’s mid-year increase of 8% and notably lower than the 16% mid-year production increase of 2015.

Nielsen’s data sheds a unique light on the US’ “craft” landscape, posing more than a few questions about how the category should be defined. The vast majority of the country’s most popular craft beers are either produced by large-scale firms like Molson Coors and Heineken, or by independent brewers which those companies have invested in and acquired, boosting their market penetration.

Brewers, marketers and drinkers all disagree on what “craft” should mean. The Brewer’s Association, the US equivalent of the Society of Independent Brewers, has one of the stricter definitions in the industry.

American craft brewers are “small, independent and traditional”: “small” is defined as an “annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less”; “independent” is defined as at least 75% owned or controlled by a craft brewer; and “traditional” is defined as brewing in which at least 50% of the beer’s volume consists of “traditional or innovative” ingredients.

However, those on the other side of the category are more lenient. Keith Villa, the Molson Coors executive who masterminded the firm’s wheat beer Blue Moon, told the drinks business back in May that craft beer bared a similarity to pornography: “You know it when you see it.”

We’ve listed the US’ most-sold craft-styled beers according to Nielsen.

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