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These Are the Most Popular Beers in the United States

Thrillist logo Thrillist 7/10/2018 Dustin Nelson

Here are the 26 most-consumed beers in the United States last year.

a person drinking a glass of beer on a table © Overall beer consumption in the United States may have dropped again in 2017, but Americans still threw back 208 million barrels of beer. That's a buttload of beer. But the kinds of drinks Americans put back are changing all the time. 24/7 Wall St. went through the last year of changes in domestic shipping volume for "26 of the beer industry’s largest brands" using data from Beer Marketer's Insights to show some of the changes inside the beer world.

Some of the reasons cited for changes across the industry are millennials moving to wines and mixed drinks, changing demographics in the US, and craft beer continuing to take a larger market share from big beer. (Interestingly, overall beer sales were down, but the Brewer's Association says sales of craft beer rose again in 2017.)

One of the big changes seen below is the growth of Mexican beers like Modelo and Corona. Those two are three of the largest growers year-over-year. They're just behind Michelob Ultra which grew 21.3%. That's the most among the beers listed below, most of which saw a year-over-year decrease.

Below, you'll find the top 26 beers according to the data provided to 24/7 Wall St. Also included for the top 10 is beer's volume change from 2016 and its parent company. The latter of the two drives to the heart of "the illusion of choice" often talked about by craft beer lovers. It can look like there are 10 beers on the shelf at your local liquor store, but it's possible they all come from just one or two parent companies. 

It's important to note this is not a quality judgment on these beers. If you're looking for something like that, you might want to check out Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America list, which was topped by Bell's Two Hearted and Russian River Pliny the Elder this year.

10. Busch

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

Change from previous year: -2.6%

9. Busch Light

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ 0.4%

8. Natural Light

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ -1.9%

7. Modelo Especial

Parent company: Constellation Brands

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ 17.4%

6. Michelob Ultra

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ 21.3%

5. Corona Extra

Parent company: Constellation Brands

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ 3.6%

4. Miller Lite

Parent company: Molson Coors Brewing

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ -2.8%

3. Budweiser

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

​​​​​​​Change from previous year:​​​​​​​ -7.5%

2. Coors Light

Parent company: Molson Coors Brewing

Change from previous year: -4.1%

1. Bud Light

Parent company: Anheuser-Busch InBev

Change from previous year: -6.2%

Other beers round out the top 26 include, starting from number 11, include Heineken, Keystone Light, Miller High Life, Stella Artois, Bud Ice, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Natural Ice, Yuengling Lager, Blue Moon, Dos Equis, Coors Banquet, Steel Reserve, Icehouse, Corona Light, Milwaukee's Best Ice, and Guinness.

Related gallery: America’s 40 Most Delicious Beers (provided by 24/7 Wall St.)

Beer rules. It’s the third most consumed beverage in the world, after water and tea. It’s also our favorite form of alcohol: A Gallup poll last year found that 40% of American drinkers prefer beer to the other possibilities. (Wine came in second, at 30%.) And the variety of beer that’s available to us, both domestic and imported, is immense and growing all the time.Five years ago, according to the Brewers Association, there were 2,822 breweries in America. Today, there are more than 6,000. About 98% of these are small, independent operations — craft breweries. While they are numerous, their output is tiny compared with that of the major commercial brands, accounting for only about 3% of annual beer sales.Major commercial breweries may produce 40 or 50 million 31-gallon barrels a year or more. To be considered a craft brewery, according to the Brewers Association, a producer must make fewer than six million barrels annually — and most are far smaller. (The term “microbrewery” applies to those that make fewer than 15,000 barrels, and some brewpubs turn out only 10 or 20.)That means that craft beers can be hard to find, some of them very much so: Some breweries sell special bottlings only by lottery or make them available only for a single day each year. They’re also often quite expensive, in some instances $50 or $100 a bottle or more, reflecting the high costs of production on such a small scale as well as their rarity.It’s also worth noting that many craft breweries release successive “vintages” of their specialty beers, with the alcohol content, flavorings, and other factors varying at least slightly from year to year.Nonetheless, craft beers are what get true beer-lovers most excited. They offer complexity and power and sometimes elegance that put them in a different class altogether from that Budweiser or Heineken you might quaff with pleasure simply to quench your thirst.A number of specialist publications and organizations rate craft beers regularly, among them the American Homebrewers Association (not to be confused with the Brewers Association),, and The list that follows is based on their most recent ratings, as well as other compiled lists of what are widely considered the best-tasting beers American breweries have to offer.Virtually all these beers fall into one of two categories: IPAs or flavored stouts. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, a style of ale with a pronounced flavor of hops. (“India” is a reference to the fact that this style’s ancestors were formulated to withstand the long sea voyage to India and other one-time British colonies.) Stout is a strong dark beer made with roasted malt or barley, to which craft brewers often add other flavorings, like coffee, chocolate, and even chiles. They’re two completely different styles, but between them they add up to the craft beers that the experts consider our country’s finest. America’s 40 Most Delicious Beers


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