Beer is a universal tipple. It’s produced in about 160 countries, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and probably consumed in all 195 of the world’s nations (except – maybe – those 14 that ban alcohol). It is almost certainly the oldest alcoholic beverage on earth – the Sumerians were drinking it as early as 4,000 B.C. – and remains the most popular by far, as well as the third most popular beverage of any kind after water and tea. (Thirsty? These are America’s most delicious beers.)
The world’s largest producer of beer is China, whose yearly output is almost twice that of the second-place country – the good old U.S.A. (Brazil comes third.) Not surprisingly, considering the size of its population, China also consumes the most beer in total – though its per capita rate puts it down around 45th or 46th place. (The Czech Republic holds the No. 1 spot per capita.)
When it comes to individual producers, 11 of the 25 biggest beer companies are headquartered in Asia (12 if you count Turkey, which is partly Asian), and four of those are in China.
To assemble a list of the top 25 breweries or brewery groups in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed “The 40 Biggest Beer Companies in the World in 2023” published by VinePair, the largest digital media company producing content on beer, wine, and spirits. VinePair sourced its data from BarthHass, a German enterprise that supplies almost a third of the world’s hops to brewers. Information on major brands came from the company websites.
Besides Asia, Europe and both North and South America are represented on the list. The first-place company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces about twice as much beer annually as second-place Heineken, is headquartered in Belgium – but its best-known brands are all-American, including Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch. (As the antithesis to big international brands, here’s a list of the best local beer from every state.)
While only one German firm placed in the top 25, Germany was represented by six companies on the full list of 40 producers – more than any other country.
It should be noted that our listing of the major brands produced by each company is far from complete in most cases, and that partnerships, minority interests, regional licensing agreements, and other factors mean that many of the beer companies appearing here are intertwined in various ways. San Miguel from the Philippines, for instance, licensed an enterprise in Spain to produce beer under its name, and the two San Miguels appear here as separate companies. Chile’s Compañía de las Cervecerías Unidas produces Heineken in South America as well as importing and distributing other noted brands.
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