The most popular American beers, and the history of the industry in the U.S.
For many people around the world, beer is their alcoholic beverage of choice. So, have you ever wondered which are the most beloved American beers? What about the industry’s history in the United States? Keep reading to find out.
Most popular American beers in the U.S.
Whether it was a lager or a fruit beer, a 2019 Gallup poll reported 38% of legal-drinking Americans most often consumed beer. This prevalence of beer over other alcoholic beverages is a trend that has persisted for the last 20 years.
As of 2019, the United States’ biggest brands were mostly American. According to Beer Marketer’s Insights website, only six of the nation’s 25 bestselling brews are imported.
1. Bud Light. A golden American lager, it gets its aroma and slight bitterness from hops. Brewed with rice for a clean finish.
2. Coors Light. An American lager that gets its bright gold color from Moravian barley. Made with Rocky Mountain spring water and lager yeast for a refreshing taste. Multiple hop varieties lend it a balanced aroma.
3. Miller Lite. An American pilsner, with a deep golden hue from pale and crystal barley malts. Galena hops are the dominant trait of Miller’s flavor and smell.
Most popular American beers in the world
Lagers are not only the most liked American beers in the United States, but abroad too. Beer 100 ranks three of them in the top ten most consumed brews globally: Coors Light, Bud Light, and Budweiser (which also happens to be the fourth most popular beer in the U.S.).
Taste Atlas places four American styles among the 50 leading beers worldwide:
- American lager (35th), due to its low bitterness, neutral flavor, and subtle malt smell.
- Blonde ale (23rd), for its bready aroma and malt sweetness.
- American amber ale (22nd), for its toasty flavor, malt sweetness, and citrus and pine scents.
- American pale ale (4th), for its Cascade hop fragrance, subtle bitter finish, and crispness.
A brief history of U.S. beer
For decades, American breweries have produced some iconic beers. The history of beer making in the U.S. is one of challenges, innovation and success. Milestones of the national beer industry include:
- Commercial brewing began in the early 17th century in Dutch settlements.
- Brewing remained an uncommon business throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. People preferred other alcoholic beverages.
- By the mid-19th century, breweries grew due to German immigration. Most of them made lagers, which were stable enough to travel if kept chilled. Pasteurization also played a part in the expansion of beer. Anheuser-Busch used these technologies to make Budweiser the first beer available nationwide.
- The Prohibition (1920-1933) took out about 40% of breweries. Later, the Great Depression and both world wars further impacted the industry.
- By 1978, independent brewers were looking to produce beer flavors different from lagers. Around 1990, the number of craft brewers in the country almost tripled.
- In the last decade, the craft segment has exploded. The Brewers Association reports that in 2019 craft sales conquered 13.6% of the U.S. beer market share in volume and over 25% in retail dollar sales. 62.5% of the market is still dominated by mainstream beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors.
Even after decades of beer making, American beers remain leaders in the hearts and minds of U.S. consumers. They make up 76% of the 25 most popular brews in the country, and rank in the top 50 beers worldwide. It is safe to say there is something exceptional about the American style.