What Are the Top 10 Brewing Companies?

by Cheryl Munson

An assortment of beers.

DawidKasza/iStock/Getty Images

People the world over love beer, as evidenced by the fact that the top 10 brewing companies span the globe, from North America to Europe to Asia. The German-based Barth-Haas Group -- the world's largest supplier of hops, an essential beer ingredient -- annually ranks the world's largest producers of beers. Note that a brewing company is different from a beer brand. The world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Bush InBev, for example, produces hundreds of brands.

Anheuser Busch/In-Bev

The most recent Barth-Haas survey at the time of publication, which was based on 2012 data, identified Anheuser-Busch InBev as far and away the biggest brewing company, producing nearly one-fifth of the world's beer. The company is based in Leuven, Belgium and brews more than 300 beers, including such top-selling labels as Budweiser, Michelob, Beck's, Stella Artois, Bass and Brahma.

SAB Miller

SABMiller sells beer under more than 200 brand names worldwide and produces nearly 10 percent of the world's total beer consumption. The company's top-selling labels include Miller, Castle Lager, Grolsch, Bavaria, and Cerveceria National.

Heineken

Beyond the green-bottled brew that shares its name with the company, Netherlands-based Heineken's brands include Amstel, Murphy’s, Cordoba and Tiger. Barth-Haas pegged its 2012 market share at 8.8 percent.

Carlsberg

Denmark-based Carlsberg produced a little over 6 percent of the world's beer in the Barth-Haas survey. Beyond its flagship Carlsberg brand, the company produces such labels as Tuborg, Kronenbourg and Baltika, the top-selling brand in Russia.

CR Snow

China Resources Snow Breweries may not be a household name in the United States, but it certainly is in China, where it produces the country's best-selling beer, Snow. CR Snow produced about 5.4 percent of the world's beer in the Barth-Haas survey.

Tsingtao

China's second-largest brewery, Tsingtao was founded by German entrepreneurs around the turn of the 20th century. The company is based in Qingdao -- the company's name is a Western transliteration of the city's name -- and produced 4 percent of the world's beer in 2012. Its top brands all bear the Tsingtao name.

Modelo

Modelo dominates the Mexican brewery industry, with a market share of more than 60 percent in that country, and 2.9 percent worldwide. Its reigning brand is Corona. Other labels include Estrella, Leon Negra, Model Especial, Montejo, Pacifico, Negra Modelo and Victoria. In 2013, Anheuser-Busch InBev completed a takeover of Modelo, but at the time of the Barth-Haas survey, the brewer was still independent.

Molson Coors

This company was formed in 2005 out of the merger of two major North American breweries, Canada's Molson and Denver-based Coors. It held 2.8 percent of the world beer market. In the United States, the company operates a joint venture with SABMiller called Miller Coors. The two companies work together to market their brands and compete with U.S. market leader Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Beijing Yanjing

A fairly new company, Beijing Yanjing Brewery produces Yanjing, the "official state beer of China." The company had a 2.8 percent worldwide market share in the Barth-Haas Survey.

Kirin

Tokyo-based Kirin Brewery Company produces two iconic Japanese brands: Kirin lager and Ichiban Shibori. It held a 2.5 percent global market share.

Femsa

Femsa produces many of the top brew brands in Mexico and Brazil, including Carta Blanca, Dos Equis, Tecate, Bohemia, and Sol. Heineken lovers may also appreciate knowing that they can enjoy Femsa Cerveza worldwide through a structured joint business ownership deal.

Kirin

Japan utilizes the unicorn to connect Kirin as a beer that symbolizes good luck. So far that’s working quite well. Kirin is the top beer manufacturer in Japan, serves many markets overseas, and is the number one exporter of Japanese beer to the US.

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About the Author

Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.