Mexican beer brands, Michelob Ultra continue to lure drinkers in a tough market for mainstream beers.

By Mike Pomranz
December 28, 2018
Dan Herrick / Getty Images

In case you haven’t noticed at bars, restaurants, retail stores, sporting events, and, uh, that new brewery that opened down the block, the beer industry has been changing. Though mass-market beers like Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite still constitute the majority of beer sales, many of these brands have seen sales stagnate or slip while smaller independent breweries serve as the largest source of growth. Along those lines, sales of the 31 biggest beer brands in the U.S. declined by 6.5 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to 24/7 Wall St. However, as the business site points out, not all major brands are in a freefall. Looking at the volume shipped over that same five year period, 24/7 Wall St. recently uncovered the 13 major beer brands (with at least a million barrels shipped) that have actually seen sales increase.

In recent years, Mexican beer brands have proved to be one of America’s big beer bright spots, and 24/7 Wall St.’s research was no exception. Modelo Especial topped the site’s list by more than doubling sales from 2012 to 2017 with a 126.8 percent increase. Cerveza proved popular elsewhere on the list as well: Dos Equis took the #4 spot with sales increases of 41.8 percent, Corona Light was #5 with a 26.3 percent sales bump, and Corona Extra landed in the 7th spot thanks to a 20.2 percent sales increase.

Heading back to the top of the list, Michelob Ultra was #2 as the only other major brand besides Modelo to see sales double: a 101.3 percent increase. Though coming in at #3, Stella Artois also nearly saw its U.S. sales double: The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brand jumped 90.8 percent.

Moving further down the list, things get a bit more interesting, if not necessarily more upmarket. Bud Ice (#6), Coors Banquet (#8), Steel Reserve (#10), and Busch Light (#13) all made the list — though as the last beer to make the cut, Busch Light did so just barely with a five-year sales change of just 0.4 percent. Still, the growth in these brands proves that not all drinkers are looking to move to fancier IPAs.

And lastly, a few old standbys — including two very old standbys — also saw growth. Blue Moon, the Belgian-style white beer launched by Coors back in 1995, continued to gain steam, up 11 percent, to take the #9 spot on the list. Guinness, the Irish brand with a history that dates back to 1759, continues to prove popular in the U.S. with sales inching up 4.8 percent, good enough for #11 on the list. And “America’s oldest brewery” — as well as the country’s largest craft brewery — Pennsylvania’s Yuengling continues to move its classic lager: Sales of the beer were up 2.2 percent from 2012 to 2017 for the 12th spot on 24/7 Wall St’s list.

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