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99 Bottles (and Cans) of Beer

Someone from Time sent me a link to a story from Fortune magazine on CNN’s Money website (if you ever needed an illustration of how concentrated the mainstream media is, this is it). The story itself is short, but quite interesting.

Basically, it’s an interactive poster featuring 99 popular beer brands, old and new. When you click on your mouse while holding it over one of the bottles or cans, it tells you who now owns the brand and whether or not it’s still being brewed. Of the 99 beers, they can be divided up five ways:
  1. 19 are MillerCoors owned
  2. 9 are InBev owned
  3. 7 are Anheuser-Busch owned
  4. 2 are Heineken owned
  5. 14 are no longer brewed

Which is all well and good, but I think we can do better. Here’s another way to break them down, though it’s not as interactive:

  1. 24 are somewhat independent (though few are owned by very large companies, like Foster’s)
  2. 21 are Miller or Coors owned (19 by MillerCoors & 2 by SABMiller)
  3. 18 are Pabst owned
  4. 9 are InBev owned (and after the merger’s approved, this will be 16)
  5. 7 are Anheuser-Busch owned
  6. 2 are Carlsberg owned
  7. 2 are Diageo owned
  8. 2 are Heineken owned
  9. 14 are no longer brewed

There are also some other interesting statistics there, too, such as Anheuser-Busch’s market share over the past five decades. In 1970, A-B had a 17.&% share, which grew 10% to 27.7% by 1980. In 1990, it had risen steeply again to 43.3% but growth slowed by the year 2000, where it essentially leveled off at 48.3 and then began sliding back very slowly. By last year it was 48.2%.

In 1970, Miller wasn’t even in the top five, but thanks to the phenomenal success of Miller Lite by 1980 they enjoyed a 20.6% share of the market, but never got much higher than that and by 2007 had even dropped to 18.4%. Coors, likewise, wasn’t in the top five in 1970 and wasn’t even a national brand at that point. By 1980 they’d just cracked the top five, with 7.6% and continued to grow very slowly until by 2007 they were 11.1% of the total beer market.

There’s also an Q&A with Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, who is now the largest remaining American brewer, depending on how that’s defined. Pabst and Yuengling also have claims to the throne. Pabst makes more beer than the other two but owns no brewery of their own. Boston Beer brews more beer than Yuengling, but contract brews a little over half of their production. Fortune describes the maker of Samuel Adams “as the country’s largest, independent, publicly-traded brewery.”


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