It’s difficult to surpass the variety found in beer. Enjoy a cool and refreshing beer on a warm summer day, a creamy stout on a cold winter night, or a hearty brown or red beer for lunch. It’s not hard to understand why beer has remained one of the most popular beverages worldwide for centuries. If you’ve ever been curious about beer production by country, the following list highlights the top 10 beer producing countries in the world.
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In 2013, Spain produced over 3 million kiloliters of beer, and with the rise in popularity of craft beer, the overall demand for beer has grown rapidly. Despite being at the bottom of this list, Spain was actually the first European country to produce beer. However, due to the difficulty of importing barley and hops at the time, it didn’t gain much traction.
Like many European countries, Poland began brewing beer in the Middle Ages, but it didn’t gain popularity until the 1800s. Currently, Poland is the fifth largest consumer of beer in the world, producing nearly 4 million kiloliters in 2013. Polish beer enthusiasts prefer lagers, bocks, and Baltic porters.
The UK is renowned for inventing some of the most popular beer styles worldwide, including Stout, IPA, Porter, and Brown Ale. However, British beer drinkers predominantly favor pilsners, a style originated in the Czech Republic and popularized mainly by the US before the craft beer revolution. In 2013, beer consumption in the UK, both domestic and international, exceeded 4 million kiloliters. Despite the reputation of pub culture, the truth is that the UK is a major beer exporter, ranking fifth in the world.
Japan is a significant beer-producing country, with over 5 million kiloliters produced in 2013. However, these figures include beer-like beverages such as Happo-shu and new non-ale varieties. Compared to Europe, Japan entered the beer market relatively late, beginning production with the arrival of Dutch traders in the 1600s. Kirin Beer, the first brewery in Japan, opened in 1869, followed shortly by Sapporo Brewery. Today, the top four breweries in Japan are Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi, and Suntory, alongside more than 200 microbreweries across the country. Despite the wide variety of beers produced, Japan ranks low on the consumption list, at 43rd.
Mexico acquired modern beer technology from German immigrants in the 1800s. Production in the country has remained steady, with over 8 million kiloliters produced in both 2013 and 2012. In fact, Mexico produces 16.5% of the world’s beer, more than any other country. The two main beer companies in Mexico are FEMSA and Grupo Modelo.
In Russia, it wasn’t until 2013 that beer was officially classified as an alcoholic beverage, as it was mostly consumed as a soft drink. Despite the new restrictions, Russia still produced nearly 9 million liters of beer that year. Beer is the second most popular beverage in Russia after vodka, with an estimated per capita consumption of 74 liters. The country is home to over 100 breweries and a thriving microbrewery scene, with around 250 spread across the nation. Interestingly, Russia categorizes beer by color, with Baltic styles being the most popular.
Germany is the fourth largest beer producer globally and boasts numerous popular brands. They produced nearly 9.5 million kiloliters in 2013. Germany is also the fourth largest exporter of beer, accounting for approximately 10% of global beer production. Like other European countries, Germany began brewing beer in the Middle Ages, often done by monks in monasteries, particularly those following Benedictine traditions. Nowadays, Germany is home to over 1,300 breweries.
Brazil might be a surprising entry on this list, considering its ranking, but the country has a strong beer culture. In 2013, Brazil produced nearly 13.5 million kiloliters of beer. Similar to Mexico, Brazil learned the art of beer brewing from German immigrants in the 1800s. Unsurprisingly, pilsners are the favored beer style among Brazilian consumers.
2. United States
The first two entries on this list far surpass the others. In 2013, the United States produced nearly 22.5 million kiloliters of beer, making it the sixth largest beer exporter globally. With over 3,000 breweries nationwide, iconic brands such as Coors Light and Budweiser have gained international recognition. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a craft beer revolution in the US, which has continued to grow in subsequent years. While pale ale was the most popular style in the early years, IPA, a craft beer favorite, has become equally popular. In the US, beer accounts for approximately 85% of alcohol consumption.
While beer holds a significant market share in the US, China has over a billion consumers to cater to, resulting in twice the production. In 2013, China produced a staggering 46.5 million kiloliters of beer. Not only that, but Chinese beer brands occupy the first, second, and sixth positions in global beer consumption. The most popular style in China is known as Mirage. Although Budweiser is often called the “king of beers,” that title actually belongs to China’s Snow Beer, which is the most consumed beer worldwide. Another lesser-known fact is that China has been the largest beer market globally since 2002, surpassing the US.