Do you really want to Drink American? Your choices are getting smaller and smaller, but all is not lost… let's see what's on the shelf…
Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgian/Brazillian brewer that now owns Anheuser-Bush, has over 250 beer brands produced and sold throughout the world. This makes them the largest brewing company ever conglomeratized.
Under InBev, the flagship brands that you will mostly come across in the U.S. are Stella Artois, Brahma, Beck's, Leffe, Boddingtons, Hoegaarden, Labatt, Löwenbräu, St. Pauli Girl and Tennent's. Under the new “Belgweiser” ownership, they add over 40 different beers and malt liquors. The most popular are the Budweiser family of beers (Bud, Bud Light, Bud Select, etc.), the Michelob Family of beers (Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra), the Busch Family of beers (Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice), and who can forget the Natural “Natty” Family (Natural Light & Natural Ice).
Miller Brewing Company, although based in Milwaukee, WI, is owned by SABMiller (South African Breweries) which was created in 2002 when it was purchased from the Altria Group.
Some of Miller's bigger brands include Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Olde English 800, Milwaukee’s Best, Mickey's, Hamm's, Icehouse, Red Dog, Leinenkugel's and SouthPaw Light.
SABMiller's biggest brands you may run across in the U.S. include international beers such as Pilsner Urquell, Peroni and Grolsch.
A full list of SABMiller beers can be found here.
Heineken International is a Dutch brewing company. Heineken owns over 115 breweries in more than 65 countries and ranks as the third largest brewery in the world after SABMiller and InBev.
The two largest brands that are distributed in the U.S. are Heineken and Amstel, but you may also find Zywiec and Birra Moretti.
A full list of Heineken beers can be found here.
The Coors Brewing Company is a regional division of the world’s fourth-largest brewing company, the Molson Coors Brewing Company, which was created in 2005.
The most popular of their brews include: Coors Original (“Banquet”), Coors Light, Killian's Irish Red, Blue Moon, Keystone, and who can forget… Zima.
Politics aside, and in taste only, I pesonally do not like one SINGLE beer that Coors distributes in the U.S. On the other hand, Caffrey’s Irish Ale, my favorite beer possibly ever, was purchased by Coors from Interbrew and killed in the U.S. so that Coors can distribute the swill they call Killian's Red. Don't get me started on that, as I might have to make ANOTHER beer website… but you can read about that plight here.
Molson Canada, the other half of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, has about 20 beers all called Molson Something.
A full list of Molson Coors beers can be found here.
In 2007, to further complicate “who owns what,” SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company announced a joint venture to be known as MillerCoors for their US operations that will market all of their products. It is quite possibly named MillerCoors because “SABMillerCoorsMolson” would be “confusing.”
Those are the big guys in brewing… their beers known in the U.S. collectivly as Budmilloors. Since the July 13, 2008 announcement that Anheuser-Busch agreed to sell their American company to the Belgian giant, Pabst Brewing Company has gone to some lengths to make sure people know that they “will be the last of the famous iconic U.S. brewers to be fully independent and American-owned.”
Pabst Blue Ribbon–which is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity–along with Schlitz, Stroh, Schaefer, Rainier, Olympia and quite a few others are brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company… which has NO BREWERIES.
Schaefer–which is currently enjoying a resurgence in my own personal drinking–and Schlitz–if you, or Officer Farva can even find it–fall into a category known as “virtual brewing.” These beers are owned by F&M Schaefer Brewing Co., and Stroh Brewery Co., respectively. Both labels are owned by Pabst Brewing Co., which contracts the brewing out to Miller Brewing.
Is this complicated yet?
The beers of Pabst Brewing are indeed American owned, but they are brewed by a company that is owned by South African Breweries. While I do not agree with their statement that they are “fully independent,” it is seemingly a better choice, especially during a time when we are trying to discover what is American and what is not… which leads me to…
Rolling Rock, once known as being from Latrobe Brewing in Pennsylvania, was distributed by InBev for a number of years before being sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2006… and now back to AB InBev.
The list above covers quite a large amount of beers that you probably see everyday on your beermongers shelves. Want to drink American AND support your local craft brewer? Here is the list of Truly American Beers.