Who's the country's biggest brewer?

A Pennsylvania company has surpassed Boston Beer to become No. 1, though it still has only 1.2% of the US market.

By Kim Peterson Jan 16, 2012 1:06PM
Image: Beer (© Corbis)A new beer maker has surged ahead to become the largest in America -- and it probably isn't the one you think.

Anheuser-Busch, the maker of the No. 1 beer Bud Light? Nope. That's a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), which is based in Belgium.

How about MillerCoors, which makes No. 2 beer Coors Light? Nope. MillerCoors is a joint venture of London's SABMiller (SBMRY) and Molson Coors (TAP), which operates out of Montreal and Denver.

The biggest U.S. brewer is now D.G. Yuengling and Son, based in Pottsville, Pa., the Allentown Morning Call reports. Yuengling saw shipments soar 16.9% last year to 2.5 million barrels. As a result, it barely squeaked into first place, surpassing Sam Adams maker Boston Beer (SAM), which rose 8% to 2.4 million barrels.

"It just floors me that so much of our beer industry is owned by foreign concerns," Dick Yuengling, the brewery's fifth-generation owner, told the Morning Call. "We were not in any race to be the largest domestically owned brewer, but it's a tremendous honor for us."

And Yuengling's sales will likely increase for 2012 because it just started selling beer in its 14th state, Ohio, the Morning Call reported.

Yuengling's growth is even more remarkable because the industry has been in a prolonged slide. Total beer shipments fell by 1.4% last year, Advertising Age reported.

The beer industry saw another shakeup last year: Coors Light surpassed Budweiser to become the No. 2 beer. It was the first time in decades that Anheuser-Busch hasn't controlled the top two beers in the country.

The following video has more details about Budweiser's long slide.

Post continues below.
It's interesting, and a little sad, that Yuengling can be the top U.S. brewer but have only 1.2% of the market. The company ranks No. 8 in overall market share. Even Pabst Brewing Co. is bigger, but Pabst doesn't actually brew its own beer, so it doesn't count as a brewer. And North American Breweries, which sells Genessee and Magic Hat, gets much of its volume from Canada's Labatt beer, Advertising Age reported.

Americans seem to be just fine with drinking foreign-owned beer. When InBev took over Anheuser-Busch four years ago, some observers thought U.S. beer drinkers would revolt, Advertising Age reported. That hasn't happened.

"The average consumer has a short memory," one industry expert told the magazine.

Tags: BUDSAMTAP
196Comments
Jan 16, 2012 7:08PM
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Way to go Yuengling!  An American company, managed in America, providing American jobs, and producing an excellent beer in the process. While the other brands sold out to overseas companies to fill their pockets, the Yuengling family remained true to their roots and kept the company 100% American... they are committed and they are to be thanked.   
Jan 16, 2012 5:25PM
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Lived in the Pottsville, Pa area for a long time....Yuengling Beer is brewed and distributed from America's Oldest Brewery. I'm proud to say that Yuengling Beer is "crafted" by people, that the rest of the country might perceive as "backward" or "not with the times". They are "the salt of the earth" people. The decendents of coal-miners...hard workers, and commited to detail. If Yuengling turns out to be "America's Only American Brewed Beer"........then it's because of those salt of the earth people. The Skook Rocks!!!
Jan 17, 2012 5:37PM
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Drinking Light Beer is like having sex in a canoe.  Too close to water
Jan 17, 2012 1:52PM
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I drink beer based on the taste, not on what company brewed it. Yeungling is a fine brewery that makes a great beer. I also like Saranac, which is based in Utica NY. Both are American owned but that isn't why I drink the beer. It's good that's all. I also like Bass Pale Ale from England, Franziskaner Weissbier from Germany and one of my all time favorites, Guinness Extra Stout from Ireland. If you like Bud Light, drink it. If Yuengling is your favorite, well then drink it. Beer drinkers shouldn't argue, we should just pour a glass of our favorite brew and relax. BTW congrats to Yeungling!
Jan 16, 2012 2:56PM
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Here in Denver, we have a TON of micro-brewers.  Believe me, the worst that they put out is still better than ANYTHING the "assembly line" brewers make.  I drink micro-brew ale from my local brewer and help support my local economy.
Jan 17, 2012 3:25PM
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For those of you ignorant and not in the know, Yuengling is the OLDEST American brewery, established in 1829, by a German brewer, David Gottlob Jüngling, who had his named changed to a more Anglican-sounding Yuengling.  It's not Chinese folks.

 

I had the pleaseure of trying this beer for a week during a stay in Pittsburgh over 11 years ago, and it still lives in my memory as one of the FINEST beers I have ever had.

 

They didn't "re-brand" themselves as a yuppie beer, they produce over 9 beer styles and flavors, and have for longer than most.  They did start reproducing some recipes that had been put aside, and these did help swing them into the micro-brew revolution, but they have always stood on their own.

 

I can only hope that we will see some more distribution someday, I'd love to get it here in Seattle.

 

I do agree the article's title is typical misleading journalism, but I'm glad that such a fine brewery and beer get some national notice.

 

Hit up Wikipedia if you want to read more about them.

Jan 17, 2012 1:57PM
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We first noticed Yuengling gaining traction here in TN around 2008. Their flagship lager is fairly comparable to regular Budweiser in body, but a bit superior in flavor, imo. After trying it for the first time in tallboy cans at a local Hooters (yes, we're a little white trash), we spent the next several months happily searching for it on tap everywhere we went. The novelty has worn off now, but it's still in our regular rotation. 
As for the beer semi-snobs arguing that Bud lt. et al are a total waste of liver metabolism compared to Yuengling and craft beers, let it go. People like what they like, tastes vary. Instead of arguing, we should get together with all our PBRs, Natty Lites, Buds and Millers, Fat Tires and Yuenglings, Sams and Magic Hats, Shiners and Yuppy Blue Moons (hey I like 'em too) and throw something on the grill, get out the cornhole boards and have a party!

Jan 16, 2012 2:41PM
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I think the craft beer movement is fracturing the once homogeneous megabeer market and it also didn't help that the owners of Big 3 Brewers all lost their vision, cashed out and let their once proud family businesses be sold.  I, for one, gave up on the Big Brewers years ago when the craft beers made it to the local market.   
Jan 16, 2012 2:12PM
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Yuengling really is a good beer, a difficult choice between it or a Sam Adams every Saturday afternoon.

Jan 17, 2012 6:13PM
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yuengling...america's oldest & best brew...cheers!!!
Jan 16, 2012 2:30PM
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YUENGLING LAGER!!! 8) WHOO HOO!! saw the report on my local news station the other day, can't tell you how happy I was!! way to go Yuengling!! and if you knew where this town is that it comes from you'd be surprised--just a little place, a former coal mining region town (so you can guess what the surrounding region is like 8( unfortunately...), and then here's this brewery! Been there over a hundred years! You can even come and take a tour of the place, but last I knew the waiting list was almost a YEAR LONG!! NO KIDDING!! 8) just keep going Yuengling!! Keep telling everyone you know about it, keep trying their different beers available, and keep it here in the US!! 8) BUY AMERICAN!! 8) ..check for their website too, almost positive they have one!! 8)   
Jan 16, 2012 8:44PM
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You can save time with your Budweiser and simply poor it into the toilet where it belongs....
Jan 16, 2012 4:27PM
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BEER! Been making ugly people sexy for the last 2,500 years!
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At last, the best tasting beer in the country is getting the recognition it deserves. Try a Yuengling Traditional. for a real taste treat, especially the draught beer! What a joy to see the oldest brewery in the country finally achieve the top position, especially when the former "champions" have been taken over by non-American companies. Right now , nothing domestic or foreign beats a Yuengling Traditional Lager. either cold or room temperature!!!
Jan 16, 2012 4:01PM
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Bud is crap! If you want a good QUALITY product from a FAMILY that treats their employee's well with NO FOREIGN interests, this is for you. If they were in all 52 states they WOULD have the top market share. Black and Tan, Porter, Chesterfield Ale, Lager, Lager Light-which does not taste light crap like the competitors.. Forgot to mention Yuengling Premium and Light as well. And no I am not from the Yuengling Family! This is a company like they used to be in this country. People actually retire from Yuengling and they do not have to worry about big wigs and job security....If all US businesses were like this our economy would be booming!  Forgot to mention Yuengling Lager is on tap in Disney World!!
Jan 17, 2012 12:59PM
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We just got it in OH a few weeks or months ago, and I have completely replaced Miller light and Bud light for my domestic option when have people over.

Hopefully they won't sell out.
Jan 16, 2012 9:50PM
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Funny,  It use to be that American beers taste like pi$$.  Bud and the like are Imports now and American beers like Yueng and Sam A are quality brews.  Yuengling please increase your distribution range.  The rest of America is ready for it.   Did you ever notice that the worse a beer taste the more they advertise how cold it should be  i.e. special labels.  Think about it.  If you were forced to drink pi$$ would you want it room temperature or "Super Cold"?
Jan 17, 2012 12:27PM
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Any chance of Yuengling being distributed in Texas?  It is a fine tasting beer!
Jan 17, 2012 2:45AM
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Budweiser should forget about making beer and stick to television. Their commercials are the best but the beer...not so much.
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