It is difficult to top the variety found in beer. A cold, refreshing lager on a warm summer day, a creamy, rich stout on a cold winter night, or a hearty brown or red ale with lunch. It is not hard to see why beer has been one of the most popular beverages around the world for centuries. With the takeover of craft beer in America, one might forget that beer is going strong in many other countries around the world. If you've ever wondered about beer production by country, the following list highlights the ten top beer producing countries in the world.
Producing over three million kiloliters of beer in 2013, Spain has seen a rise in craft beer popularity and with it, beer in general has risen rapidly in popularity. Despite being the furthest down on this list, Spain was actually the first European country to produce beer. It simply never become popular due to how difficult it was to import barley and hops at that time.
Like many European countries, Poland began producing beer in the Middle Ages. However, it never got popular until the 1800s. In the present day, Poland is the fifth biggest beer consumer in the world and in 2013 it produced nearly four million kiloliters to satisfy these beer drinkers. Poland beer fans prefer lager, bock and Baltic porter styles.
The UK is known for inventing some of the most popular beer styles enjoyed around the world, including stout, IPA, porter and brown ale. However, UK beer drinkers prefer pilsner, a style invented by the Czech Republic and proliferated mainly by the US before craft beer took over. In 2013, the UK topped four million kiloliters for beer drinkers at home and abroad. Despite a reputation for pub culture, the truth is that the UK exports a good deal of its beer. It is fifth in the world for beer exports.
Japan is a big beer producing country and in 2013, they produced well over five million kiloliters. However, these numbers include a few beer-like drinks such as Happo-shu and new genre non-malt. Japan is much more recent on the beer scene versus Europe. It didn't start making beer until after the arrival of Dutch traders in the 1600s. Its first brewery was Kirin, which opened in 1869, and then Sapporo Brewery opened shortly afterwards. Today, Japan's four major brewers are Kirin, Sapporo, Asahi and Suntory, but there are also over 200 microbreweries scattered around the country. For all the beer they produce, Japan ranks fairly low on the consumption list, only coming in at 43rd.
Mexico picked up its modern-day beer skills from German immigrants in the 1800s. The country has been pretty steady in its output, with over eight million kiloliters produced in both 2013 and 2012. Mexico actually produces 16.5 percent of all the beer in the world, which is more than any other nation. The two main beer companies are FEMSA and Grupo Modelo.
Beer was not actually classified as alcohol in Russia until 2013 and was largely consumed as a soft drink. Despite the new restriction, Russia still produced nearly nine million kiloliters of beer that year. In Russia, beer is second to vodka as the most popular drink and it is estimated that every Russian citizen drinks about 74 liters annually. The country is home to over 100 breweries and there's also a flourishing microbrewery scene, with about 250 of those around the country. The largest beer producer in Russia is actually a Danish company called Carlsberg. Russia classifies beer according to color, but the most popular style is Baltic.
Germany is the fourth largest beer producer in the world, with many popular brands. They produced nearly nine and a half million kiloliters of it in 2013. Germany is also the fourth largest in beer exports and makes about 10 percent of the beer in the world. Like other European countries, Germany started making beer in the Middle Ages. It was often made by monks in abbeys and the first is thought to be Benedictine Abbey. Over 1,300 breweries now make their home in Germany.
Brazil might be a surprise entry on this list, considering how high it is on the list, but Brazil makes a lot of beer. Nearly 13.5 million kiloliters were produced in 2013. Like Mexico, Brazil learned its beer making from German immigrants in the 1800s. Unsurprisingly, Brazilian beer drinkers favor pilsner as their top style.
2. United States
The top two entries on this list are far above the competition in quantity. The USA made nearly 22.5 kiloliters of beer in 2013 and they are the sixth biggest beer exporter in the world. There is over 3,000 breweries in the country and the major brands of Coors Light and Budweiser are well-known around the world. Since the mid-2000s, a craft beer revolution began to take hold and has only gained more ground in the following years. Pale lager was the most popular style in earlier years, but now IPA - a craft beer favorite - is just as popular. About 85 percent of the alcohol consumed in the US is beer.
Even though beer has such a huge market share in the US, China has well over a billion consumers to satisfy and it makes twice the amount of beer to fulfill it. In 2013, they produced 46.5 million kiloliters. Not only that, but Chinese brands of beer occupied the number one, number two and number six spots for most consumed beer in the world. Rice lager is the favored style in China. Even though Budweiser is often called the king of beers, the title actually belongs to China's Snow Beer, which is the most popular beer in the world. Another little-known fact is that China has been the world's top beer market since 2002, taking the title from the USA.