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The Top Ten Beers in the World Aren't What You Think

Beer Festival in China
The 23rd Qingdao International Beer Festival in Qingdao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province on Aug. 10, 2012. Photographer: Li Ziheng/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Here’s a trivia question for your drinking buddies: what’s the world’s most popular beer? Bud Light? Budweiser? A decade ago, those answers would be right on the money.

The money is moving.

China is poised to become the world’s biggest economy by GDP within the next decade. Using a method that takes purchasing power into account, it could surpass the U.S. as early as this year.

With newfound wealth comes the means for more people to kick back and enjoy a beer every now and then. And so they are. While the U.S. still chugs more beer per person, China already reigns as king of beer when it comes to total consumption. Chinese drink about 110 billion pints a year, roughly twice as much as Americans, according to Euromonitor International.

Beerconomy Chart

So what is the world’s most popular beer? Snow.

Yes, that’s a beer. It’s produced by the CR Snow joint venture between SAB Miller and China Resources. More than twice as many pints of Snow were downed last year than Bud Light, which fell to #3 after Tsingtao, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International and Bloomberg.

If your American keg-stand pride is feeling upturned by a third-place ranking, the news gets worse. Budweiser hasn’t technically been American beer for some time now. The company that took it over in 2008, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, is based in Belgium. It now owns half of the top ten beers in the world.

Top ten best-selling beers by volume in 2013:

  1. Snow
  2. Tsingtao
  3. Bud Light
  4. Budweiser
  5. Skol
  6. Yanjing
  7. Heineken
  8. Harbin
  9. Brahma
  10. Coors Light

Please note: These beers are the most popular, not the most delicious. For people with taste buds, there’s no overlap; try here or here.

More from Tom Randall:

Follow @tsrandall on Twitter for more things to drink up.

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