Special Report

America's Fastest Growing Beer Brands

8. Michelob Ultra
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 21.5%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 4,100,000

Michelob Ultra shipments increased 21.5% between 2008 and last year, from 3.37 million barrels in 2008 to 4.10 million in 2013, the eighth largest increase. The Canadian light beer is advertised as low carb, low calorie beer, which may have helped boost its popularity. According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, the light beer category accounts for most of America’s top-selling beers, as well as for 35% of total beer sales nationwide. Yet, as Shepherd stated, Michelob Ultra has succeeded where many other premium light brands have suffered. Michelob Ultra had nearly 2% of the market in 2013.

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7. Bud Ice
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 26.9%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,125,000

According to Anheuser-Busch, Bud Ice is produced using an “exclusive ice-brewing process” during which the beer’s temperature is taken below freezing. While reviewers on online beer rating site Beer Advocate rated the beer “awful,” it doesn’t seem Bud Ice is intended to compete with the best-tasting beers. Instead, ice beers generally have higher alcohol content and cost less than other varieties. Bud Ice contains 5.5% alcohol, versus Bud Light’s 4.2% alcohol content. Compared to 2008, Anheuser-Busch shipped 450,000 more barrels of Bud Ice last year, an increase of 26.9%.

6. Yuengling Lager
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 34.2%
> Brewer: D.G. Yuengling & Son
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,180,000

Based in Pennsylvania, Yuengling, which can trace its roots to 1829, touts being America’s oldest brewery. While several of the fastest growing beers in America are produced by much larger foreign-owned brewers, Yuengling remains U.S.-based and was the largest such brewer in the country as of 2012. Yuengling Lager shipments last year were up 34.2% from 2008, and its market share improved to 1.0% from 0.7%. Unlike several other fast-growing brands, Yuengling has succeeded with relatively little advertising. The recent growth was due to a combination of strengths in its home markets, as well as strong results from recent expansion efforts.

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5. PBR
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 71.5%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,710,000

Pabst Blue Ribbon sales have grown dramatically over the last decade, a trend strangely unassociated with any specific effort from the company. Since the brewer has spent much less on advertising than competitors such as Budweiser, Bud Light, and Coors Light, PBR’s ascendance is still largely inexplicable. To add to the confusion, these beers also all have a fairly similar taste. The New York Times suggested in 2003 that PBR’s customer base has grown precisely because of the lack of major marketing support. Regardless of the reason, the brand seems to have captured a coolness factor that sells beer quite well. Between 2008 and last year, PBR shipments grew 71.5%.