Data from Barth Haasone of the world’s leading suppliers of hops, offers an overview of the volume of beer produced in different countries around the world.
Although 2021 figures are yet to be released, the 2020 data offers a good indication of the global beer order.
Naturally, production in some countries has declined due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused a significant disruption in the supply of labor and materials. Interestingly though, this was not the case globally.
However, with shortages of CO2 and barley in particular (the latter aggravated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine), 2022 should also be a poorer year for beer.
More than half of the beer produced in the world is made in the top five countries on this list.
1) China – 341,110,000 hectoliters
As mentioned in our assessment of the 10 largest wine-producing countries, official figures from the People’s Republic are of questionable reliability. However, despite some accuracy issues, it’s pretty clear that China is number one when it comes to beer production. China Res. Snow Breweries, Tsingtao Brewery Group and Yanking are respectively responsible for 106.9, 80 and 35.3 mill hl, nearly two-thirds of the total quantity for the country. These three groups produced around 12.2% of the world’s beer in 2020.
2) United States – 211,166,000 hl
Land of the free, home of the brave – and also of many brewing giants. Although Molson Coors is a merger between an American company and a Canadian company, its headquarters are in Chicago. Constellation Brands is another. Budweiser, probably America’s best-known beer, is owned by Belgian behemoth AB InBev. Last year’s hop report de BarthHaas suggests that the acreage devoted to hops is increasing in the United States, with an additional 791 hectares added over a 12-month period.
3) Brazil – 151,900,000 hl
Although Brazil is not considered a heavyweight in the brewing world here in Europe, the country’s production is impressive. With a growth of 7.1 million hl compared to the 2019 level, there is only one Brazilian company in the top 40 of the world’s largest brewers: Grupo Petrópolis at number 11. Brands such as Itaipava , Lokal Bier and Cerveja Petra may not be recognizable to international consumers, but the domestic market is huge. The The IWSR also notes that the resilience of Brazilian brewers can be attributed to a “successful pivot to digital [ecommerce] and DTCs [direct-to-consumer]”.
4) Mexico – 126,900,000 hl
Like Brazil, Mexico also saw growth from 2019. Grupo Modelo, owned by AB InBev, produces, among other things, Corona. Despite its unfortunate name, beer is always efficient. Incidentally, AB InBev produces a quarter of all beer in the world. In the United States, Grupo Modelo is distributed by Constellation Brands.
5) Germany – 87,027,000 hl
A list of beer-producing countries without Germany would seem totally incomplete. The country that gave the world Oktoberfest and the term “lager” has arguably defined global beer and beer culture more than any other nation. Brewers of Europe also shows that they are, by far, the biggest beer drinkers in Europe – consuming a cumulative 78,706,000 hl in 2020. Perhaps alarmingly, it was actually a record.
6) Russia – 79,500,000 hl
For a brewing superpower, Russia’s influence on global beer seems minimal, but it’s actually symptomatic of the country’s isolation from Western markets. According to the IWSR, Russian beer accounts for only 1% of the global beer market. The remaining 99% is consumed on site. Although sanctions on Russian exports could significantly change international vodka marketsthey won’t necessarily register when it comes to beer sales.
7) Japan – 46,874,000 hl
Asahi and Suntory are the major Japanese brewing groups. There is also Sapporo, the oldest brand of beer in the country. Online beer sales, especially during times of lockdown, were of great importance. Despite the growing demand for ready-to-drink beverages, beer demand remained resilient. Although we may perceive Japan as a country dictated by tradition, the change is not without precedent. Earlier this year, Asahi changed its Super Dry recipe because the tastes of Japanese consumers had changed.
8) Vietnam – 40,000,000hl
IWSR reports of an emerging craft beer movement in Vietnam should not overshadow the fact that the country remains a haven for great beer. The beverage industry often reflects geopolitical history, and the two dominant brewing groups in Vietnam are no exception. To the south, in what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City, there is Sabeco, Saigon Beverage Corp. To the north there is Habeco, Hanoi Beverage Corp. The former (now a subsidiary of ThaiBev) is about four times larger than the latter. and produces Bia Saigon and 333 Premium Export Beer. Heineken and Carlsberg also have operations in Vietnam.
9) Poland – 38,420,000 hl
Much has been said about the increase in Polish beer production, but neighbors Germany and Russia are still ahead. However, his efforts are still admirable. The country performed particularly well in the zero/low category, in part due to a growing domestic market for these beverages. Breweries like Van Pur SA noticed the request and responded to it. However, traditional beer consumption remains strong in Poland – perhaps because it’s very, very cheap do this.
10) Spain – 34,738,000 hl
Spanish brewers have become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to making light continental lagers. There is Estrella (Damm and Galicia), Cerveza Ambar and Mahou among many others. Despite what the branding would have us believe, Madrí Excepcional is actually brewed in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, not Castile. What is a little confusing is that, according to data from Brewers of Europe, 2020 exports of Spanish intra and extra-EU beer are lower than those of Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Poland at 3,680,000 hl. This only becomes more confusing when you consider Spain’s relatively low consumption of 50 liters per capita for 2020. This can be cleared up when you consider that Spain’s biggest drinkers are, in fact, tourists. Recent strikes have threatened beer supplies, leaving soon-to-be drunk Britons abroad worried.
Although the UK is known as a beer-loving nation, it narrowly misses the list, taking 11th place. To see what the international wine rankings look like, click here.