Big beer has an enormous footprint. We charted data from 1950 to the present to determine the largest brewers by decade, using figures from Beer Marketer’s Insights and BeerHistory.com. The results are staggering.
The top brewers by barrelage include Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company (now MillerCoors), and Pabst Brewing Company, all of which have been ranking in the top 10 since 1950. What’s more striking, however, is how much more substantial the distance between the biggest and 10th-biggest brewers has become.
In 1950, the top brewer, Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., produced 3.4 million more barrels than the 10th brewer, now-defunct Pfeiffer Brewing Co. By 2017, the distance between top-producing Anheuser-Busch and the 10th-biggest brewer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co., was more than 87.5 million barrels.
It’s also impossible to ignore the effects of corporatization. “In looking at the list of Top 10 brewers in 1980, note that only five of the companies are still operating independently today,” writes BeerHistory.com. “The others have either closed or been absorbed by their larger competitors.”
See where the top brewers from the 20th and 21st centuries rank in our decade-by-decade chart.