The Strongest Beer Brand in America is…

If I were to ask you what beer has the strongest brand equity in America, you’d probably grimace a bit and reply with a dejected “Budweiser.”

And I say, “nope.”

“Coors Light, then,” you might say. “They have those stupid frozen train ads during football, where they blast through neighborhoods, probably running down pets and small children and the elderly as they go.”

“Not them, either.” I’d say.  They’re not even in the top ten.

“Really? Then Miller.”

“Guess again”

“Screw you, Jim, just tell me already”

Well alright then.

According to the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings, the beer with the strongest brand equity is Yuengling Traditional.  That’s right – a traditional lager brewed right here in ‘Murica.

Now, I always thought brand equity was determined through a mixture of black magic, bullshit and several martinis, but according to Harris, it’s actually “an academically vetted brand equity model with elements like familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration.” Actually, that kind of sound like my black magic/BS/martini mixture, it’s just phrased better.

Letterman style, the top ten strongest beer brand list for 2012 looks like this:

10. Corona Extra
> Dollar sales: $995,750,100
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +8.81%
> Case sales: 33,653,220
> Avg. price per case: $29.59

9. Heineken
> Dollar sales: $592,768,800
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +4.86%
> Case sales: 19,681,860
> Avg. price per case: $30.12

8. Beck’s
> Dollar sales: $73,672,420
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +2.67%
> Case sales: 2,656,154
> Avg. price per case: $27.74

7. Modelo Especial

> Dollar sales: $355,914,800
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +22.63%
> Case sales: 13,948,820
> Avg. price per case: $25.52

6. Samuel Adams Lager
> Dollar sales: $240,251,900
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +6.02%
> Case sales: 7,710,278
> Avg. price per case: $31.16

5. Guinness Stout
> Dollar sales: $93,183,030
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +16.46%
> Case sales: 2,617,600
> Avg. price per case: $35.60

4. Newcastle Brown Ale
> Dollar sales: $84,891,020
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +6.48%
> Case sales: 2,673,008
> Avg. price per case: $31.76

3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
> Dollar sales: $146,656,300
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +15.71%
> Case sales: 4,513,378
> Avg. price per case: $32.36

2. Blue Moon
> Dollar sales: $225,747,800
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +26.46%
> Case sales: 7,370,705
> Avg. price per case: $30.63

1. Yuengling Traditional Lager
> Dollar sales: $206,266,200
> Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +36.55%
> Case sales: 9,465,673
> Avg. price per case: $21.79

This is a list that offers hope, even if it’s not reflected in market position.  This is a measure of perception combined with “purchase consideration” not “purchases made.”  You might “consider” a buying a BMW, but ultimately wind up “purchasing” a Subaru based on cost of goods, a factor that’s not listed as part of the Harris equation.  Still, a case of beer costs less than a car, and Yuengling actually has the cheapest cost per case in the top ten, which means cost probably won’t be a barrier to entry.

Overall, it looks like America is falling in love with better beer, even if there are better examples of better beer out there.  Baby steps, I guess.

What do you think of the list?  I wonder how long it’ll be before we start seeing Yuengling commercials during sporting events – they’re clearly out to take over the world.



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Categories: Beer, News


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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19 Comments on “The Strongest Beer Brand in America is…”

  1. May 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I’m glad to see you taking the “baby steps” attitude with this post, Jim. I think this is an indicator of good things to come for the beer industry. I would also see Yuengling as having an edge due to nostalgia and the way they’ve been hitting new market after new market in the last year.

    • May 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      I think the future is bright as well. I had a few Yuengling Lagers when I was down at Disney, and it’s real beer. The fact that it’s a lager, folks like the brand and it’s not to pricey bodes well for future beer geek conversions…

  2. Don
    May 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    You can’t take over the world if you don’t sell in Idaho. That’s my motto.

    • May 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      Idaho actually EXISTS? I thought you just made that up so that mom couldn’t find you…

    • ScottG
      May 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Now THERE’s a tourism board slogan.

      “Idaho: We’re also part of the world.”
      “Idaho: We’re worth taking over.”

      • May 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

        “IDAHO: Please Tread On Me.”

    • May 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      You have to be tough to live in Idaho. They have rattlesnakes in their WalMarts.

  3. May 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    I saw that list and wondered where BudInbev, Miller, et. al. were.

    • May 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      On the light beer list (where they belong):

      Light Beer Winners

  4. May 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Well Jim, I think it depends on your context. If it is as you presented, then Yuenglings makes sense to me–even though I admit to being surprised.

    But if you’re talking about actual taste, mouthfeel, and overall beeriness, then Schafly’s Extra Stout–Irish Style would be my bet. I tried it for the first time this week and I was flabbergasted. After my first sip at the dinner table I could only say “Wow!”, my wife then tasted it–her eyebrows raised, her mouth formed into an oval and she said “Wow!” as well. Let it be noted that I also had my first taste of Chocolate Yeti Stout today and although awesome, in my book it paled in comparison to the Schalfly’s (and btw: Guinness eat your heart out!) I don’t want to pile on too many superlatives for fear of sinning on the side of hyberbole, but ya’ll might want to give this one a serious taste test–w/ accompanying video of your face after the first sip.

    P.S. Prediction: Don’s gonna love this one!

    • May 15, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      Search that beer on the site and you’ll see that I’m quite familiar with its awesomeness.

      • May 16, 2012 at 8:43 am #

        Ahhh! now it comes back to me. My apologies, you did do a video on this one. Glad we’re in agreement though. This is one fantastic beer! I can’t praise it enough.

  5. May 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    I like the list, I’ve always been a fan of some of those beers. You do have to respect the cold activated cans! You can’t tell if your beer is cold enough until you see the blue bars!!! I don’t want to waste time feeling the can to see if it’s cold duh!

  6. Mad Queen Linda
    May 16, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Writer Owen Parry (actual name Ralph Peters) wrote a Civil War detective series which referred to Mr. Yuengling. That started me drinking that beer, and in the rarified area I live in, it is one of most affordable, drinkable beers available.

    • May 16, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Did he call him a Carpetbagger? That NEVER gets old!

      • Mad Queen Linda
        May 16, 2012 at 10:12 am #

        No indeed. The detective himself is Welsh and much sneered at, so he refrains from name calling (and drinking, as I recall).

  7. oliverklosoff
    May 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I was hoping this would be a list of the berweries with the highest average alcohol content. I’m very disappointed.

    • May 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      That list is at home. In my fridge. 🙂

  8. richardcooney
    May 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Just goes to show you how generic the big light beers are. It’s like being loyal to a particular water fountain.

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