I recently saw this chart while scanning through my Tumblr feed, and I immediately felt empty inside. I know it’s the beer snob in me that had such a visceral reaction to the Top 20 best-selling beers in the U.S., but I couldn’t help it. I felt like my soul got crushed a little bit, and my own countrymen had abandoned me in a sea of lifeless pale “golden suds”. I’m adrift, and it’s hard being alone as I scan the horizon for any refuge from “beechwood aging” and cans that turn blue. I’m a cast away in my own land, but then I realize I’m not alone… I have Wilson, and he loves craft beer! I think he’s drinking a smoked porter right now! Maybe there are others like us out there, and then I look back at this report and the raw data of dollars spent and overall consumption form a tsunami of bad beer that is heading right for us. Hang on, Wilson!!!
I shake off my crazy vision and realize I’m just upset about being such a minority, and feeling helpless to change it. Then I wonder, “Why try to change it?”, “Why try to convert people?”. If someone is living the “High Life” and is happy drinking “frost brewed refreshment“, why should I interfere? Ignorance is bliss, after all. The world is not my problem. There were some other things about this report that I can pick apart and overanalyze, so why focus on the big picture?
First off, I knew Bud Light was the best-selling beer in the U.S., but Busch Light is #7? I’ve never even seen someone drink a Busch Light,… in my entire life! Maybe I travel in the wrong circles (or the right ones, depending on how you look at it), but they did sell 56 million cases last year, and I doubt people are pouring it down the drain. Actually, it would probably be considered cruelty to animals, considering that rats and alligators live down in the sewer.
Another thing that threw me off was that #18 is Bud Ice. I didn’t even realize they still made Bud Ice! I thought it was a 1990’s fad that had died out like Zima and Surge soda. On the Anheuser-Busch website they describe it as “Bud Ice uses Anheuser-Busch’s exclusive ice-brewing process that takes the beer to a temperature below freezing, which leads to the formation of ice crystals in the finishing process that gives Bud Ice its rich, smooth taste. Bud Ice is America’s first draft beer to be ice brewed.”. Congratulations Anheuser-Busch, you managed to get frozen water into your beer!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out #20, which is Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita. Is this even a beer? The packaging says it’s a “Margarita with a twist” and this report has it listed as a “malt liquor”. It does have the highest ABV on this list at 8%, so maybe the consumers don’t care what it is. The most disturbing thing is that #21 (which is not pictured) is Bud Light Lime Mango-Salsa-Guaca-Tortilla-Refriedbeana-Rita. (That sounds like a “margarita with a twist of diarrhita”).
The final thing I wanted to mention was that the folks that formulated this list also included the BeerAdvocate scores for these beers, and the highest ratings were for Yuengling (#19) and Pabst Blue Ribbon (#16), which if you read my PBR post, should come as no surprise. However, 15 of the 20 beers on this list scored a 57/100 or worse, with the lowest score being a 43/100 (Natural Light). So, the best-selling beers in the country don’t even have scores that would get them through grade school, and it was the consumers that gave them those scores! If that’s how the masses are going behave, being in the minority might not be such a bad thing after all, right Wilson?