As the brewing industries have become more and more popular throughout the 20th century, one or two companies have grown faster than the others buying out the less successful companies making the products they sell greater and of a wider variety. The five biggest beer makers in the world make over 50% of the world’s beer. The largest producer is Anheuser-Busch Companies LLC who are based in St Louis Missouri, yet their headquarters are in Leuven Belgium. The company employs 116,000 people world-wide and operates from 6 different type zones. The company produces over 200 different brands of beer, and in Europe has 515 different breweries in five separate countries. The company originally started off as the Bavarian beer company in St Louis in 1852 and was bought but Erberhard Anheuser in 1860. His daughter married Adolphus Bosch who became the company’s secretary and took over running the on the death of his father-in-law.
He introduced The Budweiser beer in 1876. It was named after the German town of Budweis where the recipe for the pilsner beer had originated from and became the firm’s premium beer The Company was renamed Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association in 1879. The company grew with the popularity of Budweiser, although there were lean times during the years of prohibition from 1910 until 1931. In 1981 the establishment of the overseas section resulted in breweries being built in China and Europe. In 2008 after much wrangling the company was bought by the Belgian/Brazilian Company, InBev for almost 52 billion US dollars making it the largest brewery in the world. The beers it controlled include Budweiser, Michelob, Stella Artois, Bass, Corona and Skol among many others, and in 2013 it produced 20% of all the beer brewed in the world.
In 2016 the company expanded even further when it bought out its closest rivals SABMiller for 79 billion US dollars. This brought brands, such as Fosters and Miller into the parent company although some of the assets had to be sold off to other rival companies at the insistence of the EU regulators. The closest competitors are now Heineken who are the largest producers in Europe with 165 breweries in 70 different countries. The Dutch company are now the second largest brewers in the world and they have also been active in buying out rival breweries. Their first big merger was in 1968 when they bought out Amstel. However, the last decade has seen the company at its busiest. In 2008 it bought out the Scottish and Newcastle brewery and has followed this up by buying the Mexican Brewers FEMSA in 2010. The acquisition of FEMSA has given Heineken a real gateway into the huge Latin American Markets, and this was strengthened even further in 2017 with the company purchasing the Kirnin Company’s twelve breweries in Brazil.
The recent expansion of Heineken has left the company with an impressive range of beers. It has a portfolio of over 170 brands world-wide, with Heineken itself and Amstel dominating the lagers. It also has cider brands with Strongbow, Bulmers and its own product named Jillz. It has beer and brown ale produce and the wide variety of its beers makes it an impressive collection of alcoholic beverages.
It is unfortunate that a lot of beer brands have lost their individual identity as a result of the huge mergers of their parent companies. It is however reassuring that these beers are still produced and available for the consumers to enjoy.