The beer industry is comprised of companies that manufacture beer and malt beverages. There are many different types of commercial beer that are produced regionally and globally, including pilsner, lager, ale, stout, light, malt liquor, dry, ice-brewed, bottled draft, and non-alcoholic. Within the United States, the industry has been consistently dominated by three major breweries: Anheuser-Busch (A-B), Miller, and MolsonCoors. Accordingly, these three “heavyweights” retain 80 percent of the total U.S. market share. (Gokhalea, 2012)
There is an appearance of great diversity in the number of brands and varieties of beer sold in the United States. The beer industry, however, is dominated by A-B which, co-owns or distributes more than 36 brands, for example, while MolsonCoors and Miller controls at least 24 more. (Gokhalea, 2012)
The beer brewing industry in the United States is separated into two main strategic groups. The macro brewers, large producers like Anheuser-Busch and MolsonCoors.
The macro brewers’ primary products consist of premium and sub-premium beer. The second strategic group is classified as “better beer” brewers and includes a variety of companies with small market share percentages. The beer in this group is considered premium or super-premium by the market, has a higher retail price, and tends to have unique characteristics. This segment consists of two different types of beer: beer classified as an import, as the brewers of this type of beer are headquartered outside the U.S., and beer classified as craft, such as Samuel Adams. Craft brewers and import brewers have a similar target market and sell significantly less volume than the major brewers. Craft brewers such as The Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada and Craft Brewers Alliance also fall into this category. (Lester, 2009) (Brewtours.com, 2012)
Craft brewers, as defined by law, produce less than two million barrels per year.2
Craft beer, or microbreweries, account for approximately 10 percent of the total U.S. beer market and consists of 1,595 companies (2009) that produce 3,000 different types of beer.3 the