Annual Report: Beer Top 10

22 January, 2016

In our last category, we take a look at the best-selling beer in the world's best bars.



No matter how contagious the craft beer movement claims to be, our survey suggests the cocktail bar is its blind spot. Eight of the top 10 sellers in the world’s best bars, says our poll, are big-brand lagers.

The trending list is often an indicator of what bartenders want to sell (as these are often recommendations) rather than need to sell (for profits), but largely it’s a similar picture to the best-selling list. Could it be that for bartenders, idealism is reserved for spirits?

Probably the answer is yes, but it’s complicated. In a poll of 28 countries, global brands are bound to show up by dint of their internationalism.

It’s simple geography – a craft brewery might sell barrel-loads of its best stuff in its home market, but may not sell internationally. Essentially, in a global poll, a craft brewer’s localism counts against it.

What is not up for question is that Peroni was one of the top three best-selling beers in 15%  of bars polled. Heineken was a regular sight in just 9%, Carlsberg 8% and Red Stripe 7%.

But if you compare this to spirits categories, where the big players dominate share across most bars, you can see beer is more thinly spread.

So will we ever see more craft beers in this list? Probably not. Even if craft producers grew to hold 90% of the global beer market, you would likely still see a traditional lager brand sell the most in volume terms.

Craft beer’s impact is not one of ‘hero’ brands taking on the big players but of collective cannibalisation of their share.

Probably it is the medium-sized craft brewer (contradiction noted) that has the best chance of infiltrating this list.

US brewer Anchor and Scotland’s Brewdog are the best examples of elite bars’ habits changing from mainstream lager to craft brews. Several bars told us they served Anchor and Brewdog as their house beer.

We shouldn’t discount the idea that sometimes consumers, even in the best bars in the world, are drawn to the familiar.

Perhaps they’ve had enough bitter infusions to take down an IPA - and perhaps they didn’t want to be in a cocktail bar in the first place. 


The Best Selling list is based on bottles sold while the Top Trending list refers to on-trend brands that are being requested right now but are not necessarily sold in high volumes.

To find out more about how we carried out the survey and collated the results read How We Did It

Check out the other lists here:

ChampagneToinc Water/Water LiqueursWorld WhiskiesTequilaGinUS WhiskeyVodkaBrandyRumScotch, Bartenders' Choice.

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