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Oakes Weekly - April 28, 2005

Which Global Brewer Makes the Best Beer?
Oakes Weekly April 28, 2005      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

When the Flemish master Joris Pattyn posted about best global brewer, I immediately came up with one answer – Diageo. Not because I love Guinness Draught, but because I love FES. I’ve had several examples, and because Diageo only makes a handful of brews those examples have a huge impact on the overall average rating. In fact, 5 of 10 Diageo beers I’ve rated on Ratebeer were FES. Given that, it is a no-brainer.

But it got me thinking, so I tallied up my scores from all the world’s leading conglomerates. How? I’ll tell you. Ratebeer is the best in the world at tracking beers and brewers. Nobody else can touch us. This is because we are built by beer lovers for beer lovers. Not the industry, and certainly not for fluffing our overblown egos. As such, we take great pride in our research and do everything we can to list the holdings of the global giants accurately, including which beers are brewed where (see Murphy’s Irish Stout if you don’t believe me).

So anybody can easily track the conglomerates. Simply use the Advanced Search function and type in the conglomerate of your choice – MolsonCoors, SABMiller, InBev, Carlsberg, Heineken, Scottish & Newcastle, Anheuser-Busch, Guinness.

Of these industry titans, the latter two rely heavily on one or two major brands and spread these brands throughout the world via contract-brewing arrangements. The rest own scores of breweries each, and all of these that we know about will show up on your advanced search.

So I called them all up and checked all the breweries one-by-one, making note of which beers I’d rated. Here are the results. Diageo wins, as I said.

Next up in terms of average rating was Heineken, with a 2.161 average. Though they have a handful of serious products, mainly from de Smedt (Affligem) and their Polish breweries (Zywiec and Krolewskie Porters) they win largely because their basic national brews are made to a consistently higher standard than those of their global competitors. My average for Pale Lager is 1.43 and several of their brews top this by a wide margin – Casablance in Morocco, Quilmes in Argentina, Alfa in Greece, Aysen in Chile, Karlovacko in Croatia, Skopsko in Macedonia, Zlaty Bazant in Slovakia. Mainstream beers made to a higher standard.

The next two are very close – Carlsberg just slightly ahead of Scottish & Newcastle. The former gets praise mainly for some specialty beers they make in Denmark, Koff Porter, and Beer Lao (no, this beer does not travel well). S & N scores reasonably well for its Belgian holdings and some of its English ales but lost big time for its Chinese beers.

After that, it gets a little ugly. SABMiller, for example, makes almost nothing drinkable outside of Central Europe. MolsonCoors’ roster is a wasteland, at least from what I’ve sampled. InBev tries to push more interesting brands on the global scale than some of their competitors, and does have some products worth drinking but they also have a ton of swill out there. Dead last would be Anheuser-Busch. Then again, they only seem to own breweries in the US and China, two countries known for routinely producing some of the worst macrobrew on Earth.

Of the beers I’ve tasted from these groups, 56 countries were represented. That’s a hell of a lot of countries. Everybody from Cambodia to St. Lucia to Moldova is on that list.

Still, some notables were not represented – big brewing lands. That means there will be more consolidation to come. More brands will fold into these groups. I’ve recorded 427 ratings already from the world’s largest brewing groups.

I mentioned that this whole thing came about from a discussion about good beer from global brewers. Well, here’s my top ten list:

1) Belle-Vue Selection Lambic (InBev) 4.8

2) Singaporean Foreign Extra Stout (Guinness) 4.5

2) Brugs Tarwebier (S & N) 4.5

4) Nigerian Foreign Extra Stout (Guinness) 4.4

5) Courage Imperial Stout (S & N) 4.3

6) Koff Porter (Carlsberg) 4.2

6) Pilsner Urquell (SABMiller) 4.2

8) Affligem Tripel (Heineken) 4.1

8) Mort Subite Faro (SABMiller) 4.1

10) Sibirskaya Koronna Yantarnoye (InBev) 3.9



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