The Country That Produces The Most Beer In The World

When it comes to beer culture, a country like Germany may spring to mind first; their Bavarian Oktoberfest is a month-long celebration dedicated specifically to the beverage. Or perhaps it's Ireland or the United Kingdom, two countries with long-standing pub traditions and an association of beer and football that rivals sports fandom in the United States. And speaking of Americans, beer has become an intrinsic part of society, leading to some of the biggest beer brands in the world and a proliferation of craft breweries in every major city.

But when it comes to beer production, there is one country that outclasses all the rest: China. In 2022, they brewed approximately 9.52 billion gallons. That's a lot of suds. Rounding out the top are the United States with 5.13 billion gallons, Brazil at 3.89 billion, Mexico with 3.72 billion, and Germany with only 2.32 billion. What's even more impressive — China's beer production is increasing by three to five percent every year.

China has both large beer distributors and craft breweries

In terms of consumption numbers, China produces the most popular beer brand in the world. Snow Beer, brewed by a company called China Resources Enterprise and SABMiller (which is now owned by Anheuser-Busch), owns a global market share of 5.4%. The two most popular American brands — Budweiser and Bud Light — combined have a 4.8% market share. But the country's global dominance doesn't just stop with this one beer. Incredibly, three other brands — Tsingtao, Yanjing, and Harbin – take up spots two, six, and eight in the world, respectively. 

Along with these massive beer empires, the craft brewery has recently become popular in several Chinese cities, mirroring the popularity these types of beer have in America and other Western countries. Jing-A Brewing, Slow Boat Brewery, and Great Leap Brewing all have multiple locations in Beijing and beyond, and Arrow Factory Brewing and Food is a recent venture that looks and feels almost exactly like an American gastropub. While these brands aren't contributing the same kinds of numbers to the Chinese beer industry as their larger competitors, they do point to the importance that beer has in Chinese culture.

Beer has a long cultural significance in China

While there are records of beer being made in Southern China and used in ceremonies to honor the dead as far back as 7000 B.C., the dominant alcoholic drink is a Chinese sorghum spirit called baijiu; one of the more popular varieties is Maotai. Beer has always been there, playing second fiddle, but its popularity and incredible growth started at the turn of the 20th century as a result of Western colonialism and trade. As it has skyrocketed, beer fits perfectly into the Chinese drinking tradition.

There's a proverb that says, "A thousand cups of wine is not too much when best friends meet." Alcohol plays a vital role in social interactions among friends, family, and business partners, representing a bond shared between everyone. Beer and wine are usually served in and drunk from small glasses and accompanied by a "Ganbei!" — a cheer that translates to 'empty cup.' Everyone then takes down the drink in one go, and the process is repeated again. It is considered rude to not participate in this daily ritual, especially as a guest in someone's home. It is no surprise, then, that beer has gained such a foothold in China, and, if anyone ever visits there, they should add ganbei to their list of useful Chinese food and drink words and phrases.