The largest American brewer is…

4701890202_c319f91692_oThis is a quadruple trick question.

The first trick: Many people who don’t know the depths of globalization today would say Miller or Bud. Although Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch was a long-term St. Louis based company, it is now part of Dutch conglomerate AB InBev. Miller, though started in Milwaukee, is now owned by SABMiller, which started in South Africa and now has its headquarters in London. Miller products in the U.S. are actually marketed by a joint partnership between SABMiller and mostly Canadian MolsonCoors. Now, AB InBev and SABMiller are in the process of merging, subject to regulatory approval in the United States, China and South Africa. Despite this summer’s gag-inducing gimmick of calling Budweiser “America,” it isn’t an American company anymore.

The second trick: It depends on how you measure it. As I always tell people, the best answer to most complex questions is “it depends.” In this case, it depends on whether you measure volume or valuation. If you measure by volume, it would be California-based Pabst. If you measure by value of the company, it would be Boston Beer Company, brewer of Sam Adams. It turns out swill isn’t as highly valued as Sam. Boston Beer Company is publicly traded and worth about $2 billion. Pabst is owned by private equity and worth roughly $700 million.

The third trick: If you accept that Pabst is the top American brewer, then the new president can drink any of its brands. So instead of there being one beer label, she can choose among: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Ballantine IPA, Old Milwaukee, Lone Star, Rainier, Olympia, National Bohemian, Old Style, Primo, Stroh’s, Stag, Schaefer, Schmidt’s, Pearl, Blatz, McSorley’s, St. Ides, Champale, Colt 45.

The fourth trick: Pabst is contract-brewed by MillerCoors.

So my best answer is any of the Pabst brands. Or, if you want to be a stickler about MillerCoors, she can drink Sam Adams. (Which sounds like a better fit for D.C. anyways.)

Do you have a better answer? Let me know.




About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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