Top 10 Beer Producers in the World (Hops and Barley Optional)

BeerBeer, that brilliantly refreshing alcoholic beverage born in the Middle East, made famous in Europe, and turned to water by many of North America’s largest brewers, is becoming yet more popular in Asia.

In a recent list by China Daily of the world’s “Top 10 Beer Companies,” four were Asian. Japanese brewer Kirin came in at #10, Beijing brewer Yanjing #9, top-selling U.S. Chinese brewer Tsingtao #6, and (unfamiliar to maybe anyone outside mainland China) CR Snow #5.

Now, to each of these brewers a question… what’s in your beer?

This question, and the woman asking it, has gone viral the past few weeks, and for me, it’s something I’ve often pondered as well. Well, for better or worse we’re now getting some answers. And it isn’t pretty. Highlights include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, fish bladders, and even ingredients found in airplane deicing liquid. Wait a second, what?

What happened to just water, barley, and hops? Just how far have many of these strayed from the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Laws)?

Vani Hari, the veritable “Food Babe” as she calls herself, has been asking, nearly demanding, an answer to this simple question, and it’s been quite fun, as well as eye-opening, to watch her one-woman crusade. She has the big brewers in the United States and Europe stumbling over their words and receiving national attention because of it.

By my own admission, I am definitely biased in this matter. I learned a long time ago that drinking mass-produced alcoholic drinks designed to “taste like beer,” labeled for sale as beer, but are not truly beer, will almost certainly guarantee that the following day will find me lethargic, irritable, hazy, and possibly even with a headache the entire day (and that’s just the short-term effects). But, if I drink beer, the real stuff, it’s possible to feel quite normal the next day. I have tested this theory over the years (decades?) to the point of exhaustion, and for me there’s absolutely no substitute for a tall, refreshing Bavarian beer. My body and mind cheer in agreement at this conclusion.

That said, you have to seriously wonder what China is brewing their beer with… as the country has a shockingly poor track record of food safety and quality. By stating this, I am in no way attempting to single out China for blame or shame. Rather, with so many of the “first-world” brewers hiding behind the term “beer” maybe China could take this opportunity to step out in front, set a standard, and steal a little bit of the spotlight.

From a marketing perspective it would be, in a word, genius.

So China brewers, let’s try this again… what’s in your beer?