Top Beer Brands in India

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The top beer brands in India are primarily international entities that have performed well in the country for a substantial period of time. Indians consume about two liters of beer per person per year, which is just 5 percent of the consumption of China and lesser than 2.5 percent of what is done in the US. However, there are plenty of leading companies like SABMiller, Carlsberg, and Anheuser-Busch InBev who are eager to make it big in this market

The top brewers of the world are going into partnerships and coming up with newer products to woo the consumers. They are also selling more expensive and softer products to the young generation in India.

However, they are facing a lot of regulations as well as the might of United Breweries Limited that owns Kingfisher, which is one of the top beer brands in India. Euromonitor International expects the market for beers in India to increase to 9 billion dollars from 2016.

At present the market is valued around 4.5 billion dollars. So far United Breweries have been able to defeat all new comers. From 2011 they have also started to market Heineken beer so that they have more options against their international competitors. The alterations in state rules have meant that SABMiller, based out of London, has seen its market share go down.

The brewers are also facing some problems regarding the issues Indians have with consumption of alcohol. Trevor Stirling, who works as an analyst with the London based Sanford C Bernstein Limited, states that the ideal situation would be a billion Indians consuming 50 liters of beer on a per capita basis. According to him such a situation will take several decades to be true.

Emerging markets like India are very important for the top brands as the opportunities for further growth in the developed countries are rather limited and companies like Budweiser have to deal with stiff competition from craft beer made in the US.

Similarly the experiences of international companies are testimony to the fact that tough competition and rules are creating problems for some of the leading beer companies of the world in India.

Retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores faced a huge delay in December 2011 when the Indian government stepped away from providing them permission to enter a market that is largely dominated by the local stores.

In India, advertisements featuring alcoholic beverages are banned and this makes it really hard for companies to market their new products properly. In India the state governments control the distribution and sale of alcohol. The state governments normally impose taxes on the import and export of alcohol.

This forces the companies to start breweries and distilleries in each state and basically cuts short their hopes of operating in a cost effective manner. Joergen Buhl Rasmussen, working in an important post with Carlsberg, based in Copenhagen, says that the major challenge in India is the presence of different labor necessities and taxation rules in the various states of India.

Carlsberg entered the Indian market during 2007. Rasmussen also stated that all these factors make it very tough for companies to operate properly in India. United Breweries has approximately 28 breweries in the different states in India, Carlsberg has 5, and SABMiller has 13.

Top Beer Brands in India


Heineken is one of the best beer brands across the world. It can be regarded as a pale lager variety that has 5% alcohol. It has been in existence since 1873 and is manufactured by a Dutch company named Heineken International. It is made from barley malts, purified water, yeast, and hops. The beer is also pretty famous in US, Middle East, and Australia and is processed in 71 countries around the world.


Budweiser too has 5% alcohol content. It is an American type of lager that is produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is a major Brazilian-Belgian beer organization. The brand was introduced by Adolphus Busch during 1876. It comprises 30% rice along with barley malt, and hops and is one of the top sellers in the US. It is produced globally and available as both packaged and draught. It is rather light and less bitter, which is why it is regarded as refreshment by users.


Guinness is a well known Irish dry stout that was made for the first time at Arthur Guinness’ brewery in Dublin. It is one of the leading global beer brands, is manufactured in approximately 60 countries and can be bought at more than 100 countries. It has 4.2% alcohol content and sells 850 million liters every year. A special aspect of this beverage is the burnt taste that comes from using unmalted and roasted barley but this is a fairly new thing. For many years Guinness had a sharp lactic taste thanks to a combination of old and fresh products.


JC Jacobsen set up Carlsberg during 1847. In addition to Carlsberg beer, Carlsberg manufactures Tuborg. The company is based out of Denmark.

Coors Lite

Coors Lite is a light beer made by Coors Brewing Company and its first ever production was done in 1978. The beer comes with a cold certification label whereby the white mountains on the label turn to blue whenever the temperature goes down to 4 degrees Celsius or lesser. It has 4.2% alcohol. It tastes like water and its main ingredient is rice along with hops and barley. All around the world the beer’s sales are at least 20 million barrels on a yearly basis.

Miller Lite

Miller Lite was created during 1967 and is one of the first light beers. Some of the additional ingredients used to make this beer are papain enzyme, potassium metabisulfite, liquid sugar, and Emka malt. Its marketing is done by the Chicago based Miller Coors. The beverage looks pale and has 4.2% alcohol.


Corona, which is made and sold by Cerveceria Modelo that is a Mexican brewery, is a pale lager. This is sold in at least 170 countries. It has 4.6% alcohol content.

Labatt Blue

Labatt Blue is based in Canada. It was established during 1847 by John Kinder Labatt. Labatt is right now the leading beer in Canada. It is a pale lager and has 5% alcohol content.

Crown Lager

Crown Lager is a premium Australian beer and has 4.9% alcohol. It was earlier on made for export purposes. It is instantly recognizable thanks to the specially shaped bottles and its logo that was trademarked during 1954.

Foster Lager

Foster Lager is one of the leading global beer brands and is manufactured in Australia. It is a pale lager and has 5.2% alcohol content. It is a Foster’s Group product and manufactured with proper license in several countries like Russia and the US.

Following are the other beer brands available in India:

  • Stella Artois
  • London Pride
  • Hoegaarden
  • San Miguel Pale Pilsen
  • Asahi
  • Haywards
  • Leffe Blond
  • Kalyani Black Label
  • Peroni
  • Kings
  • Schneider Weisse

India Beer Industry

Euromonitor states that the Bangalore based United Breweries have been able to take its market share from 43 percent during 2006 to 57 percent during 2011. In the same time SABMiller’s share has gone down from 37 percent to 24 percent.

Kingfisher has been able to perform well thanks to its new products like Kingfisher Ultra, which is a more expensive but milder version. The Vice President of the marketing division at the United Breweries, Samar Singh Sheikhawat, states when the company was supposed to introduce the product a couple of years back their main worry was the salability of a beer worth INR 100.

However, he says that the situation has changed now as majority of the popular beers like Kingfisher are in the INR 90 to INR 95 range. Sheikhawat says what was earlier perceived as a barrier was nonexistent now.

In its annual report for 2010 SABMiller had said that regulatory problems in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh and increases in excise duties in other states had adversely affected its prospects. The marketing director for SABMiller India, Derek Hugh Jones, had stated in an email that regulations were the biggest blocks in the path of progress of beer brands.

Jones has further said that the systems for transporting beer within states are not efficient thus making it tough to achieve any breakthrough in that regard. However, he feels that consumers are getting more affluent by the day and beer is also finding greater acceptance in the Indian society.

All these factors, according to him, will make sure that beer sustains its growth as an industry in the foreseeable future. SABMiller has recently come out with Miller High Life in order to draw the urban and young customers.

Euromonitor reveals that in India the per capita consumption of beer is estimated at 1.6 liters, which is significantly less than China (35.5 liters), Germany (105.6 liters), and the US (75.6 liters). Stirling says that in India a significantly high part of the Muslim population refrains from alcohol as do dedicated Hindus.

However, social paradigms are changing and beer is being increasingly consumed by young adults in India who have greater financial resources to travel globally and spend. Since 2008 the growth of Indian economy has been calculated at 8 percent on an average. Euromonitor states that in 2011 the Indian beer industry was worth INR 257 billion but this market is supposed to grow to INR 447.9 billion.

Rasmussen from Carlsberg states that India has the potential to increase the per capita purchase of beer and this makes it an interesting market for companies over a long period of time. Carlsberg’s market share in India during 2011 was 4.4 percent. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is based at Leuven Belgium, and markets the Budweiser brand, had a market share of 1.1% during 2011.

Last Updated on January 16th, 2019