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The brands of beer that Americans really love

It may be about time Budweiser relinquished its title as “King of Beers.” According to the recently released 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings, there is a new batch of brews with stronger brand equity, customer connections and buzz. 24/7 Wall St. has examined the report, identifying the 10 beers with the strongest brands.

The beer brands with the greatest strength -- a measure of familiarity, quality, purchase consideration, trust and the ability to generate buzz -- are largely more expensive brews. Nine of the 10 are among the most expensive beers out of the country’s 20 best-selling beers. The beer that is not one of the most expensive, Yuengling, is not far behind in price.

American consumers also are spending more on these beers. Dollar sales of every beer on the list has increased from one year prior. Yuengling, Blue Moon and Modelo Especial have had the largest increases among all popular beer brands. Meanwhile, many other brands, including Budweiser by Anheuser-Busch InBev, Keystone Light and Natural Light, experienced decreases over this same period. Sales of Bud Light Lime dropped nearly 7 percent over this period.

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The beers with the most powerful brands are just as varied as beer drinkers’ tastes. They differ greatly in style and originate from five different countries. They also have a range of founding dates, extending from 1759 to 1995. This illustrates that an established brand does not necessarily mean a strong brand.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings to identify the most popular beers, which quantifies brand strength among consumers. We included dollar sales, change in dollar sales from one year ago and case sales. We also included the average price per case over the latest 52-week period in the United States provided by SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. The group looked at sales at supermarkets, drugstores, gas/convenience stores and mass market retailers, but excluding Walmart club stores, and liquor stores.

1. Yuengling Traditional 

Dollar sales: $206,266,200

Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +36.55 percent

Case sales: 9,465,673

Average price per case: $21.79

Yuengling is America’s oldest brewing company in the U.S., having been founded in 1829. It also has the strongest brand. This brand’s strength appears to be helping sales immensely. Yuengling is tied with the Boston Beer Company for being the largest American-owned brewer by measure of barrels shipped in 2011. On top of this, the company is becoming even more popular still. For the 52 weeks that ended April 15, 2012, Yuengling had the largest increase in dollar sales in the U.S. from the year before, growing by more than 36 percent. Yuengling, however, is significantly less expensive than the other brands on this list.

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2. Blue Moon

Dollar sales: $225,747,800

Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +26.46 percent

Case sales: 7,370,705

Average price per case: $30.63

Launched in 1995, Blue Moon is the youngest brand on this list. Dollar sales of the beer, which is produced by MillerCoors, had the second-largest increase in the 52 weeks ended April 15, compared to the prior year, increasing by approximately 26.5 percent. Blue Moon is also one of the more expensive popular beers, with each case costing an average of $30.63.

3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Dollar sales: $146,656,300

Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +15.71 percent

Case sales: 4,513,378

Average price per case: $32.36

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., based in California, has only been around since 1979. The company’s most popular beer -- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale -- already has among the strongest brands in the U.S. Dollar sales for the beer increased nearly 16 percent in the 52 weeks ended April 15, compared to the year before. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is also the second-most expensive brew among popular brands, costing $32.36 per case.

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4. Newcastle Brown Ale

Dollar sales: $84,891,020

Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +6.48 percent

Case sales: 2,673,008

Average price per case: $31.76

Newcastle Brown Ale, which is brewed by Heineken, has rather low sales in the U.S. compared to other popular brands. Yet, it is experiencing significant growth. Newcastle sold 2.67 million cases in the U.S. in the 52 weeks ended April 15, an increase of approximately 7 percent from the year before. Newcastle is also one of the most expensive popular beer brands, costing an average of $31.76 per case.

5. Guinness Stout

Dollar sales: $93,183,030

Change in dollar sales from a year ago: +16.46 percent

Case sales: 2,617,600

Average price per case: $35.60

Guinness, which started in 1759 in Dublin, is the oldest brewer on this list. Yet it is still gaining popularity in the U.S. Over the past year, the beer’s maker, Diageo, sold 2.6 million cases of Guinness Stout in the country, an increase of more than 16 percent from the year prior. The beer is also the most expensive among popular brands, costing an average $35.60 per case.

Click here to read the rest of the beer list at the 24/7 Wall Street site.