To paraphrase the famed scholar, Homer Simpson, beer is the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. That’s probably why almost every country on Earth has a particular beer its denizens prefer. But each of those market dominating beers hold a secret. Here’s some insider information:
1. Ireland’s Guinness: Nazis and Toucans
Guinness had genuine plans in place to advertise in Nazi Germany during the 1936 Olympics. You know, the ones held in Germany that Hitler himself attended. While nothing ever came of it, primarily because a London based subsidiary advised the Irish wing against pandering to Nazis, they did end up reusing one of the designs when they eventually launched in the United States a few years later. Just to be clear, Guinness took a poster that they had originally planned to hang in bars around Nazi Germany, changed the flag in the background, and then used it announce their glorious arrival in the United States. Keep that in mind the next time St Patrick’s Day rolls around and Walmart tries to convince you to buy three crates of Guinness to celebrate.
2. Russia’s Baltika: Better than Coke
As we’ve talked about before, in 1860 almost half of the Russian government’s income came from taxes placed on vodka. Russians love them some vodka, and given how much of it they drink you could be forgiven for thinking that beer isn’t a thing over there. Well, until 2013, it kind of wasn’t. While beer is certainly sold in Russia, with the Baltika brand being the most popular overall, it wasn’t legally considered alcohol until 2013 due to a quirk in Russian law that dictated that any alcoholic drink that had strength of less than 10% was considered a foodstuff and thus could be sold as a soft drink. Along with speaking volumes about how hard-core Russians are when it comes to drinking, it also means that prior to 2013 you can technically say that the best-selling soft drink in Russia was a beer.
3. Mexico’s Corona: Limes and Wagers
The most commonly consumed beer in Mexico and Fast and Furious movies are Corona. Unusually for a successful domestic beer, Corona enjoys a good deal of success in several foreign markets, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom. Abroad it’s almost universally consumed with a wedge of lime, something that confuses Mexican people to no end. Despite it being considered customary to garnish Corona with lime, there’s no agreed upon consensus for why this is the case, since the beer has never been consumed that way in its native Mexico. A popular theory is that the custom was started by a New York barman for a bet in 1981, but this has never been confirmed because of course it hasn’t. Corona themselves have been tight-lipped about discussing what, if anything, the lime is supposed to do. Either they have a secret deal with a Mexican lime farmer, or they don’t check their emails.
4. China’s Snow Beer: Popular Despite its Taste
Snow Beer is the single most popular beer on Earth. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s not surprising considering the beer is pretty much only sold in China, where it accounts for a dominating 84% of all sales despite the fact its parent company spends almost nothing on advertising. In other words, Snow Beer has been able to secure the coveted title of “most popular beer on Earth” while only being available for sale in a single huge market with little to no advertising. The beer is so seldom shipped abroad that it’s considered foreign in Hong Kong and is notoriously difficult to get a hold of, even in specialty beer shops. But you’re not missing out on anything special, because according to this CNN article quizzing Chinese residents it’s bitter, flat and unappealing. Normally we’d make a quip about the power of advertising, but since Snow doesn’t advertise we’re a little lost for words.
5. Jamaica’s Red Stripe: Jamaican in Name, American in Spirit
According to the marketing guys behind Red Stripe, it’s a traditional Jamaican style lager with a rich history. According to Google, Red Stripe was first brewed in Illinois for a century before it was bought out by some British guys during prohibition who then marketed it to soldiers stationed in Jamaica. After proving popular in Jamaica, Red Stripe was then marketed back to the States as an exotic foreign brew from the mysterious sun bleached sands of a tropical island. Thus proving that, with good enough marketing, you can convince people of anything. Oddly, when Red Stripe was initially pitched to the States, it failed to catch on because they sold it in green bottles instead of the distinctive brown ones they used in Jamaica, marking the only time in history Americans complained that something being brought in from a foreign country wasn’t dark enough. A more hilarious twist came in 1989, when all shipments of Red Stripe were cancelled when it was discovered that cannabis was being smuggled in with each shipment. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if someone at Red Stripe did that on purpose just too really sell Americans on the idea that Red Stripe was from Jamaica.