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12 of the Most Popular Beers Around the World

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Any beer lover (or traveller, or traveling beer lover) knows they're saying salud with Corona in the cantinas of Mexico, cooling off with Red Stripe in Jamaica, and waiting for their Guinness to settle in the pubs of Ireland. But what beers are they drinking in the rest of the world?

Left to right: Lucky Buddha from China, Einstock from Iceland, Asaha from Japan, Kingfisher from India, and a Russian ale.
Left to right: Lucky Buddha from China, Einstock from Iceland, Asaha from Japan, Kingfisher from India, and a Russian ale. Photo by Mark Weinberg

While the U.S. brewery count is at a record high, hovering just above 4,000 and comprised mostly of small, independent brewers, the most popular beer here remains Bud Light. (And sometimes, we’re ok with that.) Similarly, in so many other countries around the world, pale lagers reign supreme. Refreshing and thirst-quenching with typically low alcohol levels, these beers are prevailingly appealing, as proven by their ubiquity in their respective countries.

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Whether you’re planning a trip abroad and want to sample the local favorite, or just hope to pair your spicy Vindaloo with the most authentic brew (many are imported here!), here are the most popular beers around the world, by country and what to serve with each:

Photo by Mark Weinberg

India: Kingfisher

Brewed in Bangalore, Kingfisher Premium holds the number one beer spot in India and is available in over 55 other countries (we found it available in several stores here in New York!). Kingfisher sponsors several cricket teams, and its label art features the eponymous bird, a mascot the brand asserts “is known for its keen instinct and perfect aim” and represents “youthfulness, enthusiasm, freedom with a touch of formality and discipline.”

What to eat with it: Whatever this bird’s strengths, this pale lager is a refreshing foil for curries and other spicy Indian dishes.

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Chicken Vindaloo Vesuvius

Chicken Vindaloo Vesuvius by Madhuja

Purnima Garg's Eggplant and Tomato Curry

Purnima Garg's Eggplant and Tomato Curry by luvcookbooks

Japan: Asahi

While Sapporo is the number one selling Asian beer in the U.S. and the oldest brewed beer in Japan, Asahi Super Dry currently reigns as the most popular in Japan.

What to eat with it: Apropos of its name, this crisp, super dry brew won’t overpower delicate fish dishes, so Salarymen can sip Asahi with their sushi.

Baked Halibut

Baked Halibut by vivisue

Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi by Emma Galloway | My Darling ...

Italy: Birra Moretti

Birra Moretti was first brewed in Udine in 1859, and the brewing process remains largely the same today. At the relatively low 4.6% ABV, Italians can enjoy this pale lager with lunch and still make it back to work.

What to eat with it: This beer is delicious paired with simple pastas, pizzas, and salads.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Bucatini all'Amatriciana by Merrill Stubbs

Radicchio Salad

Radicchio Salad by Sara Jenkins

Iceland: Viking

Can you think of a more fitting name for an Icelandic brew? Viking is another lager, clocking in at 4.5% ABV. Fun fact: beer with an ABV over 2.25% was prohibited for years in Iceland. The ban was lifted on March 1, 1989, and now the country marks that day every year with a national ‘Beer Day’ celebration. Skál!

What to eat with it: Pair one with a pylsur—a lamb-based sausage with pork and beef similar to a hot dog—for an Icelandic take on the quintessentially American ballpark meal.

Hot Dogs with Fake Sauerkraut Relish

Hot Dogs with Fake Sauerkraut Relish by QueenSashy

Paprika Pork Chop

Paprika Pork Chop by lkshanken

Thailand: Chang

Meaning ‘elephant’ in Thai, Chang beer recently unseated Singha (pronounced ‘sing’) as Thailand’s most popular. Chang is brewed by the aptly named ThaiBev, headquartered in Bangkok.

What to eat with it: Both Chang and Singha are pale lagers, which means they’ll go well with spicy Som Tam or flavorful Thai Curry Noodles with Shrimp.

Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup)

Khao Soi (Northern Thai Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup) by casey_

Turkey Pho

Turkey Pho by WinnieAb

Czech Republic: Gambrinus

Named after a king of Flanders with legendary brewing skills, Gambrinus is a classic Czech Pilsner (aka Lager) with a 4.3% ABV. The Czech Republic is the birthplace of Pilsner, where it was first brewed in 1842, and the country also boasts the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. No big deal.

What to eat with it: Drink Gambrinus to wash down hearty meat-based dishes like whole goose and all those other kingly dishes...

Poor Me Chicken and Biscuits

Poor Me Chicken and Biscuits by Niknud

Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes by Merrill Stubbs

Belgium: Jupiler

Perhaps the most surprising on the list, Belgium’s most popular beer isn’t a Belgian Pale Ale, Dubbel, or Saison. Nope, it’s a Pale Lager.

What to eat with it: Jupiler is 5.2% ABV and can be used as an ingredient to make mussels, or just to sip while eating them.

Mussels Dijonnaise (Steamed Mussels with Mustard Sauce)

Mussels Dijonnaise (Steamed Mussels with Mustard Sauce) by ChefJune

Smoky Seafood Fideos

Smoky Seafood Fideos by Summer of Eggplant

China: Snow

China’s top selling beer is also the world’s, which makes sense considering China has the world’s largest population at over 1.3 billion people. Snow beer is a pale lager, described by its brewer as “bright, almost transparent in nature” with a “pure white foam"—like actual snow or "snowflake," the literal translation of the Chinese characters.

What to eat with it: Clean and crisp, Snow beer can accompany rice or noodle dishes featuring hot Sichuan pepper or aromatic ginger, garlic, or soy sauce.

Sichuan Mouth-Numbing Cold Noodles

Sichuan Mouth-Numbing Cold Noodles by Betty | le jus d'orange

Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu

Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu by Kendra Vaculin

Russia: Baltika

Unsurprisingly, beer is only the second most popular alcoholic beverage in Russia, behind vodka. This European Lager is brewed in St. Petersburg and exported to over 50 other countries.

What to eat with it: Sip a Baltika No. 7 (the most popular of the brewery’s many offerings) with your next plate of blini, or another dish appropriately Romanov.

Why My Parents Eat Caviar Every Year, Once a Year

Why My Parents Eat Caviar Every Year, Once a Year by Leslie Stephens

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Arthur Schwartz's Russian Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

Arthur Schwartz's Russian Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup by Nicholas Day

Australia: Victoria Bitter

Despite its name, Victoria Bitter is a smooth, crisp lager first brewed in 1854. The distinctive, short-necked bottle is referred to as a "stubby," while Australians call the cans "tinnies" and the 750ml bottles "tallies." Also in keeping with the Australian penchant for assigning everything a fun nickname (see also: Oz), Victoria Bitter goes by VB, Vic Bitter, Vitamin B, and Victory Beer.

What to eat with it: It’s brewed in Melbourne and goes perfectly with any beach (or beachy foods eaten next to a soothing wave machine).

Low-Maintenance Fish Tacos

Low-Maintenance Fish Tacos by Amanda Hesser

Mussels Escabeche Crostini with Sunchoke Purée

Mussels Escabeche Crostini with Sunchoke Purée by Josh Cohen

Brazil: Skol

While widely recognized as a Brazilian beer, this pale lager was originally conceived and brewed in the UK. The name Skol comes from Skål, the Scandinavian word for cheers.

What to eat with it: Raise a glass with a some Brazilian snacks like Pão de queijo (cheese bread), Coxinha (chicken croquette), or Pastéis (a Brazilian version of a hot pocket - fried with meat or cheese)—the carbonation will cut through the fat.

Brazilian Cheesy Bread

Brazilian Cheesy Bread by Hannah Petertil

Pastéis de Tentúgal

Pastéis de Tentúgal by Olaiya Land | Milly's Kitchen

Kenya: Tusker Lager

First brewed in 1922, Kenya Breweries pale lager gets its name from the tragic death of its co-founder George Hurst, who was trampled to death by an elephant while on a hunting trip. The beer memorializes Hurst, and is created with 100% African ingredients.

What to eat with it: A classic North or East African dish—eaten a safe proximity away from lions.

North African Grilled Chicken Salad

North African Grilled Chicken Salad by Natalie

Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime

Fish Baked in Foil with Fennel and Lime by Merrill Stubbs

What are your favorite international beers? Tell us in the comments below!

Tags: Beer, Booze, Drink, Travel