What 2013’s Top Beer Searches Really Tell Us … and What They Don’t

search bar header sphere

The end of the year is full of retrospectives, “best of” lists and all that good stuff that makes us nostalgic for another year gone by.

So who am I to deny you such cliched excitement? But with a beery twist, of course. This week, we learned most the Googled beer searches of 2013:

If you’re like me you see that list and think “what the hell is Kingfisher?” But then I decided to give in to my nerdy tendencies and jump back into the foray of Google search trends to see if we could get a better idea what this list means. If you need a refresher on my work with Google Trends, check out my series that ran earlier this year.

What I found was really interesting. Turns out, even if Blue Moon is the most searched beer in America, it may not be the beer really capturing our interest…

The past year was a big one for MillerCoors-owned Blue Moon, which was named America’s most popular beer, usurping the throne from Bud Light. What you see below is a GIF’d animation showing the popularity of searches for “Blue Moon beer” by state. The darker the blue, the more searches. The map shows four six-month periods for posterity’s sake – Jan to June and July to Dec for 2012 and then 2013:

_0KYnS on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

Here’s the thing: results seen above are for “blue moon beer,” not “blue moon.” That’s because, as the San Francisco Weekly points out, there was a lunar event in 2013 known as “blue moon” that pushed a lot of searches for the phrase “blue moon.”

I will say that the number of searches and shaded structure of that map is probably the most I’ve seen for a specific beer. There’s no doubt the public has curiosity in Blue Moon (the beer).

And even though we can’t pinpoint Google interest in MillerCoors’ Blue Moon, the beer still saw a huge 2013, which leads me to believe that looking up any version of Blue Moon this year would have induced the most-searched beer of 2013.

But you know what? This is the Google trend line that caught my attention (click to enlarge):

All searches trend labeled

In this scenario, what was Americans’ most-searched “beer” in 2013? Why it was “IPA,” of course. Then it was Bud Light, then “craft beer,” then “blue moon beer” and Bud Light Platinum.

There’s obviously no perfect way to analyze this because of the whole “blue moon” vs. “blue moon beer” shenanigans, but if I was a beer fan – even more so if I was in the beer business – this is the chart I’d want to focus on. We know IPAs sell like gangbusters and we know craft beer sales continue to grow.

There’s a reason why American IPA was the most-entered category at this year’s Great American Beer Festival and there’s a reason why Sam Adams is going headfirst into IPA territory.

So when we mark “National Lager Day” because that’s America’s “favorite beer,” I cry BS. Especially when Big Beer brands are suffering.

So instead of hailing Blue Moon as the new king of beers, let’s not forget American beer drinkers latest and greatest obsession: the hop.

hop cone with crown


+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

8 thoughts on “What 2013’s Top Beer Searches Really Tell Us … and What They Don’t

  1. What the hell is Kingfisher?

    Someone hasn’t eaten at an Indian restaurant lately 🙂

    1. Search results for cities only pulled up New York City, which I suppose is fitting for the quantity of dining options.

      At least now I know what to look for!

    2. I don’t drink it often, but it’s quite enjoyable. Mildly sweet and doesn’t get in the way of all the Indian spices.

  2. I look at that gif and think “Alaska: Zero fucks given.”

    1. Hawaii ain’t nothing to F with.

  3. IPA is the king. I’m surprised the Macros haven’t gone in full force to try and make one that stands out like they did with Bourbon County.

    1. AB InBev is lucky that Bourbon County was part of the Goose Island portfolio, which is why I wonder if it’s more of a chore for Big Beer to new brands that differentiate greatly from a core lineup.

      There are two things I see as problematic:
      1. The very casual consumer may see beer as either the beer they drink (yellow, fizzy “lite” beer) and everything else, which tastes “dark” or bitter.
      2. I wonder if you slap “IPA” on a can picked up by a casual consumer if they’d know what that is.

      When I say “casual consumer,” I mean the uber, base-level people who have no interest in beer outside of just drinking it. While that number is certainly shrinking, I’d venture that’s still a very sizable figure.

      1. I couldn’t agree with you more about getting the Bourbon County portfolio. I think you are right about the casual customer but as IPAs have become more flavorful and not so bitter it might become obvious to do so. This being said I was in a conversation with a bartender at a brewery the other night who said occasionally she drinks pabst because she doesn’t want to think about drinking when drinking. That does go down easy.

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