460 million hectoliters (1 hectoliter = 26.4 gallons) That is the production volume for the newly formed ABInbev – the largest brewer in the world, born from the merge of Inbev and Anheuser-Busch. But when it comes to beer, it’s not all about quantity, experts say, it’s a lot about the quality too.
Fernando and Olimar Marinho are two brothers and beer drinkers from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. They gave me their opinion on two brands of beer now owned by ABInbev – the Brazilian Brahma, and the American Budweiser.
“Budweiser is obviously the best beer. You will not find a more well-rounded, tasty, less-filling kind of beer. Anyone that advocates for Brahma is questionable at best, seriously,” says the younger brother Fernando, in his early 50’s. “And you can’t even say I’m not patriotic because now it’s ours!,” he adds.
Olimar, in his late 60s disagrees. “Brahma is better because of the hops and the water, which both come from local sources. Hops help to contribute a bitterness that will balance the sweetness of the malts. A lot of beer styles were influenced by the characteristics of water in the region.”
The Brazilian brewer Brahma was acquired by Jorge Lemann’s bank (he’s one of the Brazilians at the top at ABInbev) in 1989, and ten years later it bought it’s archrival Antarctica, forming AMBEV, the fifth largest brewer in the world at the time. AMBEV dominated the Brazilian market holding all three major brewers. After merging with the Belgian Interbrew in 2004, in a $11 billion deal, it became Inbev.
Both Fernando and Olimar say their beer guts worry them a bit. “I’d like to get rid of it,” said Fernando. “But if that means no more beer for me you can forget about it.”