Skip to content

How Modelo Became America's #1 Beer

The story of how Modelo replaced Bud Light as America’s #1 beer is about much more than a marketing u-turn.

Last spring and summer, it seemed almost impossible to avoid beer. Not necessarily the drink itself, but news about what Americans were drinking, or more to the point, not drinking. 

Bud Light had included trans social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney in a promotion tied to the NCAA basketball tournament and a conservative backlash and boycott ensued, followed by a counter-backlash when the beer brand backtracked. 

In the wake of the boycott, Bud Light dropped out of the number one spot as America’s most popular beer, overtaken by Modelo. 

It’d be too easy to pin that change onto the Mulvaney controversy. There was a much deeper shift going on in the beer industry. 

To get the story, Aimee spoke to Ina Verstl, an expert on beer – both how it tastes and the economics of its multi-billion dollar international industry. It turns out, the story of what’s going on the beer industry right now is far more fascinating than customer outrage. 

In this week’s episode of the Closer, Ina lays out a story about how the department of justice, and one lawyer in particular, along with a then little-known wine and spirits company from upstate New York threw a wrench in a massive beer deal.

For ad-free listening and exclusive bonuses with our Closers, subscribe to Brazen+ now!

Listen to the third episode of The Professor, out now.