The fastest growing beer brand in the US last year was a Belgian-style wheat ale brewed by Molson Coors, according to recent research.

The 'Top 30 Beer Brand Performers in 2007' chart, released this week by the IRI Beer, Wine and Spirits Practice, rated Molson Coors' Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Ale as number one in US supermarkets.

Import beer brands had a strong showing in the ranking this year with brands including Heineken Premium Light, Stella Artois, Newcastle Brown Ale and Guinness Draught featuring in the chart. Craft beers also remain popular with Samuel Adams Boston Lager, New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Shiner Bock among the brands making the list.

"The historic trend of consumers trading up and paying a premium price for their favourite brands continued in 2007," said Bump Williams, general manager, IRI Beer, Wine and Spirits Practice. "In fact, 20 of the top 30 beer performers are high-end brands that include 13 imports and seven craft brands. Brewers, distributors and retailers are doing a phenomenal job of meeting the ever-changing tastes of consumer demands with their new product innovations. The key now is getting the proper amount of shelf space and distribution in the right stores across multiple trade channels to support these power brands."

In collating the ranking, IRI analysed volume growth, share of segment trends, everyday base pricing, and incremental sales growth in 2007 versus 2006 to determine the brands with the strongest performance in the beer industry.

Miller Chill headed up IRI's 'Top 15 New Beer Brands in 2007' list, followed by Bacardi Silver Mojito. "It's all about flavour in 2007," added Williams. "From pomegranate and cranberry to pineapple and orange grapefruit, these new flavour product innovations are definitely hitting the right note with consumers."

IRI Top 30 Beer Brand Performers in 2007
Total US Supermarkets

1           Blue Moon Belgian White Ale
2           Samuel Adams Seasonal
3           Heineken Premium Light Lager
4           Stella Artois Lager
5           Newcastle Brown Ale
6           Coors Light
7           Bud Light
8           Yuengling Traditional Lager
9           Miller Lite
10           Samuel Adams Boston Lager
11           Keystone Light
12           Corona Light
13           Tecate
14           Guinness Draught
15           Samuel Adams Variety Pack
16           Model Especial
17           Michelob Ultra Light
18           Dos Equis XX Especial Lager
19           Samuel Adams Light
20           Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
21           Michelob Golden Draft Light
22           Heineken
23           New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
24           Grolsch Lager
25           Dos Equis XX Amber Lager
26           Steel Reserve High Gravity Lager
27           Red Stripe
28           Busch Light
29           Shiner Bock
30           Guinness Extra Stout

Minimum of 500,000 cases sold in total US supermarkets for 52 weeks to 31 December.

IRI Top 15 New Beer Brands in 2007
Total US Supermarkets

1           Miller Chill
2           Bacardi Silver Mojito
3           Landshark Lager
4           Bud Light Chelada
5           Smirnoff Ice Pomegranate Fusion
6           Mike's Hard Light Cranberry Lemonade
7           Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus
8           CM Parrot Bay Pineapple Colada
9           Budweiser Chelada
10           Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit
11           Mike's Cocktail Crantini
12           Alaskan IPA
13           Mike's Cocktail Lemon Drop
14           Zima Pineapple Citrus
15           Kokanee Gold

New brands did not report any IRI sales data prior to 2 January 2007.