Budweiser
It is cynical (and not always accurate) to ascribe a boost in alcohol sales to a down economy. Nevertheless, America loves beer and Budweiser ( BUD) has done an admirable job building its brand during, and since, the recession.

In BrandZ's 2011 ranking, Budweiser reclaimed the top spot among beers, beating out its own sister brand Bud Light.

Brand Z says that "because of distribution challenges, only Budweiser and a few other beer brands, such as Stella Artois, enjoyed global recognition.

Also helping Bud's case is its taking over an NFL sponsorship from Coors ( TAP).

The key to a beer brand's success -- whether it's Bud, Miller Light, Guinness or Heineken -- is relatively straightforward, according to BrandZ: "When people bought less, they spent on what they liked."

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