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Cramer ranks the top US brewers and serves up a winner

Elizabeth Gurdus

In light of Constellation Brands' success in the beer space, Jim Cramer turned to its competitors to flesh out the players that could really pour some gains into your portfolio.

First Cramer turned to Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext Brussels: ABI-BE), the Belgium-based parent of Budweiser and the largest brewer in the world, thanks to its September acquisition of SABMiller.

"With its vast scale, BUD can spread out its marketing costs and take advantage of all sorts of commercial opportunities that might not be available to smaller brewers," the " Mad Money " host said. "Nobody even comes close to these guys."

But Anheuser-Busch's last earnings report was a slight miss, with revenues topping expectations but earnings taking a hit due to the SABMiller purchase. Total volumes also declined 3.3 percent despite positive rhetoric from management.

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"Put it all together and the numbers don't paint a very flattering picture," Cramer said. "In short, while I'm an avid drinker of Bud Light ... BUD's stock really seems like nothing to write home about, except for that 3 percent yield."

Next Cramer looked into The Boston Beer Company (SAM), known for its Sam Adams beer brand. The company has been embroiled in a battle of the craft beers as smaller, more hip brands chip away at its market share.

"The issue here is whether Boston Beer has finally bottomed," Cramer said. Boston Beer beat analyst expectations in its February earnings report, but management gave a very wide range for its 2017 earnings forecast, suggesting that they are not clear yet on whether the year will be good or bad.

Cramer added that the company is in the throes of looking for a new CEO, which means it could take a while for the company to get back on track.

Third came Molson Coors (TAP), parent of Miller Lite, Coors Lite, Blue Moon, and Keystone, as well as the second-largest brewer in the United States.

Molson Coors was a big benefactor of the Anheuser-Busch-SABMiller deal, snagging the rest of the MillerCoors venture for a mere $12 billion, but Cramer worries that weak performance in the domestic premium beer segment could mean a tipsy future for the company.

"At this point, the story's all about the fact that they bought the MillerCoors joint venture for a song. And while that could be a decent narrative, it's not exactly the kind of organic growth that money managers really salivate over," he said.

At the end of the day, Constellation Brands (STZ) seems to be the consistent go-to for growth and libations alike.

"Constellation's brands are on fire, including terrific Mexican beers like Modelo and Corona, and [one] we had a hard time keeping in stock this weekend at Bar San Miguel: Pacifico," Cramer said.

The company has perpetually delivered double-digit revenue growth, strong cash flow and earnings beats, and has been scooping up market share nationwide by acquiring small craft beer makers and other brands in popular segments.

And while Constellation would be at risk if Congress passed a border-adjusted tax, as the company imports many of its beers from Mexico, Cramer thinks the tax passing is unlikely.

"Constellation Brands has become the undisputed king of the beer space, with incredible growth that its competitors would kill for. I would make a case for Molson Coors or BUD, but honestly, Constellation's best of breed. It's the one you should own, especially when the market gives you the periodic border tax dip," the "Mad Money" host said.

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