America's biggest brewer just keeps growing. Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD), maker of Budweiser, Michelob, and other famous beer brands, put up its 22nd consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth. For the first quarter, reported yesterday, the final tally was $0.67 per share, up 17% from the prior year's quarter, though, 2% of the gain came from a commodity hedge.

Still, there's no arguing with success, and the Anheuser-Busch brands command pretty hefty shares of the market. Over half of the beer swilled in the U.S. comes from the St. Louis brewer.

Strangely enough, that percentage fell by 0.3%. Management chalked the drop-off to "timing." (This seems to be the new it excuse. If my puppy could talk, I'm pretty sure he'd tell me the chewed-up sofa pillows are also a victim of timing.) The company said it expects to gain market share over the course of the year, and there's little reason to doubt it.

Sure, Altria's (NYSE:MO) Miller Brewing stuck it to Bud with a well-reported sneak attack in the low-carb wars. Who knew that recasting light beer as low carb could entice so many Americans to switch their brands? Who knew that Americans would seek out even lower-carb beers, like Michelob Ultra, with even greater passion?

I don't know about you, but I like a little flavor with my beer, thank you. But there's Old Style in the fridge because it's dirt cheap. Luckily for Bud, other beer drinkers are more loyal than I am. The public has endured Anheuser-Busch's "successful implementation of pricing actions," meaning the firm jacked up the cost, and people keep drinking their favorite.

That bodes well for shareholders, especially since the volume of beer shipped is growing at a snail's pace, yielding revenue growth of only 6%. The company already commands the best gross margins in the business, 5% better than Miller and Coors Brewing (NYSE:RKY).

It would look a lot like a Rule Maker, if not for its undersized cash reserve of $138 million, an oversized and growing debt load ($7.5 billion). In the end, the equity and the beer are pretty similar. They're big, they're everywhere, but they're just so-so. I'm not too proud to quaff a Bud now and then, but the stock's prospects don't look quite so refreshing.

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Fool contributor Seth Jayson prefers cash to debt and enjoys beer that can be consumed with a fork. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above. View his Fool profile here.