Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The rise and fall of beer styles

I'm taking a break from sugar, WW I and British brewing. And taking a look at German beer styles. In particular, their relative popularity over the years.

Hopefully these figures will help lay to rest the myth about European beer being traditional and unchanging. Nothing could be further from the truth. Take a look at the fortunes of Pils and Export in Germany over the last 40 years.

In the 1970's, Export's market share slumped while that of Pils skyrocketed. But after peaking with almost 69% of the market in 2002, Pils now seems to be definitely in decline, being down to just 55% last year. Export, seemingly on the road to oblivion, has rallied a little and is clinging on to around a 10% share.

Weizen has steadily increased in popularity over the last 30 years, but the picture for some other top-fermenting styles is much less rosy. Alt's progress has been a mirror image of Weizen's, declining from 6.6% to 1.4%. Kölsch has done a little better, falling from 4.5% to 1.6%.


Tandleman said...

While the fall in alt and koelsch is stark, the rise of mixed drinks is also striking. Pils seems to have lost out to everything, yet the overall picture doesn't look that rosy for other styles, except weizenbier. I am surprised that liechtesbier doesn't make a bigger showing as anecdotally at least, its presence is increasing.

That export beer is holding its own surprises me more than somewhat, though that may be definitional. Any ideas what constitutes "other"?

Ron Pattinson said...

Other will be all sorts of things. German Porter, for example. Gose, Lichtenhainer, Dampfbier and any of the other styles that are clinging on by a thread. But probably things like Festbier, too.

With things like Export, it depends what they include. It could lump together Dunkles and Helles Export. In the figures for the last two years, Schwarzbier also includes Dunkles.

Your photo really freaks me out, you know. At the size it gets reproduced here, even Dolores could mistake you for me.

Tandleman said...

Can't be two of us THAT good looking surely?

John said...

Am I correct in thinking that export is the German equivalent to Special Brew / plastic bottle cider? A breakfast beer for the ruddy faced men who have their morning hotdog at those pavement kiosks with the high tables.

Pivní Filosof said...

Being that both Kölsch and Alt are very regional, I wonder how they are doing in their respective cities.

Can at least some of the decline be blamed on this beers not being so good bottled?

And what about imported beers?

Matt said...

Apparently even dunkelweizen has enjoyed a revival having previously been seen as the preserve of the elderly, maybe there's hope for mild yet!

Oblivious said...

Pivní Filosof both Kölsch and Alt (Früh and Diebels) are available out side of their respective cites, bottle and Tap.

Barm said...

I think the changes are reflective of a homogenisation and to some extent a dumbing down of the beer market. I understand the sectors growing at the moment are very lightly hopped so-called "Gold" beers and mixes of beer with all manner of odd soft drinks and fruit flavourings. The population of Köln and Düsseldorf in 2007 was pretty much the same as in 1981, so that doesn't explain a decline in the Kölsch and Alt figures. I guess people in those cities are, like everyone else, drifting away from the local brau and going for heavily marketed national brands.

John, Export isn't the equivalent of Special Brew. It's what miners and steelworkers used to drink in the 1950s, so if there's an English equivalent it would be mild. But yes, I would think (based on no evidence) that Export would be slightly more popular than average at those kiosks. Real homeless people, however, tend to drink Grafenwalder Pils from Aldi.

Pivní Filosof said...

I am well aware of that. I even bought a bottle of Kölsch once in Prague.
My question was how popular those beers are in their home cities, being that they are so identified with them.

Ron Pattinson said...

Pivní Filosof, you're right both Alt and Kölsch are regional beers. Their market in their home territory has certainly declined.

Alt had a larger territory than Kölsch originally, covering much of Nordrhein-Westfalen. While it's holding up in Düsseldorf, elsewhere it's suffering.

Neither has been helped by the drop in market share of draught beer. Most Alt and Kölsch breweries sell about half their beer on draught, while the national average has slipped to 19%.

The very close identification of Kölsch with Cologne is probably whay it's faired relatively better than Alt.

BTW, I have sales by type by state, too. Just not had time to compile them yet. Some states show a huge divergence, for example Bavaria wher Pils only has a 25% share.

Pivní Filosof said...

WOW! Only 19% of German beers are sold on tap? I was rather surprise by that figure.

I've heard a few Czech brewers saying that kegs represent 50% or more of their sales.

It'll be really interesting to see the statistics broken down by state, when either you have time or can be arsed with it.

Ron Pattinson said...

Pivní Filosof, the proportion of draught beer sales in the UK,Ireland and the Czech Republic is far higher than elsewhere.