Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Number of breweries in Europe 2009 - 2014

The brewing industry is booming in Europe. Pretty much everywhere (with one notable exception).

I had some idea of what was going on, but was still slightly shocked by the figures.In most European countries tha lastcouple of years have seen crazy growth in the number of breweries. Even the Czech Republic, where the number of breweries had been quite stable, has suddenly started sprouting dozens of new ones.

The one exception? Germany. The number of breweries hasn't changed significantly in the last few years. Which has left it lagging far behind. For the first time since the 19th century, it doesn't have the most breweries in Europe. The UK caught up in 2012 and has since powered ahead. If you'd told me 10 years ago that there would be over 1,500 breweries in the UK, I'd have felt your bumps.

The effect has been to drastically reduce Germany's share of the breweries in Europe. From over a third in 2009 it fell to less than a quarter in 2014. While the UK's share has risen for just under 20% to almost 25%.

Paricularly striking is the growth in countries that aren't traditionally beer drinking. In Italy, France and Greece the number of breweries doubled. While in Portugal the increase is fivefold. In Spain almost sevenfold.

Number of breweries in Europe 2009 - 2014
Country 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Austria 172 172 170 173 194 198
Belgium 127 135 123 150 160 168
Bulgaria 8 8 13 13 13 16
Croatia 7 7 7 6 6 6
Cyprus 2 2 2 2 2 4
Czech Republic 133 151 191 213 308 338
Denmark N/A N/A 150 150 150 150
Estonia 6 6 6 7 10 15
Finland 18 25 25 30 43 49
France 322 387 442 503 580 663
Germany 1,331 1,333 1,347 1,340 1,349 1,352
Greece 11 11 17 18 20 20
Hungary N/A N/A 24 50 50 50
Ireland 26 26 26 26 30 50
Italy 256 308 350 421 509 599
Latvia 17 15 16 16 25 29
Lithuania 49 41 73 73 73 75
Luxembourg 6 7 7 7 7 7
Malta 1 1 1 1 1 2
Netherlands N/A N/A 125 165 N/A 263
Norway 22 30 33 40 54 77
Poland 89 103 117 132 155 133
Portugal 7 7 9 10 18 35
Romania 21 18 17 17 18 22
Slovakia 15 19 25 30 38 44
Slovenia 22 22 N/A N/A 30 51
Spain 47 65 88 132 221 332
Sweden 30 45 65 75 100 151
Switzerland 280 328 360 375 409 483
Turkey 11 11 11 11 12 9
United Kingdom 745 828 948 1,300 1,490 1,700
Total EU 28 3,468 3,742 4,384 5,060 5,600 6,522
Total All 3,781 4,111 4,788 5,486 6,075 7,091
The Brewers of Europe Beer Statistics 2015 edition, page 21.

Very exciting times. I wonder what the future will hold? Obviously, there's a limit somewhere to the number of breweries that can operate. But I suspect we're still a long way shy of that.


Magnus Bark said...

The 200th Swedish brewery just opened...

StuartP said...

What does the future hold...?

The Beer Nut said...

I need to put a statistical summary on my list of Irish beer and cider companies. Nobody ever gets the numbers right.

BryanB said...

I'm a bit surprised by the German numbers too, but then it occurred to me that a lot of the recent additions there don't have their own brewing kit. They are either cuckoo brewers who contract the wet work to an existing brewery, or in some cases they are not even brewers - they have a brand/recipe/idea and hire a brewmaster and brewery to help develop it. Presumably neither would be included here, though as more and more cuckoos acquire brewkit that will change.

Elektrolurch said...

Honestly, I think the figures don't reflect the changes in the german beer scene the past few years.

So maybe the numbers of breweries has not changed here, but the beers they brew have changed a lot since 2009...

Lars Marius Garshol said...

Very interesting, and really just cries out for a diagram.

What's even more interesting is that these numbers are lower than the real figures, because at the end of 2014 Norway had at least 121 breweries, not just 77. I suspect 77 is the number of members of the Norwegian Brewers Association, which is significantly lower than the real figure. I assume the same applies to the other countries.

Ron Pattinson said...

BryanB & Elektrolurch,

if you take a longer timescale, the figures for Germany look even worse: flat for the last 20 years. On current trends, France, Italt and Spain could soon have mre breweries than Germany.

I admit that pure brewery numbers don't tell the whole story. But it's clear that Germany is lagging behind most of Europe in brewery startups.

Elektrolurch said...

that is what surprises me because the scene and public interest in beers seems radically different than from 2009.
And even in brewery startups, the numbers SHOULD reflect that. Or are there still so many breweries dying that it evens out?

I mean, when you compare, let's say, the Berlin beer scene alone from 2008 to today......

Ron Pattinson said...

Lars Marius Garshol,

I suspect the same is true of some other countries as the numbers do come from nationsl brewers' organisations. How complete they are varies considerably from country to country.

Ron Pattinson said...


but is Berlin typical of what is going on in Germany as a whole? And how many breweries have sprung up? If you look at any decent-sized town in the UK or Holland, multiple new breweries have sprung up in the last couple of years. You'd expect a city the size or Berlin to have two or three dozen breweries.

Mark Andersen said...

Germany's overly conservative attitude towards beer is stifling the potential. Any new breweries that pop up are just barely replacing those lost due to slow decay. If the government would just get out of the way it would become a growth industry. I don't buy that there is not a market for beer variety in Germany. 10 years ago my friends in Hamburg we're drinking nothing but Astra. Now they don't touch the stuff as they are now drinking the IPA's , Porters, etc. from new local breweries like Altes Madchen and Kellerbiers, Rauchbiers, Mahrs U, etc. from Franconia when they can get it. Stop fining companies for having the audacity to call a Milk Stout a beer and get out of the way and let it take off.

Elektrolurch said...

I have to admit I don't know much about UK beer culture. But with the netherlands, the few small breweries that were there before the new hype always have been a bit progressive, right? I mean T'ij for instance is there since the 80ies.
I'd argue that german beer culture is very different from that. Up until a few years ago, beer simply was not "fashionable" and "modern". Sure, you had a few tiny brewers that made something different, but basically also the newly founded brewpubs in the 1980ies in germany made Helles, Dunkles and Weizen.
And since a few years, that is slowly changing, and also the "bigger players", the mid sized breweries,the tiny ones, everyone is starting making Ales, no matter if they are in Berlin, Hamburg or Franconia- and I think that is the biggest change in germany, even if the numbers do not reflect that, but the culture around beer is changing. If for the better or for the worse is a totally different question.
I personally don't doubt the numbers, I'm just surprised by them......

Barm said...

Do we really need hundreds of new breweries making terrible imperial stouts?

Anonymous said...

One thing that struck me was how Belgium has noticably fewer breweries for its population than the UK. Belgium has 1/10th the number of UK breweries, but its population is about 1/6th of the UK.

I was also struck by how many breweries Switzerland has -- 2/3 the population of Belgium but three times as many breweries; 1/8th the population of the UK but over 1/4th the number of breweries.

You'd expect a lot of beer drinkers among German Swiss, but clearly the French and Italian populations are drinking a lot of beer and running new breweries too.

Ron Pattinson said...


surprisingly, Switzerland didn't have much of a brewing industry until the late 19th century. It was a wine-drinking country until the vinyards were hit by phylloxera. I believe that the most new breweries are in French-speaking Switzerland.

Ron Pattinson said...


the first wave of Dutch breweries mostly copied Belgian styles. It isn't a question of existing breweries suddenly making Ales, but of a huge wave of new brewery openings. It took me by surprise that there was suddenly this enormous energy in the Dutch beer scene that hadn't been there before. I can't see any trace of something similar happening in Germany. It looks more to me like the position in Holland 20 years ago: a few new breweries and interesting beers, but on the margins.

Anonymous said...

A bit late to the party, but +1 to Barm for the comment about new breweries making terrible beer. Honestly, we really don't need 100's of new breweries pumping out indistinct gawdawful IPAs and sour beers (in addition to imperial stouts, & etc...).