Which Nation Drinks The Most Beer?

I’m a bit of a late starter when it comes to some of life’s pleasures. Take coffee – I didn’t come to appreciate that until I moved from an unmentionable UK backwater pit to London, aged 29, to start university (yes, a late starter on all fronts!).

So, beer is the latest thing I’m cultivating a liking for. I’ve previously been ambivalent about the golden brew, it’s not something I’d habitually order as a stand-alone drink or with a meal. My move to Spain has changed this, because here they serve you a “caña”, which is a small, very manageable, 250ml glass of beer.

In Germany, the default order is a “Mass”, which is a full litre, or a “Halbe”, i.e. half a litre. They will bring you a smaller glass if you ask very nicely and don’t mind a patronising frown to go with it. In the UK, the standard serving size is a pint, which is a smidgen over half a litre.

And although I’ve been known to devour an entire packet of biscuits in one sitting, as well as a 400g Toblerone bar without ill effects, I don’t seen to have been endowed with a plumbing system extensive enough to accommodate a ‘normal’ sized serving of beer.

Well, thank you Spain for returning me to the bedrock of my Bavarian heritage. Maybe I can work up to the required capacity from here.

Munich brewery sign, pic taken in Munich town centre

Ornate sign on an old brewery house in the centre of Munich

So, who drinks the most beer?

I do have an answer to this question, and no, it’s not the Germans, but the citizens of the Czech Republic by virtue of each of them guzzling 144.1 litres in 2012 (the global per capita average being 27.8 litres), and THEN come the Germans with 106.5 litres, which is a fair bit less.

Ireland is close behind Germany in third place downing 104.7 litres, followed by Austria, Estonia and Poland, all with around 100 litres per annum per head.

And while beer consumption is still rising on a global level, it is actually diminishing in the countries where consumption is currently highest, including the five leading markets I’ve just listed. (Poland’s is still on the way up.)

In the UK, too, beer intake is plummeting. In 2007, per capita consumption stood at 90.4 litres, while by 2012, this had dwindled to 71.8 litres. The US, over the same five-year period, registered a decline from 81.8 to 75.9 litres.

A few countries surprised me with their low consumption rates. No, not Iran or Algeria, you’d expect those to be way below 10 litres per head (and it is), but France mustering a mere 29.2 litres and Italy 27? What’s going on there….? Wine is to blame, I guess… but that’s another post 🙂

A shop in Munich town centre selling beer mugs. The English word for those, I suppose, is “beer steins”, which sounds German (“stein” means stone), but I’ve never heard a German person use this term. To us, it’s a Bierkrug. “Krug” means jug.

[For data source, click here]

32 thoughts on “Which Nation Drinks The Most Beer?

  1. Anna

    So many feelings! Beer makes me so excited! First of all, while living in Spain, I never ordered cañas. Only pints. I dont know at what kind of genteel spots you hang out, but all my favorite places poured the big ones of Mahou by default.

    But obviously the German approach is MUCH more my style. First of all: OMG, the Munich beer house in your photo is THE one I had lunch in 5 years ago! I was in Germany for 7 hrs, on a layover between Prague and NYC, took the commuter train into Munich, did a 2-hr bus tour, walked around the old town center, then went to this place, ordered 3 dishes (cheese, meat, sausage – some Bavarian specialties courtesy of a recommendation by a college buddy from that neck of the woods) and 2 beers – a blonde and an amber. And of course they bring me two of these guys https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/15153_691782340534_1526631_n.jpg (different kinds, obv, but I didnt upload that photo apparently). So here I am, all by me little self, 3 plates of food, 2 big beers, and 45 minutes to eat it all. OWNED IT.

    Oh, and then got a bunch of bread and pastries before getting back on the train to the airport.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Oh my oh my oh my, the woman’s got the stamina! I defer to you…
      And when are you going to write that beer post?! I mean, you’ve kinda just done it, but I mean on your own blog…? lol

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      1. Anna

        Lol, of please, this? This was just a little vignette 🙂 I am working on mine, promise! Also, your blog is solidifying my conviction that I need to marry Bavaria.

        Like

  2. perkstein

    I’m loving beer at the mo, as cider isn’t available here in Thailand. You have a choice of Leo (bit grim), Chang (socially acceptable Tennants) or Singha. Mmm, lovely Singha. Well, you’ve just inspired me to go to the shop and purchase one, so thank you 🙂 x

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  3. pollyheath

    I think you just need more training and then you’ll be able to get through a liter (or two), no problem. Then after that maybe they’ll let you back in the homeland 😉

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  4. TBM

    I didn’t start drinking beer until a few years ago. And I still haven’t taken to coffee. I actually knew the answer to this question. I went on a beer tasting tour in Prague and the guide was very proud to inform us that they drink the most beer. I prefer the half pints in London.

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      I agree, half-pints are manageable 😉
      To get into coffee, I needed lots of milk to start off with. I guess that’s the strategy Starbucks et al had been banking right from the start to create their legion of newsaddicts – and it worked!

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  5. camparigirl

    Never drank beer when I lived in the UK. That pint did seem daunting. I started a bit in Italy, because it goes well with pizza, and now I enjoy one now and then with food. Goes down very well with Mexican food too.

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  6. Debbie

    I do think the caña is very civilised, accompanied with a tapa or two of course. But I’m a pint lady when I’m at home in the UK. We were talking about Euston Tower earlier. Well, there’s a new addition at Euston Station now. The two gatehouses as you enter the ugly bus station at the front of Euston are small, very popular, pubs: beer on the left and cider on the right!

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