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|
|Total EU 28||3,468||3,742||4,384||5,060||5,600||6,522|
|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.