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Germany

German Brewers Hoping for Another Summer Fairy Tale

German breweries are hoping the Euro 2008 will help boost falling beer sales and reverse shrinking profits.

Bottles of beer being sorted on an assembly line

Brewers hope Euro2008 will be a boon to sales

With a 2-0 win in its first game against Poland combined with warm summer weather, the former European and world champions will likely draw overflowing crowds to the public viewing areas on Thursday when they meet Croatia.

Along with the jubilant soccer fans, Germany's hard-pressed brewing industry has also been celebrating the national team's successful start in their battle to secure the European soccer championship title for the fourth time. The industry's hoping that the three-week championships will give a one-to-two percent kick to beer sales.

Group photo of national football team - 7 men standing, 4 kneeling

All that's needed is for the national eleven to advance

"The breweries are completely euphoric," said Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, spokesman for the German Brewery Association. Much like the national team's fans, the nation's breweries are hoping for a repeat of the 2006 World Cup -- dubbed the summer fairy tale throughout the country as the home team placed third amid a national frenzy.

Breweries hoping to reverse a downward trend

But apart from mirroring the beer sales clocked up in Germany two years ago, the nation's brewery industry hopes that an increase in beer consumption during the European championships will also help to lift the country's annual beer sales out of the doldrums.

The home of Oktoberfest is losing its taste for beer as Germans have been switching in recent years to the finer art of wine drinking. Industry figures showed that wine consumption last year hit an all-time high averaging 20.6 liters per head of the population.

German beer consumption, meanwhile, has slumped from an average of 142.7 litres a head each year in 1990 to a record low of 111.7 liters last year. Eight years ago consumption stood at 125.6 liters.

The fall in beer consumption in Germany has already sparked a major shakeout in the nation's beer business with smaller breweries closing their doors or being taken over by larger rivals.

But already in May, retailers began stocking up their supplies ahead of the start of the soccer championships and the European summer sporting season. Breweries are hoping that the trend to higher beer consumption during the European championships will continue through to the Beijing Olympics in August.

This combination of sporting events has brewers hopeful that beer consumption per head this year could edge back up to the 2006 level of about 116 liters.

Public fan gatherings a boon to brewers

A boon to the breweries has the emergence of public viewing areas at the World Cup.

In a sense, access to the electricity supply for a television screen and somewhere to keep the crates of beer cold are the only key components for creating public viewing areas.

This means that in addition to major vantage points such as Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate, bars, restaurants, street corners and even vacant blocks of land have been transformed into areas for fans to gather and watch the games.

Giant-screen tv erected on street, surrounded by hundreds of people

Public viewing areas ramp up crowds and beer sales

Still, other factors will determine if it is a successful European Championship for the German brewers. For one, there is the weather, which according to forecasts is to turn cooler and wetter from Wednesday onwards.

Perhaps more importantly, though, German captain Michael Ballack's team needs to keep the Germans' hopes alive of their first European championship title since 1996 by progressing towards the final in Vienna on June 29.

"The national eleven also has to contribute," said Huhnholz.

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