German beer consumption is falling, fast. Now the country’s struggling brewers are trying to inspire young people to start heading for the beer garden instead of the gym.
Why are fewer Germans doing this?
There’s nothing dearer to the German heart than beer. Or is there?
Germans aren’t drinking beer like they used to. That doesn’t mean the one-time bastion of beer drinking has turned into a country of teetotalers. Far from it. There nation boasts 1200 independent breweries, and three-quarters of all the breweries in the European Union are in Germany. But consumption is down, no doubt about it.
The average German may still drink over 123 liters of beer, no small amount. But that is down from 147 liters ten years ago.
There are several reasons that fewer people are downing the sudsy stuff, according to industry watchers.
Drinking habits are changing, especially among the younger population. Mixed drinks are in. Beer is seen as your dad’s drink and not as cool as it used to be.
A higher concern about health has put people off of beer and on to alternatives for liquid refreshment. Energy drinks are the fad now, and wines, especially the reds, continue to enjoy a surge in popularity.
A new health consciousness also means more people are going to the gym these days than before. In their minds, beer has become associated with beer bellies. Few of those huffing and puffing on the treadmill or crunching and grimacing on the mat are striving for those.
Come On, It’s Good For You
Fitness fanatics! Those are who the German Brewers’ Federation blamed for flagging beer consumption at a press conference on Monday in Berlin. They want to reverse the bad rap beer has got and refashion its image as a nutritious, healthy libation, just like the red wine promoters did.
"We were not as quick off the mark as the red wine producers, but the same is true for beer" said federation head Peter Hahn at the press conference. "There are a lot of health benefits in malt and hops."
He said moderate beer drinking, about half a liter a day for men, reduced the risk of strokes and lowered cholesterol levels. Hops, used to flavor the drink, helped prevent cancer.
While it might sound like the brewers had a bit too much of their own product just before talking to reporters, they actually have backing for their views.
Scientists and industry experts at a "beer and health" conference in Brussels last year agreed that beer could cut cardiovascular disease and protect against cancer and osteoporosis.
Dutch scientists who held a study earlier this year concluded that drinking alcohol, beer included, could even help lower the risk of dementia.
Wonder if the Dutch researchers had ever been to Oktoberfest?