Sad news out of Germany.
Germans may be famous around the world for their beer, but they drank less of the amber nectar in 2009 than at any time in the past 20 years, according to official statistics published on Thursday.
Sales of German beer, which includes the likes of Becks, Warsteiner, Radeberger and countless other brands, dropped to just under 100 (sic) hectolitres (2.2 billion gallons) in 2009, a fall of 2.8 percent on the previous year.
(That should read "100 million hectolitres", and the "gallons" in question are Imperial gallons.)
The article goes on to blame the "desperate economic situation" and a trend away from manual labor towards a service economy as factors for the decrease in beer consumption. But the massive consolidation of the German brewing industry surely is a factor as well. Germany has lost nearly half of its small, local breweries in the last twenty years through mergers and closures, with more in the works. This is the same process that culminated some forty years ago in the United States, resulting in a massive loss in beer diversity and culture. (And it's happening in the UK as well, with the same result.)
The Germans I've met are fiercely loyal to local products. When Größer-Bräu acquires and closes Kleiner-Bräu, they don't necessarily acquire the customers along with the brewery.
Anyway, read the whole story at The Local. And drink local beer.