Germans have been drinking less and less beer for years. The corona pandemic is driving the downward spiral more strongly – whether in the long term, that has to be seen. The Federal Statistical Office recorded beer sales of around 4.3 billion liters in the first half of 2020. That was 6.6 percent less than in the same period last year. The breweries and beer warehouses based in Germany sold around 303 million liters less than in the first half of 2019. The decline was somewhat cushioned by beer mixes. Sales of mixed drinks with lemonade, cola or juice only decreased by 2.7 percent.
Sales of beer collapse
“Closed bars and restaurants, canceled parties and other major events caused a sharp decline in beer sales, particularly in April (minus 17.3 percent) and May (minus 13.0 percent),” said the statistics agency. “Since the restrictions were relaxed again in May, beer sales have slowly recovered. In June, only 1.9 percent less beer was sold than in the same month last year. ”The upward trend continued in July. Beer sales increased by almost a quarter from 4.3 to 5.2 billion liters within a month compared to the June balance sheet. The previous annual minus fell for the first seven months from 6.6 to 6.2 percent.
However, beer drinkers reacted very differently to the Corona crisis. In some federal states, demand collapsed by over 20 percent. In two countries, however, apparently so many people picked up bottles at home more often that sales rose slightly despite the pubs being closed.
Country ranking for beer sales
Less beer was bought in these federal states in the first half of 2020:
- Schleswig-Holstein / Hamburg: minus 23.1 percent
- Hessen: minus 22.5 percent
- North Rhine-Westphalia: minus 7.5 percent
- Rhineland-Palatinate / Saarland: minus 7.4 percent
- Baden-Württemberg: minus 6.2 percent
- Bavaria: minus 5.7 percent
- Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: minus 4.5 percent
- Saxony: minus 3.0 percent
- Lower Saxony / Bremen: minus 2.5 percent
- Saxony-Anhalt: minus 1.3 percent
By contrast, Thuringia (2.0 percent) as well as Berlin and Brandenburg (0.4 percent) recorded increasing sales figures.
Germany’s most popular beer brands
@ 2020 Brewery C. & A. Veltins GmbH & Co. KG
# 10 Veltins
Veltins takes tenth place in the German beer ranking. According to YouGov, 8.5 percent of the survey participants can imagine reaching for bottles of this brand. However, Veltins doesn’t seem to have that many passionate fans nationwide. The beer brand only made it into the top 3 in one federal state. Veltins took second place in the home state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The company headquarters of the country brewery, founded in 1824, is still in Meschede-Grevenstein in the Sauerland. C. & A. Veltins GmbH is named after the twins Carl and Anton Veltins, who ran the private brewery from 1905. With Susanne Veltins, managing the company is still a family affair today. The company owns the brands V +, Pülleken and Grevensteiner.
@imago images / Waldmüller
# 9 Jever
Almost every tenth German (9.2 percent) would buy Jever, according to the survey. In Bremen, the extra bitter beer from Friesland ranks third. The history of the Frisian brewery in Jever began in 1848 with the innkeeper Diedrich König. At that time there were 20 small breweries in the region. Jever used marketing early on to stand out from the crowd. While the competitors delivered their beer in mugs, Jever was available in green bottles from 1870. Since 1934 the beer has also stood out in terms of taste. Master brewer Ernst Böhme decided to add a touch more hops to the water, which gave the Pilsener its (Frisian) bitter taste. The brewery was only moved to Bavaria-St. Pauli brewery in Hamburg-Altona sold. Later it went to the Herz brothers (Tchibo) and finally to the Radeberger Group. Today, according to official information, up to 60,000 bottles are filled per hour. The “v” in the name is pronounced as “w” for beer and as “f” for the city – which is still the company’s headquarters today.
@imago images / Manngold
# 8 Franciscans
According to YouGov, Franziskaner Weissbier is eighth of the most popular beers in Germany, with an approval rate of 9.5 percent. In Bavaria it ranks first with 21.7 percent, but does not make it into the top 3 in any other federal state. The brewery traces its roots back to 1363. At that time the “Bräustatt bey den Franziskanern” near the Residenz in Munich was mentioned for the first time. Franziskaner Weissbier belongs to Anheuser-Busch InBev and thus to the largest brewery group in the world.
# 7 Radeberger
Exactly every tenth German (10.0 percent) drinks according to the Radeberger survey. Even more: only the leader in this ranking is number one in more federal states. Radeberger Pilsner leads the regional rankings in Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania it is enough for second place. The Radeberger export beer brewery was founded in 1872 and is based in Radeberg near Dresden. It is the flagship of the Radeberger Group, which in turn belongs to the Oetker Group. The Radeberger Group in Frankfurt am Main claims to be the market leader on the German beer market with more than 80 brands (including Schöfferhofer, Clausthaler, Jever, Berliner Kindl).
@Paulaner Brewery Group / Soller Photography
# 6 Paulaner
With an approval rate of 10.6 percent, Paulaner is the sixth most popular beer in Germany. In the home country of Bavaria, the brand has to be content with third place. It ranks second in Baden-Württemberg. Paulaner Brewery Group is based in Munich. The monks of the Paulaner order are said to have brewed beer by 1634 at the latest. The Paulaner brewery group includes the brands Hacker-Pschorr, Auerbräu, Thurn & Taxis, Hoepfner and Fürstenberg.
# 5 Bitburger
From 1951 at the latest, “Please a bit” was ordered in German pubs. Since then, the brewery from the South Eifel has been using this slogan to advertise. Bitburger is currently number one in the home state of Rhineland-Pfaz and in Saarland. In North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse it came in third place in the YouGov survey. Nationwide, it was enough for the private brewery founded in 1817 for fifth place (11.6 percent). The company is in the seventh generation of family ownership and claims to have around 1,800 employees. The brands Köstritzer, Licher and Wernesgrüner belong to the Bitburger brewery group. Export plays a major role at Bitburger. The group’s products are to be consumed in around 90 countries around the world. The template for the “Please a bit” lettering in the logo comes from the great-great-great-grandson of the brewery’s founder, Theobald Simon.
@imago images / Manngold
# 4 Erdinger
According to YouGov, Erdinger is Germany’s most popular wheat beer brand. It comes in fourth in the overall ranking with 11.8 percent approval. Erdinger claims that it is the largest family-owned wheat beer brewery in Germany. Total sales in 2019 were 1.71 million hectoliters. Erdinger Weißbräu only made it into the top 3 in Bavaria and had to settle for second place behind Franziskaner in the battle for wheat beers. The private brewery was founded in 1886. Erding, a city on the outskirts of Munich, is the company’s headquarters to this day. After the main fermentation, the wheat beer is matured a second time in the bottle.
# 3 Warsteiner
At Warsteiner, it’s the crowd that makes it. The brand does not make it to number one in any federal state. Otherwise, only a second place (Saarland) and three third places (Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate) are sufficient. Even in the home state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the brand missed the podium. Nationwide, however, Warsteiner is third among the most popular beer brands with 12.5 percent. The Warsteiner Haus Cramer brewery was founded in 1753 by Antonius Cramer and run by Catharina Cramer in the ninth generation. The Warsteiner Group includes the Herford brewery and the Paderborn brewery. According to its own information, it produces more than two million hectoliters per year. The turnover in 2018 was over 400 million euros.
@imago images / imagebroker
# 2 Beck’s
In contrast to Warsteiner, Beck’s can rely on a strong regional identity. The bitter beer from Bremen especially hits the taste of the North Germans. Beck’s is the most popular beer in Bremen and Hamburg, number two in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony as well as in Hesse. In Germany only one beer can show the brand in the barrier (approval rating: 12.9 percent). In addition, Beck’s can often be found abroad. The Beck brewery was founded in 1873. Like Franziskaner, she belongs to Anheuser-Busch InBev.
@imago images / Jan Huebner
# 1 Krombacher
Krombacher is by far the most popular beer in Germany. The brand secured first place in the YouGov brand index with 16.8 percent. It makes it to the top in four federal states: Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein. The Krombacher Brauerei Bernhard Schadeberg GmbH is named after its former boss, who took over the management of the family business in 1922. The current managing director is also Bernhard Schadeberg. It all began with a small house brewery, which was first mentioned in a document in 1803. Today Krombacher claims to be the largest private brewery in Germany with over six million hectoliters per year. The company holds the trademark rights to Schweppes and Orangina in Germany and Austria. Krombach is a district of Kreuztal in North Rhine-Westphalia.