by Alain Schepers Beer journalist
Who brews the most beer?
The UK, the Dutch or the US?
The UK produces over 38 million hectolitres of beer a year. With this amount it is the eighth largest beer producer in the whole world. No wonder since most of the beer styles are of British origin. In regard to beer consumption, however, the UK doesn’t even reach the top 20. Hence, a lot of British beers are exported and in fact, it is the fifth largest beer exporter worldwide.
Despite a general decline in beer production, the beer industry in the UK seems to be doing quite well. In 2016, for instance, 300 new breweries were founded and the total number of breweries increased by 18%. The number of UK breweries last year rose by a remarkable 64% since 2013. They surely deserve their fifth place!
But did you know that in the Netherlands, more beer is brewed for export than for domestic consumption? The most recent figures show that the Dutch brew 24.6 million hectolitres of beer and 14.5 million hectolitres of that is sent overseas. The Netherlands exports a lot of beer, but it also imports a lot too. Beer from Belgium and Germany are in high demand. In the world ranking, they take the 15th spot while its neighbour Belgium with 20 million hectolitres per year takes the 20th.
Which countries brew the most beer? Fifth place goes to Germany. In this beer country, 95 million hectolitres of beer are brewed each year. That’s 10 million hectolitres fewer than in Mexico, which takes the fourth spot with 105 million hectolitres of beer.
At number three is Brazil. They brew 133.4 million hectolitres of beer per year. Number two is less surprising: The USA. With 221.4 million hectolitres, the land of Budweiser easily wins the silver medal.
But the forerunner, by far, is China. Think that the USA brews a lot of beer with its huge brands such as Budweiser, Anchor Steam and Anderson Valley? China brews even more. Twice as much, in fact. The beer that China brews in just one year would take the Netherlands two decades to brew!
It’s therefore unsurprising that the world’s best-selling beer is a Chinese brand. It’s Snow, a beer that you’ve probably never heard of. Chang Beer and Tsingtao are a little more familiar to us since they’re often served in Chinese restaurants.
China brews 460 million hectolitres of beer per year. That’s 46 billion litres. In other words: enough for every person on Earth to drink 18 bottles of Chinese beer per year. Cheers!