Czechs now favor quality beer over quantity

The younger generation is adopting different drinking habits

The Czech Republic has long been known for having the highest beer consumption per capita, but recently people have been trading quantity for quality.

For the first time in history, sales of 11 degree and 12 degree have overtaken sales of over lower quality beers. Degrees refer to a beer’s density due to malt sugar content before brewing. This affects the alcohol content as well as the flavor and body of the beer.

Ten degree and lower beers are considered by connoisseurs to be watery and less robust, but due to the lower alcohol content, more volume can be consumed at any one time.

A few years ago, in the Czech Republic, beers between seven degrees and 10.99 degrees, called yýčepní pivo accounted for the majority of all beers consumed.

For the first time last year, though, ležák beers, between 11 degrees and 12,99 degrees, accounted for the majority of beer consumed, according to daily Lidové noviny (LN).

This shows a shift toward stronger and more flavorful beers. At the same time, figures from the Customs Administration, which collects duty from brewers, shows that people are drinking less.

Experts see this as a generational shift.

Old-school classic drinkers who drink 10 degree beers all evening are dying out. The younger is looking for more quality, Tomáš Maier, who lectures on the brewing economics at the Czech University of Agriculture in Prague (ČZU). told LN.

Other countries in Europe such as Germany, Austria and Belgium, have a more advanced beer culture in terms of emphasis on quality versus quantity.

Beers of 13 degree and higher are specialty beers and still have a small market share. Beers between 1.01 degree and 6.99 degrees are called stolní pivo, but in practice, they are almost never seen.

A recent survey by polling agency CVVM showed that four-fifths of Czech men and three-fifths of Czech women are concerned about the brand and type of beer they drink. A majority of both sexes is open to trying new types of beer, despite having a favorite brand.

Japanese brewer Kirin has long tracked overall volume of beer consumption. In the most recent ranking, based on 2016 figures, the Czech Republic held its crown for the most beer consumed per capita, at 143.3 liters per person, winning for the 24th consecutive year. The statistics are not broken down by degree or alcohol content.

Namibia, previously fifth, came in second, followed by Austria, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Romania. The Seychelles, previously second, dropped to eight places. Estonia and Lithuania rounded out the top 10.

Europe and the former Soviet states lead the world in overall alcohol consumption, based on the amount of pure alcohol in spirits, wine, beer and other beverages. World Health Organization statistics, reported by Radio Free Europe, show that Lithuania comes out on top at 18.2 liters of alcohol per person every year. Belarus, Russia and Moldova also come ahead of the Czech Republic, which ties with Romania at 13.7 liters per person. South Korea is the highest scoring non-European country at 11.9 liters.

Different sources give different figures on overall alcohol consumption due to different methods, But the Czech Republic usually falls into the bottom half of the top 10, and Eastern European countries are at the top.

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