German beer drinking slide stopped by warm weather

BERLIN Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:42am EST

Visitors toast each other on a sunny day during Oktoberfest in Munich, September 27, 2008.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Visitors toast each other on a sunny day during Oktoberfest in Munich, September 27, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A steady slide in beer consumption in Germany was stopped cold last year thanks to warmer weather, the federal statistics office said on Monday.

German brewers sold 98.2 million hectoliters of beer last year, down by just 0.1 percent in 2011 after dropping by an average of two percent every year since 2006. Beer consumption in Germany had fallen in all but two of the last 10 years.

Despite Germany's reputation as a nation of beer lovers, young people are turning away from the national beverage in favour of other non-alcoholic beverages, brewers say.

The warmer weather last year as well as the World Cup soccer tournament in 2006 helped to put a floor beneath what is still the country's most famous beverage. Germans still drink more than 100 liters of beer per capita each year.

"Beer sales depend on the weather. In the first half of 2011 -- in April and May -- we had a lot of warm weather, and the figures were up by 1.0 percent," Juergen Hammer, an official at the Federal Statistics Agency, told Reuters.

"This is why this year's results aren't so bad. So I guess the old adage is true that when it's warm people drink beer."

Consumption of German beer, which has been subject to a purity law since 1516, has been in slow decline for decades.

The World Cup football tournament helped German beer consumption rise by 1.4 percent in 2006, the strongest increase in 12 years, the federal statistics office said on Monday.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian, editing by Paul Casciato)

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