In fact while we’re only 12th in terms of production in Europe at 8.32 million Hectolitres (up from 2017’s 8.02 million Hl) via our 128 breweries, Ireland is the seventh-largest beer exporter by volume at 3.7m Hl, according to the 2019 annual statistical report from the Brewers of Europe, a Brussels-based organisation that represents breweries across the continent. Belgium itself is the largest beer exporter at 16.2m Hl.
The value of our beer exports was put at €267 million last year according to Drinks Ireland|Beer’s own annual market report published earlier this year. We now export more beer than Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Austria.
The new Brewers of Europe report also shows that 64% of beer in Ireland is consumed in the on-trade (including pubs, hotels and restaurants) highlighting the importance of the pub for Irish beer consumers and tourists alike. This is down on 2017’s 65% on-trade share figure.
But contrary to expectation, Ireland ranks only third in Europe after Portugal (69%) and Spain (67%) when it comes to the percentage of beer consumed in the on-trade. The UK on-trade is responsible for 54% of total beer consumption there, up a percentage point from 2017’s 53%.
The report also welcomes the 10,000th brewery to the EU which means that in the EU itself over 400 million Hectolitres of beer are being produced for the first time in a decade with beer consumption rising in every single country.
Germany is the biggest producer at 93.7 million Hl followed by Poland and the UK.
Ireland ranks as the EU’s 17th-largest consumer of beer at 4.6 million Hl (up 3.4% from 2017’s 4.5 million Hl) with Germany topping the table at 84.6 million Hl followed by the UK with 48.6m Hl and Spain (just under 40m Hl).
Ireland ranks equally with Slovenia and Estonia in terms of per capita beer consumption at 80 litres, up a litre on 2017.
But Ireland is also the eight-largest importer of beer in the EU at 1.56m Hl while the UK tops the import table at 10.1m Hl.