Beer Drinking in Germany Hits a Record Low

According to government statistics, consumption is now lower than it's been since the the reunification of West and East Germany in the 1990s.

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Wolfgang Rattay / REUTERS

A waitress carries ten Bavarian steins at the opening day of Oktoberfest, 1993

For generations it’s been as German as lederhosen, but beer drinking in Germany is now going the way of short leather pants: consumption is now lower than it’s ever been since the the reunification of West and East Germany in the 1990s.

According to a new report from a government statistics agency, Germans drank 96.5 million hectoliters (2.55 billion gallons) of beer last year, a decrease of 1.8% over the year before and the lowest level since 1990, notes the Associated Press.

Deutscher Brauer Bund, the German brewers’ association, says an unusually cool summer made fewer people feel the need for a cold beer, reports the AP.

But it’s a downward trend that’s been going on for some time – in 2005, Der Spiegel spoke of the “Brauereisterben,” a term referring to the death of German brewing.

(WATCH: Waiter Accidentally Dumps Beer All Over Angela Merkel)

Germans have becoming more health conscious over the years, and have been drinking more water than beer since 2002 as well as exercising more, notes the online business journal Knowledge@Wharton.

Also the core beer-drinking demographic of young people ages 18-34 is declining as Germany’s population ages – and younger people are also choosing other beverages such as wine and alco-pops. “Beer is perceived to be low end, compared to wine,”said wine trader Walter Bitsch according to Knowledge@Wharton. And most worryingly for a country where a beer purity law known as the Reinheitsgebot has been on the books since the 15th century, mixtures of beer with cola and juice made up 4.5% of total volume consumed, according toThe Local.

People are also drinking beer less often. In the past, Germans would not hesitate to have a beer at breakfast, according to Knowledge@Wharton, whereas today the concept of “Das bier ist gesund, zu jeder Stund” (“beer is healthy at any hour”) might now be out of date.

(MORE: Happy Oktoberfest! Tapping into the Health Benefits of Beer)

Even Oktoberfest, Bavaria’s famous celebration of beer — and an important part of the country’s culture – is losing some of its appeal. AsAnna Breitsameter, a lecturer at Munich’s JYM Institute told Knowledge@Wharton, “The image of drunken people every year does not leave a favorable impression on the locals.”

(MORE: New For the Home Decorating Beer Snob: Pantone Swatches!)

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