The European Beer Consumers conducted a survey on how the pandemic has affected beer consumption. The survey was open for participation between 26th of April until 17th of May and collected in total 1667 answers from 26 different countries (optional EBCU member organization in parenthesis):
United Kingdom: 667 (CAMRA 149, Beoir 2)
Belgium: 227 (Zythos 97)
Italy: 153 (Unionbirrai 153)
Denmark: 113 (Danske Ölentuasiaster 11)
Netherlands: 109 (Pint 33)
Germany: 66 (GBCU 1)
Finland: 50 (Olutliitto 2)
Spain: 49 (ACCE 16, CELCE 2)
Sweden: 46 (Svenska Ölfrämjandet 6)
Ireland: 8 (Beoir 3)
Czech Republic: 7 (SPP 5)
New Zealand: 1
Some of the questions had optional free text fields for additional values, these have been standardized so that the answers can be compared (e.g. self-made beer => homebrewing)
What were your primary sources (e.g. pub, brewery, supermarket, Internet) of buying/drinking beer before the COVID-19 pandemic?
In this question multiple values were allowed. We can clearly see that pub / bar / taproom was the choice before the pandemic started but supermarkets and beverage stores also have a good stronghold together with breweries. Internet shops are a growing trend and so also is homebrewing.
What are your primary sources now during the pandemic for buying beer?
In this question multiple values also were allowed. Now during the pandemic, the sales from pub / bar / taprooms have clearly gone down although some of them have still been selling take-away beer. Supermarkets managed to grow their sale of beer, which also can be seen in the statistics over overall sales as restaurants and pubs have been closed. The rise of Internet and home delivery can be seen as a small surprise, sales directly from breweries have gone up which means that local breweries have gotten more support from local drinkers. Some beer friends have stopped buying beer altogether while some bunked up for situations like this.
Is there anything that can be improved for the beer consumer in your country during the pandemic (e.g. legislation, home-delivery of beer etc.)?
This was an open question that gathered many different answers depending on local legislation. For example, in the United Kingdom many wished more pubs could sell real ale as take away or have home delivery. Also, in general support from the state to help out with covering rental costs etc. was pointed out by many. In Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Spain many wished for more home delivery options but in general were quite okay and understandable with the current situation. Responses from Netherlands were quite positive, in Germany some wished to open up beer gardens which now also has happened. In Finland and Sweden, the alcohol legislation is quite strict, and many wished to allow home delivery and lower taxes for small breweries. In Ireland the biggest problem seems to be that not all breweries are allowed to sell beer on-premise.
My beer consumption has changed during the pandemic.
This was perhaps the most personal question and based on the answers it seems that participants in the survey have been quite honest. There’s a small increase in beer consumption but the answers still quite follow a normal distribution.
Would you say that you currently support your local breweries more during the pandemic?
Local breweries are getting more support during these trouble times which definitely is a positive thing. There’s clearly a thought across the answers that it’s important to support the local breweries as most of them have been struggling due to closed pubs and bars.
Some of the “less” answers are probably due to breweries closing down totally during the pandemic.
Do you think that you will continue supporting your local breweries in the same way after the pandemic?
The support for continuing the local breweries also after the pandemic is even stronger than the current support. This is possibly the most important data in this survey as it clearly shows that beer consumption has become more local with a strong bond between the beer consumer and his or her local breweries.
Have you participated in a virtual pub gathering?
Around 40 % of the participants in the survey have attended a virtual pub gathering, e.g. organized by a beer consumer group, beer club or by friends. Keeping up social contacts during the pandemic have been pointed up as important by many governments.
If you have participated in a virtual pub gathering, did you like it?
Virtual pub gatherings on the Internet were for some not their cup of tea but the majority clearly liked the social contact together with beer. Some virtual pub gatherings also included beer tastings, pub quiz etc.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to beer-wise when the pandemic ends?
This was an open question that also like question #3 gathered many different answers but the majority of the answers mentioned meeting friends and family for beer in a pub. Many also brought up going to beer festivals, tasting and comparing different beers with friends and participating in tastings. In almost all the answers the missing social contact was mentioned. Some also mentioned beer trips to foreign countries once the borders open and travel again becomes safe.
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