After years of upward trend, the number of breweries in Germany has fallen for the third year in a row. As reported by the German Brewers’ Association, there were 1,507 breweries in 2022 according to data from the Federal Statistical Office. Compared to 2019 before the pandemic, that is 45 breweries or almost 3 percent fewer. According to the statistics, there were slight declines in 2020 (minus 16 breweries), as well as in 2021 (minus 15) and 2022 (minus 14). The “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung” had previously reported on the figures.

The industry association fears a deeper trend reversal with many operational closures. For years, new house breweries had meant that the number of breweries had grown – by more than 270 companies since the turn of the millennium until the beginning of the pandemic, as the Brauer-Bund explains. “This start-up boom is over,” said the general manager of the German Brewers’ Association, Holger Eichele.

From the Corona crisis to an energy crisis

The brewing industry has been able to hold its ground better than many observers expected in the past crisis years. Eichele emphasized that the losses in the pandemic, especially in the draft beer business, would have brought many breweries to the limits of their existence. The Corona crisis has seamlessly transitioned into an energy crisis.

“For many years, the term brewery dying had died out, but now we are unfortunately experiencing a sad trend reversal,” affirmed Eichele. The German Brewers’ Association is expecting a wave of consolidation that could hit medium-sized beer producers in particular. Small brewers are not as dependent on trade as medium-sized brewers, but they do not have the cost advantages of large corporations.

According to the association, the federal states with the highest declines in breweries since 2019 are Bavaria (minus 24), North Rhine-Westphalia (minus 14) and Hesse (minus 10). In Schleswig-Holstein, the number of breweries has increased slightly, contrary to the trend, even in times of crisis. In Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony it remained the same.