Home to the world’s first Pilsner, the Czech Republic is internationally known as having the highest beer consumption per capita, a title held for over 20 years.
As the pandemic has ravaged the tourism and gastronomy industries, beer purchases have also seen a sharp decline throughout the past year.
Recently released data from the Czech General Directorate of Customs revealed that beer consumption decreased by 13 liters per capita last year. This works out to the average Czech drinking about 129 liters of beer in 2020 falling by 14 percent from the pre-pandemic era.
This drastic decline in beer consumption can likely be attributed to the series of government-mandated closures during each wave of the pandemic since March of last year.
While alcohol consumption, in general, went up during 2020, much less beer was being purchased than usual as many were deprived of opportunities for draft beer and resorted to drinking at home. Kegs have always accounted for the majority of beer sales far outpacing the sale of bottles and cans.
With no mass gatherings for beer festivals, pubs and restaurants closing, and a compulsory lockdown in place, the demand for beer has steadily declined over the past year.
The findings from the GDC also noted that the pandemic forced many breweries to reduce and even suspend their production as demand had dropped off.
“A number of government security measures complicate not only the production process in domestic breweries but also, for example, logistics. Significantly smaller amounts of beer will reach not only the on-trade segment (gastronomy, ie inns, restaurants, bistros, clubs), but also hypermarkets, supermarkets, evenings, and the like, ie the off-trade segment, ” stated the GDC report.
As the country remains in lockdown and the government enacts a ban on public consumption of alcohol, we can expect to see beer sales fall even further.
Many pubs like Zlý Časy in Nusle have had to adapt to survive the closures and open a takeaway window, e-shop, and offer delivery options. These efforts, however, only produce a fraction of their previous sales.
While the GDC report on taxed beer in 2020 is a good indicator of beer sales, it is difficult to assess what the future of beer culture in the Czech Republic will look like.
It’s still unclear how many breweries and pubs will return and how many have closed their doors for good.