With Oktoberfest in full swing, Germans across the world will be making the most of the festival and raising a glass. But it seems that standard lager might soon be replaced by a more sophisticated brew – craft beer. New research from Mintel has found that one in eight (12%) beers launched in Germany in 2014 was categorised as craft, up from only 1% back in 2012. And this trend is set to continue, with one in five (18%) beers launched between January and September 2015 falling under the craft category.
Indeed, whilst historically Germans preferred beer in its most traditional form, it seems that they have begun to develop a taste for craft. Almost one quarter (23%) of German beer drinkers have purchased craft beer for drinking at home in the past six months, while 16% say they have purchased it in pubs or restaurants.
Overall, consumption of beer is strong in Germany, with one in 10 (9%) beer drinkers saying that they drink it out of home daily, whilst one quarter (25%) drink it a few times a week.
Katya Witham, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, says:
“Germany is famous for its enormous beer variety and long-standing brewing traditions. But, the ‘beer nation’ has been lagging well behind the US and other global markets when it comes to experimenting with craft beer. With many German beers being however indistinguishable due to a narrow range of flavours, microbreweries and some larger beer producers show an increasing interest in novel brewing techniques and ingredients. Albeit with some delay, the craft beer trend has finally emerged in Germany.”
Furthermore, it seems that the German beer market could do with fizzing up product innovations, as volume sales of the beverage have been in decline since 2008. Mintel research shows that the average German purchased 71.6 litres of beer for in-home consumption in 2014, down from 73.1 litres in 2010. This trend looks set to continue as in-home consumption is forecast to drop to 67 litres by 2019.
However, in 2015 Germans are still expected to buy more beer for drinking in-home than any other nation in the World: 70.6 litres per capita; that’s more than Canadians (65 litres), Americans (55.2 litres) and Russians (46.9 litres).
“With beer consumption in decline, the German beer market will greatly benefit from more innovative beer varieties. Specialty beers with character will be warmly welcomed among German beer connoisseurs who have been losing interest in the standard brew.” Katya continues.
Today, strong local roots and flavour diversity are proving to be craft beer’s greatest strengths in Germany.Almost half (49%) of German beer drinkers say they prefer to drink beer from their local region, while two in five (40%) prefer to try many different beer brands rather than sticking to one type.Moreover, it seems that a number of consumers want to be more informed on the beverage in their glass, with one third (33%) of German beer drinkers saying they would like to know more about the beer they drink.
What’s more, nearly three quarters (73%) of German beer drinkers think that the quality of the hops makes a big difference in how beer tastes.
“Crucial to the appeal of craft beers, hops add an extra aroma dimension to the beer. Flavoured hop varieties allow plenty of room for beer experimentation without breaking the rules that nourish the reputation of the German brewing traditions. Hops and hop induced flavours will likely hit mainstream in the next few years.” Katya adds.
Whilst the number of craft beer launches has grown significantly in previous years, Mintel research points to continued growth of the beverage in the future to meet consumer demand. Today, one in five (19%) German beer drinkers say that being made by a small or craft brewer is an important factor when they buy beer and one in eight (15%) say that trying something new is an important purchase factor. What’s more, the hunt for taste sensations seems to be especially strong among younger beer drinkers, with 28% of German 18-24 year olds saying that a unique or different flavour is an important factor when they buy beer, compared to 17% of consumers overall.
“As the craft beer market grows, the selection at grocery stores is expected to expand, with both retailers and craft brewers benefitting from this development. While craft brewers can reach a wider and more diverse audience by selling their brands through mainstream retailers, the craft beer presence on retailers’ shelves can broaden the overall appeal of the beer aisle in-store, creating a premium, specialist feel.” Katya concludes.